Alexander Brown
(1814- 1896)

Minister of St Paul's Evangelical Union Church, Aberdeen ;
President of that denomination in 1896

"He does not anticipate any catastrophe at "the end of the age," but a steady progress on the part of Christianity until at length, in spite of occasional retrogressions, it achieves a universal victory"

Alexander Brown Index // The Great Day of the Lord: A Survey of New Testament Teaching on Christ's Coming in His Kingdom, the Resurrection, and the Judgement of the Living and the Dead




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070: Clement: First Epistle of Clement

075: Baruch: Apocalypse Of Baruch

075: Barnabus: Epistle of Barnabus

090: Esdras 2 / 4 Ezra

100: Odes of Solomon

150: Justin: Dialogue with Trypho

150: Melito: Homily of the Pascha

175: Irenaeus: Against Heresies

175: Clement of Alexandria: Stromata

198: Tertullian: Answer to the Jews

230: Origen: The Principles | Commentary on Matthew | Commentary on John | Against Celsus

248: Cyprian: Against the Jews

260: Victorinus: Commentary on the Apocalypse "Alcasar, a Spanish Jesuit, taking a hint from Victorinus, seems to have been the first (AD 1614) to have suggested that the Apocalyptic prophecies did not extend further than to the overthrow of Paganism by Constantine."

310: Peter of Alexandria

310: Eusebius: Divine Manifestation of our Lord

312: Eusebius: Proof of the Gospel

319: Athanasius: On the Incarnation

320: Eusebius: History of the Martyrs

325: Eusebius: Ecclesiastical History

345: Aphrahat: Demonstrations

367: Athanasius: The Festal Letters

370: Hegesippus: The Ruin of Jerusalem

386: Chrysostom: Matthew and Mark

387: Chrysostom: Against the Jews

408: Jerome: Commentary on Daniel

417: Augustine: On Pelagius

426: Augustine: The City of God

428: Augustine: Harmony

420: Cassian: Conferences

600: Veronica Legend

800: Aquinas: Eternity of the World




1265: Aquinas: Catena Aurea

1543: Luther: On the Jews

1555: Calvin: Harmony on Evangelists

1556: Jewel: Scripture

1586: Douay-Rheims Bible

1598: Jerusalem's Misery ; The dolefull destruction of faire Ierusalem by Tytus, the Sonne of Vaspasian

1603: Nero : A New Tragedy

1613: Carey: The Fair Queen of Jewry

1614: Alcasar: Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi

1654: Ussher: The Annals of the World

1658: Lightfoot: Commentary from Hebraica

1677: Crowne - The Destruction of Jerusalem

1764: Lardner: Fulfilment of our Saviour's Predictions

1776: Edwards: History of Redemption

1785: Churton: Prophecies Respecting the Destruction of Jerusalem

1801: Porteus: Our Lord's Prophecies

1802: Nisbett: The Coming of the Messiah

1805: Jortin: Remarks on Ecclesiastical History

1810: Clarke: Commentary On the Whole Bible

1816: Wilkins: Destruction of Jerusalem Related to Prophecies

1824: Galt: The Bachelor's Wife

1840: Smith: The Destruction of Jerusalem

1841: Currier: The Second Coming of Christ

1842: Bastow : A (Preterist) Bible Dictionary

1842: Stuart: Interpretation of Prophecy

1843: Lee: Dissertations on Eusebius

1845: Stuart: Commentary on Apocalypse

1849: Lee: Inquiry into Prophecy

1851: Lee: Visions of Daniel and St. John

1853: Newcombe: Observations on our Lord's Conduct as Divine Instructor

1854: Chamberlain: Restoration of Israel

1854: Fairbairn: The Typology of Scripture

1859: "Lee of Boston": Eschatology

1861: Maurice: Lectures on the Apocalypse

1863: Thomas Lewin : The Siege of Jerusalem

1865: Desprez: Daniel (Renounced Full Preterism)

1870: Fall of Jerusalem and the Roman Conquest

1871: Dale: Jewish Temple and Christian Church (PDF)

1879: Warren: The Parousia

1882: Farrar: The Early Days of Christianity

1883: Milton S. Terry: Biblical Hermeneutics

1888: Henty: For The Temple

1891: Farrar: Scenes in the days of Nero

1896: Lee : A Scholar of a Past Generation

1902: Church: Story of the Last Days of Jerusalem

1917: Morris: Christ's Second Coming Fulfilled

1985: Lee: Jerusalem; Rome; Revelation (PDF)

1987: Chilton: The Days of Vengeance

2001: Fowler: Jesus - The Better Everything

2006: M. Gwyn Morgan - AD69 - The Year of Four Emperors

Print and Use For Personal Bookmark or Placement in Bookstores












1890 (Second Edition 1894)


"To sum the whole into a sentence — with the fall of Jerusalem, the then existing age was ended, the dead were judged, the saints were raised to heaven, and a new dispensation of a world-wide order instituted, of which Christ is everlasting King, and ever present with His people, whether living here or dead beyond." (p. 257)

Hyper Preterism: Alexander Brown: The Great Day of the Lord: A Survey of New Testament Teaching on Christ's Coming in His Kingdom, the Resurrection, and the Judgement of the Living and the Dead (1890)  "To sum the whole into a sentence — with the fall of Jerusalem, the then existing age was ended, the dead were judged, the saints were raised to heaven, and a new dispensation of a world-wide order instituted, of which Christ is everlasting King, and ever present with His people, whether living here or dead beyond." (p. 257)    - A simple but fundamental mistake, confining the new aion within the brackets of carnal chronology.   It is the same exact mistake of Futurism, except that the incorrect HyP AD70 dispensational line in history past has immense theological consequences with which Futurists will never have to deal, placing their dispensational line as they do in history future (thereby not ever having to deal with the myriad complications of living in a global change of spiritual economy -- which yields theological Universalism of some sort.. hence the high concentration of Universalist/Pantelist/Comprehensive Grace teachers within full preterism). 

"Some reader may demur to our suggestion that the first resurrection took place after the close of the Judaic age, on the ground that such an event must leave its mark on history, while history's page is blank.

If we turn to v. 51 we shall there plainly read that this resurrection was then immanent. Paul says" we shall not all sleep," that is, at "the last trump," the signal of this deliverance of the dead. If this were true, what date within a lifetime was more likely than immediately after the old dispensation was judged and done away? Indeed, if we turn to "the last trump" in the book of Revelation, we find that it is the time for the judgement and resurrection of the dead, and that it is also the close of the old dispensation, as witnessed in the overthrow of Jerusalem."




"It is eloquent and vigorous, and sets forth many great and just spiritual conceptions."

"There is a great deal in the book well worth thinking about.  Mr. Brown has evidently a vigorous mind, and he can put his thoughts into nervous and telling language."

" An exceedingly able and deeply interesting study of this strange book, the Apocalypse. Mr. Brown is both a scholar and an independent thinker, nor is his style less vigorous than his thought."


"A learned and acute view of the prophetic visions and their eschatology. The book is so clearly and closely argued that whether its reasoning command assent or no, it will always prove stimulating and suggestive to a reader interested in this subject."


".The Book of Revelation still attracts commentators, and Mr. Brown has published a thoroughly sensible guide to its interpretation.  In applying his key to the meaning of particular passages he is remarkably successful. Sobriety and sense characterise the interpretation throughout, and none can read the small volume without feeling increased hopefulness about the understanding of a book which is virtually sealed to most readers. The work deserves to be widely read."-Dr. DODS.


"Here we have a brilliant book on a great theme, and unlike most productions of the kind. The writing is forcible and telling, and the argument is convincing, though calculated to shake confirmed beliefs. Other writers have been before him in the elaboration of his theory, but we believe the author to be the first to have given it an original and striking setting, and to make a readable book where they have failed. We have read the book from beginning to end, and should like to be instrumental in recommending it to others. For, whether we agree with the conclusions or not, it will be difficult to retire from this delightful book without feeling that it has awakened new thoughts and exercised a powerful stimulating effect on faith and practice."



IT is greatly to be desired that Christian scholars and

- divines should thoroughly re-consider that interesting

field of doctrine known as "Eschatology." Current

opinions on" Last Things" are widely and increasingly

felt to be dependent upon a highly artificial system of

interpretation, and even then are marred by evident

inconsistencies, and scarred by visible self-contradictions.

The practical results, besides, have been

deplorably unwholesome to Christian life, making it

unduly sectarian, feverish, and materialistic, as well as

damaging to the claims of Scripture as an authentic

record of the teachings of our Lord and His


This book is a humble plea with all who are

concerned with Scripture interpretation to re-consider

the whole question of the Coming and Kingdom of

Christ. It proceeds upon the principle that prophecy

Vi Preface.

is not couched in occult or deceptive language, though

strongly Hebraistic in conception and expression, and

aims at showing that what Christ and His. Apostles

foretold was strictly true when their language is interpreted

in its directest sense, and in remembrance

of the spiritual ends they had in view. The substantial

accuracy of our. conclusions may almost be presumed

from the fact that New Testament prophecy is found

self-consistent and easy of interpretation, and the

outcome entirely worthy of the Gospel of God's


Our method is by the necessities of the case strictly

exegetical, and we extend to each book a separate,

though sometimes brief examination. We give the

first and most prominent place to the Apocalypse for

diverse reasons. It is the one New Testament book

which is professedly concerned with the Second

Advent, and is constructed pictorially to answer to the

Biblical phrase which is the title of this work-its

evening and morning prophecies together making up

that epoch of judgement known to the closing

centuries of the Jewish dispensation as "The Great

Day of the Lord." In keeping with this design, it is

not only the fullest Scripture dealing with our subject

but at the same time the simplest; because, in spite

of its allegorical scenes and Kabbalistic hints, it is the

richest in detail as to the time, the nature, and the

sphere of our Lord's Coming in His Kingdom. The

Preface. vii

other books of the New Testament are accordingly

treated as subsidiary and corroborative,-the only

further light found in them being what St. Paul teaches

\ as to the origin and developement of the resurrection

body. The one drawback of our method is that it

leads to a repetition .of texts and of ideas; but on the

other hand, su~h repetition may the better drive home

the _unfamiliar teachings of this work, and the more

forcibly exhibit the perfect agreement which exists

between all the New Testament books as to the facts

of our Lord's Second Coming.

We have not thought it needful to discuss the

authorship, date, and structure of our piece de resistance,

the Apocalypse. The exigencies of the case do not

tie us to any particular opinion. The book might

have been written in part as a theological explanation

of events already past, or in anticipation of events

about to come. However, the evidence for the latest

date consistent with the authorship of St. John is so

scant, and dubious at the best, while the internal

evidence for the earlier date is-so exceedingly strong

and so clearly supported by traditions almost equal in

authority and more than equal in probability to those

which support the first, that we cannot refuse our

belief to the earlier date fixed for its origin. In any

case, what we find to be the only possible interpretation

of the book is in itself a strong presumption of its early

and apostolic origin.

viii Preface.

Our readers will probably not find fault with us for

endeavouring, not merely to elucidate the prophetic

sense of Scripture, but to accompany it with those

lessons of life and godliness with which true prophecy

is always charged. As New Testament prophecy is

here interpreted it will be seen that its message is

an essential portion of the Gospel of our salvation,

and lends ftself easily to didactic purposes.

The first edition of this book was published four

years ago, and was received with a favour for which

we return our sincerest thanks. This edition adds to

the first a more careful examination of the other New

Testament books than could be given when these

were only cursorily cited to point out their agreement

with certain teachings in the Apocalypse. It is hoped

that this enlargement will make the volume increasingly

useful j and certainly, the eschatological parts of

the Gospels and Epistles are as commonly misunderstood

as the so-called mysterious Apocalypse itself.

In conclusion, we would in all sincerity assure

a~y readers whose minds may be pre-occupied with

the more sensational doctrines now popular that, on

calm consideration, they will find the views here presented

not only more distinctly scriptural, but more

helpful to Christian life and more comforting in view

of death and the infinite beyond. One thing we

assert as beyond all question, because now vouched

for by a very wide experience, that to those who use

Preface ix

this key the entire Bible -becomes a more luminous

and helpful book, and many passages that before

seemed confused, contradictory, or even meaningless,

cease to be perplexing and become radiant with a

satisfactory meaning. May the. divine blessing lead

each reader into the knowledge of the truth.

ABERDEEN, October, 1894.


Page 62, line 2. CorII incredulous" read iNCrtdible.

u lo.t., n 8, for IIexpiscated If It tsju1tJ{td.

II 13-4. It 2, CorII augeries II "augwries.

II lSI, U 2I r for CI understood" II ",iSlltulerstootl.

It J82, It 19, CorU who n 1uJw.

U 2031 It 23, for II Aceldema. tI II AceltJamtJ.

II 231, " 17, for U temporarily It II tt",jortUl~.


~ht (lj)ttat ~a!! of the ~orb

In the Old and New Testaments,


Specially prefaced to be its interpreter, ...


Through what media Christ is revealed, ...

The time and place of this revelation,

The Christ about to be revealed, ...

Christ's Message to the Asiatic Churches-

As to the time of His coming,

" their moral state,

II their immediate future,










'art 1.-ettightfaU. Dr tltt ~aet ~a~s of tltt Jdllish ~ie.

Heaven opened,-The Divine Moral Government, 25

Christ assumes His Mediatorial Powers, ... 33

The Beginning of Judgement, 41

The Sealing of God's Elect, 51

The Trumpet Judgements, 59

The Mystery of God Finished, 79

Destruction in order to Salvation, 86 'art II.-~ll~.pting, Dr the ~bbtnt of the Qthrlstian ~e.

The Woman and the Dragon, log

The Wild Beast from the Sea, 123

The Tame Beast from the Land, ... ... 133

Appendix.-The Beasts, the Man of Sin, and Anti-christ, 140

The Church on Mount Zion, 144

The Son of Man in the Clouds of Heaven, 154

The Seven Last Plagues, ... 163 _

xii Contents.


The Harlot judged, 179

The Marriage Supper and the Victory of the Word of God, 196

Satan Bound-The Millenial Reign-The Judgement of the

Dead, 205

The New Jerusalem, ... 229

Summary and conclusion of this Book, ... 244


The difference in style and tone, ...

Why little Apocalyptic teaching in the Gospel, ...

Christ's twofold coming to His disciples,

The lapse of time before His coming,

Approaching Resurrection and Judgement,

The" last hour" of the Epistles,... ...







264 •


When written, 269

The mission of John the Baptist, ... 271

Jesus un the nearness of His coming, 273

The coming and development of His Kingdom-modern

misunderstandings, 276

The Lord's last prophecy, ... ... ... 280

The meaning of the Disciples' questions,... 285

The answer in detail, 295

Corroborative Parables-The Virgins, The Talents, The Sheep

and the Goats, 313


Eusebius on the cause of St. James' Death, 324

The falling away in the Jewish Church-the day of judgement

-the Parousia at hand, ... 325

The Witness of St. Jude, .. 326


The Apostle living in the last days,

The" restitution of all things," .

Impending judgement, ... .

The Kingdom heavenly in its nature,

Is the coming delayed in the Second Epistle? ..

Supposed destruction of the world,









Difficulties with his" eschatology,"











His teaching at Thessalonica,

The second coming a time of peculiar judgement,

The advent signalised by a resurrection of the dead,

The coming just at hand, ...

What is meant by the coming,

The rapture of the living Saints, ...


The" day of Christ" still near, and described as a Jewi.h

Judgement, ... ... 352

The resurrection at His coming, 354


Paul's supposed change of outlook, 358

His view of the earthly tahernacle, 360

Longing to he "clothed upon," ... 364

A process already begun, ... 366


A transition period between the the Old Jerusalem and the New, 368


Impending judgement-Glory about to he revealed-victory at

hand, 369

The restoration and conversion of the Jews, 371


The dispensation of the fulness of the times about to come, 372


The Gospel preached in all the world before the enrl-the

shadow and the coming substance-the "rudiments of the

world" to be consumed by the wrath of God, 373


The day of Christ to be seen by the Philippians, yet Paul prefers

to die, although not prepared to say that he is perfected or

ready for the resurrection, 375


The Apostle's last word-the judgement near-the glory of God

about to appear-the signs of the coming in the Apostacy

of the Church, 377

xiv Contents.



The old age still running, but about to disappear,

The world about to come,... .. ... ...

The changing dispensations,

The city about to come, ...

The tones of impending judgement,










Sub-apostolic religious literature, ...










II CQthe ~ttnt ~lt}1 uf the ~urb."






-HOOKER'S Ecclesiastical Polity, Pref. Sec. ix,

"~ht Q5ttat !lay of the ~~tll "

S"TANDS like a background of red-hot fire in all the

Scriptures from Isaiah to Revelation. Judgement

is God's strange work; but in a world of sin, with a

righteous God upon his throne, the tones of threatening

must always be reverberating through the air.

Happily, even in Old Testament revelation, God's

judgement-day is always at the same time" the day

of his salvation."

" Destruction and salvation are the hands

Upon the face of time."

All salvation is by fire; to save is necessarily to destroy.

Hence the great Messianic Salvation for which

Israel hoped, is identical with" That great day of the

Lord" in which "his fury shall burn like an oven."

"The acceptable year of the Lord" is "the day of

vengeance of our God."

Interpreters of prophecy vainly think that the prophets

were somewhat confused in their outlook.

Isaiah is charged with confounding the first and

second advents of our Lord, while those two events

were lying at least 2000 years apart. Those old Seers

were better instructed than their commentators. The

advents were resolved into one because they are substantially

one, both as to their intention and their

2 The Two Adueuts Om.

time. The unvarying testimony of the Scripture is,

that the same generation sees the consummate sacrifice

of our great High Priest and the desolating judgements

of our righteous King. The New Testament day of

judgement is the historical boundary line between the

legal age and that gospel era which is " the acceptable

year of the Lord." It takes both the first and second,

the suffering and the reigning Christs, to introduce the

gospel dispensation; just as it takes the dead and the

risen Christ to constitute that one Mediator who can

save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by


That such is the standpoint alike of Old Testament

and New Testament writers may be seen at a glance

by anyone who will be at the pains to look for this

idea in the Scriptures. Our Lord lived and suffered in

the latter years of the Mosaic age, and taught his disciples

that his work, whether He lived or died, was

to bring that age to an end. As plainly as language

could express it, He told them that his work would

be completed ere many years had passed. Accordingly,

their eyes were ever looking forward to that

awful day, significantly called" the last." They speak

of themselves as living in the last days, in the end of

the age, on the edge of a fearful crisis which will

shake the heavens and the earth; and they plainly

recognize that Christ's saving work is not complete

until this judgement is consummated. This is the

reason why all through the New Testament we have

sounding the trumpet of immediate judgement; or, to

revert to a former figure, why the background of the

Scriptures is the red-hot fire of judgement. Christ's

saving work is not finished with his sacrifice. He is

The Gospels and tlte Apocalypse One. 3

to reign and judge-destroy his and his people's enemies-

before his saints can enter into their eternal

rest, and the world be made to realize the marvellous

fact that God has come to dwell on .earth and to bestow

his pardon and salvation without distinction as

to race, or as to the greatness of men's sins.

The Apostle John was especially chosen and prepared

to explain to the expectant Church those

aspects of Christ's conquering work with which it was

immediately concerned. He had to tell his generation

in what facts they could discern the boundary

line of the old and new ages of the world; where

and how they were to read "the sign of the Son of

Man," and feel assured that He had prepared a place

for them in heaven, called up his saints from the grasp

of Hades, and secured a certain victory for his Gospel

on the earth. This message was conveyed in his book

of" Revelation"; ominous with meaning for its times;

as pregnant with meaning for ourselves. Never will it

be an old almanac, void of sense, except by the help

of a library of historians. Pre-eminently, it is the record

of Christ's saving work in continuance of his

earthly sacrifice,-so essentially bound up with it, that

without the Apocalypse, the Gospels are incomplete

and meaningless. In short, it is the final and crowning

word of revelation-filling up Paul's profound

epitome of the Saviour's mission :-" for to this end

Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord of

both the dead and the living." (Ro. xiv. 9). The

Gospels are "the earthly things" of Christ; the Revelation

is "the heavenly"; the former tell us that He

died and rose again, the latter that He lives and IS

the LORD both of the LIVING and the DEAD. There4

"Blessed is He that Readeth."

fore the Revelation of St. John is not a book to be

evaded and left enigmatical to the Church; or which

can be neglected without serious injury to the Church's

doctrine and life. We trust that many of our readers,

to whom it has been hitherto a sealed page, or a

stumbling-block, will find it to be one of the most

suggestive and comforting portions of the Word of


May the good Lord endow reader and author alike

with the spirit of wisdom and interpretation, that they

may be worthy of the blessing pronounced upon those

who read and understand.





T\HE opening verses of John's book are equivalent to

- the title page of a modern volume. That head line

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ" is a comprehensive

summary, implying that the main scope of the work is

the manifestion or unveiling of what Jesus Christ truly

is in his divine nature and his saving work. This

Apocalypse is to be seen in "the things whic/t must

shortly come to pass."
Christ is by no means about to

reveal Himself in his naked personality to the eyes of

men; nor to be made the subject of a treatise in which

his essential nature and relations to the Church and

world will be exhaustively unfolded. Heis to reveal himself


themselves they will be seen to contain"a manifestion

of his presence," a demonstration of his superior

nature and exalted functions as the One Great High

Priest of Humanity, and the Prince of the Kings of the

Earth, whose will must finally become supreme. Somewhat

as the effective miracle of the words "Rise up

and walk," was the visible sign and pledge of the

invisible blessing of the words "thy sins are forgiven

thee," so the outward and visible deeds here prophesied

again, as they had been in the days of our Saviour's

flesh, were to stand as signs of power and blessing

issuing from their Lord in unseen and eternal spheres.

6 Christ Reueaied £n History. [I.

Such being the ostensible purpose of the book, it is

evident that this" Revelation" can be given only in

events which" must slzortty come to pass." A personal

revelation in historical occurrences fixed for a distant

day, or beginning in some near day and slowly dragging

itselfonward in unspecialized events standing hundreds

of years apart, could have rendered no possible service

to the early Church; and unhappily, as we know, could

only keep in perplexity the Church of succ~ssive

centuries. To have any power of comfort for the

Church, or any force of conviction for the world, it

must be a process of comparatively brief and compact

dimensions ; condensed almost into an episode; a

tableau of events which can be seen almost at one

glance of the eye.

Now, in the title page of the book there are no less

than FIVE distinctive indications of the whereabouts in

history this" unveiling" must transpire.

(1) We have the intimation that God gi1/es this

revelation to
Jesus Christ. Earlier in Scripture we are

told on high authority that the very angels in heaven

do not know the day and hour of the coming of the

Son of Man; and not even the Son Himself, but the

Father only, who keeps the times and seasons in his

power. The fact that now the day and hour are

communicated to the Son is proof of the immanence

of the event. "The Father loveth the Son and sheweth

Him all things that Himself doeth," that is, as He

proceeds to execute them. The time is come for God

to work; then Christ is sent to give the revelation to

his waiting and expectant Church. Indeed, Christ

becomes, as we shall see, the executor of the Father's


1-3.] A Book for its Times. 7

(2) This revelation is for Christ's"sen/ants," of whom

. ] ohn is one. Primarily, this revelation is not the book;

it is the actual historical unveiling of the majesty of

Christ. The events narrated are to happen in order to

reveal Christ to his servants then on earth. That the

revelation is an actual unveiling before that generation

seems implied in the order to transmit the necessary

key to the events to the churches over whom John

was exercising presbyterial functions, and through

them to the universal company of believers.

(3) The same is clear from the fact that those to

whom the book is sent are" hearers" in the churches

when the book is read, and are required" to keep tlu

tlzings zuritten therein,"
by fidelity to Christ" in the

midst of the events in which the "unveiling" is being

realized. But how could those addressed be seriously

concerned in the prophecy of the book, if no part of it

is yet fulfilled, or even if by far the greater portion lay

in the dim and distant future, and especially that event

which really is the only one of practical importance in

the book-the second coming of their Lord? Does

the language not imply that" the proplucy" is one,

condensed, immediate,-the coming of their Lord to

them,-putting the Church upon a new probation? The

epistles to the churches will clearly show that the book

is not so much a series of events as one event, the

Coming of the Lord; and that the prophecy from first

to last enters into the life of the existing members of

those churches, tests them individually like a judgementday,

and rewards or punishes openly before the world.

How vastly different is the standpoint of the apostle

and his contemporaries from that of a recent expositor

who makes the daring statement that" It is clear that

8 Does God Educate by Delusions? [1.

God, though giving the prophecy in the apostolic age,

cannot have intended it to be understood for many

many subsequent generations." Thus, we are invited

to believe that this book was really intended to be a

mystification of the church for eighteen centuries; that

God calls darkness light, and deludes his people by

false hopes. If God educates his people by such

delusions, where does this process end? May not the

hope of a second coming be as delusive for this century

and the next as it was for the first? May not the hope

of immortality itself be only a benevolent ignis fatuus

to lead the Church across the bogs of sensualism to

firmer walking ground? The method savours too

much of a trick to be divine. The book pledges itself

at its birth to be a book whose words are" faithful and

true," and in the keeping of whose instructions there

is a great reward. " Let God be true and every man

a liar."

(4) This unveiling of Christ is to be given in

things w/zz"ch MUST SHORTLY come to pass." These

words ought to put beyond all controversy the substantial

meaning of the book. Unhappily, few English

exegetes have been prepared to stand by their direct

sense. One class reads them as if they ran-" things

which must shortly begin to come to pass." Alford,

although he actually interprets the book according to

this false sense, denies strenuously its validity. The

meaning" is, he says, things" which in their entirety

must soon come to pass,"-" must have come to pass"

-" be fulfilled." Others admit that the clause must

cover the whole transactions of the book, but put

this word"shortly" on the rack and stretch it out over at

least 2000 years. "It is God's word, and we never

1-3.] " Tlze Day ofJeho·valt." 9

know what shortly may mean with Him, to whom a

day is as a thousand years." On this principle we

cannot know what any word from God may mean,

whatever it may concern, for God is not at any time a

man. But certainly this elastic treatment of the temporal

element in prophecy cannot be justified in one

single case: and is actually refuted by the classical

case in Daniel, by which it is most frequently

defended. Dr. Briggs assures us that near and at Itand

in the prophetic books mean nothing: are only stock

bits of furniture in the prophetic art. The" day of

Jehovah" was at hand alike to Joel and to Malachi;

and Jesus and the Apostles go on using the same

loose and confusing speech. (Messianic Prophecy, p.

54.) Such blundering has no existence save in the

imagination of slovenly or careless interpreters, who,

if they were not deceived by phrases, would see that

the prophecies they confound do not refer to the

same impending judgements. There are many" days

of Jehovah" in the visions of the prophets. Now, it

is the destruction of Moab, then it is Jerusalem in

danger of Scythian or Assyrian invasion; or it is

Babylon threatened by the Medes, or Egypt defeated

on the Euphrates; occasionally it is a purely ideal and

general judgement of the enemies of the Church. To

mix all these judgement-days together, and charge the

prophets with confusion, is an unpardonable sin.

Whenever a prophet says that" the day of the Lord

is near," it will be found on the simplest comparison

of his prophecy with contemporary history, that some

terrible calamity is impending in which God's hand is

to be seen. This blunder, into which too many writers

have fallen, may be explained thus:-They imagine

10 Were the Apostles i'rfistaken ? [1.

the prophet to be thinking of an ideal and final judgement

which is described as near, while actually distant;

whereas he is thinking of a specific day of judgement

which is actually ncar, but which in its processes and

results he describes in ideal terms. It is forgotten that

the prophet is poet aa well as seer. These various

judgement-days are not to be confounded because described

in similar terms. The prophets are not to be

supposed as looking through a haze, and having" no

sense of perspective.'" All such uncomplimentary

comments should cease, and prophecy be read according

to the plain straightforward sense it must have

carried to those for whom it was spoken at the first.

However, it is no prophetic utterance we have here;

but a business and prosaic record of the apostle's own

interpretation of his book. It is after he has received

his visions, mastered their contents, and is about to

put them into literary form for the Asiatic churches

that he deliberately pens these words - pens them

with a human and honest sense. What did John mean

by the words tV TrJ..XH-sllortly? Did he really understand

the events of Christ's parousia to be just impending?

No scholar doubts that such was the real

belief of the apostolic age; and therefore, on the

theory we combat, we are invited to look back upon

the painful spectacle of those "inspired apostles"Christ's

faithful companions and martyrs-blundering

on such a simple matter-inspired to utter phrases

which deceived themselves and conveyed wrong impressions

to the Church! We cannot but feel sorry

for those deceived apostles, worthy of more candid

treatment; but what are we to think of the divine

action in the case? Is it enough to cover it (as Mr.

1-3.] " SllOrtly " means- What ? 11

Guiness does) with the soft apology - "The Holy

Ghost did not undeceive them." Pray, Sir, who deceived

them first of all? At how many more apostolic

misapprehensions does God wink? Is it a part of

God's general method to use language which deceives?

Is it possible that He can employ tools so sinister and


I t is maintained, however, that" shortly" is "a prophetic

formula" of all ages, and means nothing in this

place. Alford, followed by the Speaker's Commentary,

stakes the whole case upon our Lord's use of the

word in Luke xviii. 8,-" He will avenge them

speedily," where, he says, "long delay is evidently

implied." We are perfectly willing to take up the

challenge, especially since the subject of our Lord's

discourse is identical with the subject of John's Revelation.

Our Lord looks forward to the time when, in

the social disorders and persecutions of a closing age,

his apostles will be sorely pressed, and many of them

martyred for the faith. Then (as in the corresponding

passage in Rev. vi. 10), their blood will cry from the

ground for revenge, and ascend with the groans of

their fellow saints on earth. At first God cannot grant

their prayer; but He says to them :-" Rest for a little

season until your fellow-servants and your brethren

which should be killed like you shall be fulfilled," then

relief will come. Thus our Lord teaches his disciples

to persevere in prayer, with the assurance that just when

God seems deaf to their bitter cry, their victory is near.

They are to know that "it is darkest just before the

dawn" ; that"when things are at the worst they begin to

mend" ; and therefore the word" speedily" is expressly

intended to oust every possibility of the notion of

12 " The Time is at Hand." [1.

delay. Surely the disciples would easily understand

that from the moment of their faintness and despair

relief was near. So plainly is deliverance near to the

temporal standpoint of the thought of Christ, that one

may well marvel that able expositors should be capable

of such mistakes as to pen: "here speedily implies a

long delay." We claim that it can mean nothing but

speedily; and that the idea of delay would choke all

breath out of the parable.

(5) The solemn assurance, "the time is at hand," we

hold to be an honest word; and as such it is made an

argument for watchfulness. If, as a matter of fact, the

prophecy hardly concerned that generation, what truth

is in the apostolic statement, or what force in the

argument? Then who is responsible for the excitement

of hopes destined to be disappointed; for the

culture of church piety by baseless fears and deceitful

promises? Is it lawful to do evil that good may come?

We are not ashamed to press this argument once again.

These are questions that must be faced.


JOlIN'S mind is stored so full of the soul-stirring scenes

which he has beheld in trance that, as soon as he is

face to face with his readers, he anticipates his subject

in abrupt and broken utterances of the sublimest character.

The Christ whom he reveals is at the very first

the Christ both of the Gospels and the ApocalypseHe

who shed his blood for men, and is now "the Ruler

of the Kings of the earth," who has made his Church a

kingdom and his people priests, destined to supremacy

on the earth. His present message to the churches is

4-7.] Tile Time and Place of the Parousia. 13

-" The unveiling of the hidden glory of the Crucified

is near. He cometh in his kingdom. All eyes shall

see the signs of his kingly dignity, and especially that

people who slew Him as if he had been a worm and

no Son of God. All the tribes of the land shall beat

their breasts over Him. Amen-So let it be." *

Here again we have a key to the true interpretation

of the book. John quotes from Zech. xii. where the

prophet is typically teaching that before the ideal age

comes in Israel will have" to mourn that she pursued

with mortal enmity a servant of God sent to bear

witness to the truth." The sorrow of that day is to fill

all the land of Israel in its tribes, and to be particularly

distressing in Jerusalem. Surely John's quotation of

these words indicates his belief that they are hastening

to fulfilment, and points us to the field on which the

apocalypse is mainly to transpire. The tragedy begins

while the Jew is still in possession of the land, while

Jerusalem stands, and while some of that generation

which pierced the Christ are still alive to be visited by

the fitting Nemesis of their crime. The same limit of

time was fixed by our Lord Himself for his parousia"

This generation shall not pass away till all these

things be fulfilled;"-" Some of you standing here

shall not taste of death till you see the Son of Man

coming in his kingdom." It is a glaring fact that in

almost every possible form, Christ indicates the whereabouts

in place and time of his coming, and that in

every instance it is near to those who stand about Him,

and involves the unbelieving in a penalty which is at

* It may be as well to note here, once for all, that the Greek word so

frequently translated "earth," means also" land," and ought as a rule

to have been so translated.

14 ..In the Spirit." [I.

once the rupture of their national covenant with God,

and the destruction of their national life. "Judgement

must begin at the house of God." In Christ's day this

judgement is within a lifetime, a generation; in the

Epistles it is" at hand"; in the Apocalypse it is come.

The Jew, as Paul and James so clearly intimate, is to

bear the brunt of it; but the thunderbolts that shake

the city of God to its foundations will send out their

waves of trouble and distress to the ends of the


John, the son of the eagle eye, was languishing in

banishment for the testimony of Jesus. In the midst

of his sufferings, he must often have remembered the

enigmatical saying of his Lord concerning the terminus

of his earthly life-" What if he tarry till I come?"

and fondly cherished the expectation that he would

be spared to see the day when his Lord would take

his mighty power and reign. At length a mystic hand

is laid on him, and he too becomes as one who has

transcended death. The deep eternal world is all

around him. Christ is discovered to be in no distant

sphere, but present with his Church even before the

end of the age. Consciousness needs only to be

turned inward from the sphere of sense, in order to

witness the occurrences and scenes of that deeper and

more enduring world.

Immediately, John learns that he has been brought

hither for a purpose. He is to see marvellous things;

and to write his visions in a book that the men of his

time may ponder its lessons and be blessed in their

observance.. In John's first vision he saw a picture

that was dear to him, because it reminded him of a

10-16.] "jesus Crowned." 15

sacred past; and sad as dear, because it prophesied of

a splendour that was soon to pass away. This golden

candlestick is not now, alas, the glory of the temple;

it has become the symbol of the Christian Church. In

this centre of illumination stands one like the Son of

Man, as John had seen Him in his transfigured glory.

The face of this heavenly personage is so dazzling in

its burning splendour that John is glad to rest his eyes

upon the drapery which invests Him. The garments

are sacerdotal. Now, the Aaronic priesthood is entirely

superseded; the Son of Man Himself is the High

Priest of humanity. The smoke of burning flesh stiIl

ascends from the altars of Jerusalem; but only to affront

the majesty of heaven. Visibly the seven-branched

candlestick is in its place; but its light is burning to

the socket and will soon go out. Jerusalem is no

longer the divine centre of the world; because supplanted

by that Church in which Christ dweIls, and

through which He is the light of the world.

Such is the marvellous transformation which has

taken place upon that Jesus who parted from his

disciples on Mount Olivet, as only the sublimest of all

men, and hitherto too much conceived of as still

hampered by the smaIl dimensions of our manhood.

The manhood is indeed retained; but He has now

become the Ancient of Days described in prophetic

scenes, the Eternal' Wisdom, white with the

splendours of its purity. The eyes of his Divine Intelligence

go to and fro to search the evils and

exceIlencies of all hearts; even in his feet, where He

comes' closest to the earth, his outgoings are most

glorious. Altogether, Christ is revealed to his Church,

in his divinest and most gracious attributes. He is

16 What Cllyist is to tile CllUycll. [1.

the Great High Priest, the voice of Everlasting Love,

the Sun that brightens all man's heaven, the King

who wields the all-conquering sword of truth, and

carries the keys of eternal kingdoms in his hands.

He is no longer the tender martyr, or the resuscitated

prophet of the Church's feeble faith, but the very

Christ of God, exalted far above all angels, clothed

with the attributes of the Eternal. This Son of God

is going forth to war; He is taking to Him his great

power, and is to reign until his enemies are judged and

scattered. His fainting Church will see ere long that

she is destined to prevail and to fill the whole earth

with her ·glory.

This then is the" Revelation of Jesus Christ." The

contents of the book are to answer to the features of

this image, prove it true. The churches are to watch

and see if the immediately unfolding history of the

world does not illustrate and confirm its teaching, and

his supernatural claim. They have thought of Him as

afar off in the heavens; they must learn that He has

always been amongst them. Just as they are despairing

of the triumph of the cross they are to be assured

that the moment is at hand when the tide of victory

will turn. When their enemies are most triumphantly

asserting that the Christ is for ever dead, they are

to see that He has risen indeed, and not as a

man might rise, but a's God must rise when He

takes the form of our humanity. This was a revelation

suited for the hour, and for all time. The

Church is .the kingdom and city of God. Read in

this book her mission. Interpret by this book her

various trials; discern, if you will, her future history.

This book explains it all, simply because it is a

19.] The Limits of tile Book. 17

revelation of what Christ is to the Church, and

how Christ fulfils his will in the Church's destiny.

It is from Christ himself that John receives his commission

to write this book. Its contents are prescribed

in a form which John could neither mistake nor

disobey. "Write what thou sawest" (or hast seen

when the visions are finished), " both the things which

are" (the then existing state of things in the seen and

unseen worlds in their inter-relations) "and what is

about (p.EAAH) to happen after these,"*-the changes

which must immediately supervene. Here then

is the well-defined field of history to be embraced

within the book. Is it not the very climax of absurdity

to treat a book whose subject is so strictly

limited, as if it were a chart of universal history, an

almanac with enigmatical dates covering undecipherable

distances of time? The book is pledged again and

yet again to treat substantially of its own immediate

times,-and it can only be in some merely incidental

way, and with frankest acknowledgment, that it will

venture to step beyond the bounds assigned to it.

With no warning to the contrary, we shall stand by

common sense and common honesty in seeking for

the meaning of the book.

* While the Revised Version does more justice than the Received to

this verb expressing the immediateness of events, it often in this and

other books of Scripture most unreasonably gives it the go-by: especially

when its reference is to the second coming, the resurrection and the




"Watch, for ye know not the hour of the coming of the

Son of .lifan."

r'f'IHESE seven epistles are passionate even burning

Jl. appeals to actual historical assemblies of believers.

I t is beyond the right of exegetes to give these churches

a typical significance; or to break up their evidently

contemporaneous existence into seven successive

periods covering the entire history of the Church.


is described as urgent and immediate to each individual

church, to the last, no more so than to the

first. To Ephesus, Christ says: " I will come quickly."

To Smyrna, his coming is preceded by a brief affiiction

soon to fall on them: "Fear not the things, which

thou art about to suffer; behold the devil is about to

cast some of you into prison." Pergamos is threatened

with immediate judgement: "Repent or I come quickly."

Thyatira is told that the long suffering of the

Lord is exhausted and judgement about to begin (vv.

21,22,25). Sardis is exhorted to watch because the

storm may burst at any hour. Philadelphia is told

that an hour of judgement is about to come on all the

world in which Christ will be present to protect his

friends, as well as to war against his foes. Laodicea is

H.-III.] "Watch l " 19

threatened with immediate rejection: "I will soon

spue thee out of my mouth. . Behold, I stand at

the door." Thus the crisis is as near to the last church

as to the first-equally near to all, in the same events.

It is difficult to see how the churches could interpret

this message with any other meaning, in absence of the

slightest hint to justify a repeated, successive or distant

fulfilment of its solemn warnings. As a matter

of fact, the universal Church was at that time in lively

expectation of Christ's coming; and, therefore, these

epistles sent from Christ Himself could not but intensify

the certainty that the most tremendous climax

in the world's history was at hand. No ulterior end,

such as that of keeping the Church always on the

alert for Christ's coming, can justify the use of deceptive

language in the Scripture. The Son of God is

not so impotent as to require to delude his Church

into beliefs which, for the vast majority, can have no

fulfilment. If this tricky method were pursued by

any other founder of religion, it would be universally

stigmatized as unworthy jesuitry. We ought not to

impute such methods to Him whose word is-Yea

and Amen.


is precisely that which long before it had been prophesied

to be at our Lord's parousia. Christ describes

his pre-advent Church as suffering persecution, inundated

with false teachers, strifes, seditions, and impurities,

"whereby the love of many shall wax cold."

Paul warns the Thessalonians that the coming will not

be " until the falling away come first." Timothy is

20 Tlze Falling Away. [II.-III.

instructed" that in the last days grievous times shall

come ;"-false teachers will abound, sensual lusts invade

the Church, and lawlessness prevail. Peter reminds

his readers that they had been forewarned of

the corrupt condition of the Church in " the last of the

days," and points them to the evils then existing as

corroborations of these prophecies. John, in his

epistles, cites the abounding heresies of his day as

proofs that" the last hour" is come. Jude quotes

Paul's prophecy as to the last time, and puts his finger

on the evil doers who fulfil it: "these are they who

make separations, sensual, having not the Spirit." Let

our reader once again cast his eye over the state of

the Apocalyptic churches, and there he will find every

evil in full blast which the Gospels and Epistles foretell

as symptomatic of the coming of the great day of

the Lord. The whole Apostolic Church, if we may

judge it by its named representatives, is in a state of

serious relapse. Weary of its terrible conflict with its

foes, invaded by Gnostic thought and heathen vice,

tormented by Jewish spite, it is faint and ready to die.

The critical hour is come when Christ must either go

down or conquer.


is interestingly bound up in the events and especially

in the issues about to happen in the world's history :

described spiritually in this book. Ephesus is to

make her choice between extinction and the last scene

of the book-true life in the Paradise of God. Smyrna

is appointed to the martyrdoms of chs. vi. and xii.,

and to be rewarded with deliverance from the second

II.-III.] Tile Coming in Churclt Experience. 21

death (xx. 14; xxi. IS). Pergamos is threatened with

the sharp sword of the Word of God (xix.), and

encouraged to repentance with the promise of being

sealed with the new name, given to the elect (xiv.).

Thyatira is to be visited with great tribulation (vi.

and xvi.), but the faithful are to sit with the manchild

on God's throne (xii., xix.), and enjoy" the morning

star," i.e. the coming day, which Christ's advent heralds

in (xxii. 16). Sardis is warned, in language repeated

in xvi. 15, at the very crisis of the coming, that if

found faithful she will be dressed in white robes (vii.

9-13) for the marriage supper of the Lamb, and have

the final victory of eternal life (xix.) Philadelphia is

promised that the Jew shall be humbled at the Christian's

feet, and the victors made pillars in the temple

of God, and citizens of the New Jerusalem (xxi.), To

Laodicea comes the warning of rejection; but on

amendment, a share in Christ's victory and kingdom.

Thus patiently have we gone over these epistles to put

before our readers the significant fact that the events

connected with Christ's coming, as described in subsequent

visions, are distinctly set before these churches as

experiences through which they must pass, and whose

happy fruits they may reap. They are warned of an

immediately impending struggle between the powers

of Light and Darkness, in which they will suffer, but

out of which they will be spared to come as victors.

The promise to Philadelphia is expressly significant.

The Jew had been the bane of the Apostolic Church:

" its thorn in the flesh"-often as troublous inside the

Church as out of it. He claimed to be still the praised

of God;
and like Ishmael, persecuted the Isaac of the

Spirit. When in amiable relations with his Roman

22 The Key to tlte Visions. [II.-III.

master, his one aim was to stir up Rome to crush the

Church of Christ. The moment is now come when

his pride will be overthrown, his power to injure

broken, his covenant relationship be annulled, and his

privileges visibly passed over to the believer in Christ

Jesus. The old Jerusalem is about to pass away, the

new about to come down from God in heaven. .A

new era dawns for the Church and the world. This

is the key to the events about to come to pass. The

whole unfolding of the book from first to last is an

experience immediately awaiting them as Churches of

Jesus Christ. If we will not see this fact, so plainly

intimated before the visions dawn, we deserve to miss

their meaning, and to be given over to the fate of those

who" delude themselves by the believing of a lie."


"tRigbtfall; or tbe l..aet lDa\?e of tbe

3ewieb Bge.

" The Lord shall judge his people."

" Woe unto us! for the day declineth, for the shadoic« of the

evening are stretched out."

" Then sank the star of Solyma,

Then passed her glory's day,

Like heath that in the wilderness

The light wind whirls away.

Silent and waste her bowers

Where once the mighty trod,

And sunk those guilty towers,

Where Baal reigned as God."-Nool·c.



" The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.

He sitteth bettoeen the cherubims, let the earth be moved."

WE are now on the eve of that predicted cata-

~ Y clysm by which a dispensation which has

"waxed old" is to be providentially broken up, and a

new and better era introduced into the world. If we

remember the crisis of the hour we shall soon discover

the meaning of the vision which John proceeds to

write. Many of the earliest readers of the Apocalypse

were familiar with the scene depicted here. Ezekiel

the prophet had had a similar vision when an exile

by the river Chebar. Jerusalem dragged on a weary

existence under a king whom Nebuchadnezzar had

set over it. The Jews left in the city had profited

nothing by the chastisement, and still worshipped

idols in the temple dedicated to Jehovah. Then this

solemn vision comes to Ezekiel, and he is bidden prophesy

that a severer storm of judgement is about to

break upon the holy city. Jerusalem is to be trodden

down, the temple to be demolished, the city of God

left desolate, the old kingdom of God to disappear!

But Ezekiel was made to understand that there was

a Divine Providence in the calamities of his time.

He learns that if the old order changes it is to give

26 Ezekiel andJohn. [IV.

place to a new and better; that the judgements which

befall his people will not uproot God's kingdom from

the earth, but in reality prepare the way for more

glorious manifestations of his power, and a still more

gracious fulness of his presence among men. This

Apocalyptic vision is so like Ezekiel's because John's

circumstances are the same. The older prophet was

in banishment-John was an exile for the word

of Christ. Ezekiel's generation was crushed by

the Babylonian beast-John's was oppressed by the

mightier incubus of Rome. Ezekiel's Jerusalem was

about to be laid in ruins because it had rejected the

Servant, John'S because it rejected the Son of God.

In both epochs, the judgement would necessarily

seem to be destructive of all God's promises to his

people, and of all hope for the regeneration of the

world. In the latter epoch, the Church was as yet

so outwardly identified with the Jewish people and so

little severed from Jewish thought, that it could not

but share largely in the trials of the times, if it did not

altogether sink in the general collapse. And so, as the

faithful in Ezekiel's time were strengthened for impending

judgements by a vision of God's throne, and

a reconstructed temple far excelling the glory of

the past, John and the Church are also solaced by the

assurance that God still reigns, and uses all the forces

of the universe for the advancement of his cause.

" The Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up."

Heaven is opened to John's sight. There is the

throne of God. It is not empty. It is not possessed

by a multiplicity of powers that rule the earth with

divided counsel. One sits on it. One Will rules over

1-3.] Love and Severity in God. 27

all. One Supreme Intelligence directs the course

of history. One plan is being carried out from the

foundation of the world to the final consummation of

its destiny. The character of the Deity who reigns is

symbolized by the bright translucent gleam of jasper

and the rich red glow of the sardius stone. There is

no mixture nor confusion; but all over that transcendent

form there is both the gleam of the purity of

truth and the rich warm glow of love. Behold your

God! not the God of Calvary only, sweet to look on

in his mingled tenderness and love, but as well the

God of righteousness and truth. We shall read very

soon of "the fierceness of his wrath!" but look beneath

the surface, and there is the calmness of the

unruffled sea. His judgement is not a bursting avalanche

of passion; it is the inflexibility of his truth

going forth to victory. His justice and his mercy are

the same, though of diverse aspects. The truth which

condemns our evil saves us from its power. When

God comes down to judge, He is a Father overwhelming

us with the bitterness of our sins in order that He

may purify and save; the severity of the jasper tempered

by the generous warmth of the ruddy sardius.

Shining above the throne there is "a rainbow like

an emerald to look upon."
This God is the old historic

Y ahveh of Israel. If the Gnostic heresy was in circulation

by this time that the God of the Jews was another

and inferior being to the God of Jesus Christ, and that

He had come to dethrone Him, here is its refutation.

It was this God who said-" I have set my bow in the

heavens," and He still remembers it in mercy. He is

also the strong and jealous God of Mount Sinai. Now

He says," Yet once more I shake the earth." The

CJlerubim and Seraphim. [IV.

quaking mountain was expressive of the goings forth

of higher truth, the institution of new laws, the

threatening of severer judgements. Here, likewise, a

new dispensation is to be officially begun. Old things

are to pass away, all things are to be new. Another

grand climacteric in the world's development has been

reached. New light is to break forth from Jehovah's

throne; a new fire which will consume his enemies.

It is indeed to be a war of THRONES ; and Jehovah's

sovereignty will assert itself against all the priestly

hierarchies, the tyrant Caesars, and the idol gods that

have held dominion in this world.

In the front of that throne" are seuen lamps of fire

bunting, wlziclz are tlte seven spirits of God."
The deep

meaning of this symbol is still hidden, but we may

safely say, with Bohme, that it points to seven fundamental

powers that penetrate and illumine the universe.

The effluent influence of God is well illustrated

by the light and heat of fire. God is our Sun; his

love and light, in all their sevenfold diversity, flow

forth continually to quicken and inspire his creatures.

"And before the throne there was a sea ofglass like

unto crystal."
This sea would look as if it were the

floor of heaven; the foundation of God's throne.

Does that throne rest on darkness and on mystery?

Are God's ways full of perplexity and crookedness?

Nay, the principles of his government are most transparent.

His throne is established in righteousness,

and all the outgoings of his rule are truth and equity.

"Uherubim. and Seraphim; C17Jing-Hol!J, Iwl!J, Iwl!J."

Round about the throne were placed "four LivingOnes,"

bearing the likenesses respectively of a Lion,

6-8.J Divine Providence. 29

a Calf, a Man, and a flying Eagle. It is significant

that these are the principal types which the

ancient world chose to symbolise the Divine; yet

great diversity prevails as to their interpretation. It

seems impossible to do better than to understand them

as embodiments of the powers or qualities of God in

his government of the world and its nations.

"Strength and Courage are Divine," said the Assyrian.

In the government of God, there is no lack of either in

the treatment of his friends or foes. His utterance of

judgement is like the lion's assault upon its foes; his

vigilance is like the lion searching for its prey-unsparing

in its efforts to rend the carcase of every false

and evil thought that lodges in the mind of man.

" Usefulness is Divine" said other ancient nations. The

plodding ox, what better symbol of patience and fruitful

force? Divine Providence is not merely like a lion

going forth to slay, but like a patient ox turning all

its toil to fruitfulness. If God destroy, it is that He

may build again; if your error is exposed, it is to lead

you to the truth; if you are afflicted, it is to correct

your ways; all divine activity issues in abiding good.

The human form divine is Wisdom inspired by charity.

Such indeed are the energies of God-most wisely ordered,

most humanely inspired; and ever working

upward with the intelligence, the penetration, the unwearied

flight of the eagle. There is aspiration, progressive

evolution in the processes of God; a power

that lifts all creation up into diviner forms, and for

ever beautifies the sons of men. "They that wait

upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall

mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and

not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint."

30 All to the Glory of God. [IV.

The "eyes" with which these Living Ones are

endowed are expressive of the Divine Omniscience

which accompanies them in their action, the infallibility

with which they act; and the" wings" again tell that

they never grovel in the dust, but soar unweariedly to

higher and still higher heights of excellence. Accordingly,

their final cause in the universe is to manifest

and declare the glorious character of God. Does

history reveal a power within it, not ourselves, that

makes for righteousness? Is God's government unfolding

happily and progressively as the ages roll? Is

the earth being surely, if slowly, delivered from its

vanity and corruption? Does the human race progress

under the courageous, practical, kindly, and inspiring

Providence of God? Men ask these questions, not

without their fears that the world goes from bad to

worse; but whatever be the devious courses of the

stream, let us heartily believe that the Living Powers

that work upon this world as the hands of God, are

such as John described-infallible by their omniscience

and ever rising upward in their spiral course ;-therefore

never resting in ascribing "glory, honour, and

to Him that sitteth on the throne, by the

growing betterness and beauty of the world.

"Principalities and Powers in the Heaoenlies"

Apparently outside the circle of these Living Ones

are "four and twenty Elders, seated upon thrones, wearing

zohite robes, and having crowns of gold upon their

Who are these? it may be asked; for the

answer is not quite apparent. Sometimes _they are

taken to be representatives of the Christian Church,

but more frequently twelve prophets and the twelve

4,10.] Tile four and twenty Elders. 31

apostles, representing the Old and New Covenants.

We believe it to be altogether a mistake to find the

Church already standing round the throne of God in

heaven. Even the Lamb is not yet seen there;

therefore it is impossible to have redeemed humanity.

These Elders are not human; they have not passed

through the great tribulation, nor been redeemed from

the earth. As Kelly notices, to the destruction of his

own interpretation, " their worship does not go beyond

the thought that God had created and sustained all

things." With Reuss, we take them to be angels of

the highest rank, a grand celestial priesthood, who, by

reigning over God's creation, give Him that continuous

glory which is his due. Perhaps, we ought even to go

the length of identifying them with that order of

angels in whose hands the Mosaic Covenant was

ordained (Gal. iii. 19; Heb. ii. 2). Let us not forget,

however, that we are dealing only with a symbol.

And yet, why may there not be in the spiritual universe

actual thrones and dominions for the due administration

of God's will? Let us not fancy that in discovering

kings and priests in heaven we are simply carrying up

our human notions and transforming heaven according

to our earthly models. It may be that the Elders are

24 because there were 24 courses in the Jewish priesthood;

and yet, may it not rather be that the earthly

arrangement was the shadow of the order in the

heavens? Perhaps after all, heaven is not so unlike

earth; except that it is the sublimation of our noblest

hopes, the unalloyed fulfilment of all that is good and

true on earth. All its creatures are pursuing the

highest good in contemplation and in action, because

all of them refer their activities and joys to· the holy

32 Wlzo is on the Tltrone? [IV.

inspirations of their God, and utterly forget themselves

in the work committed to their trust.

Ponder on this vision and yuu will see how fittingly

it answers to the wants of John and his fellow christians.

The question which was gnawing at their

hearts amid all the horrid disorder and oppression of

those times was, Is Satan King of Kings and Lord of

Lords? or is there after all a righteous God, and is

that God upon his throne? The answer is no dream

of the night, no fanciful speculation, no dogma from

the schools, but an open sigltt of heauen-s-e. revelation

of God's throne as fixed and sure, in closest contact

with the earth.

"The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice."

" There is a river, the streams whereof shall make

glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles

of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she

shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that

right early. The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God

of Jacob is our refuge."




" Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;

who sat doum on the right hand of the throne of the

Maje8ty in the Heavens."

S' T . John might well be satisfied, for a time at least,

, with the vision which he had seen. He had been

the witness of a turbulence and disorder down on earth

which have been seldom, if ever, paralleled in the

world's history. A Roman historian of the period

(Tacitus, Annals, B. 1., 2) has painted a powerful

picture of the times in which this Revelation was

given to the Church. Wars, earthquakes, intrigues,

murders, domestic impurity, treachery, profanity, and

political revolution, are the pigments with which he

paints. Whatever were the common sufferings of the

time, it was worse to be a Christian. The follower of

Jesus was then a social pariah on whom men might

trample as on a worm, and whom corrupt officials

delighted to hunt to death, in order to confiscate his

goods to an empty exchequer, or for private spoil.

Added to the disturbed condition of the churches, it

was a time of perilous trial to the faith of many

Christians. To an earnest soul like John's, racked

with fears as to the future-longing for the coming of

God's Kingdom, and yet doomed to see the world


34 Tlte Book of Destiny. [v.

growing worse, and the state of the Church more

hazardous-this vision of a throne set high in heaven,

a government whose energies were full of eyes of

wisdom, and clothed with wings of aspiration and

progress, must have come with a peace and hope that

made him calm and steadfast as a rock. But this is

only the beginning of a series of more brilliant revel ations,-

the first scene in a drama of many acts of

ever-intensifying interest, in which is to be unfolded to

the Church the dark and troublous path by which

God will lead her to her final victory.

" The purpose ofHim that 100rketh all things after the counsel

of His .cill."

John looked again at Him who sat upon this throne.

"On Izis rig-Itt Izand lay a book." The Seer at once

divines that the contents are a matter of immediate

interest to himself, and is eager to be told the meaning.

Therefore we may safely say, this is the book of

God's eternal purpose-the counsel of his Will-the

thing that God will do against every opposing power.

Many ()f us have been jealous of the doctrine that

God has a written plan for each separate human life,

to which every will must bow by grim necessity. We

have regarded such a doctrine as fatal to freedom, to

morality, to religion; and as time has passed, our

contention has been justified by an increasing concurrence

of opinion. But we have had no jealousy of the

doctrine that God has fore-ordained what He Himself

shall bring to pass-that God has settled plans, the

counsel of his own unerring wisdom, by which He

ever works and guides the world to its certain destiny.

2,3.] Who knows tlte Mind of the Lord? 35

Such a faith is of prime necessity when men are

called upon to struggle for the true and right in the

face of odds that might well appal the stoutest heart.

It was a faith essential to the earliest pioneers of

gospel truth, as they flung themselves into the midst

of savage hordes to conquer or to die. Without this

faith, the fires of persecution would have withered the

spirits of our own reforming forefathers. Instead of

battling against mighty odds with a hope that rarely

died, and a strength like the very strength of God,

because they held themselves to be guided by a Will

that was invincible, they must needs have yielded to

despair, and crept into their mountain caves to die like

beaten dogs. Through the faith that their cause was

God's and that God marches to certain victory, the

weakest was made mighty to labour and to endure.

" The things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God."

But how is it possible for men to know what God's

hand may contain? The cry of all ages is-" Who is

worthy to open this book, able to break the seals that

lock its contents from the ken of men? " Man wants

his augurs and his prophets very much, and is willing

to pay the price of their charlatanism. "But no one in

or in earth, or in tlte deptlts of hades" can read

the secret purposes of God. The" times and seasons"

are kept hidden even from the angels in the Father's

hand. The book of God can be read only by some

one who has a perfect apprehension of the mind of

God; and if the book is to be translated for the ears

of man, by some one who has a perfect apprehension

of the wants and longings of the human heart.

36 Our problems soh/ed in Clzrist. [vo

So eager was John, that a moment seemed like a

century of delay, and his despair found vent in tears.

Is it possible to grieve standing even in the presence

of the throne? Tears are human. Dante meets Virgil

with the challenge-s-v.Art thou truly man or melancholy

shade? " The answer is-" Non 1I0m; 1I0mo gia fui,"

(not man; I once was man). The hallowed assurance

of our Christian Faith is, that we shall be more human

once we have crossed the threshold of that life.

Before the unsolved problems of eternity, we too may

be moved like John. His heart was with the Church;

the destinies of his people roused his interest; and

THERE he hungers to know, whether the tree of life

which God has planted on the earth, is to be torn up,

or to root and spread itself in peace and joy to men?

But God shall wipe away all tears. An Elder said to

John "weep not!" Ah, how often do we weep like

John; too soon, before we know God's story to its

end; weep because there is a little pause, and we fancy

that it ends in darkness or in death, when, if only we

were patient and had faith, we should anticipate a

splendid culmination for whatever his Providence has

begun. U Be/wid, tile Lion of tke tribe of fudalz, tile

root of David, Izatlz ouercotne to open the book and loose

tlze seuen seals thereof."
These were familiar titles

to the members of the Apostolic Church. They

connect Jesus with the brightest hopes of Israel, the

grandest promises of the old prophetic word; and

point to Him as the heir of David's throne, whose

right it is to reign over all the peoples and the princes

of the earth.

But why has He such power, and through what

special aptitudes does He prevail? Behold, this Lion,

6.] Sacrifice the Way to Power. 37

name of power, magnanimity and courage, is in very

deed a Lamb. How contradictory, yet how true in

the experience of the Church. The ways of the Lord

are a combination of power and gentleness. Able to

tear and destroy, his very fierceness is the play of love.

He can slay and be slain. Here at this moment, He

is the Lamb slain for our sin, the Lamb of wounded

love, God's sacrifice for our salvation; but for the

completion of his work, the Lamb must be as well the

Lion who can destroy the enemies whom his love

cannot transform.

" Exalted far above all Principalities and Powers."

This slain Lamb is in the midst of tlte throne.

Blind unbelief, so proud to be" unduped of fancy,"


"He is dead. Far hence He lies

In the lone Syrian town,"

but to those who have eyes to see, God has made it

plain, that Christ has really ascended up to imperial

power and splendour in the heavens. God is never

in the future to be severed from this Lamb. His

throne is never to be seen apart from Jesus crucified

; in its very thunderings and lightnings there

is the spirit of gentleness and love' that suffered

unto death that we might live. This Lamb is henceforth

inside the mystic circle of the Elders and the

Living Ones. In all directions, the energies of God

flow out through the principle of self-sacrifice and

mercy. None the more is God's government one of

laxity and incompetence. The Lamb has seven horns,

that is perfect power, and seven eyes, infinite discern38

All tllings put under Him. r-.

ment to detect the evil and the good. " As the Father

hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to

have life in Himself." The Lamb is invested with the

judging and quickening powers of God: henceforth is

to be held as most Divine.

Then the Lamb took the book out of the rigltt Iland

of Him that sat on the throne.
This is the transformation

of Old Testament revelation into the sweeter

spirit of the New. .The Father has given the kingdom

to the Son. Moses is no longer master of the

house; the Son is taking his mighty power to reign.

The Lamb is now" the power of God." Henceforth it

must be known that all highest power must take the

form of love, and that they alone know God who see

Him through this once-suffering now triumphant


" Let all the Angels of God u'O'rship Him."

This apotheosis of the Lamb is universally acknowledged

in the heavens. "When God bringeth in his

first begotten" into the highest heaven, Cherubim

and Elders all fall down before the Lamb in homage

to that Divine Man in whom both hemispheres of the

universe are united, and a lost world reconciled to God.

Now is the time for universal joy and thanksgiving.

On earth Christ has achieved a mighty work, though

it is still only in its bare inception. He has given to

God a Church that even in its infancy is the mightiest

power the world has ever known. The kingdom of

God is come. Prophetically, the Church is seen to

reign. It is the stone cut out of the mountain that

hurled against the brutal kingdoms of the earth will

grind the strongest of them to powder. Heaven begins

6-14.J C/zrist Head ouer all. 39

its actual reign on earth; and this is the moment of

high festival."

Surely this is indeed an answer to the cry of the

troubled churches of John's time. Is the devil's carnival

to reign on earth? Are oppression and violence

to prevail against the saints of God? Hear the answer

in the swelling song of heaven-" The Lamb is the

mightiest power; He is invested with the royalties of

heaven and earth; He is the redeemer of his people

from the grasp of every power that is inconsistent with

the reign of peace and love. His Church is glorious

in its might; as yet a small and secret company of

kings and priests, it nevertheless rules the destinies of

earth, and the nations that shall not acknowledge it

shall perish." Such was the assurance which came to

that fainting Church from the throne of God. Small

as yet was the company of them that kept the word

of God; but they were the kings of their generation,

the wielders of that influence which more than all has

shaped the world's growth through eighteen centuries.

In this joyful acclamation at the advent of the

Lamb all ranks and orders of the angels join (v. II).

That sacrificing love by which the world was redeemed

concerns all ranks of God's creatures. The manifestation

of his character as a God who suffers for his universe,

suffers to abolish suffering amongst the creatures

He has made, is an occasion of transcendent joy

through all the sentient universe. Yea, down even to

the unseen depths of being there can be but one re-

* Ifthe reader will turn to the Revised Version (ch. v, 9-10), it will

be seen that they who sing this new song of the Kingdom are no part of

the redeemed. It is the heavenly hierarchy who here celebrate the initiation

of the era of redeeming love.

40 God in Christ. [v.

sponse. Wherever God in Christ is known and recognized,

there can be only joy. God in Christ is the God

of conciliation, of progress, of increasing light and

liberty. As God in Christ is known, his praise shall

increase through all eternity.



" The time is comefor judgement to begin at the house of God."

T'HERE is something in the heart of man that

~ makes him pry into the future. We ever look

forward with good hope. Fortune, not misfortune, we

anticipate; but no revelation of the future would be

true to life that did not mix our joys with tears, and

show us dark and lurid shadows falling here and

there upon the silveriest path that human foot has

trod. Perhaps John may weep again; this time, because

the seals are opened and the future ominous

with every token of distress and pain.

A seal is opened by the Lamb. Then John hears a

voice of thunder say" Come." It is the utterance of

the Lion: Providence in its strong commanding aspects

; and this call is addressed to the rider and his

horse not yet in the field of vision. The Lion is here

the servant of the Lamb. An ancient prophet said

they should "lie down together;" and the first true reconciliation

was realized in Him who is at once the

Judge and the Saviour of Men. But notice that even

here the influence of the Lamb is uppermost. The

strength and courage to devour and rend are completely

at the bidding of the Lamb who was slain.

"Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered."

John saw, and behold, a wlzite horse, with a crowned

rider, going forth conquering and to conquer.
A power

42 Victory! Va' Victis! [VI.

this with which the lion-like aspect of Providence is in

closest sympathy. It purports victory on victory. I

have felt strongly drawn to the interpretation given

by Alford, Godet, and others, that this represents the

conquering, invincible, V';ord of God-truth from the

bow of doctrine, which is like an arrow in the hearts of

the enemies of the king. Great is truth, and it must

prevail in every province and dominion now enslaved

by darkness and sin. There is, however, a certain

incongruity between so sweet and pleasing a conception,

and the dreadful images which follow; and I feel

constrained to prefer another view. Emphasis is laid

on victory-let us keep to that. This horseman is the

leader of an army; the commander of the awful

powers that follow. These are for the time to be victorious.

This rider then may only symbolise the invincibility

of the powers that follow, the certainty that they

shall do the work for which they are sent forth of God.

May we not go a little further, and see the symbol of

some imperial government, whose power has been

hitherto invincible, and before whom there is still a

course of victories. Va: Victis! In vain will be their

resistance. If already they have been conquered, and

are impelled by some impulse of independence to reassert

their liberties, it is only to be smitten with a

stronger hand, for God says that the conqueror shall

be victorious still. But the picture is not all darkness.

That conquering power is in the hand of God. Terrible,

therefore, as are the figures that follow, John is

consoled by the assurance that they are in the service

of the Lamb.

"Wars and rumours of wars, and famines in direr« places."

These seals are at once reduplications and expan1-

8.] Famine and Death. 43

sions in their successive order. The white horse of the

first is, in the second seal, the red horse of tumult,

warfare, fratricidal strife. With war's red hoof

trampling over the fertile fields, burning and treading

into the mire what it cannot use, and withdrawing men

from the peaceful ways of industry, there comes the

dread black horse of famine and want. "A measure of

tuheat for a penny!
" One day's wage earns only one

mouth's bread, so that the workman will devour all

that he can win, and have nothing for the hungry

members of his family. Bread at eight times its usual

value-famine prices! Our first thoughts are for the

poor; but the rich as well will have great concern for

their luxuries of "oil and wine." That the scene is

eastern cannot well be denied; nor that the wheat and

barley, the oil and the wine, were the leading products

of Palestine in the days of John. History tells us how

much its inhabitants had reason to be troubled about

the means of life in the terrific days of the revolution.

"I will send the pestilence and also wild beasts among them."

There is one power at least that will mercifully end

the sufferings of men. After famine follows Death. It

will do its work by the sword, by hunger, pestilence,

and by the wild beasts that come down upon depopulated

lands and smoking villages. That is the

appalling scene that has followed in the wake of every

conqueror. It is the witness of what mere brute power

can do,-of what brutes men can become when they

forget the imperative THOU SHALT of a just and righteous

God, and become worshippers of a mere I WILL.

The lesson has often been pressed home on men, that

tyrannies can only end in blood and tears j that

44 Hades. [VI.

wealthy indolence, looking down upon the struggles

of ignorance and hunger weltering uncared for at its

feet, will be torn down from its glittering throne to

walk in poverty and rags; that indifference to the

will of God must soon become incompatible with the

brotherhood of man; and that the final refuge from

man's inhumanity to man is death. And indeed it is a

refuge that might well be envied in such miserable

days. were it not for a ghastly form that comes behind.

The unillumined Hades of ancient thought meant

disembodiment and weakness, judgement without

much hope of rest or victory. John can say nothing

to redeem this future, for he is dealing with a heathen

or pre-christian world. rn all ages, with a universality

and persistency that are surprising, men have divined

this miserable vision of the future life. Everywhere it

has called up fear and trembling, but neither selfinterest,

nor false philosophy has been able to drive

this faith from the common heart of man.

" Where.wever the carcaseis, therewill the eaglesbegathered together."

But we must turn back for a moment. What has

all this to do with John and the infant Church?

Much every way, if John recognises in this conquering

power some fresh assertion of its domination on the

part of Rome. Where will this be felt? We cannot

hesitate in answering-Jerusalem is still the centre of

John's thoughts as she is the sacred centre of the earth;

and it must be especially in the chosen land that such

dread events will reach their deadliest climax. John

knew that these sweeping calamities were such as God

had frequently before employed for the chastisement

of his native land. Had not Jehovah said to that

4-8.] Where is the blow to fill! ? 45

ancient prophet who like himself had seen the Throne

and Cherubim: "I send my four sore judgements upon

Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome

beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and

beast" ? Knowing that the Jews had filled up the

cup of their iniquity, until Paul was compelled to say

that" God's wrath had come upon them to the uttermost,"

it was scarcely possible to interpret these visions

otherwise than as a threatened repetition of the desolations

which hac befallen Palestine in Ezekiel's time.

" What shall be the s~gn of thy presence, and of the end of the age?"

Besides, John had heard Christ asked concerning

the destruction of the temple and the end of the

Jewish age, and had not forgotten the thrilling answer

" Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars; nation

shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,

and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes

in divers places. All these are the beginnings

of sorrows." And here in his apocalyptic visions these

identical calamities stand at the head of that series of

tribulations amid which the Kingdom of Heaven is

born. That these should come directly from the hand

of God and from the Lamb, John well knew. He had

by no means mistaken those trenchant parables in

which Christ warned the Jews that the consequence of

his murder would be the destruction of their political

existence and theocratic privileges. "The Lord of

the vineyard will send his armies and miserably destroy

those wicked men who slew his Son, and will let out

his vineyard unto other husbandmen." "His armies!"

-yes, his armies. It would be no surprise while it

would be a consolation to the christians of those times

46 The Martyrs' Cry. [VI.

that it was not Nero nor Vespasian who was judging

Jerusalem. It was God. The punishment would not

be sorer than was needed. The wrath of the Lamb

would be tempered by all the mercy of his Love; and

the day of darkness would surely pass away to usher

in a gladder day than the past had ever seen.

" Shall not God avenge Ais elect? . He will avenge them.


Another seal is opened, and a startling picture is unveiled.

The scene is in the eternal world but without

particular localisation. Souls of martyrs are seen beneat/:

the altar ON which the Lamb had at first appeared as

slain. The symbol seems to signify that their state is

one of sacrifice rather than of reward. They are not

yet in their resurrection forms, nor in the society of

their Lord; but cry aloud as if impatient of God's

delay to judge their persecutors. This is indeed a

startling revelation; yet clearly it is a reference to the

parable recorded in Luke xviii. Our previous discussion

of its meaning will enable us to be curt. Our

Lord foretold that the time would come when the

blood of his Apostles would be shed, and that upon

their murderers would come God's great day of revenge,

although the vengeance might seem to be long delayed.

St. Peter appears to have felt, with a natural

impatience, when writing his second epistle, that this

avengement had been too long delayed; and explains

it by the divine unwillingness to cut short man's

period of repentance. At last, however, the Church is

told that the hour is come! Heaven's patience is

worn out: the clouds are gathering for the storm.

The spirit-martyrs are to be patient "for a little time"

until their number is complete. Meanwhile they are

9-17.] TIle Sinners' Wail. 47

given" wllite robes" to signify that their vindication is

proceeding from that hour.

We must take care to read nothing passionate, vindictive,

or cruel into the martyrs' cry. The natural

man's desire for vengeance is that his enemy shall

suffer injury for injury, wrong for wrong, simply to be

quits, and without regard to whether vengeance will

yield good results. The spiritual man's desire is that

evil shall be checked, that folly and wickedness shall

become their own avengers, and wisdom and righteousness

involve their own reward. His cry for vengeance

is that justice may put its check on evil; break the

power of those tyrannies and falsehoods that withstand

the progress of the truth, and thereby hasten on the

time when the order and peace of heaven shall prevail.

The personal element cannot, perhaps, be altogether

excluded in this case; for when the time is

come they will lie no longer beneath the altar, but

will be adorned with crowns and palms, and become

the envy of coming generations to whom the prize of

martyrdom is denied. Even now, in anticipation of

the day of victory, they are putting on their festal


.. Your children shall begin to say to the mountains: Fall on

us; and tu the Mlls cun'?" us."

The sixth seal moves towards an answer to the

martyrs' prayer. The scene here opened up is simply

overwhelming in its grandeur, being no less than the

destruction of the physical universe. Popularly it is

not read as a " sign," but taken as science-an actual

astronomical catastrophe. As a matter of fact, the

days of the Apocalypse were remarkable for their

48 [vr,

physical portents. From the close of the reign of

Tiberius, A.D. 37, earthquakes hardly ceased until the

fate of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79. During

Nero's reign, more than 300 cities were demolished by

earthquakes. From Rome to Jerusalem, nature was

in one continuous condition of disturbance, and visited

with signs of a portentous character. Plainly, however,

the reference of this seal is not to a physical demolition

of the universe. Such a blunder is inexcusable.

After the catastrophe is past, the earth stands fast in

its place; there is still land and sea, trees and grass,

unhurt by the commotion, and an abundant population

which has not felt the shock! In the interpretation

of prophetic books we must remember the habits

of prophetic thought. The host of heaven was dissolved,

and heaven rolled away as a scroll in the day

of God's vengeance upon Edom (Is. xxxiv. 4). All

the lights of heaven were made dark when Babylon

was destroyed by Media (Is. xiii. 10), and when the

star of Egypt set (Ezek. xxxii. 7-8). The same catastrophe

took place at the invasion of locusts in the days

of Joel; and Amos uses the same symbols to pourtray

the impending tribulations ofhis time. In short, the

scene before us is the concrete form in which all prophecy

answers the question: "Shall not the day of the

Lord be darkness and not light? even very dark, and

no brightness in it?" (Amos v. 20.) There is therefore

no excuse for the ignorant fear that conjures up

a universe broken up and pulverised. The symbology

is indicative of troubled and revolutionary times, when

the ordinary foundations of society are broken up,

when old religions perish, the leaders of thought are

stricken down, and chaos reigns.

12-17.] "Weep for Yourselves." 49

The scene of this impending revolution is marked

off by our Lord himself in Mat. xxiv. 29. It is centred

in sacred J udrea : and so powerful a fulfilment of

the symbol is never again to take place in human history.

The actual fact was no whit behind the prophecy.

Renan utters no exaggeration when he says

that during those days" life actually became unbearable;"

and "men's minds were kept in a constant

state of frenzy" (Les ApOtres, 264-6). No wonder

that the kings, and princes, and chief captains" (compare

Acts iv. 26; Mark vi. 21) especially, were afraid

of what was coming on the land, and that the multitudes

were weary of life, and called upon the rocks to

fall on them and end their tortures. This imprecation

is first heard in Hosea x. 8, when Israel is suffering

from the Assyrian invasion. Christ forewarns "the

daughters of Jerusalem" that it wiII be repeated by

their children in the dreadful sufferings of the coming

Roman desolations; and there can be little doubt that

this Apocalyptic scene is intended to be the realisation

of Christ's prophecy by that very generation that,

as children led by their mothers' hands, had heard the

fatal warning from his lips. The striking figures of

this picture do no more than justice to the dislocations

and terrors of that time in Palestine. The armies of

the Lord have appeared, as the people had been

warned by the preaching of apostles and evangelists.

The powers that rule religion and the state, the sun

and stars, are tottering; famine, pestilence, and civil

discord are breaking up society, and the land is rocking

to its foundations. No wonder that multitudes

recognize these judgements as God's punishment of

their sins, and are tormented with the fear that it


50 Outraged Love. [v!.

may be true that they have actually murdered the

Son of God. No fire burns so fierce at last as

outraged love.



" Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel

in thy pouring out of thy.fury on Jerusalem?"

TIHE last scene told us that heaven and earth are

- about to pass away, and a new heaven and a

new earth take their place. The picture John now

sees is one much needed to pacify his anxious mind;

for the question must have started-Amid such convulsions,

what is to become of the people of God?

Here he is told by powerful symbols that no breath of

wind can blow upon the land until God gives his

consent. The four winds of Daniel are apparently

political spirits or powers, and these winds must be

akin. Violent and reckless as these are, they cannot

be allowed to blow until God has first of all secured

the safety of his faithful ones.

This sealing scene is suggested from Ezekiel, like

so much else in the Apocalypse. That ancient

prophet, as a prelude to the Chaldzean devastation of

Jerusalem, saw in vision a man clothed in linen go

through the city of Jerusalem and mark the foreheads

of the men who sighed and cried over her idolatries;

the remainder were committed to the sword. We

shall not err in thinking that there is a similar meaning

here. God's "four sore judgements" are about to

break once more upon the land; and to show that

52 Does Providence discriminate? [VII.

these are limited and bounded by Almighty Providence,

it is decreed that their vengeance shall not fall on

any who are the doers of God's will. How often does

it seem to us that Providence is a Power without a

Conscience !-a judgement without discrimination-a

vengeance that falls alike on all. One thing happeneth

alike, we say, to bad and good. Let forth the dogs of

war, let famine fill the land, let the pestilence waste at

noon-day-what respect have they for righteous men?

Yea, is it not too frequently the case that the blow

falls first upon the righteous man, and that they who

escape most deftly are, if anything, the wicked?

" Streams will not curb their pride

The just mall not to entomb,

Nor lightnings go aside to give his virtues room;

Nor is that wind less rough which blows a good mall'S barge."

Doubtless there is much to perplex us in the daily

march of Providence, and we may well at times bewail

ourselves and say there is no favour for the

righteous; but a wider survey and a calmer judgement

will discern, sometimes at least, the clearest

indications of the presence of a Hand that shields and

saves. Especially in times of critical importance to

the Church may the presence of God's angel be discerned,

sealing his saints and building round about

their persons and their homes a wall of fire through

which the Adversary cannot break.

An"d who are these whom Providence now shields

so marvellously? They are called "the servants of

and by more particular designation they are

"the tribes of the children of Israel" The reference

must be either to the whole believing church of Christ,

or to the believing sons of Abraham. The latter is by

1-8.] A Remnant shall be Saved. 53

every argument to be preferred. This seal is the fulfilment

of an Old Testament promise that Israel shall be

gathered from the corners of the earth and preserved

in a kingdom that shall never be removed; and also

of certain well-known threats, one of which was

familiar to every Jew, and may have helped to give

this vision its particular form-" the Lordsltall separate

him unto evil, out of all tlte tribes of Israel"

xxix); and another better known to the members of

the Church,-God will "gather his wheat into his

garner, and burn up the chaff with unquenchable

fire." The narrative is then so diluted with a Jewish

tincture that it cannot be explained but by referring

it to the believing Jewish Church. If the vision had

been intended to give comfort to some distant Gentile

Church, surely a symbolism would have been chosen

not so likely to create perplexity. So definite a

particularisation of the tribes seems unavoidably to

point to the actual Israel of the flesh; and no choice

is left to us when we have seen, at so many points,

that Palestine as God's land, Jerusalem as his city, the

Temple as the centre of his worship, the Jews as his

covenant people, are so intimately concerned with the

scenes and visions of the Apocalypse. The burden of

these impending judgements is to fall on them.

" God did not cast off his people which He foreknew."

In the interval between the ascension of our Lord

and the destruction of Jerusalem, the question was

never absent from the Jewish mind (alarmed by the

threatenings of national destruction so freely uttered

by the prophetic Spirit in the Church)-" Has God

cast away his people? Is Israel given over to deWlzat

advantage Ilatlz tile jew?

struction? Is it not written that Israel is God's

everlasting people-that of his Covenant there is no

end?" Now that the destruction of the Jewish policy

seems most imminent, that question presses with a

new intensity upon the hearts especially of all Hebrew

Christendom. The answer comes-" God hath not

cast away his people. No faithful soul shall perish in

these impending judgements. Out of every tribe a

remnant will be saved. The holy people will live on :

its name never be blotted out. So great will be the

tribulation, that except the days be shortened no flesh

shall be saved; but for these elects' sake those days

shall be shortened, and a multitude out of all the

tribes be' preserved according to the covenant mercies

of our God." Such is the message which comes to

John. Prophetic assurances of Israel's perpetuity are

to be fulfilled; but the Christian Church is destined

to supplant the nation; the Church is organically one

with Israel. The holy seed among the covenant

people are the first-born of the Church of Christ; and

the nucleus around which all its future growth shall

cluster. In coming generations of believers, these

sons of Abraham will find their true successors, and

perpetuate an Israel truly worthy of their fathers'


" In ChriBt Jesus there is neither Jeu: nor Greek."

All over Christendom there is a deep-felt interest

in the future history of the Jews-a heap of wasted

sympathy. Nothing will please but that the Jew must

be visited with some magnificent favour in the future

development of God's kingdom; so that he shall stand

upon the shoulders of the Gentile and lord it over him.

9-17.] One Body and one Spirit. 55

The Scriptures give the Jew no pre-eminence beyond

that he is first in the field, and has the natural rights

of the first-born son; with the ominous intimation

that these are frequently, through unfaithfulness, for

ever transferred to the younger. The Pauline answer

to this extravagant expectation is one that for ever

ends its prospects :-" In Christ there is neither Jew

nor Gentile. He is a Jew who is one inwardly. In

the broad field of the Gospel, there is no respect of

persons." In John's time, we fear that a somewhat

bitter struggle existed in the Church between its

Jewish and Gentilish clements: a struggle for supremacy.

Had it been left to men to settle it, God

only knows how it might have ended. Perhaps there

was a Providence in the limited number of Jews who

entered the Apostolic Church; for if the bulk of

Israel had been converted, the chances seem that

circumcision and other J ewish rites would have been

maintained and made compulsory, so as to give the

Jew that primacy of rank in the Church which many

Christians seem anxious to bestow upon him at this

day. However, God settled it by Titus; and finished

it beyond recall by Hadrian. The Jew was to have

no special pre-eminence henceforth in the Church of


This settlement of the question is plainly pre-intimated

in this book, the vision of a nameless multitude

out of every nation andpeople and tongue. There is

much need for the caution given to interpreters by the

question of the Elder: "Who are these?" It comes

readily to the lips to say-" the Church in heaven,"the

vision is so pure and beautiful. In fact, the favourite

answer is, that this is a vision of the heavenly

56 Tltrough the Great Tribulation. [VII.

Church; with some, the Church of the early centuries;

and with others, the Church after the consummation

of all things. Every interpretation which makes it the

Church in heaven at any period is egregiously astray.

It makes a violent and needless dislocation of the order

of the visions. Why, the Apocalyptic martyrs are

not yet in heaven, but waiting in a state of sacrifice.

As a vision of heaven, it would contradict the vision

of the sealed believers-a minority of the Church preserved,

but a numberless multitude given over to be

destroyed, though compensated by heavenly glory!

How much happier to see in it really a supplementary

vision to the first. God's Jewish people are preserved

at the focus of the storm; and is it to be imagined

that God's Providence is less careful of his Gentile

Christians? Is the Apostolic Church exclusively

Jewish, or is it a more eclectic gathering as becomes

that God who is not the God of the Jew alone, but of

the Gentile also? (Rom. iii. 29). And there is the

splendid answer in this white-robed and rejoicing


They, like their Jewish compeers (and they now

together form one delightful company) have come

through great tribulation.' The" hour of trial" intimated

to three of the Apocalyptic churches as "about

to come," is here in vision past. Great multitudes have

struggled through those dark and dreadful hoursunder

the shadow of God's wing. Their palms are the

indications of their victory. Their white robes are the

proof that like Sardis they have stood faultlessly the

brunt of Satan's onset, by the ardour of their devotion

to the Lamb who died for them. Their place before

tlte throne of God
(ethical not local) is symbolical of

9-17.] Tile Church to be triumpltant. 57

their nearness and dearness to God; they are the

people of his Presence, the pillars of his new temple,

God's Kings and Priests; the chosen ones that dwell

henceforth in that Jerusalem which is the throne of

the Lord (Jer. iii. 17). In short, we stand at that point

of sacred history when the middle wall of partition is

broken down; and the Gentile becomes fellow-heir with

the believing Jew of all the special privileges of the

elect of God. Here henceforth is God's chosen Israel.

The beautiful pastoral idyll in which their simple

joys are described seems too pure and hallowed for

this earth. These delights are, however, just such as

were promised to the Asiatic churches if victoriousthat

kingdom of God in the heart which is "righteousness,

peace, joy in the Holy Spirit." Indeed, it is

Isaiah who is the author of these images of serene

delight. Even in his earthly Utopian Jerusalem he

expected the Lord to spread his pavilion, and be "a

covert from the storm and rain ;" to save them from

hunger and thirst, and lead them like a shepherd unto

living springs; and to multiply to his waiting people

" the breasts of his consolations." These experiences

may seem too exalted to be enjoyed on earth; but

beyond all question they were the every-day anticipations

of the Prophets and Apostles of God's ancient

Church. Have we not all known saints whose earthly

experience was not excelled by the raptures of this

white-robed multitude?

The vision must have wiped away all tears, for a

time at least, from the eyes of John; for it indicates

that the Church of Christ will do for Israel and the

world even more than was spoken by the Prophets of

the ancient Word. At all events, the vision is delight58

Joy in Heaven. [VII.

ful to the Principalities and Powers around the throne

in heavenly places. The song of the triumphant

Church is caught up and echoed by them as it floats

in to the ear of God. What a splendid picture of responsive

sympathy and joy filling the hearts of all the

holy universe of God! How far the angelic heavens

seem, to our dim sight, to be removed from this dull

and sinful earth ! Yet not so far. "There is joy in

heaven over every sinner that repenteth." When great

multitudes of the nations ascribe their blessedness to

God and to the Lamb, the angel heavens break out

into sympathetic and triumphant song. The victory

seems to be their own. What a revelation of unselfish

love as filling every heart, and binding all the worlds

of God in one. There is no trace here of that

that Satanic spirit which rejoices in its own exclusiveness

when set high apart in isolated glory! They rejoice

to see Mercy triumphing over sin, Salvation

reaching forth its mighty arms to grasp multitudes

from every nation under heaven.




" These are the da.1fS of vengeance, ichen. all tMngs written

must befulfilled."

T\HIS silence in heaven is a moment of deep suspense

- before the august events about to be unfolded"

the calm before the lightning storm." Seven Angels

prepare to sound seven trumpets. Meanwhile, a scene

of deep significance transpires. We see the prayers

of the saints ascending up to God from a censer in the

angel's hand; and then the fire of the altar is thrown

from the censer to the earth, and causes thunders,

lightnings, and earthquakes. Already we have been

told that the loudest cry of the Church is the groan of

her martyred saints: "How long, 0 Lord, is thy

judgement of the earth to be deferred?" Already

these saints have been told to wait" a little while;"

and now this fire thrown from the censer is the sign

that their prayers are bringing vengeance down upon

the earth. The Lord will indeed avenge them sjJeedily.

Judgement is a portion of his saving mission, for He

"came to cast fire upon the land," and even in the

days of his flesh it was" already kindled." Thus are

we continually reminded that the time occupied in the

drama of the book" is short."

60 As fericho. [VIII.

" The Son of Man shall send forth his angela with a great sound

of a trumpet."

The seven trumpets, then, are the FINAL elements

of vengeance which fall upon the race that has rejected

God and embrued its hands in the blood of his witnesses.

The judgement-process takes this form to remind

us of the graphic and powerful story of the sixth

of Joshua. There we read that the sounding of seven

trumpets was the herald of the falling of the walls of

Jericho, as the first security for the ultimate possession

of the promised land. Weare come to a similar crisis

in the history of the newer Israel. For forty years the

Church has been enduring hardships in the wilderness,

but now will have a signal token given to her that she

shall finally possess the promised land, the universal

earth. Another city is to fall, and its fall is a triumphant

Gospel victory. It follows as matter of course

that this new Jericho, which stands in the way of the

progress of the truth, must fall soon. If, as so many

imagine, these trumpets are sounded over a period of

1500 years, with as many as 700 between some of

them, and are to transpire on fields continents apart,

what sign can that be to the Apostolic Church, or

indeed to any generation of Christians? Diffusiveness

destroys intensity; is waste of power, and never commands

attention. Accordingly, all seven angels are

jJrejJared to sound at once.
That speaks to haste, to

close succession, to repeated blows, while the predecessor

is still felt. And such must be our reading to

maintain consistency with the statements of the book.

John is to tell the churches of things "which must

shortly come to pass." This hour of tribulation was

"about to come." The weary martyrs are only to

6-12.] As Sodom and Egypt. 61

rest "a little while" until their prayer is granted.

Therefore the trumpets can cover only a brief season;

and must be found fulfilled in the days of John.

Certainly there was no delay.

.. The Lord toill maJce thy plagues uxmderful ; . . . and He

7IJill bring 7tp07! thee again all the diseases of Egypt."

Tile first angel sounded, and there followed hail and

fire mingled with blood, and tlzey were cast into the Imld.

A glance over the four plagues of this chapter at once

recalls to memory the plagues of Egypt, and the

judgement upon Sodom; and John especially must

have noticed the correspondence. Now if we are

concerned at all with the question-On what portion

of the earth are these four plagues to fall? we have

but to ask, whether John gives us any indication of

what land he would reckon as equivalent to Sodom

and Egypt? If we can determine this point, it will save

us from the mistake of seeking in the desolating inroads

of Huns and Goths, in the advent of Mohammed,

in Saracenic armies, in Turkish Pashas, and in the wild

French Revolution, with other events of modern times,

the fulfilment of a prophecy which was limited by the

Seer to a definite space and an apportioned time.

Fortunately we have the statement of John himself.

For once let us anticipate. Turn to ch. xi. 8, and you

read-I( And their dead bodies lie in the street of the

great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt,

where also their Lord was crucified." We have only

to remember that Jerusalem often stands for Palestine,

as Berlin stands for Germany, Rome for I taly, Constantinople

for the Turkish Empire, and it becomes

apparent that the CENTRE of the scene where these

62 Tlte house of bO'fldage. [VIII.

Apocalyptic plagues transpire (whatever may be their

circumference) is that so-called "holy land," which,

by its incurable infidelity and wickedness, has become

as -hateful in God's sight as Sodom and Egypt in the

days of old.

If then we see that these calamities are centred in

the holy land, we can derive therefrom a lesson of no

small significance. The nation which has been exalted

unto heaven can be cast down unto hell. The elect of

the present may be the reprobate of the future. God

puts no nation in a supreme place that will not do

supreme work, and God keeps no nation in supreme

places that will not meet the supreme duty of the hour.

I[ the chosen clay is spoiled upon the wheel, the

Potter will shape it for a different destiny. This evil

fate is anticipated by St. Paul in the Romans, where

he hints that Pharaoh's judgements may be in store

for Israel. Was not that a hidden intimation that the

Jew had become the oppressor of God's true Israel;

that he more than any other, held the infant Church

in bondage, and like Pharaoh must be smitten that

God's people may go free? Thus certainly reads history.

The early Christian Church was for years the

convenient appenage of Judaism. Its truths were narrowed

by Jewish limitations; its offices claimed for

men of Jewish blood, its liberty chained by the cramped

spirit of the Jew; altogether, it was enslaved in the

grip of that Jerusalem which" gendereth to bondage."

Besides, the Jew outside the Church was the most

active opponent of the Gospel. Everywhere he was

fierce and intolerant in his opposition to the rising

faith. The Roman and the Greek" cared for none of

those things," nor as yet had differentia ted between

6-12.] The climax of Jewish Sin. 63

the Christian and the Jew. The Jew well understood

that the religion of his fathers was fighting for its life,

and everywhere rose in massive opposition to the

Cross. Being amongst the most astute of men, wealthy

and managing, custodiers of the public purse as moneylenders

in all the thriving cities of the empire, they

had no difficulty in harassing the preachers of the

Gospel. They hired the idlers and the ragamuffins of

the cities to hoot and stone the evangelists; bribed

magistrates and officers to imprison and persecute.

Well does Paul say, "These Jews are contrary to all

men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they

may be saved; to fill up their sins always; but the

wrath is come upon them to the uttermost." (1 Thes.

ii. 15). It is no fancy, then, that the Jew was to the

infant Christian Church what Egypt had been to the

infant Mosaic Church; and we need not be astonished

that Egypt's plagues should be repeated on those who

are now repeating Egypt's cruel and oppressive


" As on Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven,

after the same manner it shall he in the day that the

Son of Man is revealed."

The first four trumpet plagues
are then the heralds

of blighting desolations that are to fall upon this garden

of the Lord. They seem constructed especially

to remind the reader that there was about to be a final

and complete fulfilment of the terrible threats in Deu.

xxviii. and xxix. Moses warns the covenant people

to take heed lest their hearts turn away from the Lord

their God, lest there should be" a root among them

that bears galt and zoormtoood" Then the desolations

64 Th« fruitful land made desolate. [VIII.

of Egypt will be repeated; and he that comes from

afar will "sec the plagues of the land and the sickness

wherewith the Lord hath made it sick; and that the

whole land thereof is brimstone and salt, and a burning

that is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth

thereon l£ke the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah,

Admah, and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in his

anger and in his wrath." Let anyone be at the pains

to compare the Palestine of the days of Christ, with

its abundant population, its fruitful soil, its teeming

waters, and profitable commerce, and the Palestine of

the last eighteen centuries with its desolated forests,

ruined villages, dried brooks, waterless wells, silted-up

harbours, salt and rainless fields, and he may well

exclaim-" Truly a fearful commentary on the first

four trumpet visions."

That the calamities of these trumpets did actually

befall Palestine in the days of John need not be said.

" The soil," says Rabbi J ohanan, who escaped from

Jerusalem during the siege," has been transformed,

and the formerly rich fields and pastures are for the

most part become barren waste." Open the page of

Josephus (Wars, B. iii. c. 10) and read that as the

struggle raged along the coast-

" The sea was bloody a long way;" and that later in the war

" one might see the Sea of Galilee all bloody and full of dead

bodies, and the shores full of shipwrecks; insomuch that the

misery was not only the object of commiseration to the Jews

but to those that hated them and had been the authors of that


We can easily understand that, in the midst of the

unparalleled calamities of those days, the waters of

life were turned to bitterness, and the day was very

6-12.] Day turned into Night. 65

dark. In such an hour, religion is man's supremest

solace, and there is no help but in God. Alas, here

religion is only a soutee of bitterness and contention,

of confusion and shame. As time passed on, repeated

calamity waked up fearful questionings, and faith was

perishing. Was this God in whom their fathers trusted

not a dream-a myth like so many of the gods of the

surrounding nations? What certainty was there of

his existence? How could He be the God of Israel,

and stand idly by to see his people crushed between

the upper and nether millstones of plundering religious

factions and invading Roman armies? Thus does the

sun of Israel's day grow dark. They can discern no

brightness in its shining, or feel anything of its lifeimparting

warmth. The moon, too, shines with an

ominous diminution of her lustre. The Church itself

is waning in its influence, growing dark and enigmatical,

less and less able to inspire the failing hopes of

a mourning people. The priests are no longer men of

light and leading, able to interpret the voice of heaven,

and reflect the mind of God. The very stars are dark

-Scribes and Rabbis, the astutest politicians and

interpreters of prophetic lore, can shed no more light

upon the national question than the most ignorant

tillers of the soil. Less and less have they to say upon

the problems of the hour, and soon will cease to guide

at all. Deplorable condition! No light from heaven

-no love on earth. God failing men, silent or only

answering, as Josephus tells us, in the prodigious

storms of rain, thunder, and lightning, with amazing

concussions and bellowings of the earth, which now

and then filled Jerusalem with midnight terrors, as the

awakened consciences of the people interpreted them


66 Other Woes to follow. [VIII.

of " some grand calamities that were coming upon

men." (Wars, iv. 4, 5.)

Great as such sufferings are, they are by no means

the greatest of all woes. Indications are abroad and

visible to such men as John, that in a national collapse,

the transition of an age, the judgement of a people

who have been exalted up to heaven and are to be

cast down unto hell, there are greater sufferings still to


" Woe, woe, to the illllabitants of tile land by reason

of the other voices of the trumpets wlzich are yet to





" Tribulation such 1M hath. not beenfrom the beginning of the world

until now, no, nor evershall be."

FlOUR angels have sounded their trumpets and the

- earth has been stinted of its produce, commerce

has been paralyzed, war has stained the seas with

blood, bitterness has been infused into all the natural

joys of life, and religious faith has declined until the

light of life has become almost as dark as night. But

the abyss of woe has not yet been fathomed, and it

must be touched.

TIle jiftlt angel sounds. Thereupon, John sees not

a falling star, but a star which before had fallen to the

earth. To him was given tile key of the bottomless

The star apparently represents some religious

power, stands for a fallen heavenly light. The prevalent

interpretation of this trumpet is that this star is

Mohammed, the smoke Mohammedanism, the locusts

are the Saracens, the crowns of gold are their turbans,

and the tails which sting are the horse-tails of their

standards. We shall see, as we proceed, whether this

view will stand the test. Meanwhile, why should we

leap forward into history more than 500 years beyond

the time of John? We have come upon no indication

whatever that John is not still telling his fellow-servants

68 The Fllllen Star. [IX.

of" things that must shortly come to pass." If an author

tells me that he is to delineate events in close proximity

to his times, surely it is a gross perversion to carry his

words forward into history 500 years. At any rate

Mohammed could not possibly be this star, because he

never was a heaven-fixed star giving light upon the

earth; much less did he fall by unfaithfulness to his

commission. Nor did Mohammed ever hold the key

of the bottomless abyss, any more than he ever held

the key of heaven. This fallen star looks to be the

truth of God perverted into falsehood-an exalted privilege

abused-good converted into evil. I For this

reason, the star cannot be Nero (Macdonald). It

might be Satan-only, as Gebhardt remarks, "the king

of the abyss is to be distinguished from the star." The

best interpretation we have seen is that of Maurice,

who takes it to be the Jewish people as a society set

apart to witness for a true and righteous God. If

we are at liberty to say that this people transformed

the Word of God into an authority for false and evil

principles, would not such a description as we have

here be verified? Would not such a perversion of the

truth of God be an opening of the bottomless pit to

let out upon society every dark and noisome plague?

What other than abyssmal inspirations could float up

through minds" that have turned their backs towards

heavenly purity and light, and plunged deeper and

deeper into darkness with no other than the false

lights of self-love's lustful fires and vile emotions

guiding them away from all that is good and true?"

Were these Jews not such a society of men? Entrusted

with" the oracles of God," were they not a

light shining in the heaven; and were they not by

1.] Tke Prophetic Gift abused. 69

this time fallen from their high position to the earthto

the very dust of selfish worldliness?

" From the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness ,gone forth

into all the land."

The above interpretation is a key that fits the lock

with fair precision, and we are loathe to meddle with

it. Yet on the whole we think the key would move

more sweetly in its wards if the star were interpreted

not as the Jewish people but rather as the distinctive

prophetic gift or office imparted to that people to give

light on earth. Israel's prophetic light, once so glorious

in its splendour, became a fallen star. The prophets

lied, the people loved to have it so-then divine inspiration

ceased. Prophecy, in its fallen and degraded

forms of magic, augury, divination, and enchantment

(to which the Jewish people took with greed), opened

the gates of the abyss to belch out every sort of demoniac

inspiration, and fostered gross delusions which

ultimately lashed their victims with the stings of scorpions.

"The prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail."

This bottomless pit is unbelief. When Judaism lost

its divine illumination it became a fountain of corruption.

Clinging to the form of godliness, it lost more

and more the power; and when at length the land was

seen smouldering in the fires of judgement, what did

that seem to witness but that the God of Israel was as

much a myth as Jupiter and Apollo, and other farcical

gods of Greece and Rome, To what other end

could a people come of whom Christ was compelled to

say, " Ye have both seen and hated both me and my


Now, what is this we see? Smoke as tke smoke of

a greatfurnace darkening t/u 'very heavens.
When the

70 Smoke and Locusts from tlte Pit. [IX.

pit of godlessness is opened up, volumes of darkness

come belching out of its unfathomable depths. The

infernal vapours of false, bad passions obscure almost

totally what is godlike and divine. All error is an obscuration

of the light of truth; but by moral infidelity

the sun of heaven is blotted out, and there is nothing

left for us but a burning fiery furnace of destruction in

the depth, and a world hideous with gloom because

all joy and light have gone. Yes, life is dark when

there is no God, or only a God that has abandoned us;

when there is no brotherhood on earth, no Father of

the race in heaven; no home with a loving immortality

to shelter our naked souls.

Worse than the darkness which makes day hideous

is a plague of locusts from the pit. The imagery here

is modelled on the plague of locusts in the book of

Joel. Whether that prophet was referring to a literal

plague of locusts or to an army trampling down

the land in its victorious march, expositors cannot

tell. Certainly the figure might well be applied to an

invading military host; and so John's locusts are by

some applied to the Saracenic armies who marched

under the banner of Islam. Such an application of

the figure is not lawful here. These locusts" are not

to Iturt tile grass, nor any green tlting, nor any tree."

it possible to imagine the march of barbaric armies

without destruction to the fields and tillage of invaded

towns and hamlets? These locusts are not to hnrt

those wllo are sealed of God.
Is it possible that those

Mohammedan invaders,sweeping impetuously along on

a crusade of conversion, would pass by every Christian

and leave him unhurt ?-would not their hatred be the

bitterest where men's faith in Christ was staunch and

3-7.] Heathen "Schwtirmerei." 71

uncompromising? Is it possible that the commission

given to those warlike hordes was" not to kill men,"

even Christless men, but only to hurt them for fiz1e

or that the men oppressed by them would seek

death and not find it?
No more express intimation

could be given that these locusts are no human

power, and least of all victorious Mohammedan armies.

What, then, are these swarming beastly forms that

wound men like a scorpion wizen it strikes? Their

origin contains the answer. Open the abyss of unbelief

and godlessness-what swarms of low, crawling,

sensuous thoughts invade the mind to consume the

tender blade or early shoot of goodness that may yet

exist! "They are like horses prepared unto the battle"

-fierce, desperate, impassioned, warlike. Ever boastful

and pretentious, they look as if they were to fight

man's battles and make him victorious over evil; but

the more specious their pretences, the more bitterly

they deceive and wound. On their heads are imitation

crowns of gold. Infidel imaginings, magical incantations,

full of sensuous vigour, come with kingly pretensions

to their dupes. "Follow us, and we shall bring

you better times. The earth is ours and we shall reign

over it." But the actual significance of their crowns

is that a godless spiritualism, equally with a godless

materialism, is a tyrant where it rules-a source of

torment rather than of blessing. "Their faces were as

Those lying dreams from the abyss pretend

to be divine, but are only reflections of man's own

thoughts, the birth of his own restless passions; and

when they come to rule him with a regal sway, their

influence is accursed and there is only torment for

their victims.

72 Fierce ye: Effeminate. [IX.

"And tlzey had Ilair as the Ilaz'r of women,'! though

they had the teeth of lions. Their aspect is largely

warlike; and there is a commotion as if preparing for

war. A true description of mingled sensuality and

superstition when emboldened by a temporary ascendancy.

Let them once attain to power, and whatever

be the soft airs they assume, the indulgences they

offer, the pledges given that sensuous loves are halfdivine,

and subject to no law, they are beastly

destructive powers-

" Like to Furies, like to Graces ;"

difficult to subdue when once encased in their hellforged

armour-pretentious in their claims, but able to

carry on only a mimic warfare against the truth and

light of God.

Such are the locusts from the pit. Sensual reasonings,

strengthened by heathenish superstitions, all the

spawn of hell, inspired with deadly hatred of, and

pouring out their venom on, all that is pure and heavenly.

Shielded by the imperviousness of their materialism

to spiritual light, they seem to themselves to

be an army of gigantic warriors, while mere pigmies

seen in the light of heaven. Swarming forth from the

nether pit which a decadent faith and a perverted gift

have opened up, threatening to destroy all goodness,

they will have only a temporary triumph-indeed, will

rather hasten than hinder the advent of heaven's


This sensuous invasion has power to hurt men for

five months.
The time allotted is perhaps of no

marked significance, as it is the usual period of a locust

plague; and yet it is remarkable that it marks the

R-12.] The Reign of C/zaos. 73

most terrific period of Jewish delusion, disorder, and

mental agony-the five months' siege of Jerusalem.

From all this mental stupefaction and stinging torment

of disappointed hopes, t/ze sealed of God were

They were not in the darkness and delusion of

the smoke of the pit. The end was declared from the

beginning; and in the knowledge of God's purposes,

they shook the dust of the city from off their feet, and

fled. Josephus tells us at great length how the city

came to be like hell let loose on earth; and not so

much from Roman arms as from the brutal passions

and infernal feuds of its deluded populace. The god

worshipped in those months was not JEHOVAH the

Creator, and sustainer of all life and beauty, but

ABADDON the Genius of Destruction.

" Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restored:

Light dies before thy uncreating word:

Thy hand, great Anarch, lets the curtain fall,

And universal darkness buries all."

No wonder that in such times of calamity and distress,

with the powers of heaven all shaken, the order

of society broken up, with mutual faith and trust destroyed,

hunger and pestilence raging in the streets,

the clamour of war around the walls, and hearts stung

with the arrows of a reproving conscience,-no wonder

that men' sought for death, to end the bitterness of a

life that had become intolerable. Death, you might

say is easily found of them that seek it. Yes, but

such men as these as carefully shrink from death as

they eagerly long for it. Conscience makes cowards

of them all ; and while seeking death, they stilI would

rather bear the ills they have than fly to others that

they know not of. Oh, if death were only sure to be

74 Fire, Smoke, and Brimstone. [IX.

annihilation, the extinction of all hated memories, the

negation of all future pains, then death would be

utterly desirable. But who can assure them of this

immunity from the judgement of a righteous God?

Such death, such deep forgetfulness they cannot find.

One woe is past, but another is about to fall. A

sixtli angel sounds,
and a voice is heard from between

the horns of the golden altar. Mark that it is still the

day and dispensation of the altar in Israel; but now

the altar is no sign of reconciliation but of judgement

proceeding to extremity.· The prayer of the martyrs

is hastening to accomplishment.

" Wickedne88 burnetli as the fire ; the people also are as the

fuel offire ; no man spareth. his brother:"

The four angels on the Euphrates are let loose, and

there comes upon the scene an army of 200,000,000

horsemen. A number of preterist expositors find here

a reference to the Eastern troops (Roman and Parthian)

that were marched and concentrated upon

Palestine at the outbreak of the war; and the angels

are either the four Roman legions or the four Eastern

kings mentioned by Josephus as coming to the conquest

of the land. This might possibly supply a framework

for the vision; but is very far from realising the

pith of what John sees.

We must remember always that these visions seem

intended to gather up all the prophetic utterances of

the Old Testament anent" the day of the Lord," and

thus teach us that in the events about to happen ALL


judgement-day be realized, and the ideal kingdom of

God ushered in-that time" whereof God spake by

12-14.] TIle hot Simoom. 75

the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since

the world began ;" and which Peter localises as to date

when he says to' those before him-" they told of

THESE days." (Acts iii. 21,24).

The judgement before us having its issues in the

altar in front of God reminds us of the Psalm "the

Lord is in his holy temple: upon the wicked He shall

rain snares (pac/lim, but possibly it should read pecham,

coals), fire, and brimstone, and burning wind." The

physical picture called up here is the hot, blasting, alldestroying

simoom, a favourite image of divine anger

with the Prophets. Isaiah invokes an overwhelming

judgement upon Assyria in similar terms: "The Lord

cometh from afar burning with his anger, and in thick

rising smoke, his lips are full of indignation, his tongue

as a devouring fire, and his breath. like a

stream of brimstone." Jeremiah is very bold, and

turns this flame of judgement on Jerusalem: "A

hot wind from the bare heights in the wilderness, not

to fan nor to cleanse. Behold, He shall come up as

clouds, and his chariots shall be as the whirlwind; his

horses are swifter than eagles." The vision of St. John

then points to some invasion that like the hot blast of

the simoom shall burn and scorch until desolation


The Euphratean country might well be chosen as the

source of this unhuman raid. The simoom was an

eastern wind. The enemies of the ancient Church

hailed mostly from the East-the Scythian, Assyrian,

and Babylonian especially-descending like evil beasts

from the neighbourhood of this great stream. But ere

O. T. history closes, those enemies have disappeared;

they have been judged and cast down to hell. There,

7G The Eupltratean Host. [IX.

where formerly was the river of Paradise, was now as

the Prophets had said. a wilderness whose streams are

pitch and dust of brimstone, whose ruins are the resort

of the wild beast, and the Satyr, the habitations of

spectres and devils of darkness (Is. xxxiv.), When

then from the Euphrates region there comes up this

unnatural host like the hot blast of the simoom, it is

to signify the iavasion of this once holy and blessed

land, by all the taint of heathenism, and by all the

scorpion power of hell. The boundary of God's ancient

kingdom is assaulted-taken at the rush-wiped clean

out. The difference between Zion and Babel is no

more, for Zion has renounced her calling and her God,

and must be left to be devoured by the demons she

has worshipped.

This terrible break-down had not been unforeseen.

Of that day and hour knew no man, not even the

angels of heaven; but it was all in the purposes of

God-" the hour and day, and month and year "known

with the utmost exactitude by Him who never

precipitates his judgements in his anger, nor delays

them needlessly by his long-suffering mercy. The

martyrs and the living saints had thought the cup of

iniquity to be full, and wearied for this vengeance;

they had thought to hurry the day by their prayers;

but the hand of God will not be forced, yet the prayers

of his people will be answered. And so, a trampling

host of desolating powers are let loose upon the land

to sweep it like the hot simoom.

"Tlte land is full of bloody crimes, and the city i8 full of


Over the land rolled the hot sulphureous blast. "The

third part of men was killed."
The population of

16-10.] Tlt~ Reign of Terror. 77

Palestine IS reckoned to have been from four to five

.millions; and the accepted estimate of life destroyed

is one million and a half. A fearful holocaust !-the

work of heathen passions, breaking out into heathen

violence and brutality, such as many good men can

only explain to themselves on the supposition that the

Jewish people got to be possessed by a host of demons

from the abyss whose purpose was to make a hell on

earth. No more sickening tale of covetousness,

impurity, madness, and fratricidal strife can be found

in the annals of history. Those scenes were but very

faintly parodied in the seven years' struggle of the

French Revolution. There too atheism and irresponsible

brutality were enthroned; and there too contentious

strife and devilry became supreme, and Frenchmen

shed their brother's blood as if it had been filthy water.

Break down this boundary line between the spiritual

and the sensual, the kingdom of God's wisdom and

man's natural desires; profane all that is sacred; and

whatever be the arts and culture of the people, you will

have the same result. Where heaven does not reign

hell will. When the fear of God has perished and men

become self-idolators, there is no fiendishness too

subtle for imagination or too brutal to be executed

against other men. All the wisdom of those in power

is low, sensual, crawling in the dust; and when cunning

fails, they strike and kill. It is the Reign of Terror.

Fire and brimstone are the implements by which

Eternity is made terrible: it were well for us to

remember that God does sometimes kindle Tophet

here. . The fiery sufferings that are seen to follow sin,

and lick up the grace and joy of life like oil, are the

breath of Jehovah, a stream of brimstone prepared

78 Tiley repented not. [IX.

against the hour and the day; and that fire must burn

until the pile on which it feeds 'is turned to smoke and

dust. " Our God is a consuming fire."

Strong and loud as were these trumpet calls to

repentance, the residue of men remained unchanged;

enamoured of their falsities even while tormented by

them. They cannot see the connection between their

miseries and their apostasy from God. Outwardly

indeed they give God honour; inwardly they bow to

idols. Possibly they persuade themselves that worship

condones wickedness; or that by their wickedness they

are the more devoutly serving Him. However it be,

the light that is in them is as darkness; and since they

will not repent there is no resource to a righteous God

but to go forward with yet severer judgements until .

not only the Euphrates has been passed but utterly

dried up-not only the walls of Jericho been shaken

but utterly thrown down.



" The Mystery of Christ which in other qenerationsiras not

made kmoum:"

A\T this point there is an interruption of the trumpet

- ~ blasts, in order to offer a needful explanation.

John sees an angel of conspicuous dignity descending

on the earth. A favourite supposition is that Michael,

the angel-prince of Israel, is intended. More probably

it is Christ. As such, John describes although he does

not name Him; and appropriately so, for He is veiled

in clouds. It is Paul's doctrine verificd-" The Lord

shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice

of an archangel, and with the trump of God." Events

are nearing the boundary line between the old age and

the new; the Lord is "coming in his kingdom ";

already his foot is on the land and on the sea-the

token of his claim to universal dominion; and the

last trump waits his word to bring the old world to

an end.

The little book open in Ilis hand indicates that only

a little remains now to be revealed, so far as his leading

purpose is concerned. The spoken thunders are,

however, ominous of further and severer judgements,

and John is able to interpret them; but apparently

they bespeak some judgement which lies out of the

line of present purposes, and are not to be explained

80 No delay. [x.

as yet. Doubtless they will be unfolded to us in the

proper sequence of events, and in the usual strong

symbology of this book. The story of God's ancient

people is not yet complete; with that only are we

now concerned.

" A short work will the Lord make of it."

Meanwhile, the angel has lifted up his hand to

heaven, and sworn that" there shall be time no longer."

These words have not unfrequently been misunderstood.

Sometimes they are said to mean that time

shall at this point cease to be, and eternity begin; and

again, they are interpreted as saying that a certain

period of time, defined to be 1111~ years, shall not

quite elapse (Bengel, adopted by Wesley), bringing

down the period of its terminus to 1836. All such

notions become fantastic before the evident meaning

of the words, as given by Alford :-" there shall be no

longer a lapse of time-time shall no longer intervene

;" or more directly, as in the margin of the

Revised Version, and recommended by the American

Committee for the text, "there shall be delay no


And what is the occasion of this very solemn protest?

It looks back to the fact that the judgements of the

preceding trumpets have been ineffectual in the

production of repentance; and possibly have left their

victims in a state more reprobate and hopeless than

before. Then, "why should they be stricken any more?

Will they not revolt yet more and more?" It may

be so, yet for many reasons the work of judgement

must proceed. The martyrs beneath the altar will find

the promise kcpt-" Rest yet for a little time." That

6-7.] The Mystery of God. 81

little time is now about completed. The climax of

vengeance is at hand. If the] udge has seemed to be

not listening to the supplication of his claimants, it is

because He is exceeding merciful and not willing that

the day of grace should be unduly shortened. But

where punishment after punishment has signally failed

to soften, and they who have felt" the terrors of the

Lord" have only the more fixedly clung to their superstitions

and crimes, what remains for it but to hasten

on that act of doom which will at least vindicate the

righteousness of God, and cleanse the earth of a false

and obnoxious system?

" My name shall be great among the Gentiles."

Let us not suppose, however, that the saints of God

can cry for any merely bloody triumph, any merely

personal vengeance upon their persecutors; or that God

would pledge himself to be the instrument of such destructive

passion. Both are impossible. The saints

are to be avenged by the bringing of God's mystery to

an end;
that is, the coming into the light of full accomplishment

(according to God's meaning), of all the

messages spoken by the prophets, especially those

grand evangelical intimations that had been the hope

and yet the puzzle of all bygone generations. That

had been the subject of bitter disputes between those

early martyrs and their persecutors, as witness the

case of Stephen. The battle between the]udaic and

Christian schools raged round the question-" How is

God going to fulfil those Old Testament promises of

a Messianic kingdom?" Jewish scholasticism gave an

answer that glorified the temple, the law, and the blood

of Abraham! The answer of the martyrs was-


82 The Martyrs Vindicated. [x.

" Messiah will be a suffering priest, a lamb of sacrifice

for the sins of the world. He will break down the

middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile;

abolish the ceremonial law, and bring all nations into

the obedience of faith. In his day no land or city will

be holier than another; no race will pride itself upon

its favouritism with heaven, for in every mountain

God's name shall be honoured and his praise ascend

to heaven." The core of the conflict was Jewish

localism against Christian universalisrn ; and, in the

intensest hatred of a religion which seemed to despoil

him of his glory, the Jew sprang at the Christian's

throat, as if that would save his grand inheritance.

When those martyrs who had felt the sting of Jewish

venom cried for vengeance, they were crying for the

triumph of their principles, for the plain and manifest

vindication of 1!he truth for which they died-the

truth that Palestine was no more the holy landJudaism

no longer a living and authoritative revelation

of God's will-the Temple no longer the one place

where God could be approached with acceptable worship-

the kingdom of the Jews no longer synonymous

with the Kingdom of Heaven! That vindication is

the only vengeance allowable to the saint; and it is

on the eve of being given to those supplicants. J udaism,

as an official system is hastening to its close; " an

end is being made of the holy people," as predicted

by Daniel; an obstructive Church which has ceased

indeed to be a Church is being speedily reduced to

nothingness by the successive sounding of the trumps

of doom; a dispensation utterly corrupt, and refusing

to advance along God's line of march, must needs be

devastated and destroyed to make way for a higher

8-10.] The Bitterness of Good News. 83

and purer dispensation of the grace of God! Oh,

how incredulous it must have seemed that a people

so exalted of God should come to so miserable an end!

No wonder that the angel feels it needful to lift his

Iland to heaven,
and make a solemn attestation that it

shall be so! Yes, when the angel who IS ABOUT TO

SOUND shall utter his mighty voice, then, even while

the echo is in our ears, the walls of this once-sacred

Jericho shall fall, and the newer Israel will march

straight forward into its possession.

John is now ordered to take the little book and eat

The knowledge of the contents of this book, which

concerned the finishing of the mystery of God, was

pleasing to his first perceptions, but painful to his

human sympathies on further contemplation. Jeremiah

had the same experiences-i-" Thy word was unto

me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." But afterwards,

when he discovered that his predictions implied

the desolation of his people, his patriotism found expression

in passionate Iamentation-s-" Behold, see if

there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow. My bowels

are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth for

the destruction of the daughter of my people." The

same experience befell Ezekiel, and at the destruction

of his people he "sighed with the breaking of

his loins, and with bitterness." Surely when John is

made to repeat the experience of these older prophets,

it is an indication that his circumstances are identical.

He is to read and inwardly digest what must needs

cause joy because it promises redemption to the world,

but must as well be painful to his" bowels of mercies,"

his brotherly compassions; for the book concerns

above all men on earth, "his kinsmen according to

84 A Barren Tree. [x,

the flesh," for whom, like Paul, he could have wished

to be accursed from Christ, if thereby he could save

them for the service of God. Long-expected as was

this denoument, perhaps John had hoped to the very

end for some happy compromise in which Jerusalem.

the joy of all the land, would still be saved the ravages

of her cruel foe, and Judaism harmonised with the

spirituality and universality of the gospel. Now, every

hope is gone. Her days are numbered; the seventh

trumpet is about to sound; and with the reverberation

of its notes, the outward signs of Hebrew greatnessher

temple, her self-government, her priesthood, and

her capital will pass away.

" Cut it down, why cumbereth it the 9I'Ound?"

A solemn lesson this for all coming ages. Every

institution of God or man is daily being tried upon its

merits. No nation is impervious to the judgements

that test its deepest foundations, and determine

whether it is worthy of a place in history. No church.

no sect, no dispensation, even if it be the Christian.

can boast of its immunity from the possibility of decay

and death. God only hath immortality. The best

things can become corrupt, and the corruption of the

best is the filthiest and most noxious. The Lord will

not acknowledge any Church as his out of which his

truth has perished; and if it should become a buttress

of ancient tyrannies or of class distinctions, and a

gilder of worldliness and sin with the glitter of respectability,

no matter that it has been once a Church of

God,-against it will go forth those thunderbolts of

judgement which will level it with the ground. It is

in vain for men to say of their Churches or their sects

11.] A Larger Prophetic Outlook. 85

" The Lord hath set his love upon us-the temple of

the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we!" For such

was Israel. Yet He who said that she was "engraven

on the palms of his hands," had also in the course of

time to say-" 0 Jerusalem, thy house is left unto thee

desolate." There is no decree of perseverance for

Saint or Church, unless they persevere. It is a wholesome

lesson for individuals and communities. If Christ

be not in us we are reprobate. Void of the righteous

spirit, we are worthless branches on whom devouring

fire shall fall.

John is not allowed to linger in unhappy contemplation.

He is called to work. "Thou must prophesy

again, concerningmanypeoples, and nations, andtongues,

and kings."
Is not this another proof added to the

many that John has been prophesying hitherto,

mainly of one nation, and one people: painting tragic

pictures of the dying struggle of an ancient and Godhonoured

dispensation with which one people was concerned?

However, his mission is not to finish with

destruction; after the night will come the day. He is

not giving us occasion to glory over the downfall of a

people; but teaching us how that people's fall will

bring in a dispensation of love, mercy, and truth, that

will concern equally and for ever every people and

tongue and nation under heaven.




" Tlw relno/'ing of those things that are shaken, that those tllingll

1()hich are not shaken Inay remain."

ALMOST universally ~hi.s chapter is held to be the

- -.:.. crux of Apocalyptic interpreters. We are conscious

of the difficulties of our task, but we face them

without despair. Let us keep a tight grip of the clueline

John has put into our hands.

We have now before us the vision which finishes

"the mystery of God." That mystery is revealed in

the "unveiling" of Jesus Christ; and will find solution

in the open light of day. What is this mystery?

We can see it gradually coming to the light within

this book. It is, put as a human query,-How is God

to realise the universal hopes and promises held out to

his ancient people, and as well be true to his special

covenant with the seed of Abraham? God was

pledged to do great things for his people. His kingdom

was to be an everlasting kingdom, and Jerusalem

was to be the joy of all the earth. Now, unless these

promises are to be utterly falsified, there must be some

real sense in which Judaism does not perish, in which

the temple is not destroyed, nor the covenant people

cast away. The solution, as we know, is found in a

real organic and historic unity between the Church

and the covenant people. As Baur would say, there

1-2.] Saved from the Fire. 87

is a real" Ineinander" of the truth as it is in Jesus and

the truth according to Moses-the temple of Jerusalem

and that temple in which God permanently dwells

with men.

This unity in God's purpose, and this continuity of

his kingdom, are not sufficiently justified by the vision

of 144,000 of all the tribes of Israel saved alive in

covenant love. Not only must the Jewish stock live

on as God's elect, but the ideals on which it was fed

by its Prophets must survive, or rather be carried forward

into new developments, in which every hope and

promise of the past will be abundantly realised. Not

only the people must be sealed, but the covenant worship,

and its principles. After that, the deluge.

The answer to this demand is now before us.

Before absolute destruction comes, John is told to

measure the temple of God-the
vaos and its incense

altar, with them that worship therein; but to take

no reckoning of the outer courts as they have

ceased to be of value or significance, and are henceforth

to be profaned. As in Ezekiel's case, a temple

is to be destroyed; and first measured, because it is to

be rebuilt in more magnificent proportions. Expositors

here stumble into errors which we must carefully

avoid. We must not conclude (with such as Bleek,

Colani, S. Davidson) that John here prophesies that

the material temple of Jerusalem is to be saved from

destruction in the siege, or (with Macdonald and Russell)

that the measuring is the prophecy of its destruction.

Destruction is no doubt implied in the measuring;

but restoration is the essential idea in the case.

The" signs" of this book are not concerned with

merely literal events, such as an historian might chro88

The Eternal in the Temporal. [xi.

nicle, but with the spiritual principles worked out in

that history. We must also avoid the error that the

temple measured is the human temple of believing

Jews (Weiss, Gebhardt, Waller); and the outer court

the unchristian Jews. This would be a needless repetition

of the process accomplished in the sealing of

the tribes. The vision is meant to tell us how the

temple may perish and yet live; Jewish worship cease

and yet survive; Old Testament prophecy seem to

be belied in the letter while amply fulfilled in the

spirit. In Jewish worship there is a kernel which is

indestructible; a shell which may be broken and

thrown away. The altar of incense, the offering of a

prayerful heart, is the essence of all worship; but the

blood of bulls and goats is only a symbol for a season,

a mediatorial vehicle to serve until the perfect day is

come. Judaism and Christianity are simply various

developments of one divine eternal plan. The New

Testament was latent in the Old; the Old is transfigured

in the New. The Gospel is the temple

without its outer court. In Christ Jesus there is no

longer Jew and Gentile, male and female, priest and

worshipper; but all are one. Christianity is the Holy

Place to which every nation has direct access. The

preservation of the outer court in John's symbol would

have meant the imposition of Jewish rites on Gentile

peoples; or, in other words, it would have made ritualistic

Judaism the outer gate of Christianity, as so

many J udaising Christians wished. But now the

rudest heathen, washed from sin by the precious blood

of Christ, becomes himself a priest to God, with freest

access to the Holy Place. The epistle to the Hebrews

explains how the Jewish temple is preserved while

2.] TIle Abomination of Desolation. 89

transfigured. Jesus has opened up the way into the

Holiest. We need no son of Levi, no bestial sacrifice,

to introduce us to the fellowship of God! We have

but to come with a cleansed heart, and stand and offer

incense for ourselves at the golden altar in the full

assurance of faith, for our great High Priest is gone

within the veil, and through him our offerings ascend

to heaven, and are acceptable to God.

" Jerusalem. shall be trodden doum. of the Gentiles, until the times

of the Gentiles befulfilled."

The destruction of the outer temple court (sacerdotal

Judaism) is effected by the trampling forces of

" the nations." They are to tread the holy city under

foot for "forty and two months." "The city is here

taken as the symbol of the entire people, because the

metropolis in common is the centre and essence of the

nation or land." (Waller's Offenbarung, in loco). That

might well be universally admitted. It is surely more

than a chance co-incidence that the trampling down

of the sacred people by the Romans and their allies

began in the spring of 67 A.D., and lasted until Sept.

70 = 2 and 40 months. Objections are raised to this

interpretation (vide Alford) on the ground that Jerusalem

cannot be called "the holy city," seeing that

soon after it is designated" Sodom and Egypt,"-at

least, that both characters cannot be realised in J erusalem.

We cannot feel sure that we ought to treat

this objection seriously; but it may be useful to add

a word or two upon the point. Every reader of the

Scripture surely has observed that the custom is very

common of calling a thing or person at once by an

ideal and a real name. The" holy seed" are described

90 ferusalem Trodden Down. [xi.

as acting most profanely; the" saints" are charged

with being" carnal." Why should not Jerusalem be

called holy, viewed by its sacred calling; and sinful according

to its actual character? Or, again, as ethical

qualities are always relative in finite things, why

should Jerusalem not be called IlOly when considered

in its contiguity to the profaner forces of heathen

Rome ; and sinful when regarded as in contrast with

our sinless Lord, whom it so ruthlessly crucified? Or,

why should not Jerusalem be sometimes named according

to its pretentions as a sacred city; and at

another time be characterised after the ethical spirit

by which it is possessed? We leave the reader to

form his judgement. At any rate, the meaning of the

vision was unmistakeably realised in this 42 months'

military raid. The Jewish polity in its outward and

temporal form (its outer court) was thoroughly pulverised.

Palestine was henceforth incorporated with

the Roman empire; the country was stripped of its

population; the soil was confiscated and sold to the

highest bidder; the temple was levelled to the ground,

and its sacred vessels carried to Rome to grace the

entry of the conquering general; and the contribution

of two drachmas which every child of Israel throughout

the world had hitherto given annually to the

tem ple he was now required to transfer to the Capitol,

or cent re of Roman worship. Thus was Judaism in

its national life, its religious forms, its pretentious

claim to be the one mediatorial nation, utterly spoiled

and broken up. The work went on till finished, and

.. the times of the Gentiles" were brought in . " Indeed,

the Gent ile found his day of grace, because the Jew

qua J ew had ceased to be. When the temple sank in

Diqitrzed byGOOgle

2-3.] The Truth Set Free. 91

flames, the practice of the ritual law became impossible;

the priesthood was reduced to an honorary

sinecure and empty name. "This could not but appear"

(says Dollinger, First Age ofthe Church, 109) "to

all Christians, surely also to many Jews, as a solemn

rejection by God, declared in deeds, of the people He

had formerly chosen out of all the nations of the earth."

Without this, the day of the Gentiles could not have

come; at least, by this it came. So witnesses a historian

who is not thinking of any text in the book of

Revelation :-" The destruction, never to be repaired,

of the material temple, cut the cords which bound the

new faith to its local habitation, and launched it under

the hand of Providence, on its career of spiritual conquest."

(Merivale, Romans under the Empire, vi. 605).

It is also note-worthy that from that day the Jew

ceased to make proselytes of the Gentiles. Thus was

the symbol of the measured temple amazingly fulfilled.

The Roman conquest, treading down the outer court,

brought out the glories of the inner sanctuary of God's

truth; and at the same time ushered in " the times of

the Gentiles "-the day of Gentile pre-eminence in the

kingdom of heaven.



is a symbol whose introduction in this place has been

a source of great perplexity, but which, according to

our interpretation, could not well have been omitted.

"No solution has ever been given of this part of

the prophecy," are the ominous words with which

Alford opens his comment. Events move rapidly in

92 Law and Love. [xi.

these days, and solutions have been found which only

the ultra-fastidious can refuse.

The time during which these two Witnesses prophesy

is identical with the treading down of the holy

city by the heathen. The latter is given in moons,

perhaps because it is a continuous work, and a work

of darkness and of night, of judgement and destruction

; the former is given in days, because it is a daily

and intermittent task, and emphatically a work of light.

Who are these Witnesses? They are not so much

two distinguished persons as two offices or functions,

two aspects of God's work in Israel-the governing and

the teaching. These" two olive trees" or " two candlesticks"

are the two" sons of oil" referred to by Zecharia-

the priest and the king or judge in Israel-who

fulfil their offices not by their personal power and

might but by the Spirit of the Lord. In other words,

they are the institutions of the Law and the Priesthood-

guided by prophetic inspirations. The Law is

God's demand that men shall love Him with all their

hearts and minds; the Priesthood is God's witness

that He loves the sons of men and dwells among

them as their Sun and Shield. The Law demands

righteousness; the Priesthood offers help to its attainment.

It is, therefore, absolutely true that if men war

against these Witnesses they are burned with " unquenchable

fire." Truth and Love are the keys of the

kingdom of life ; men must revere them or be scorched

to death in that fire of brimstone which is the righteous

breath of the Lord. The Old Testament never

wearies witnessing, and the foregoing trumpet-plagues

arc the latest proofs, that all heaven's rain, all earth's

fru itfulness, and all society's order are dependent on

Diqitrzed byGOOgle

3-5.] Tlze old Truth Glorified. 93

their being honoured; while all the plagues of Egypt

and Sodom break out of the abyss when men war

against their sovereignty. Moral evil, in short, is the

primal fount and origin of all man's miseries on earth.

Expositors are greatly tempted to find these

Witnesses in Christian apostles and preachers. They

sometimes search Jerusalem in its latter days for two

apostles who were slain, and may have had the

marvellous resurrection here narrated. It is scarcely

possible to be farther off the track. It turns the" sign"

into a verbal prediction, which it is not. It ignores the

statement that it is imposslble for any man to hurt

because in the attempt tlte man Itimself must be

The martyrdom of two personal Christian

witnesses would flatly contradict this intimation.

Besides, the Apostles cannot yet be appropriately

introduced, as the Gospel age is not yet officially

begun. The Jewish age is still only on its dying bed,

and John concerned only with its dying agonies, and

what can be saved from the wreck. From its people

there has been saved a remnant-the believing Israel;

from its temple, there has been saved the Holy Place

--does nothing more remain to be conserved? Yes, one

thing more-s-the divine soul of the dispensation's

truth! The very fact that" a seed" was saved, is

proof that there was something divine and eternal in

Israel's worship and polity; and the sealing of the

saints therefore logically involves the measuring of the

Holy Place,and the resurrection of theseWitnesses. The

parallel between the three is very close, and crammed

full of instruction. The elect seed, transferred from

Judaism to the Church of Christ, is the core or heart

.of the Jewish people. The Holy Place is the vital

94 Chn'st in th« Old Testament. [xi.

centre of the Temple system. The inner soul of the

Witnesses is made indestructible in this figurative

resurrection. In all three cases, the outer and more

profane is given over to destruction; the inner essence

of all three survives. Isracl is preserved in its faithful

people; in its spiritual temple; and in the principles

of which its temple was the home; or, to vary the

expression for illustration's sake, the Kingdom of God

in its people, its worship, and its truth and government

lived on through the night of judgement which had

fallen upon its corruptions, and the cumbrous encrustations

which had clung to it and destroyed its


But whose are these two Witnesses? We infer,

without express instruction, that they are Christ's.

Well might He call the light-giving and ruling offices

in Judaism hz's Witnesses. Prophets, priests, and kings

were the forerunners, the divine make-shifts, set up

until the ideal prophet, priest, and king should come.

All the Scriptures" testify of me," said He. The law

and the prophets were preaching Christ, often not

knowing what they did, all through the ages from the

first. Such is the stand-point of this book-" The testimony

of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (xix. 10).

There would have been no law, no covenant people, no

priest or king, if there had been no Christ to come in

the fulness of the times.

Where do these Witnesses prophecy? The answer

is contained in the very nature of the Witnesses. It

can only be " in tlze streets of the great city, wlzzch spiritually

is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our

Lord was crucified."
Without veil, the scene is Jerusalem.

"It is called the GREAT city, as farther on is

5-8.] The Clzristian's Egypt. 95

Babylon, because it is the metropolis, and representative

of the collective body of the rejected covenant

people, as Babylon is mentioned as the capital and

centre of the heathen world."--(Waller, 243). In spiritual

character, this so-called holy city is only to be

named with Sodom and Egypt. Isaiah was very bold,

and in Jerusalem addressed its dignitaries as-I< Ye

rulers of Sodom." In Jeremiah's time, as in John's,

Jehovah was compelled to say of the prophets-i-" Ye

are all to me as Sodorn." Alford stumbles sorely because

the designation-s-" Egypt" is not found in the

prophets. Israel could not be Egypt until it became

a house of bondage and oppression ; and that was impossible

until a more spiritual people than itself arose

to suffer from its yoke. If we remember how frequently

our Lord and his Apostles spoke of the

Jewish system as holding its subjects in bonds, imposing

a burden greater than men could bear, as

being a yoke of bondage robbing men of the freedom

into which Christ had come to lead them; or if we

know the history of apostolic times, when there was

the greatest danger of Jewish elements prevailing in

the Church, and swamping it, or let me say, transferring

it into a petty judrean sect, we cannot be surprised

that the Jerusalem which then was, was in the

eyes of such as Paul and John a veritable Egyptian

house of bondage.

Here then, in this hotbed of lawlessness and oppression

the principles of Old Testament revelation lift up

their feeble voice. They have sadly lost their wonted

power and glory, and instead of goodly garments walk

in sackcloth as becomes the evil times. Even in those

dark days there were a few in high places who openly

96 [xi.

rebuked the murderous wickedness and anarchy which

prevailed. Prophetic voices even plainly uttered presages

of doom in the city streets. No man cared; or

only cared so far that by a dagger he soon silenced

the hateful voice. Hear Josephus about the Zealot

defenders of Jerusalem: "These men trampled upon

all the laws of men and laughed at the laws of God;

and for the oracles of the prophets, they ridiculed them

as the tricks of jugglers." The powers of hell prevailed;

the beast from the abyss (certainly not Nero,

but the Dragon), with its locust sensualities and its

demoniac hosts, did what no man nor sword could do

-profaned and desolated the sacred forms of truth

and righteousness.

This shameful spectacle proceeding through those

months was a source of sorrow to the few, but of

jubilant rejoicing to the multitude. To be at liberty to

follow their propensities and gratify their sensual lusts

without divine restraint is, alas, a very welcome liberty

to men whose hearts are black. Every unbeliever in

the divinity of religion, every heathen man who had

been annoyed by the Jew's assumed superiority, every

Roman politician of the time, was happy to think that

Judaism was rotting for the Roman eagles; every Jew

who wished freedom from the restraints of justice and

religion would hold high carnival over the evident collapse

of sacred principles so long revered. On every

side there were gracious congratulations that a radical

reform had come. It was a scene that may be repeated

any day; indeed, never is wanting where right

and wrong are struggling for the mastery. Every

epoch of anarchy and bloodshed has had its brood of

fiends who stood apart in safety and shouted their

10-12.] Judaism Perfected by its Death. 97

applause. Let us be charitable enough to hope that

it has been mostly in the delusive dream that" the

day of the wine-press of wrath" is the forerunner

of a "good time coming."

" The sign of the Prop/let Jonas."

The resurrection which soon follows intimates that

divine principles cannot perish from the earth. They

rise from the dead like their Master; though not so

suddenly. God's work may appear to vanish before

the violence of men; but the vanishing point is truly

the moment of its awakening to new power, and its

assumption of complete supremacy. The peoples and

nations that rejoiced over the silencing of divine truth

and authority, and hoped never again to be tormented

by the claims of one true and righteous God, were

speedily disturbed in their godless revelry. As J udaism

died, Christianity shot up into fresh and wondrous

power. I t seemed to the heathen as if the old hateful

truths had been clothed with diviner power, and exalted

up to heaven They had thought that the worship

of the God of the Jews was at an end; that with

its weird condemning voice for ever hushed, its severe

unsympathetic purity ceasing to rebuke their superstitious

revelries, they undisturbed could still enjoy the

sweet licentiousness of their pagan cults; but no,God's

Witnesses arose in form more terrible with

heavenly light, and bore a more effective testimony

against the world's evil.

" Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."

Whether this earthquake is to be taken as a physical

upheaval may be questioned. Seeing that it is not nar7

98 Earthquake Terrors. [XI.

rated as a vision, but as if it were history, it may well

be taken in a physical sense. There certainly was

such a storm and earthquake, when God's Witnesses

were lying trodden in the streets of Jerusalem, as

made even the boldest think that God was judging

them. Josephus tells us of" a prodigious storm in the

night, with strong winds, drenching rains, continued

lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions

and bellowings of the earth." This, he says, portended

some dreadful calamity; as indeed it did.

Next morning it was found that Ananus, the high

priest, a man of singularly noble character, and other

venerable teachers of the people, had been slain in the

temple courts, then" cast out naked into the streets to

be the food of dogs and wild beasts." That night,

8,500 men were slain, and from that hour, Josephus

says, may be reckoned" the beginning of the destruction

of the city, the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin

of her affairs." (Wars, B. iv., chs. 4, 5.) These

occurrences are altogether strikingly like what John

describes in broader features and more spiritual form.

However, we must not think that it is against the city

of stone and lime that God's wrath here is hurled,

or that God can desire Jerusalem to be blotted out.

It is on the men, with their false religious system,

their sins and godless tempers, that heaven's judgement

falls. Enough that Jerusalem's power is broken;

her proud sons humbled in the dust; her theocratic

dignities withdrawn.

It looks, indeed, as if some blessing had come to

Jerusalem by these premonitions of destruction.

" The rest were affrighted and gave glory to God." Expositors

sometimes import into this the meaning that

13-15.] Wickedness and Wors/tip. 99

the Jewish people are to profit by their afflictions, and

repent so far as to "become a Christian people, a true

Israel, and Jerusalem a truly holy city." (Gebhardt,

&c.) Of course, that prophecy, if ever made, was

falsified. But John makes no such anticipation.

Telling the night-side of Israel's story, he could not

introduce so much of the rosy morning,--cspecially

when such a national morning was not to dawn. What

more natural than that when such divine judgements

are in the land, men should discern that those who

escape particular judgements are no safer than those

whofall. "The rest"-were they holier than those who

perished in a night? Were not they, too, destructible?

Might not their names be in God's book for a judgement-

day, to-morrow or the next? What will they

do in their fear? Give glory unto God, such glory

as such fearful souls can give. But what profit comes

of it ? What can worship in which Catastrophe takes

the place of Conscience lead to? Nothing but a pacification

of men's fears, and a renewal of their evil

ways. The piety born of fear is not regenerative;

fright does not save. It can awaken in a selfish way;

and bring men to talk flatteringly before the face of

God. But" wickedness and worship" are an old conjunction

which God will not tolerate; and the story

of this book must therefore run :-" Be/told, the third

woe cometh quickly."

" At the sound of the last trump."

The seventh angel sounded.
The mystery of God is

finished. The heavenly voices declare that God's purpose

is now made plain. " The kingdom of t/te world

is now become the kingdom of our Lord and kis Christ,

100 TIle Kingdom Come. [XI.

and He shall reign for euer and ever." Here, the

mystery of God is revealed as a grand two-sided truth;

Jesus Christ is God's one vice-regent, the head and

summation of humanity; and this Christ, as Paul so

frequently insisted, is commanded now to be made

known unto all nations for the obedience of the faith

(Ro. xvi. 25-6), in accordance with God's purpose to

have a dispensation of the fulness of the times in which

all things are summed up in Christ, the things in

the heavens and the things upon the earth (Eph. i.

9-10); or, in other words, with God's purpose that the

Gentiles shall be fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of

the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ

Jesus (iii. 6). Thus clearly, the time of the sounding

of the trumpet is the moment when God officially in

history makes plain his purpose to abolish the

distinction between Jew and Gentile, and make them

members of one Church in Christ. If ever there was

such a moment, or can be, never could it be more

appropriately done than when the primary, elementary,

and limited dispensation of the law was brought to an

official end by the divine abrogation of the temple

ritual; and the Gospel preacher was made free to

invite the ends of the earth into the Church of God on

a footing of equality with the best of Abraham's sons.

Here is the historical fulfilment of "the Gospel of the

Kingdom" preached by the Baptist and by Christ

Himself some 40 years before :-" The Kingdom of

Heaven is at hand." Few were then the signs that

Christ was on his way to such marked supremacy;

but the via dolorosa led to the stars and to the crown.

Now that proud religion which contemned Him is

plucked up and cast into the fire and burned, whilst

15-18.] Why do the Heathen Rage? 101

He is seen "coming in his kingdom," clothed with

power and glory.

" Jr/U'1~ the 81m of .Mancometh, BIUIll Hefind fuitt: 01~ the earth1"

Well may the heavens with brimming- hearts of love,

lift up their voice and sing. Much more joyfully

might the earth hail the coming of the Lord to his

rightful throne; the revelation of a sovereignty in

which love and power go hand in hand to put to shame

the tyrannies and brutalities of the petty kings of earth.

Yet there was no thankfulness on earth because no

faith, no not in Israel, to see that God had set his

Christ upon David's throne as a blessing to the world.

" The nations were zorotk,' at the theocratic pretensions

of the Jews, and against the claims of the God of

Israel. The kings and princes of the earth had hated

every thought that limited their right to reign, and

promised liberty to oppressed and groaning peoples.

God answers men according to their kind. Obstructiveinstitutions,

wrathful against the truth, He baptises

with his wrath. Evil has a tremendous grip of life on

earth. Men are by nature lovers of tradition, followers

of precedent. If a thing is old it is highly reverenced.

Our old nobility, old customs, our most ancient Church,

are, like old wine, the better of their keeping. Satan

has a prescriptive right to reign if he has had possession

long enough. Vested interests, is the most sacred

principle of political economy. Therefore, we stand

aside,and let old hoary evils flourish, if not too corrupt

to stand erect. God baptises with his wrath whatever

on this earth has served its day. "Spare it, for it is

old! " we say. "It is old, so let it die," is the decree

of God. We dream fondly of the old old world; but

102 Tlte judgement Day. [xr,

God is ever hastening toward a new heaven and new

earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

" The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised."

Not only was it God's time to judge his land; it

was also "tlte time of tIle dead tlrat tltey should be

This is a revelation for which many of the

readers of the Apocalypse are not prepared. It is,

however, in strictest keeping with the teaching of the

Gospels and Epistles. Christ and his Apostles, without

exception, taught that judgement was at hand, not

only for the living, but for the dead as well. The

proof texts are so numerous that we need not quote

them; but it may be needful again to warn some

readers that the immediateness of the judgement to

Apostolic times is not always expressed as it ought to

be in our English translations. It seems most fitting

that at the close of a dispensation a judgement should

take place of all those who are or have been under its

laws. It is the divine method that the things of each

dispensation shall be entirely wound up and put in

order before it pass away. The living Jew was judged

and self-condemned by the preaching of the Gospel.

I ts rejection was his sentence to his doom. Whatever

be the meaning of St. Peter, he illustrates this principle

in his statement that" the gospel was preached even

to the dead that they might be judged according to

men in the flesh, but live according to God in the

spirit." He does seem to say that the preliminary

preparations for a judgement of the spirit-world began

with the risen life of Christ. By all appearance it is

to this invisible judgement Christ refers where He says

in John v. 26-" THE HOUR COMETH, and now is,

18.] Tlte Resurrection of the Dead. 103

when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God."

That is no figurative transaction with people figuratively

dead; from the fact that tile execution ofjudgement

is the predominant idea in the Saviour's mind;

and from the still more emphatic and unmistakeable

repetition of the truth in v. 28--" The hour cometh in

which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice

and come forth" unto life or judgement. Such was

the uniform teaching of our Lord's Apostles. If our

Lord's coming was impending, so necessarily was the

judgement-day; and that such sublime events are the

fitting accompaniment of an epoch so marked in its

significance as the close of an age, surely no one can


" The dead in Christ shall rise first."

Consequently, this is the moment when all those

who have feared the Lord receive their rewards. The

prophets, the saints, the martyrs with their weary cry

beneath the altar-" How long, 0 Lord," are delivered

from the bands of death and attain to glory and

honour. The Lord has descended with a shout, with

the sound of the last trump, the keys of Hades in his

hands, and delivered his waiting saints. This is the

first resurrection. Here again we strike a telling note

of harmony between the Apocalypse and other portions

of the Scripture. The resurrection is declared to be

coming on apace in the Gospels; in the Epistles to be

near; in the Apocalypse to be come. The dead saints

enter upon their rest at the close of the old dispensation.

The new age with its new liberties to the earth, has new

liberties for the unseen world. The prison doors of

ignorance and unbelief on earth open synchronously

104 A Promise KejJt. [XI.

with the prison doors of Hades. Here is the fulfilment

of the promise Christ made to his disciples-" A little

while and ye shall see me again; I shall come for you

and take you to myself!" Here, too, is the fulfilment

of the assurance of the angels on Mount Olivet: "Ye

shall see Him in like manner come to you again!"

This glorious fulfilment of the promise has been

forgotten in our Protestant Church, and expiscated

from all Protestant theology. It was a powerful

thought, and a happy one, in the faith of the early

Church, though accompanied with unfortunate limitations.

Dante could celebrate the arrival in Hades of

"un Possente

Con segno di vittoria incoronato "

-a Potentate with sign of victory crowned, whose

word released the spirits of his waiting saints, the

first-fruits of his triumph! Were it not well for us in

these days to enter into the possession of the full faith,

not alone of the ancient Church, but of the written

Word; and to rejoice that Christ has indeed led

captive captivity, and not left heaven empty of his

risen saints?

Then comes the ominous intimation that" tlte time

is come to destroy them that destroy tlte land."

might readily be understood of those lawless and

disorderly Jews or benighted religionists who had been

the curse of Palestine. But clearly, although their

judgement has not been carried to completion in

detail, they are to be understood as judged. This

note is the intimation of a fresh extension of the field

of judgement, of which we are on the eve. Those who

have been God's instruments in destroying the cove18-

19.] Heauen Opened to Beiieuers. 105

nant people, and have trodden down the holy city, are

themselves to be judged in their turn. "If judgement

must begin at the house of God, what shall be the end

of them that obey not the gospel of God?" Or if

such things have been done in the green tree of juda-a,

what shall be done in the dry tree of that heathenism

which vaunts itself against the honour of the only God?

Anon we shall see this work proceed; John's plan

necessitates a halt in order to make a new beginning

upon different lines.

" The wayinto the holies: is made manifest:"

Meanwhile, the temple in heauet: is opened. That is

the signal of two glorious facts. (1.) The reward of

the risen saints is, to enter into more immediate fellowship

with God. They have ascended into a more perfect

life. Never before was that degree of heaven open to

foot of man save Christ's; but now the promise is

fulfilled-" I go to prepare a place for you, that where

I am there ye may be also . . to behold my glory."

(2.) The temple in Jcrusalem is gone; God's house on

earth is left desolate. All eyes are now towards

heaven. The way into the holiest is made manifest,

because the first tabernacle is no longer standing.

Thus are we parabolically taught how, in the new dispensation

of the gospel, God and man are reconciled,

and brought into a closeness of communion which

presages certain victory to God in the ultimate history

of humanity.

There is one thing apt to strike the reader as very

strange in the contents of this last trumpet-the

apparent insignificance of its contents, in form at

least. Great things are told to John; but there is no

106 Finis ! [xr,

grand VISIOn, no fulness of detail, no emphasis as if

these things were of much importance; whereas, from

the last and crowning trumpet we should have expected

some grand denoument, in which all that is

past would be comprehended and explained. Nevertheless,

this last trumpet really contains the whole gist

of what has gone before; and it sums up, in few words,

all that is to come in the second part of the Apocalypse.

It is not by any means, as Ewald has said, a prelude

to the following visions; but it is the whole of the

following visions in epitome. And the reason for this

particular brevity of narration seems to be, that almost

all the contents of this last trumpet (signifying as it

does the advent of the Gospel age, with all its magnificent

endowment of Christian blessing) belongs

rather to the MORNING of "the Great Day of the

Lord" than to the NIGHT. It is always hard to draw

a line between the night and the morning; and John,

since he must draw it, chooses to do it so that the

light of the morning will make a narrow band of

brightness on the eastern side of the night. Artistically,

his picture is complete. We have seen the old

age die of sheer rottenness and inanity; and we know

that a new age follows. John will immediately proceed

to introduce the morning of a better day. 'vVe know

how Judaism died; we shall see how the sun of the

Gospel rose, and fought with clouds, and mists, and

storms, until it shone with the light of an eternal day.


IDa\?sprtng; or
tbe Bb"ent of tbe


" Howl ye, woe worth the day! For the day is near, even the

day of the Lord
is near, a day of clouds ; it shall be the time

of the heathen."

"As the lightning cometh forth from the East and
is seen even

unto the West; so shall be the coming of the Son of Man."

" Say, watchman, what's off the night?

Do the dews of the morning fall?

Have the orient skies a border of light,

Like the fringe of a funeral pall?

The night is fast waning on high,

And soon shall the darkness flee,

And the morn shall spread o'er the blushing sky,

And bright shall its glories be."-Anon.



" The beginning of the Goapel of Jesus Christ." sIERIOUS difficulties have arisen over the structure

of this book,-many critics and expositors having

failed to notice the principle on which John treats his

theme; or rather, on which "the day of the Lord" is revealed

to him. As typical of such, we may cite first a

case which was lately introduced to English readers in

the pages of the Expositor. A German scholar (Vischer)

thinks that the Lamb whom we have seen in the

midst of the throne cannot be Christ because Christ

is not born until we come to chapter xii. His English

cicerone (Simcox) sympathises, and thinks it hard to

suppose that an event can be described in chapter xii.

which was 70 years in the past. These apparent

discordances naturally lead to uncomplimentary

theories of the book's origin. All such misconceptions

cease so soon as we apprehend John's simple and

natural, therefore truly artistic plan; a twofold

representation of the day of the Lord-mutually

supplementary; but either of which might stand

alone as meeting the requirements of the title"


A few who have noted this double structure have

failed to see the principle on which it is done; and the

line of cleavage has been drawn at chapter x. with a

trumpet still to sound, and the tragedy left suddenly

110 Tlte Author's Plan. [XII.

suspended in the air. The general plan of the book

makes it plain that only here, between xi. and xii., do

we reach the dividing line; and are able to look back

and behold a finished work. John's subject is "The

Great Day of the Lord "-the coming of Christ in

those events of judgement and redemption which are

the official introduction of the Messianic age-the

age of the Kingdom of God; or, as better known by

us, the age of the Gospel. That great day, as suited

the Hebrew mind of John, is arranged in two successive

periods of darkness and light; or, as we say, night and

day. " The evening and the morning were day one."

The" day of the Lord," like the creative day, begins

with chaos and night (the gloom of judgement in the

falling of sun, moon, and stars); and then it proceeds

with the creation of the light, and the victories of light,

in new bloom and beauty on the earth. This is the

regulating principle of the order of the Apocalypse,

and our readers can easily put the matter to the test.

Renan gives expression to a very common feeling

of bewilderment at this part of his comment in his

Antichrist. He says that" the author is little careful

of the unity of his work," and cannot understand how,

when all seems finished, John" reserves the means of

continuing his tale." Our readers will see that

the fundamental plan of the book implies such

a narrative as we have had, and the resumption of the

tale afresh from a different point of view. All apparent

confusion disappears before the fact that we

witness first the night of judgement, then the dawning

of the better day; see first, how a decadent divine

dispensation dies, then how from its womb a diviner

age is born.

1.] Destruction and Re-construction. 111

Look back and see. Is it not evident that we have

been hitherto concerned, as on this principle we ought,

with the decline and fall of the ancient Church-with

Judaism, her apostasy, her growing darkness and her

doom? We have been passing through the darkness

of the night; and have followed its weary hours until

we found that the day was about to break, or had just

broken and no more. On the night-side of God's day,

we are not meant to see much of the Church of Christ,

or even of Christ Himself, except under clouds of

darkness. The narrative is concerned with destruction

and not re-construction. Scarcely do we see anything

of the latter beyond the fact that there are in Judaism

certain things which must survive; and that in the

fires of judgement God preserves them. A spiritual

people, a spiritual worship, and a body of spiritual

truths are seen to survive the general wreck. We

know without instruction that this is substantially the

ideal Church of God: the nucleus of what comes to

be the Church of Christ. As yet, however, the new is

hidden in the old. The things which can be shaken

must be removed in order "that what cannot be

shaken may appear." The scaffolding hides the

gracious proportions of the building which is growing

up within its lines; only when the formal and the

temporary are removed do we have a vision of the

imperishable ideal. John has hitherto written only

the dying history of the old; he will now write the

birth and growth to manhood of the new. Our ears

have heard the cry-" the King is dead! " and now we

shall be pointed to his Son and heir, and hear the

acclamations of the multitude-"Long live the King!"

In other words, we shall now have the light-side of

112 Tlte Daughter of Zion. [XII.

"the day of the Lord." The darkening night has

been pictured; we shall see the same scenes from the

standpoint of the dawning day. The day-star of the

Church will be seen in weakness and struggle with the

dark clouds of the passing night. Not only will the

morning break; the sun will slowly yet surely ascend

the sky, wrestling with many a long trailing serpentcloud

until it reach the zenith of its glory. This

method of handling the subject compels us to travel

over much of the ground a second time. Night and

morning intermingle and overlap at many points, and

so do we find it in John's book. Especially is this

true, as indeed it ought to be, in the closing verses of

Part I., where the Seer is on the borderland of the better

day. That last trumpet ushers in the dawn, and

therefore it is a brief epitome of the visions yet to

come, in which are depicted the rise and triumph of

Christian Truth. Thus grasping the scheme of the

book, we shall the easier thread our way through

impending intricacies, and be able to avoid difficulties

over which other feet have stumbled.

"Zion travailed . . she was delivered of a man child."

John sees " a woman arrayed witlt tile sun, the moon

beneatk her feet, and upon her lzead a crown of twelve

Expositors find here, with unusual unanimity,

a symbol of the Church the bride of God. The

glories which invest her are not her own. Her brightness

is the refulgence of the Sun of Righteousness.

But which Church is this? It is inadmissible to

answer, the Hebrew-Christian Church of judsea ;

because in that case, the mother would be her own son,

and the son his own mother; and while the mother


1-3.] TIle B£rth of Chr£st. 113

flees into the wilderness, as the son she would be

carried up to heaven. Confusion upon confusion.

This interpretation is favoured because of unwillingness

to break the continuity of the visions by going back

70 years, and finding here the birth of Christ. However,

we must needs go back if John is starting de novo

to explain the coming of the day of the Lord from

the positive and constructive side. This woman is the

Church as continuously existing throughout Jewish

history. It is elect humanity as loved, comforted, and

made fruitful by the grace of God; the daughter of

Zion in her beautiful array; that spiritual remnant of

whom Christ as to the flesh was born. Thus does

• John once again catch up another of those permanent

ideals which sparkle like diamonds in the page of the

prophetic word. God has not forsaken Zion; nor

forgotten the wife of his love; nor so much as changed

in his eternal purpose. "The gifts and calling of

God are without repentance." The Church of the past

is one with the Church of the future, except that the

latter is lifted up into a purer faith, a brighter hope,

and a diviner charity.

This " Man ch£ld" is Christ. The" Dragon" is that

old Serpent the Devil. This animal form is chosen as

the most suitable type of sensual wisdom, cruelty and

cunning, armed with multifarious forms of power, and

crowned with universal sovereignty. Here he lies in

waiting for Christ's birth. Thus does John give unity

to all Anti-Christian forms of evil. This is the envenomed

power that inspired the fox-like enmity of

Herod; that prompted Judas to betray his Master,

and stirred up Priest and Pharisee to slay Him, in the

hope that, Christ once destroyed-the Kingdom of the

. 8

114 Satanic Darkness. [XII.

world would continue in subjection to its dark and

desolating sway. This same dragon lies in wait to

destroy the birth of good in every human soul, to

quench the faintest glimmerings of new light, and to

oppose every heavenly influence and doctrine that

would deliver men from its fatal delusions.

The stars ofheauen dragged to earth by this dragon's

may point us to that great apostasy of angels

which figures so largely in rabbinical theology and

which has passed over bodily into Christian thought

(whether in corroboration or merely as a note of'

identification, we cannot say); or it may symbolise

Satan's power over those human lights which God has

set for the guidance of humanity. The saddest page

in human history is, the records of its men of light and

leading. From the grandest heights they have fallen

into deepest depths. There is mingling with the

stream of human life an element of contrariety which

often perverts the highest gifts and the most sacred

offices to mean and selfish, even beastly uses. Such

an apostasy, we might say, had been universal over

three-fourths of the world; the light had been turned

to darkness. This had taken place even among the

stars of Judaism; later, among the star-like minds of

Christendom. All great truths have had their light

obscured by the bad perversions of gifted and powerful

minds who have paid homage to the dragon

principle in preference to the God of love.

" I unll give thee the nations for thine inheritance; thou shalt

break them with a rod of iron."

This man child" was SOON to rule all nations with

a rod of iron."
These words present us with the

4-5.] Absolute lvlorality. 115

govermental aspect of Christ's saving work. He came

into the world to found a kingdom co-extensive with

the human race. That is equivalent to the redemption

of mankind from its vain traditions, its evil habits, its

enslaving tyrannies. His government is to be firm

and strong. Satan had ruled the world hitherto on

the principle of license. Heathen religions kept their

sway because tolerant of the immorality of king and

subject, the noble and his slave; and tyrants had been

popular in proportion as they had pandered to the

frivolous and sensuous tastes of priests and people.

Christ came to institute a kingdom of inflexible

righteousness. Even the pretentious righteousness of

Scribes and Pharisees will not satisfy his iron law.

His administration will be puritanical compared

with the immoral looseness of other kings and

conquerors. His laws will be absolute; his will in

the end irresistible. Under his dominion the decree

holds sway-Men shall reap as they sow. This ideal

purity is not always realised in Christendom; but the

ideal remains to-day not one whit accommodated to

the weak desires of men.

We have in this sentence a conjunction of ideas

quite alien to current conceptions. Christ is " SOON"

to rule the nations, and for this purpose is " caught up

to God and to his throne."
Usually it is understood

that the reign of Christ was not to be until a day far

distant from the time of John, and that Christ must

rather descend from the throne of God and come

personally to the earth in order to begin his reign.

Largely it is believed that Christ is powerless now;

remains an uncrowned King until He can come down

from heaven and set up a throne in imitation of

116 War in Heaven. [XII.

Csesar's in Jerusalem. On the contrary, the Scriptures

associate his Kingship with his ascent. He is allpowerful

because He is at the right hand of the

Majesty in heaven, and his ascension was the moment

of his investment with a power and government which

know no end. That indeed was the index of his

triumph, the declaration of his royality, and the leading

captive of captivity. I t is in that glorified condition,

at the centre of Being, that Christ exercises

all his power; and his second advent must be held in

strict subordination to the truth that He cannot leave

his heavenly throne, nor needs to leave it for the

increase of his glory and dominion. He ascended up

to the matrix of all power in order that He might

reign; to leave that centre is to condescend to

weakness and the abnegation of his universal sovereignty.

" I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."

The first effect of Christ's sovereignty is_H war in

There are four different spheres in which

this statement may possibly be fulfilled. It may point

us to some actual conflict, not indeed of arms but of

truth and error, in the inner spirit-world or heavens.

Satan, according to Jewish thought, had access to

heaven and to the ear of God; and could prejudice

the cause of men with God. Pared to the quick, that

may signify only that the evil or imperfect states of

the inhabitants of the ancient spirit-world had a

prejudicial effect upon the spiritual states and fortunes

of men on earth; and that human advancement is

dependent on the defeat or lessening of evil in the

unseen world. This idea, so far as we know, is

5-7.] Satan Overcome. 117

developed only in the schemes of certain of the mystics.

(2.) It may mean that until Christ overthrew the

power of Satan by his assumption of his mediatorial

powers, and his opening of the Holiest to his people,

even Christians in the spirit life were in some sense

imperfect, as the epistle to the Hebrews hints, and in

that sense still accused of sin (Gebhardt). (3.) That

Satanic influences warred against the truth as preached

by the Apostles; while heavenly influences warred

upon their side and overcame. Paul had some such

conception of an unseen foe-" We wrestle not with

flesh and blood, but against principalities; etc., in high

places." (4.) It may signalise the installation of

Christ upon his Father's throne in his glorified humanityas

a fresh bond of peace between earth and heaven.

Now, God and man are reconciled. The guiltiest can

come to God without any longer being tormented by

accusing fears that sound as the condemning voice of


These are not so much diverse interpretations, as

branches of one and the same conception. If the first

be true, and Christ in some local sense has purified

the higher regions of the unseen, and so" prepared a

place for us," then all the other senses are in agreement

with the fact and form a part of it. Possibly the

strongest view may be the nearest to the truth. Truth

is stranger than fiction; and this old eastern notion of

fallen angels cast out of heaven, at which the young

world laughs, may be a historical reality. At all events,

this overthrow of Satan as a consequence of the ascent

of Christ to heaven, is in some grand and worthy sense

beyond all doubt. When at last our Lord stood in

view of his death and resurrection, He said: "Now is

118 Tile Accuser Refuted. [XII.

the hour and power of darkness;" but He could

prophetically add, "Now is the prince of this world

cast out." Thus we see how fitly such a conflict is

recorded by the pen of John, as following the advent

of Jesus to his throne.

Immediately there is joy in heaven, because the

devil is dethroned, and Christ, "the friend of sinners,"

is invested with the authority of God. With Christ,

his saints have triumphed against all the accusations

of the evil one. Satan's foulest charge against

humanity is, its selfishness; its proneness to make

profit even of religion. " Skin for skin, all that a man

hath will he give for his life." That accusation was

refuted by the blood of the Lamb, and then by every

blood-drop wrung from the martyrs' veins. "They

I07Jed not their life."
Rather than deny the truth they

died a dreadful death, and demonstrated their fidelity

to truth and God. They were able to die because the

Lamb had died. "The blood of the Lamb was a

perpetual witness to them that God had reconciled the

world unto Himself. It was a living sacrament of a

perpetual and living union between the children on

earth and their Father in heaven Therefore

these men could throwaway their lives, knowing that

the truth was worth more than their lives, and that

they might trust their lives unto the God of truth,"

(Maurice). What glory is thus shed around the

memories of those noble men! Their martyrdom is

made a portion of their Saviour's triumph; for it seems

that Christ, with Michael and his hosts, could not have

silenced the accuser unless down on earth men had

proved by deeds that they could die for God and for

his truth.

!l-14.] Tlte Climax of Wickedness. 119

But what is joyful for the inhabitants of heaven is

misery for the dwellers upon earth. The devil is come

down full of wrath and the bitterness of despair.

Heaven is lost; he still may have the sweet revenge

of creating a wilder turbulence on earth. Now there

breaks upon the land a wave of selfishness and hatred

that boils in wrath against whatever is divine, and

spares neither kith nor kin in its devastating fury It

was indeed a wicked age, " a time of devil ascendancy

over the world," a ripening of the harvest of iniquity.

the overflow of the cup of earth's sinful abominations,

Such a festering mass of wickedness never before nor

since was seen in human history. As we read the

dreadful story of the middle of that century in the

pages of Gibbon or Mommsen, or directly face to face

in Tacitus or Suetonius, one's heart bleeds for that

suffering generation, whether Jews or Gentiles, and

seeks in vain for consolation except in the assurance

that the very violence and brutality of its evil must the

sooner hasten its final removal from the earth.

" Let them that are in Judaa flee into the nwuntains."

And how fares it with the Church? The malignity

of that generation surged in storms against the Chureh,

especially the Hebrew-Christian Church. A fit of persecuting

zeal was at its height, when the national

troubles with the Romans diverted attention from the

Christian cause. Then came the tramp of Roman

legions through the land; and heathen armies threatened

to be more destructive than the persecutor's

blows. But the Church remembered the warning of

her Lord: "Let them which be in Judzea flee into the

mountains," and the wings of God's protecting love

120 Persecution and False Doctrine. [XII.

bore them safely from the field. Our earliest Church

historians tell us that the Jewish Christians fled at the

outbreak of the war to Pella, on the borders of Arabia,

and there dwelt in safety until peace returned.

Though stripped and left with nothing but a bare subsistence

during those three years and a half in which

the Romans trampled down the land, they weathered

the storm of desolation and found them years of

safety and repose.

Foiled in his use of fire, the dragon" casts out of his

mouth a flood of water as a river,"
in order to sweep

the infant Church away. The serpent is sensual and

demoniac wisdom; the waters of his mouth, are a flood

.of fleshly but pretentiously spiritual speculations, under

the ambitious name of Gnosis. You hear enough of

this in many of the Epistles-of seducing spirits,

and doctrines of devils, forbidding to marry, teaching

the worshipping of angels, denying the resurrection,

denying even" the Lord that bought them "-all of

which Paul calls, "the profane babblings and oppositions

of science falsely so called"-"foolish and hurtful

lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition."

" What waters were these for the Church to float in

after she was loosed from her old moorings!" and the

Apostles fast passing over to the other shore.

Salvation did not come by the counter-reasonings

of the Timothies, Apolloses, and Clements who were

left to fill the Apostles' places. Everything in a speculation

depends upon its relations to the wants of life.

Paul told the Colossians how to answer them-" Mortify

your members; keep from sin." He wrote to

Timothy: "The end of the commandment is charity

out of a pure heart and good conscience, and faith un14-

Doctrine knOW1t by its Fruits. 121

feigned-follow after these and you will not be swept

away." And what says the vision which John sees?

"The earth. opened Iter mouth and szoalknoed up the

Every one soon discerns whether such speculations

have power in them to purify the life and

refresh it amid its constant tear and wear. Will they

help us to be purer and happier here on earth ?-that

is what every Christian wants; not something that

will merely pique his fancy and swell his imagination

with unpractical dreams. Let us not be afraid of the

floods that men call heresy. We shall soon know

whether we can live by them or not, and whether there

is anything in them that can help us in an evil hour.

" A nd the dragon was wroth." The earth in which

he trusts betrays him. The mother Church is faithful

to her King, repells the heresies of Anti-christ, and,

like a faithful wife, goes on to multiply the children of

her Lord. The dragon then turns with greater hope

against the children scattered through the world. The

Christians in the Gentile world must be persecuted,

rooted out, else the powers of hell will be speedily dispossessed.

Observe against whom it is the dragon

goes to war. He wages not merely a war of falsehood

against truth; but a war of evil against good. Satanic

bitterness does not waste itself in rage against a

sentimental, speculative, or dilettanti piety; it hates

as hell hates heaven, the piety that keeps God's commandments-

the charity that thinks no evil-that

loves its neighbour as itself, and finds its strength in

God, a God of love who has united Himself to the

human race by the testimony of a suffering, dying, ascending

and reigning Christ. Let that indicate how

you are to obtain the victory-not as believers in ab122

Safety in Obedience. [XII.

stract doctrines or in concrete priestly superstitions;

but as you take up God's will and honestly strive to do

it. War against self-love within your soul; hold fast

to your redeeming Father as you see Him in the face

of Christ, and you will win eternal victory. A child

of the light and of the day, you will neither in time

nor in eternity be a citizen of the kingdom of darkness

over which Satan reigns.



"Anti-Christ is already come."

IT is the dragon that stands upon the shore, and

- looks wistfully across the sea as if waiting for some

confederate to assist him in his evil work. The devil

is never at a loss for tools to do his work. A beast

ascends out of the
sea-that may be out of the midst of

many peoples, and tongues, and nations; or the "sea"

may be a fragment of literalism in the picture, and in

that case the beast will be some distant power whose

domain is somewhere across the Mediterranean Sea.

In either case, we may premise with safety that it

represents the Roman Empire. The dragon is a power

whose locus is the air; therefore it is a purely intellectual

and moral force whose supremacy in the world is

maintained by the inspiration of material agencies to

do its will. The beast belongs by its nature to the

earth; and yet has such affinities with this evil-natured

dragon that it becomes a willing tool for the accomplishment

of Satanic purposes.

This beast has so much in common with the four

great beasts of Daniel's vision, that we are bound to

regard it as a vast political power whose realm

embraces the territory of Daniel's beasts. Presumably

this is the Roman wbrld-the empire of the Caesars,

124 The Heads of the Beast. [XIII.

John will soon settle it beyond a doubt. These "seven

of the beast, he tells us in chapter xvii., are

seven successive kings. Five of them are fallen when

John writes; the sixth is reigning; a seventh is to

come and reign a little time; an eighth head is to be

in power when judgement is at its consummation. It is

evident that we have here some world-power which has

three reigning heads within a few brief years-and

those years far on in the life of the apostle John.

What power can that be but Rome-which actually

had seven reigning heads or more within the last half

of John's life, and at the time demanded by this

interpretation of John's book. These"ten horns" may

therefore be either the Roman legions, or the ten main

provinces of the empire, with their diademed, semiindependent

kings. Another interpretation mark is

given in v. 3-one of these heads or kings is smitten so

as to endanger the beast's life, but there is a rapid and

surprising recovery. The sign is so far indefinite as to

give scope for reasonable difference of opinion; but it

is a remarkable fact that among the emperors of Rome

corresponding events were happening in John's time.

Five emperors had been, the sixth was reigning. Thus

we are fixed down to a definite period in Rome's

history. Unhappily we cannot settle with precision

what that period was from the fact that two modes of

reckoning were open to the Apostle. Josephus and

other oriental writers usually count Julius Caesar as

the first; Tacitus and other Latin historians begin

with Augustus. According as John reckons, it is either

Nero or Galba who is reigning at the point of time

represented in the vision. It would not, however, be

wise to be over-precise in fixing so indefinite a matter.

1-3.] Wounded as if to Death. 125

If we make allowance for the revolutionary disorder

that prevailed on the death of Nero (Galba, Otho, and

Vitellius, being all three at one moment nominally

emperors, and spending together not a year upon the

throne), and on the possibility that John, in his distant

banishment, might not know at any moment who was

or had been actually on the throne, we shall see,

unhappily to our disadvantage, that the reigning

emperor may be anyone from Nero to Vitelliusthirteen

months seeing all four on the throne.

After all, our ignorance is not material. Enough if

in those days we can find anything corresponding with

this rapid change of heads, and this almost fatal

wound with which the beast was smitten in one of its

imperial heads. That head may very well be Nero.

Prophecies had been for some time in circulation

through the empire that Rome and its power would

speedily fall. In the ballads afloat among the people

was the line-" Last of the descendants of ./Eneas, a

matricide shall reign,"-pointing directly to the Emperor

Nero, the last descendant of the great Julian

line, and the wicked murderer of the mother who had

raised him to the throne by her unscrupulous crimes.

This popular impression that Rome had reached the

zenith of its splendour was greatly deepened by events

happening at that time. Nero was growing yearly

more brutal and ferocious in his character-intensifying

the violence and anarchy of all classes of the people.

Misfortunes of all kinds were happening in various

portions of the empire-such as tidal waves, earthquakes,

famines, pestilences. The heavens were full

of prodigies. Tacitus relates that "comets, eclipses,

meteors terrified the ignorant, and were made the

126 Tlte Deadly Wound Healed. [XIII.

pretext for imperial cruelties." Seneca, the tutor and

friend, finally the victim of Nero, says-" The world

itself is being shaken to pieces, and there is universal

consternation." Revolt had broken out in various provinces,

and was especially in full swing with considerable

success in Palestine. Indeed, all the Jews were

persuaded that with Nero the empire would collapse,

and independence be restored to Israel. Politically

the whole empire was in a state of violent agitation,

and at last the stormy surges of popular wrath broke

against the throne. Nero fled in secrecy, only to

perish ignominiously as a suicide, or by the sword of

a household slave. Thus set the sun of the great

Julian line of emperors; amid such disorder, and with

so many adventurers fighting for the crown that it

looked as if the State must break into a thousand pieces

and the sun of Rome's imperial splendour for ever set.

The unparalleled disorders of the times are well condensed

in this brief excerpt from history-the three

successive reigns occupied but a year,-Galba was

hacked to pieces, Otho flung himself upon his sword,

Vitelli us was dragged to the common place of execution

and stabbed to death amid the insults of the

people. Indeed, none of them can be regarded otherwise

than Suetonius names them-" three military

chiefs, who aimed at the imperial purple." It is only

when Vespasian, the conqueror of j udsea, mounts the

throne and founds the Flavian line, that Nero can be

said to have had a true successor. Then it was the

deadly wound was lzealed.
Josephus says Vespasian's

government was the unexpected deliverance of the

public affairs of the Romans from ruin (Wars, IV. xi.

5). Rome at once entered on a new lease of pro3-

5.] Boastfulness and Blasphemy. 127

sperity and power; and all tke world zoondered after

the beast
which had so miraculously recovered from its

death-like wound, and believed with a profounder conviction

than before that Rome as an empire was


" The .Man of Sin, the Son of perdition, he that oppoeeth.

and exalteth himself against all that is called God, or that is

uorehipped ; so that he sitteth. in the temple of God setting

himself forth as God."

Another feature in the recognition of the beast is

the impression of invincibility it creates-" Who is

like unto the beast? WILO is able to make war with

Idm ?"
Well, history has answered that! There was,

however, an excuse for Roman pride and boastfulness.

Her armies were well nigh invincible. If ever she had

been defeated, it was by the interminable swamps and

forests of bleak Germania, or the sterile moors of distant

Caledonia, not by any weakness in the arms or

any faltering in the courage of her legions. Rome was,

indeed, at the time of the Apocalypse, the Mistress of

the World. Lucan could write without flattery:"

Throughout all ages, has every war given subdued

nations unto thee" (Pharsalia, vii. 420).

Boastfulness and blasphemy were the habit of his

mouth. True of any emperor and his generation

before the time of John; but especially true of Nero.

No previous occupant of the throne had been so elated

with his powers, or had so dared to provoke the populace

by his unconstitutional and immoral deeds. As

a proof of the beastly inhumanity and unparalleled

boastfulness of this man, let me transcribe a few sentences

from Renan. "Nero proclaims daily that art

128 Warring 'witlt the Saints. [XIII.

alone should be held as a serious matter, that all virtue

is a lie, that the brave man is he who can abuse,

lose, and waste everything.. A colossal self-love

gave him an ardent thirst to absorb the glory of the

whole world; his enmity was fierce against those who

occupied public attention; for a man to succeed in

anything was a State crime. To deny his talent

was the State crime par excellence; the enemies of

Rome were those who did not admire him." To

gratify his craving for notoriety he travelled through

his empire, and entered upon all sorts of circus and

theatrical contests; until at length he returned from

Greece bringing 1808 crowns to prove his superiority

over all the artists of his empire. The uncontrollable

vanity of the man is seen conspicuously in his having

ordered a monument to himself of brass in the streets

of Rome; and erected at the entrance to his palace,

a colossal marble statute of himself, 120 feet in height,

" adorned with the insignia and attributes of the sun."

" It was given to Ium to make war witlt th« saints,"

. and this work was to continue forty-two months.

This period coincides with the time during which the

Jewish war begun by Nero's orders, was continued; it

also is the period during which Nero himself warred

ag ainst the Church of Christ. He began his persecutions

in November 64, and died a hated fugitive in June

u8. The period during which" he did his works" can

hardly have been either less or more than two and .

forty months. The relentlessness of his persecution

was commensurate with his brutal and irreligious temperament.

He spoke" in blaspfumy against God, and

against Ids tabernacle, and them that dwell in heauen;"

T his man is here distinctly noted as at once the enemy

Diqitrzed byGOOgle

7-8.] Blasphemies against God. 129

of Jehovah, the destroyer of Judaism, and the profaner

of the gods supposed to dwell ori high. If this

be not Nero, never has there been a man on earth

whom it has so well suited. No doubt he entered on

the Jewish war with the intention of blotting out the

Jewish worship, and enthroning himself in the Creator's

place in the temple at Jerusalem. Nothing in heaven

or earth was sacred but the glory of his name. His

earliest and most enthusiastic cult was of Cybele, the

sensual Syrian Goddess, but Suetonius tells us how it ended:

Religionum usquequaque contemptor, pra-ter unius

Deae Syriae. Hanc mox ita sprevit, ut urina contaminaret.

(lvi.) The insolent brutality of the man is

seen in his daring treatment of the temples of the gods.

In order to find means to repay the debts of his


"Treasures human and divine were swept into the gulf. The

temples of Rome itself were denuded of the offerings of ages,

the spoil of conquered enemies long hoarded up in the shrines of

the gods, the trophies of victories and triumphs held sacred

through all emergencies, which even Ceesar who sacked the

treasury had respected. From Greece and Asia, not the offerings

only, but the images of the gods themselves were carried off by

authorised commisaioners . . . Nero, emboldened by the

incredible submission of the world to his feeble sceptre, treated

gods and men alike as mere slaves of his will,
ordained equally,

whether in earth or heaven, for his personal service and

gratification."-(Merivale, ut supra vi. 177-8).

It was but a trifling step to put himself in the place

of the gods whom he had deposed. Nero's first child

was a daughter; but it died in infancy. At once this

infant was "canonized as a goddess; a temple was

decreed to her, with an altar, a bed of state, a priest

and religious ceremonies." A few months after, died


130 Worsltipped as God. [XIII.

Popprea his wife, killed by a kick from himself. She

too was made agoddess, and one of the best men in

the State was executed because he denied that Popprea

was a goddess. Then it was proposed in the Senate

that a temple should be erected to Nero himsclf"

divine Nero "-who had risen above the condition of

human nature, and was therefore entitled to. religious

worship. Certainly, popular adulation, if not even

worship, was not lacking for this besotted emperor.

On the coins of the realm he was saluted as "the

Saviour of the World." Out upon his tours, the people

offered sacrifices by the way; and the poets of the

time assured him that" when he repaired to the stars

he would have his choice of heavens; that all the gods

would suffer him to make himself supreme; and that

if he did not balance himself carefully in the boundless

ether, the stability of heaven would be disturbed."

(Pharsalia i. 50-6.) The saying of John, that all

worshipped him except the followers of the Lamb
is no

random statement, but a literal fact of history. All

the Roman emperors had been deified upon their death,

and worshipped as ascended gods: Nero was the first

to be worshipped in his life. Farrar says-" At this

dreadful period, the cult of the emperor was almost

the only sincere worship which existed,"

To such a man falls the opprobrious distinction of

having been the first of the Roman emperors to war

against the saints-whether of the old Church or of

the new. In his reign, Paul was beheaded; and

perhaps Peter crucified at Rome. He is said to have

set fire to the city (64 A.D.) for the double enjoyment

of seeing the glowing spectacle, and having it rebuilt

in splendour as a monument of his reign. Then, to

7-8.] Anti-Clmst. 131

avert suspicion from himself, he transferred the blame,

some say to the Christians, others to the Jews,

Christians included. However it was, "a vast multitude,"

says Tacitus, were brought to trial and condemned.

Some of them were covered with the skins of

dogs and bears, and put into the amphitheatre to be

tornby famished dogs; others were nailed to crosses;

others were encrusted in sulphureous pitch, and set on

fire in the autumn nights along the walks of Nero's

garden, which were opened to the populace that they

might enjoy the tragic illuminations. It is even darkly

hinted that, dressed in the skin of a wild beast, he

entered the amphitheatre and violated Christian virgins

before the populace. No wonder that Nero became

to Christian imagination the very incarnation of evil;

the Anti-christ, the wild beast from the sea; the

delegate of the great red dragon, with diadems and

names of blasphemy on his brow. No wonder that he

left a furrow of horror in the hearts of men, and that

the surmise long lingered that such a monster might

not be dead, but again appear to persecute and crush

the saints of God.

The Roman conquest of Palestine is referred to in

the charge that the beast blasphemes God's tabernacle.

That is temple language; and implies the profanation

of the most sacred places of the Jews in the occupation

of the land. We know that the court, the temple, and

the sacred vessels were polluted or destroyed; and

that the very God of Israel shared in the contempt

and hatred which were poured upon his people. "It

was given him to -ouercome the saints."
He had divine

permission to completely destroy the sacred people

and to be supreme on earth. The Roman empire in

132 Tile Persecutor's Doom. [XIII.

this triumph was the earthly similitude of that Dragon

who is the" Prince of this world." The whole earth

lay beneath his brutal hoof. Only the followers of the

Lamb were pure from the defilement of his worship.

" If any man have an ear let him hear." Does not

this appeal show how much this book concerned the

Churches to which it was addressed? If this beast

stood centuries away from those early Christian

Churches, how much did it concern them to give heed?

But if it meant that this beast who banished John to

Patmos would in this head himself be banished; that

this incarnate demon with his persecuting sword would

himself be finished with the sword, then it was of some

moment that those living Christians of the days of

John should show their fa#ll and patience by listening

to this hopeful word, and enduring to the end.



" Prove the spirits; because many false prophets are gone out

into the world.

TIHIS second beast, which rises from the land, is a

- necessary supplement to the beast which rises

from the sea. Without it the political beast would be

a creature of no significance. Both of them were

impotent without the dragon. The devil or essential

evil, is the inspiration of the first beast, and the

second is "the guide, philosopher, and friend" of the

first. The dragon is a supernatural power; the tame

beast is the incarnation of his serpentine wisdom; the

wild beast is the incarnation of his force and authority

to rule. If, then, the wild beast from the sea is

the Roman imperial power, there should be no great

difficulty with this milder beast-the prompter of its

godless blasphemies. It is beyond question a religious

power, for no State can subsist without religion; and

especially in the ancient world was the political power

identified with the spiritual, and dependent on it for

its status and existence. This lamb-like beast, with

its draconic teaching, is then the incarnate form of

heathen Romish prophecy, the God-opposing science

and wisdom of the old religions standing in the

service of the world-power and its governor: a Church

in the pay and protection of the State for the purpose

134 Clmrclt and Estate. [XIII.

of exalting its supremacy. It is the pagan priesthood

and philosophy, with its augeries, its oracles, its false

miracles, befooling a superstitious people, keeping them

in terror of the unseen, and drilling them into servile

subjection to the powers that be. In short, this Christlike,

yet draconic beast, is the live brain of the empire.

We need make little of the Senate, as a separate power,

in our consideration of the Roman State. That

assembly did largely what the interests of religion bade

it. Pontiffs, augurs, and other ecclesiastical officers

were members; and as itself a sacred institution, it

could meet only in a consecrated place. The Emperor

was the national High Priest. The civil law was

the creation of the priesthood, and bore a deep impression

of its sacerdotal' origin. ' " The citizen was merged

in the State ; for the State he was born, he lived, he

married, tilled his land, bequeathed his goods, he perpetuated

his family. The Roman worshipped for his

country rather than for himself." (Merivale, Conversion

of the Empire,
34). So absolutely was heathenism

planted at the centre of Roman life that no man could

be a citizen, and buy and sell in freedom, unless he

worshipped the gods of Rome: i.e., was stamped with

the mark of the beast. At times this law might not

be strictly enforced; but again and again it was

suddenly brought into force, and Jews and Christians

expelled the State because they would not acknowledge

the divinity of the emperor. At any rate every imperial

coin carried the sign of heathen blasphemy; and so

involved every trafficker in the acknowledgement of

its truth. Priests, philosophers, and statesmen were

all interested in the maintenance of this state of things

for the State paid well for their support. If the em13-

}VIagical Miracles. 135

perors were deified and worshipped, it was at their instigation.

Every nerve was strained, every trick of

magic used, every resource of demoniacal inspiration

called upon, to demonstrate to the populace the actual

divinity of the temple gods. Magianism had reached

its climax of diabolical cunning. It was an age-

II When so many marvels happened

That men no more marvelled at them."

Statues walked, spoke, and eat; fire was brought

down from heaven, in order to excite the populace

with a fearful apprehension of the spirit-world, and a

ready obedience to priestly inventions for baffling or

appeasing its angry demons. The most notorious

astrologers of the period were Simon Magus, of Scripture

notoriety, and Apollonius of Tyana. Either

of them might well typify the false prophetical system

of the times; and be the "false prophet" of this book.

Apollonius, the greater of the two, was a little older

than our Lord. He was educated in Tarsus, and probably

known by reputation to St. Paul. Professing

to work miracles, he endeavoured to found a new

religion on the basis of them. He was at Rome in

Nera's time; then we find him in the service of Vespasian,

and the Flavian dynasty, until disgusted with

Domitian. He is said to have pretended that he was

a god; and certainly was looked upon, throughout a

large part of the Roman empire, as an emanation of

the Divine nature. Do we not find here many of the

essential features of the Anti-christ?

This wonder-working beast was particularly active

in the reign of Nero. The evil conscience of this man,

with the inflated dream of greatness which floated be136

The Number of the Beast. [XIII.

fore his mind, threw him into the hands of soothsayers,

prophets, magi; and for long he was mastered by a

passion to learn the secrets of their arts, so as to have

the spirit-world at his command. Historians of the

period tell us that he hoped" to be able to control the

ways of providence, and give the laws to the gods,"

but instead of" holding commerce with evil spirits" he

was simply led by "the advice of a pernicious crew of

abandoned men and women, who were the Emperor's

confidential ministers and the instruments of every

villany." Thus did the second beast flatter and cajole

the first by magnifying it before the populace, but for

its own selfish and pernicious ends.

But which head of this imperial beast exhibits this

climax of wickedness and profanity? "Here is wisdom.

He that hath understanding, let him count the number

of the beast ; for it is the number of a man, and his

number is
X~s, 666." This little puzzle, which John sets

his hearers is apt to look somewhat undignified to a

grave man of the 19th century, It certainly would

not bear that look to either a Greek, a Roman, or a

Jew. We have to remember that in those days

numbers were expressed by the letters of the alphabet,

much as if in English a were 1, b 2, c 3, etc. Every

word, therefore, in Hebrew and Greek, was capable of

being read as figures, and then added up into its

arithmetical value Here, then, John suddenly gives a

clue to this monster of iniquity-the letters of his

name make 666.

Certain expositors shrink from what seems the too

pragmatical interpretation of this number by making it

an individual's name. Distance lends enchantment.

Seen through a haze, 6GG is much more imposing than

18.] Three Mysten'ous Sixes. 137

when it is prosaically tracked home to a first-century

man even if he is a beast and an emperor. Maurice is

quite Turneresque in his power of painting objects in

a haze; and he leaves this beast in the obscurity of "a

society which is a number of atoms without a centre,

work without a sabbath." Our latest commentator

(Milligan) evidently is smitten with the same conception.

"Three mysterious sixes following one another! "-" a

potency of evil than which there can be none greater,

a direfulness of fate than which there can be none

worse." Now this may be very imaginative, but it

does not commend itself as very wise. What light

does it throw upon the beast not already given?

Does not every reader know without H three sixes,"

that there can be no worse crime, no greater evil, than

to blaspheme God, and make oneself to be worshipped

in the place of God? It seems a needless puzzle

which John sets his readers; at the best, it reduces it

to a very trifling trick, if he is only asking the

conundrum :_H Do you know the moral meaning of

three sixes?" However, John is not concerned with

the moral significance of the number (although the

moral suggestion of three sixes, may have prompted

him in part to give the cryptogram), but with the way

in which 666 will count into a name. The reader is

not asked to imagine, or to moralise, or to reflect, but

" to count the number."
And why is he told that it is

" tlu number of a man," if John means rather that it is

tlu number of a moral idea?

In short, all fair dealing with the matter must treat

it as « tlte number of a man," and this man for the time

being a head of the beast in which its brutal and

godless character is being manifestly brought to light.

138 Tlte Number of a Matt. [XIII.

John implies that clear and definite light on this

matter will be found by anyone that with the needful

understanding will search this 666 for the letters of

his name. This, in any case, implies that this man is

a conspicuous figure in the days of John. If this beast

had been Mohammed, Luther, Napoleon, or a Pope of

Rome, all the understanding of the times would not

have shed a ray of light upon the case. A cryptogram

is not a telescope for looking across centuries. It is

rather a microscope to make more visible what is before

one's eyes. And yet John does not wish the secret to

be visible to every eye. There is an intentional puzzle

in the evident simplicity of the thing; and when the

meaning is discovered the reason for the puzzle will

be plain. No doubt, many readers knew that John

was pointing to an emperor of Rome. Let us suppose

that a Roman citizen, into whose hands an early copy

of the book has come, suspects that his emperor Nero

is here painted in these diabolical hues, and tests the

matter by resolving his name into its numerical value

according to the Roman tongue, it will not make 666.

If an educated man, he will know enough of Greek to

attempt it in that language, but now it makes 1337.

He must let the puzzle drop, no wiser; it is beyond his

understanding; and perhaps for the Christian cause, it

is as well. But suppose the reader has any knowledge

of the _Hebrew tongue (as so many of the early

Christians had,) at once he will discover that NERON

CESAR comes out with precision, 666.

NERON-nlln, 50; resh, 200; vav(o), 6; num, 50=306'666

CJF1jAR-koph, 100; samech, 60; resh, 200=360j .

Many of our readers will have noticed from the

Revised Version that there is a very ancient variation

18.] Wlty t/ds Mystery ? 139

in which the number is 616. It is lucky for the pretty

theory of " the three sixes" that this number has not

prevailed. It is, however, a corroboration of the

interpretation given above that this number resolves

itself into identical results. There was also in Hebrew

use the Latin form of Nero's name, without the final

nun ; and NERO C.iESAR makes 616. The coincidence

becomes stranger still when we find that the Hebrew

of KAISAR ROM or RUM (the Roman Casar) makes

also this variant, 616. Which number is John's actual

reading it is difficult to determine; but it is satisfactory

to find that, in either case, the result is the same.

John's finger points us to the ROMAN C£SAR, let it be

Nero or some other of his immediate successors, to be

determined by the facts of history.

But why does John resort to this covert way of

pointing out the personal beast? Because it was hazardous

for either Jew or Christian in those days to

offer any direct insult to the imperial majesty of Rome.

The empire swarmed with spies, whose profit was

dependent on the detection of offenders against the

Emperor's majesty. To breathe a syllable of reproach

was counted a crime equal to high treason. Paul, in

quieter times, dare not speak out about" the man of

sin ;" and Josephus, high in favour at the court of

Rome, stops abruptly in his explanation of Daniel's

prophecies, with a mysterious hint that" he does not

deem it prudent to say more." So John writes Nero's

name upon his page; but veils it in a cypher to which

few Romans had a key, while Christians could easily

pene.trate its disguise.




WE cannot quit this lengthy revelation of the powers

of evil, with which nascent Christianity has to contend,

without at least a brief enquiry as to what may be

their relationship to other latter-day manifestations of

evil, such as our Lord's" false Christs," Paul's" Man of

Sin," and John's" Antichrist." * It is scarcely open to

doubt that Paul's Man of Sin, and adversary to all that is

called God (2 Thess. ii. 1-12), corresponds in character

with John's wild beast from the sea. They both appear

at a time of declension in the Church, both are

opposed to the very idea of the Divine, both claim for

themselves the honours which hitherto have belonged

to the God of heaven, both are instigated by Satan

both are invested with or accompanied by what claims

to be miraculous powers; and both of them finally

" go to perdition."

John's Antichrist (1 Ep. ii. 18; iv. 3) is rather a

heresy personified than a personal agent. It had been

prophesied before as to come; and at the time of the

epistle is "already come," and busy at its nefarious

work. .

Our Lord's pre-intimation of false prophets, some

of whom set themselves up as Messiahs (Matt. xxiv.),

* We leave out all consideration of any apparently corresponding agency

in Daniel, because that book is at the present undergoing smelting in

the crucible of the Higher Criticism.

The Diaboiicai Trinity. 141

differs from Paul's Man of Sin, while in general agreement

with the Antichrist of John.

We propose to show that all three conceptions are

in harmony-the differences being but phenomenal,

according to the local colouring of each case; and

that all three are depicted in the visions of the Apocalypse.

" Antichrist" is the all-inclusive term. Whatever is

sufficiently Antichrist must exist as a trinity of evils,

even as Christ comes before the world as a trinity of

sacred Powers for the government and salvation of the

world. Now, St. John has just revealed to us three

rising in opposition to the rule and authority of

God; and it is only an insolvent mind that can fail to

discern in them an evil trinity intentionally contrasted

with the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy


The great Dragon or old Serpent is the Prince of

the power of the air, the God of this world-the Antigod

that, posing as a spiritual and eternal power, aims

at universal dominion in heaven and on earth. The

second beast from the sea, to whom the Dragon gives

his authority and power, and who is invested with supernatural

honours, is Paul's Man of Sin,-the Antichrist

in the strictest sense: for he is the visible embodiment

and representative of Anti-god, as Christ

is the incarnation and governmental representative of

God the Father. The third beast is the analogue of

the Holy Ghost-(demoniac inspiration and prophecy)

-imparting its powers to Anti-christ, as Christ was

baptized with and wrought miracles in the power of

the Holy Spirit. It bears witness to the divinity of

the second beast, as the Spirit of God bore witness to

142 Clm's! and A nti-ckrist.

the divinity of Christ; and works miracles on behalf

of Anti-christ and his cause, as the Holy Ghost did by

the Apostles in the service of the Christian Church.

These three are one. Anti-christ -is Satanic power

warring by earthly forces, and demoniac miracles and

teaching; Christ is the power of God, operating by

the Holy Spirit in the world. In this unity and trinity

of evil, all the evil forces warring against Christ in the

coming of his kingdom are gathered up and reconciled.

The contrast and antagonism are complete.

I. Christ is a Lamb,

2. is the form of God,

3. is endued with the Holy


4. has a kingdom and authority,

5. has many crowns,

6. claims universal rule,

7. makes war and overcomes,

Anti-Christ, a composite wild beast.

of Satan.

with demoniac influences.

has the same.

has his thousands.

does the same.

claims to be invincible.










's kingdom is delegated

.from the Father,

claims the right to be

honoured with the


is Saviour of the world,

seals his saints,

is Great High Priest,

leads us to worship God

because He has' exalted

Christ to power,

has his apostles and evangelists

to preach his


was without sin,

was put to death and

rose again,

is eternally exalted,


's from Satan.

to be honoured above


uses the same title.

seals his followers.

is Supreme Pontiff.

is medium of glory to

Satan because he has

given his authority to

the beast.

has his magicians and

priests to magnify his

authority. .

is the man of sin.

was smitten and revived.

is the son of perdition.

Windt sltall Reifn? 143

The Sacred Trinity.

"God {Chri;t}WOrking by'

dwelling the the

,in Lamb, Holy Ghost.,

Three holyand loving


The Trini~y of Evil.

" Satan {Anti.Christ) Working by

dwelling the Jdemoniacal

in wild beast, arts.

.... J

Three uncle;n and selfish


Thus we have in these visions a perfect trinity of evil,

in which is seen the full development of" the mystery

of iniquity" working over against "the mystery of

godliness." The coming struggle is to settle which

shall reign eternaIly, and to whom belong the Earth

and the Human Race.



" Ye are come unto Mount Z1'on."

OVER against this trio of persecuting Anti-christian

\ powers is the Lamb on Mount Zion, with his

144,000 saints. These are the sealed of the tribes of

chapter vii. The difference in the two visions is

precisely what it ought to be according to the principle

on which we have interpreted the two divisions

of the book. In chapter vii. they were simply covered

with God's wing as those faithful Israelites who were

not to be judged with the people of the land; here

they appear as the actual Church of Christ: the historical

continuance of the ancient, and realization of

the ideal Zion, They are marked as sons of God,

believers in the Fatherhood, and are centred round

about the Lamb. All this shows us that when the

history in this vision is realised, the Church is still

substantially a Hebrew Church. We are not yet come

to the time when the Gentile element is predominant.

These are" the first-fruits unto God and the Lamb,"

and everywhere in the New Testament this title belongs

to the Hebrew Christians. No doubt there is a

close identity between this vision and the beautiful

passage in the Hebrews-" Ye are come unto Mount

Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,

&c." We have no means at present of deciding

1-3] As it were a New Song. 145

whether the writer of the Hebrews is actually referring

to this vision of St. John; but at all events, the

vision is well interpreted of the primitive Church of

Christ in its ideal purity and privileges; that Church

especially in Palestine in the days of Nero and St.

John-tempted by abounding sensualities and idolatries,

but true in heart and life to the Lamb of God,

whom they followed as their Shepherd, believing that

He would feed them and lead them into his eternal


While gazing on this scene, John's ear is rivetted by

music issuing from the upper spheres. It is the "choir

invisible" rejoicing at the sight of this great multitude

who bear the Father's name, and stand in stedfast

loyalty around the Lamb. The innumerable company

of angels in heaven rejoice to see so large a number

redeemed from the bondage of sin and death, and

from the judgements falling 011 the land. As firstfruits,

it is the promise of a noble harvest. " They sing

as it were a new song."
Little doubt but the host

of heaven had sung songs of joy over deliverances and

restorations of God's people in the days of old. But

such a high deliverance as this was new in the history

of the earth, though foreshadowed by deliverances of

the past. The twenty-third Psalm is an old song, yet

it is new as sung by us with our Christian knowledge

of the Shepherd-King. The eighty-fourth is a new

song on the Christian's lips when the" amiable tabernacle

" is in heaven, and" the valley of Baca" is the

pilgrimage of earth. And so this" as it were a new

is the Christian meaning of the ancient promises

of God sung by the angels who are learning how to

interpret those songs of other days that spoke of Zion


146 Heralding tlte Gospel Age. [XIV.

as God's everlasting love, and whose promises are

more than realised in the opening of God's heaven to

the ransomed sons of men, and the prospect of an

earth delivered from the darkness and oppression of

the dragon and his beasts.

That song, too, is one whose music is echoed in the

Church's heart. None but the redeemed can join in

it; for none else know its meaning. Even if they did,

seeing that it speaks of judgement and the triumph of

the King of kings, it could excite only terror in their

hearts. Who among the godless can say-" I will

sing of the righteous judgements of the Lord?" Only

those who are gathered round the Lamb, delivered

from all evil loves of self, and of the world, and consciously

inspired with love to God and good feeling

towards their fellow-men, are able to rejoice when

God arises to shake terribly the earth. If we are

to have boldness in the day of judgement, our hearts

must not condemn us j and if we are not to be consciously

self-condemned, we must be perfected by love

begotten of the knowledge of God's love to us. Hence,

no man can sing this song but those redeemed from

the sin and evil of the earth, and quickened by the

faith of Jesus dwelling in their hearts.

"He shall send his angels with a great sound as of a trumpet."

There follows a startling episode. An angel is seen

flying in the midst of heaven, "hm1ing aft eternal gospel

to proclaim."
There is something here to make us

pause. Has the Gospel not been preached already on

the earth? Why should an angel be sent to make

this emphatic enunciation, if, in the usual interpretation

the time is the end of the 19th or in the 20th century?

-- ~-~----_._------------------

3-6.] All Nations Warned of its Coming. 147

Are we to hold that the everlasting Gospel has never

yet been preached in any emphatic sense upon the

earth? The truth is, that this episode corresponds

with the announcement of the angel in ch. x., that

"the mystery of God is about to finish." That

mystery, we have said, was that the Gentiles were

to be made fellow-heirs with the Jews of the covenant

and its promises. That moment is now imminent:

its coming is heralded by an angel with the voice

of a trump. It will be remembered that our Lord

instructed his disciples that they should in the main

expend their strength upon the Jews, and endeavour

first to bring them into the Christian fold.

The age was ripening for its harvest; and the labourers

sent forth were to do the fullest justice to the children

of his covenant. The years that lay between the

ascension of Christ and the consummation of the

Jewish age belonged to the Abrahamic people. They

were Israel's day of grace. Though Paul and others

did preach to Gentile audiences, yet this was only

like the crumbs that fell from the children's table.

Emphatically, the Gospel was still hampered in its

spread by a prime consideration for the social interests

and ritualistic prejudices of the Jew. Said Christ

Himself to the twelve-" Ye shall not have gone over

the cities of Israel until the Son of Man be come;"

that is, ye shall not have more than time to preach in

the great cities where colonies of Jews are founded

before the commencement of judgement, and the

institution of the universal kingdom. Our Lord also

said, in his great eschatological discourse, that the

proclamation of "the Gospel of the Kingdom" among

all nations would be synchronous with" the End," i.e.

148 The Gospel of the Kingdom.

of the Judaic age or dispensation. Strauss will have

it that these two sayings of our Lord do not agree, the

first having originated at a time when the current

belief was that the Gospel was intended only for the

Jews, and the second at a later date, when it came to

be seen that the Gentiles were to be embraced. This

intentionally damaging comment is founded on a

common exegetical mistake. The passage in Mat.

xxiv. is identical with the first in Mat. x. 23. Preaching

" among all nations" is equivalent to going" over

the cities of Israel; " inasmuch as the preaching in the

former case is of "this Gospel of the Kingdom," i.e.

" the good news" in that form in which Jews and their

proselytes were accustomed to look for it-the coming

of the Messianic Kingdom. The Jews of the first

century, with that trading instinct which has never left

the race, were scattered over all the habitable world.

It was the will of Christ that all these settlements

should be visited by the Apostles, and every child of

the covenant warned that the age was closing and a

new dispensation about to begin. Thus would there

be a witness given amongst all nations, which a few

years at the most would enable them to verify.

Judaism was to perish; yet the sublimer essence of

Judaism, with a heart for all the world, would survive

and root itself in the earth; that was the prophecy set

before the nations; and speedily they would see

whether Christ who spoke the prophecy was true and

able to fulfil his word. It is in this sense that Paul

says again and again that the Gospel has been preached

in all the world; and it is in this sense that the great

Greek fatherChrysostom, much to his exegetical credit,

interprets the saying in Mat. xxiv. When this angel

6-8.] The New Age Death to Bab}'lon. 149

appears, this work of preaching" the Gospel of the

Kingdom" is past and gone. The Jews everywhere

have been warned and called into the Kingdom. The

end is come of which Christ spoke. The angel cries

-" The hour of Ilis judgement is come," The end of

Israel's day; the harvest of the Jewish age is come.

The day of vengeance is to be as well the day of

the acceptable year of the Lord for the Gentile world.

The judgement-day is here again the day of the

world's salvation. The wheat of the Church is being

gathered round the Lamb into God's garner; the chaff

is to be burned with unquenchable fire. The great

New Age of God's World-wide Love is now to be

officially begun, and all men everywhere are called

upon to repent and believe the Gospel. This angel is

therefore here worthily employed in heralding the

advent of the Christian Age.

Another angel follows, crying: "Fallen, fallen is

Babylon the great."
But what is Babylon? We shall

know fully by and bye. Just now it is enough to know

only what is written. Babylon is confusion! that

system of error which knows no difference between

one God and another; worships all alike, especially

the God that is most terrible and revengeful; the

system that confounds the king's prerogative with

God's, as it commands-" Let all the people worship

this golden image which I have set up;" in which

men exalt their sensual wisdom and demoniac revelations

above the word of God-the system that has

many voices, many ways of scaling heaven, many

mediators who claim a homage that is due to God

alone-that is Babylon; error with its confusion and

its strife, here organised and forcing itself upon all the

150 Evil Sentenced to Misery. [XIV.

nations of the earth. The prelude to that overthrow

will be the fall of that exalted city which had most

assurance of its eternity. As it is seen to fall, the

Church can rest assured that heathen priestcraft with

its countless shrines and magical devices, and semibrutal

gods, and shameless immoralities will also fall.

The everlasting Gospel will burn up Babylon in

everlasting fire.

Still another angel follows, pronouncing woe against

the worshippers of the beast. The same" shall drink

of the wine of tIle wratlz of God wlzic/l is prepared unmixed

in the cup of Itts anger."
What a gathering of

fiery imagery is concentrated in this passage! How

powerfully it tells of the undying hatred of evil which

is in the bosom of a righteous God! But why does

this alarming denunciation come in at this point of

history? Because, as we are told, the judgementhour

is come; and along with it, to all the nations

there is a clearer revelation of God's righteous love.

Men everywhere are now commanded to repent, held

inexcusable for the worship of the beast, and more

than' ever will find his worship full of gnawing pains

and fiery stings ; because henceforth there is a gospel

for mankind, a revelation of the Lamb as the image

of the eternal God-a richer baptism of the Spirit,

kindling higher longings in men's souls. If still they

cling to their pernicious doctrines and their sensuous

lusts, then in the presence of the Lamb and his servants,

their sinful lusts will burn within them as unquenchable

fire, and their consciences will gnaw them

like a deathless worm. Thus Christ is to rule men

with a rod of iron. The gratifications of a sinful man

who is face to face with Christ and saving truth must

9-13.] Goodness Rewarded. 151

terminate in torments, whatever spurious delights accompany

them. There can be no peace for wickedness;

goodness alone can make happy.

" The dead in Christ shall. me first: then. ue that are alice,

that m'e left, shall. toqether mtlt them be caugltt 'Up in the

clouds to meet the Lord in the air:"

" Here Z"S the patience of tIle saints"
In this climax

of evil; when the devil is angry because his time is

short, the patience of the saints will be most severely

tried; but they may rest assured that Christ is destined

to be victorious. Even now He will make evil

miserable, his own believing people happy; and the

hour is at hand when the faith and righteousness of

his saints will have their reward in the glorious kingdom

of his love.

This fact is counted worthy of divine attestation. A

voice from heaven is heard, saying-" Write, Blessed

are tke dead wldelt die z"n the Lord from henceforth:"

I crave your deepest interest and steadiest patience

for a moment as we ponder over this. The passage

is most sadly understood, and yet it is one of the most

meaningful and consolatory in the word of God. The

whole point of the utterance lies in these wordsfrom

usually passed over in silence by the

commentator, as if quite superfluous, or their insertion

a mistake. Clearly enough, they intimate that there

is a special point of time at which the condition of

the Christian z"mmedz"ately after death becomes more

blessed than it was at any previous time. That is the

whole point of the passage: missing that, everything

is lost. After this point of time, " they rest from their

152 Resurrection Immanent. [XIV.

laboursand their works dofollozo them." Before this time,

death was not rest nor reward; but only a state of

hope and expectation.

Do the Scriptures tell us that there was a time when

the dead in Christ were not at rest, when they were not

rewarded for their great fidelity, when even martyred

saints, had to compose themselves in hope? They

do. In Scripture, the resurrection is a future though

near experience; and until the resurrection-day the

saints have "not yet ascended up," nor are they "present

with the Lord." John, in particular, reveals the

state of all the Christian dead in his vision of the

martyrs, crying with troubled passion, as men who

were wearied waiting for their reward. Then, when

Jerusalem is shaken with God's judgements, and the

new age introduced, we are told that the time of the

dead is come to be judged and rewarded according to

their works. Heaven is then opened to Christ's saints;

and henceforth they worship restfully in the Paradise

of God. And now, as John traces the development of

Christ's kingdom from a positive point of view, we

come again within sight of the same great juridical

transaction. We have just read that" the hour of God's

judgement is come,"
that is, the time when Christ rewards

his waiting saints with their resurrection-day,

and reaps the harvest of the earth. Certainly, that

momentous transaction cannot be in front of the 19th

century. It is behind us. Historically, it lies near

the days of John. It was one of the characteristic

events of the opening of the Gospel age. Such, we

maintain, to be written everywhere on the page of the

New Testament with the clearness of a sunbeam.

The Apostles and other martyrs are not until this day

13.] Immediate Entrance on Glory. 153

beneath the altar. Hades does not now hold the

Christian as its prey. The martyrs'" little while" is

long since past; and they have been called up into

the glories of the place which Christ prepared for

them in heaven, where now they live and reign with

Christ. From the moment marked by St. John, the

finishing of the work of judgement and the reward of

the dead,-the Christian man who dies goes home at

once to his reward; he has no time of waiting for the

heavens to open their embraces. For the noble and

holy child of God, death is no longer descent, to wait

in the lingering Hades-state; but it is ascent to be

with Christ. "If ye will hear it," this is the truth that

so many have perverted into the notion of a rapture of

li'l'ing saints,
caught up and curiously transformed.

What Paul teaches is identical with what John teaches

here,-that after a certain point of time, the Christian

is caught up at death to meet his Lord, and so passes

in a moment, without sleep or consciousness of delay,

into his rest and his reward. Looking through the

eyes of the Seer we shall be privileged ere long to see

this blessedness realised, and heaven opened to all true





" Then shall. they Bee the Son of ],fan coming in eloud« ~oith

great power and glO'l"//; and then Bhall He Bend forth, hiB


PIOR impressiveness and far-reachingness of conse-

quence, no symbol in John's book excels that

now before us. To comprehend its meaning, we must

look backward and 'also forward to what stands on

either side. Immediately in front, we have three

angels appearing in close succession uttering proclamations,

and giving emphasis to their message by the

loudness of their voice. These are the heralds of a

king, marching in the van, sounding their alarming

trumpets to prepare the people for his coming, and

marshalling them for judgement. That is what Christ

said would be the sign of his coming-" his angels

with a great sound as of a trumpet." Accordingly we

have now this vision of the King himself, the Son of

Man sitting on a cloud in heaven, clothed in the glory

of his Father, crowned with divinest honours. Then

again, in the rear are his processional angels with

sickles and vials of wrath. Is not this the thing which

was spoken by our Lord: "for the Son of Man shall

come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and

then shall he reward every man according to his

works. Verily, I say unto you, there be some stand-


14-16.] The Haruest of tlte Age. 155

ing here which shall not taste of death till they see

the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." (Mat. xvi.)

On nearer view, we see that the purpose of this

manifestation is-JUDGEMENT; first, under the figure

of a harvest time; and secondly, as a visitation of

successive plagues. In the first symbol, the Son of

Man gives the signal by throwing his sickle on the

earth; but the burden of the reaping falls upon the

angels. Here again John sees the fulfilment of what

'he had heard from the lips of Christ some forty years

before in such parables as the tares and the wheat.

"The harvest is the end of the age; and tlte reapers

are the angels."
The purpose of this reaping is

described as a gathering out of God's kingdom all

things that offend, and them that work iniquity, in

order that the righteous may shine out as stars and

give light to a darkened world (Matt. xiii. 40-3).

The purpose of this Apocalyptic judgement is identical.

That" end of the age" of which Christ spoke

was the closure of the Jewish and heathen age in

which He lived; Jerusalem was to be the centre

around which its main events transpired; and our

readers are now in a position to well judge whether

we have not found this book of Revelation agree

most precisely, and without artificial manipulation,

with our Saviour's teaching.

Let us now give a careful study to this picture.

The leading figure is" tlte Son of Man." There is a

reason for the title under which John identifies our

Lord. In the days of his flesh He had said that all

judgement was committed to his hands because He

was tile Son of Man. That tells us that the tests of

judgement can be measured by a truly human stan156

Tlte Son of ]/fan. [XIV.

dard-that human sympathy and tenderness will have

their share in determining the fates of men, since not

only our High Priest but our Eternal Judge is capable

of being touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and

entering into all the sorrows and temptations of our

case. Can we do otherwise than rejoice in such a

Saviour, and look with quiet confidence upon any day

of judgement which He institutes.

The Son of Man is- not coming to his kingdom. He

is a King.
On his head there is a golden crown. He

is seen" in the glory of his Father." His people had

rejected Him as the Son of the Carpenter. Forty

years have passed without any change in Israel's faith,

except indeed in the direction of a more reckless and

abandoned denial of his claims. No curse was oftener

on Jewish lips, no imprecation oftener offered as incense

unto God, than the curse heaped upon Jesus,"

THE HUNG: may his name and memory be blotted

out!" No prophecy was more boastfully uttered in

Jerusalem than that God would utterly destroy the

Nazarenes, while the temple and the law would prove

eternal. At last, there is an answer to the challenge.

The holy land is resounding to the tramp of armed

men-the cities of Galilee and Samaria have fallenthe

heavens are nightly lit with prodigies that ring

the nation's death-knell-Jerusalem is hemmed in

with troops that never weary in their savage hatred of

everything distinctive of the Jew-and every circumstance

is ominous with political extinction to this

proud and boastful nation. Behold, at length the

doleful prophecies of Christ are painfully accomplished,

and Israel is irretrieveably cast down from

her heaven-born eminence. How else can we inter14-

16.] Christ's Coming Not Corporeal. 157

pret this than as God's answer to the Jew? Christ is

crowned with the glory of that divinity which He

justly attributed to Himself; and his enemies overwhelmed

with a well-deserved ignominy and shame.

Philo had argued for the divinity and perpetual

obligation of the Mosaic legation from its endurance

to his time; now that argument is meaningless.

The Son is greater than the servant,-so proves his


" Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Ghrist;

or, Here; believeit not."

Again, let us pay attention to the method of Christ's

coming. It is a prevalent notion, and a most unfortunate,

that the Scriptures are committed to a descent

of the visible, corporeal personage of Christ,-who is

supposed to have his palace and his throne in some

great city; and, as many think, in a restored Jerusalem.

The notion is unscriptural, we might even say antiscriptural.

Its influence through these 19 centuries

has been only mischievous-breeding the most reptilian

sectarianism, and sneering infidelity. Here is the fullest

explanation which has been given to us-Christ's final

words. Surely they give us no excuse for expecting the

personal descent of Christ to earth and his corporeal

visibility to men. Christ is seen in the clouds of

heaven. That, in prophetic language, clearly indicates

that his coming is in darkness and in shadow-veiled

in the tribulations of the time, the facts of Providence,

the events of history, visible only to the eye of faith;

and that it is from heaven his power and work proceed.

It is unfortunate if we fashion any more material

conception of Bible teaching than that Christ comes to

158 Our Lord's Own Prophecy. [XIV.

earth in the outgoings of his pQwer, the enforcement

of his authority, the punishment of his enemies, and

the establishment of his Gospel Kingdom. To insist

on any other mode of realising the Second Coming,

so far as this world is concerned, is to invest our Lord's

great prophecy with tremendous difficulties of interpretation;

it is to falsify it, or to say that the

Evangelists have given a wrong meaning to Christ's

words. There is no escaping the dilemma drawn up

by a late professor of theology at Strasburg :-

"Jesus, in the discourses imputed to Him, does not simply

announce in general that he will return on the clouds of heaven

-one day, in two thousand years perhaps, or in a hundred

thousand; He announces that He will return immediately after

Jernsalem shall have been profaned. If the words which they

place in his mouth have any sense, they have that, and if they

have not, it is because, for theologians, white means black and

black means white. But for whoever is not a sophist, this

dilemma is set down catagorically ; either Jesus was deceived,

or these discourses are not his. The Christian Church cannot

honestly escape from this dilemma."--(Colani, Lea CrO'!lancu

pp. 251-2).

The door of honour opens only to a right conception

of the nature of the Second Coming. If Christ meant

to pledge himself to such a materialisation and localisation

of his presence on earth as so many orthodox

divines insist upon, then certainly that has not taken

place and the prophecy is disgracefully falsified.

Infidel hangers-on to Christianity rejoice to have it so,

in order that its more supernatural claims may be

discredited. But we can neither believe in the

orthodox carnal coming, with its too apparent shifts

to postpone the time fixed for the coming; nor in the

mistaken Christ, or the blundering Apostles of the

14-16.] The Purpose of Christ's Coming. 159

unorthodox. It seems to us beyond all question that

Christ's figurative language is mistaken for dull prose,

and even then carelessly interpreted. There is not so

much as a-rag of excuse for those who have imagined

a bodily dwelling of Christ upon the earth, prophesied

mystically for a day then near and from century to

century postponed. Far better that Christ should

not come thus. The vast majority of the human race

are in the spirit-world. If his redeemed are with

Him in the heavenly world, they will not want Him

to forsake the heavens and go down to earth. Indeed,

do not we ourselves count this one of the most delightful

prospects of the eternal world, that having passed

through death into the better world, we shall be " for

ever with the Lord."

And for what is it that Christ is said to come? The

answer is given in different forms. At one time, it is

to avenge Him on his adversaries; at another, it is to

avenge his saints; and again it is to take his vineyard

from servants who have appropriated the fruit

unto themselves and to give it to others who will recognize

his lordship; here, it is to reap the harvest of

the land. It is a solemn, yea, a dreadful function,

which is thus attributed to Christ; and never at any

time so fittingly as at the transition from the Jewish

to the Christian age can this work be accomplished.

There are particular crises in the history of men and

nations when the false threatens to overlay the true;

when unrighteousness and hypocrisy have supplanted

truth and goodness, and are ripening to a

maturity that forebodes the extermination of God's

kingdom on the earth, and then it is that the judging

work of Christ begins. Perhaps such a reaping-time

160 TIle Harvest of the Land. [XIV.

as this must follow every distinctive revelation of

God's truth. There comes the time when each

ordinance of God has effected all of which it is

capable, and when the perversities and misapprehensions

which invariably gather around it have destroyed

its power and made some change of form desirable.

So was it with the Mosaic Law. It had ceased to be

an inspiration for righteousness; it had become a cloak

for sin; and accordingly its doom had come. Its

good and evil had ripened in their extremest forms;

and if the world was not to perish in corruption, it was

needful that the good should be conserved, and the

evil broken and consumed. It is at this crisis the Son

of Man appears in heaven. He is sending his righteous

judgements on the earth. The good have been

gathered into the Christian Church; the evil have

ripened for destruction, and Christ's punishments are

intended to purify the earth, and fit it for the planting

of the seed of his eternal Gospel. It is now the end of

a dying age, a new and better dispensation is to be

begun. The sickle is cast into the earth; and proleptically,

the earth is reaped.

"I will tell Y01~ what I will do to my vineyard."

A double reaping is in process. Why there are thus

two harvests has puzzled many; but there is a very

simple reason for this imagery. There were two harvests

in Palestine-the grain harvest and the harvest

of the vines. It was therefore natural, seeing that

Palestine was the scene of this spiritual reaping, and

that our Lord had so frequently used this two-fold

figure of the harvest-field and vineyard, that this harvest

should have its two-fold symbol. However, the

17-20.] Treading the Wine-press. 161


emphasis is laid upon the harvest of the vintage. It is

the vine of the land which is reaped. Now, this figure

of" tlu vine of tke land" is most appropriate, if this

harvest is reaped as we have said in Palestine. Israel

is distinctly and repeatedly figured as the vine of God,

as in Isaiah-" The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is

the house of Israel," and as in the Psalms-" Thou hast

brought a vine out of Egypt." That this" treading of

the wine-press of the wrath of God" is a most likely

description of the bloody wars of Rome all over Palestine

in the days of John is seen by recalling Isaiah

lxiii.-" I have trodden the wine-press alone .

I have trampled the people in my fury;" and also the

lamentations of Jeremiah over the Babylonian conquest

- "The Lord hath trodden the virgin, the

daughter of Judah, as in a wine-press." That this

sanguinary conflict was worthy of being depicted as a

stream of blood pouring out over the borders of the

land (1600 furlongs) and reaching up to the horses'

bridles, is witnessed by the pre-intimation of our Lord

that such sufferings had never before been in any land

and never would be again ; and also by the more prosaic

figures of the Jewish historian, from which we

learn that about a million and a-half of human beings

out of a population of five millon, perished by sword

and famine during the war. Besides this, Jewish blood

was shed in rivers beyond the borders of the holy

land, from Alexandria (in which alone were 50,000

massacred) to Tyre, then up to Damascus, and finally

further north. Well might that awful harvest be represented

as "the great wine-press of the wrath of

God." Yet God's wrath is not essentially different

from his love. If God judged his people, it was to


162 Judgement in order to Salvation. [XIV.

save them. If the angel cast his fire upon the earth,

it was to burn up the dry encumbering thorns in order

that the ploughshare of the Gospel might prepare the

soil for the good seed of the kingdom. If Israel's sun

went down in blood, it was that all the world might

hail the rising of the sun of righteousness. Renan has

written no truer and more effective word in his treatment

of the Apocalypse than where he shews that the

continued existence of the Temple, or even of the City

of Jerusalem, was inconsistent with the world-wide

spread of Christianity, and much more so with the

spiritualisation of its doctrine and worship. Christ's

truth could only be redeemed from Judaistic trammels

by the shedding of Israel's blood.



"The Lard knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation."

ACAREFUL reader cannot but be struck with the

---= ~ similarity of this fifteenth chapter to certain

portions of the first part of the book. We have already

shown good reason why it must be so. As the

vision of the Lamb and the 144,000 of the previous

chapter corresponds with the sealed of the tribes in

chapter seven, so does this vision correspond with

the great multitude out of every tongue in robes of

white. It is the habit of this book, before any calamitous

judgement falls, to show that God's people will

come through it most victoriously. The 144,000 were

seen on Mount Zion to signify their security while the

harvest of the land was being reaped; this company

standing on the glassy sea are those who refuse to

worship the evil beast, and are to be preserved from

the plagues about to desolate an evil earth. They

stand on that glassy sea mingled with fire __ because

while apparently in the midst of judgement, they are

not touched by its scorching fires, nor troubled in their

souls by any want of clearness or transparency in the

purposes of God.

The fact that they sing" the song of Moses and the

song of tlu Lamb"
is enough to show that they are

first-century Christians, and many of them Hebrews

164 Preparing Heauen for Mm. [xv,

to whom the worship of synagogue and temple had

been dear. We are also clearly dealing with a time

when heathenism and idolatry are rampant in the

earth, and the crucial test of fidelity to Christ is

whether men will offer sacrifice to Ca-sar. The song

of the victors contains other points of identification.

God is addressed as: "KinE[of the Ages," because this

is the time of the end, the boundary of the old age

and the new. They prophetically celebrate the coming

of "all nations" to worship God, because they stand at

the introduction of the age of God's world-wide love.

The temple in Iteaven is at tltis time opened. This is

the same event as is recorded in xi. ID; here with

fuller information. In the former case, the opening

stands for the entrance of the dead on their reward;

but here, while the Temple is opened, we are to see a

preparatory work proceed before the reedemed are

able to enter upon its glories. God's judgements are

not yet finished; the vials of his wrath not yet exhausted.

God's angels can dwell in the glory of his

presence; they can breathe amid the fiery smoke that

no man can endure; live in that brilliant light which

sends a haze upon the poor weak eye of man. No

human soul is in that Temple. No redeemed spirit

has been as yet caught up to enter on its glories, for

the place is not quite prepared. However, there will

be no delay. God's righteous judgements are proceeding;

and soon" the dead who died in the Lord" will

be led up into their eternal rest in the Father's house.

XVI. The World's judgement-Day. 165

"Tlte coming of the day of God, by reason of lI:ltiCIt the

heasens being on fire shal] be dissolced, and the elements sltall

melt unth. fervent heat:"

The scene to which the preceding is introductory is

one of unusual sublimity even for so sublime a book.

Seven angels proceed from the throne of Deity, resplendent

with the glare of precious stones and the

glitter of golden girdles, and in their hands are bowls

which contain the wrath of God. That wrath is the

fervour of his love for truth going forth in opposition

to Satanic error-it is the purity of his righteousness

in its burning zeal against iniquity-that goodness

which like a fire eats every dry branch of fruitless and

false pretence-that mighty wind which scatters like

the chaff every bad confederacy of men.

Every reader may see at a glance a striking similarity

between these seven vials and the seven successive

trumpets of the earlier portion of the book. Evidently,

we are meant to think of them as related: and

such is the common feeling of interpreters. Along

with a certain identity there are material differences;

easily explained by the principle on which the structure

of this book proceeds. The story of the rise of

Christianity must be somewhat like the story of the

fall of Judaism, so intimately were they bound together.

How the darkness of the night is vanquished,

is not materially different from how the day was born

and swelled to noon. In such a brief prophetic sketch

as John's there comes a point where Judaism will get

mixed up with other forces which are opposed to

Christ, and indeed be so identified in a common enmity

and in a common judgement, that the boundary

lines are lost to view. Finally, Judaism as the young166

The Trumpet Plagues.

est and weakest foe will disappear, and a stronger

enemy alone be left upon the field. Heathenism with

its kindred sensualities then remains the only foe of

Christ; and the moral conflict of the age is finally

fought out between the Sermon on the Mount, and

the utterances of pagan oracles and priests.

At the opening of these vials, we are just at that

point where Judaism is already seen as broken in its

power. The land is being reaped outside the city,

and Jerusalem is shaken but not fully judged. Therefore,

our attention, in the main, is arrested by a rampant

heathenism which is inspired from the abyss.

The sphere of divine judgement is widened out, and

it is seen that Heathenism as well as Judaism is to

suffer from the ban of God, be even more completely

judged than the system of his ancient people. Indeed,

the vial judgements are seen to fall on all the enemies

of the Church of God, whether they be Jew or Pagan.

The first trumpet was a plague upon the produce of

the earth; the first vial, more trenchant in its nature,

is a plague upon the bodies of men themselves. Every

worshipper of the beast is to suffer in that nature

which allies him with the beast. One cannot well

determine whether literal bodily ailments are intended;

and sickness, pestilence, and plague to be regarded as

God's judgements upon men's sins; or whether these

bodily ailments are to be taken as the type of special

moral evils into which the malignant infidelity and

superstition of the age break out. In either case, we

shall not err far from the truth; for it seems as if history

placed the fact beyond dispute that nearly all man's

suffering is the consequence of sin.

2-4.] The Bitterness of Sin. 167

The second angel poured out his vial, and the sea

became as the blood of a dead man. The second

trumpet produced a similar effect. That may be

interpreted of a time of naval warfare and commercial

paralysis; or it may symbolise the stagnancy and

corruption of human thought and feeling, and the

perversion of the leading elements of life into sources

of pollution and of death. In any case, it is a telling

picture of the stagnancy and incipient corruption of

the most mobile elements of a nation's life in the day

of its paralysis and hastening death.

The third angel poured out his vial on the rivers

and fountains of water, and they became as blood.

The corresponding trumpet told us that the burning

star Wormwood fell into the rivers and fountains and

made the waters bitter. The meaning is the same.

The ordinary joys of life are turned into wormwood

and gall. St. Paul prepared the Corinthians for this

time of tribulation, warning them not to marry, not to

form intimate connections with the world, to sit as

loosely to its treasures as they could, because such

judgements should soon come as would transform the

tenderest ties of life into cups of stagnant blood.

Doubtless, it is like refreshing water in the oasis of life

to enter into wedlock and to have joyous children

dancing round the hearth, while prosperity waits on us

with its golden cup; but what if "the time is short"

until these dearest refreshments of our life are changed

into blood, and our parched lips are wrung with the

cry: "Blessed is the womb that never bare, and the

paps that never gave suck." When Paul foretold such

sufferings for the green tree of the Christian Church,

168 A Dry, Parched Land. [XVI.

what must have been suffered in the dry tree of an

evil world! If we go back into that old Jewish and

heathen world (there is not much to choose between

them), we are in a dry parched land where no water

is. Everywhere, commerce is depressed, government

is unsettled, life and property insecure, family life

utterly corrupt, children a calamity, fidelity and friendship

rare, and suicide ennobled as a virtue. The

springs of life are dry-there is no gladness in the

souls of men. The things that used to be attractions,

now are life's perplexities. Men have perverted God's

good gifts; and their possession has become a canker

and a snare. Even the old religious faith, and the

hopes of immortality kindled by the gods, have been

supplanted by despair; and superstitious fears have

become the very bitterest poison in the cup of life.

Religious error that panders to the sensuous tastes of

men, in spite of its attractions for the time, turns

finally into blood, and woe to them who have to drink


That such punishments are quite consistent with

God's goodness is witnessed by the angel of the waters.

"Righteous art thou 0 Lord because thou hast judged

thus, for they Izave shed the bloodof saints andproplzets,

and tho« hast gh1en them blood to drink."
And the

saints beneath the altar also acquiesce-" Yea, 0 Lord,

true and righteous are thy judgements."
I t is wonderful

indeed, to see how in every great historical period

men's sins and righteousnesses have ripened into their

appropriate fruit of pain or joy. The sufferings of any

age on which you care to lay your finger are the

natural fruit of its falsehood and its sin, according to an

eternal law that knows no variableness and shows no

4-8.] Day turned into Night. 169

respect of persons. In such seasons of collapse, good

men may be compelled to suffer death, because evil

men cannot endure their testimony against their wicked

ways; but the destruction of the good does but intensify

the misery of those who shed their blood. "They that

take the sword shall perish by the sword "-the men

that shed other's blood as water, will in the ripeness of

the times, have blood to drink, until satisfied and

disgusted with their defilements in which once they

revelled with delight.

The fourt/i trumpet was a plague of darkness; and

the corresponding vial is a plague of scorching heat.

It would be hard indeed to reconcile these two if they

referred to physical calamities. Darken the sun, and

you not only lessen the light of day, but you decrease

the heat; but make this a symbol of the living experience

of men, and then, while to one class truth may

become obscure, to another truth may become so clear

that, if it is unpalatable to their lusts, it will burn them

as with scorching fire. The favourite interpretation of

this vial by those who bring the visions of John down

through all Christian history, is that this sun is

Napoleon-and his scorching fire the rolling of his

artillery and musketry. We cannot think that the

apostle John and the Christians of his generation were

much concerned about Napoleon and his European

wars. But they were over head and ears concerned

with the providential judgements which were falling

upon the men and institutions which stood up in

opposition to the Gospel of their Lord; and with the

lusts and passions breaking out within the hearts of

their own particular generation-tending to the disso170

The Heavens on Fire. [XVI.

lution of society, and the downfall of philosophies and

cults opposed to Christ. Now, can we not believe that

in the higher light which was dawning on that ageand

with its sense of utter failure in its politics, philosophyand

religion, and other attendant humiliations,

-there must have been a quickening of the passions

of the people, a kindling of disappointment, a sense of

shame and fear, making them reckless, "destroying

mutual love and social confidence, instigating to mutual

fraud and deeds of violence, to sanguinary wars and

other enormities, enough to chill one's soul to think of!"

Yes, by no fitter symbol than the scorching sunshine

can you depict the misery of the man who in the

dawning light of a better age, begins to see the failure

of all his life-long dreams, the enormities of his evil,

and stands self-condemned before a light which he

cannot quench as yet, and which torments him, because

instead of confessing that it is light from heaven, and

thanking God for revealing a goodness to which he

has been a stranger, he turns his curses against God,

and blasphemes his holy name. So did the men of

that generation-they repented not, but perished in

their sin.

The fifth vial is a natural continuation of the fourth.

When under the scorching heats of hated light, men

go on in evil; and instead of repenting of their sin,

impute their miseries to heaven, the last state of these

men is worse than the first. Paul says-" God will send

them strong delusions that they may believe a lie ;"

which is pious language for the mental law that when

men resist the truth they are necessarily misled by lies,

and drift off into grosser and still grosser darkness. This

9-12.] Hell on Earth. 171

language is kindred to some awful words of Christ's

that we usually associate with another place than

earth. Take first these men with fountains and

streams dried up, and still athirst; then scorched with

heat; then immersed in darkness gnawing their

tongues for pain,-and you have, we think, a state

that is not remote from hell, with its darkness, its

everlasting fire, and gnashing of teeth. The meaning

of these symbols is that, in this day of judgement

which had come to that ancient world, lull was

realised on earth.
Is it only by a chance co-incidence,

that Renan writing of this 'very generation, says-" L'esprit

de vertige et de cruaute debordait alors, et faisait

de Rome un veritable enfer!" The souls of men whether

heathen or pharasaic, were scorched,and parched, and so

darkened by their blindness that they knew not where

to turn. Such is the fate of men who reject heaven's

dawning light and cling with fondness to their fallacies

and sins, even when they are lashed by them as by

scorpion stings. Their only hope lay in the knowledge

of the Father of Jesus Christ; but they clung to

their material Messiah or their heathen sensualities,

and were fated to be cast outside the kingdom into

that darkness where there is weeping and wailing and

gnashing of teeth.

The sixth vial is again a companion picture to the

sixth trumpet. That was the obliteration of all distinction

between the Babel and the Jewish kingdoms,

-the absorption of the sacred in the secular and godless

kingdom of this world. This vial correctly symbolises,

in addition, that Babylon itself is also to be

overthrown in turn. Ancient Babylon, after it had

------------------_._--~_.---- .----.- -- - --

172 The East against the West. [XVI.

destroyed Jerusalem, fell by the Kings of the East

diverting the Euphrates from its channel, and entering

at night while Belshazzar and his court were engaged

in drunken revelries." The vision symbolises a rising

war of Eastern thought against the mystic Babylon.

Strange to say, the life of Rome actually came to be

infested and to have its old stern virtues undermined

by 'a current of Eastern thought which flowed steadily

in until it came to be a powerful factor in the national

life. Of this Seneca complained, especially of Jewish

thought. Once the West had ruled the East; but the

tide was on the turn. Chaldrean and Jewish astrologers

were the rulers of men's destinies. The gods of

the East, as older than the gods of Rome, came to be

in request as the native deities failed to satisfy men's

wants. At length, there were no gods in Rome more

popular, with the provincials and the lower orders,

than those whose native haunts were the Orontes and

the Nile. Thus, a door was opened for Jewish and

monotheistic thought, which Christianity was able

to utilise effectively. Says Uhlhorn-" This also was

a preparation for Christianity. To the world seeking

for mightier gods, was preached the true God. Men

looked for a new God to the East: according to God's

counsels, He was actually to be proclaimed to the

world as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Conflict,

p. 66.)

The heralds of the Gospel are not unfittingly symbolized

in the Eastern kings who assaulted ancient

Babylon. The Apostles are notoriously "the kings that

* So history runs, although the story is now regarded as

more than doubtful. The symbol, however, could be harmoniously

worked out on the basis of the drying of the Euphrates

in 2 Esdras, xiii, 40-9.

12-14.] Tlte Kings of tlte Eartlt. 173

come from tlte sunrising." They march forth against

the West to conquer Babylon, and make the world

tributary to heaven's kingdom. They are indeed the

children of the light and of the day, who will teach

the darkened kingdoms of the beast to hail the rising

sun. There was an ancient prophecy which said that

an Eastern King should rule the world. That King

is Christ; and seated on his throne are his twelve

Apostles. It is indeed a marvellous fact that we today

in this distant Western isle are here to verify the

prophecy of John by acknowledging the spiritual supremacyof

Christ and his Apostles. We have been

conquered by the Kings of the East and are now

the willing subjects of the Lamb.

It is significant, however, that at this moment Satan

and his beasts are invoking the brutal force of kings

to war against the cause of God. Largely that warfare

is directed against the Hebrew polity in the

belief that with Judaism the God of the Jews will disappear

from history. It had been hoped that the

commandants in the provinces, and dependent kings,

would have gladly seized the opportunity of the Jewish

revolt to assert their independence ; but on the contrary

they sent their troops with eagerness to erase

Jerusalem from the earth. Titus is even credited with

the motive of destroying both Christianity and J udaism

by his war against the Temple. "These two superstitions,"

he is reported to have said, "although contrary

to one another, are of the same source; the

Christians come from the Jews; the root torn up, the

shoot will perish quickly." Thus, literally, was the

heathen military ascendancy of those days-" tlte war

0/ the great day of God."
And yet, while warring

174 The East Victorious. [XVI.

against God, they are doing the work of God. In destroying

Jerusalem, they are blindly preparing the way

of the Kings of the Sunrising; and hastening God's

vengeance upon mystic Babylon. Christianity, reinvigorated

by release from Judaic material limitations,

will all the sooner begin an effective war against

Roman civilisation. How tersely, and in what powerfullines,

the conflict of heathenism with the truth is

drawn in this vision of the frog-like spirits. The

Kings of the East - the kingly truths and principles

of the Christian faith-are to meet in dread

array the kings of the Roman earth-the regnant

principles and passions of the heathen world. There

is to be a war of holy and unholy principles-a conflict

of truth and error. On one side will be the Lamb

of God, the potency of his truth, the courage and devotion

of his saints; and on the other side, a confede

racy of earthly and infernal powers, "mixing the

coarsest animal with the most subtle spiritual wickedness,"

and using the two-edged sword of demoniacal

signs in order to command the people's faith and

brutal force to put to silence the soldiers of the cross.

"Be!lold, I come as a thief Blessed is he that

watclleth and keepeth Ids garments lest he walk naked

and t!ley see Ius shame"
What can the repetition of

this warning mean, but that this is the particular

juncture of events for which the Church at Sardis was

to watch? In this conflict of truth with demonism

and brute force, Christ is coming in his power and

glory. Great need, amid the complications of these

times, that the people should comport themselves as

Christian men and prove worthy of spotless garments

and the crown of glory in the endless life of God!

14-19.] The Valley of Decision. 175

That early conflict of God's kingdom was to be on the

great broad plain of Armageddon, the valley of decision-

famous both for the defeat and the victory of

Israel. Locally, and in the first place, it was on

Hebrew ground that heathenism delivered its assault

against the one Almighty God. That fateful struggle

realised all the past associations of the plain of Armageddon

in Hebrew history. Outwardly there was

every sign of heathen victory. Israel was broken into

pieces under heathen feet; the land was full of mourning;

every family weeping for its victims, dead or

gone away to worse than death. But Judah's desolation

was the revival of Judah's spiritual power. Salvation

was of the Jews to all the world precisely because

Jerusalem was to be no more the centre and sovereign

of Christian life and power. This profounder Armageddon

was both defeat and victory; both of them

decisive not only of a nation's but of a world's


The seuentk and last vial also corresponds with the

seventh trumpet. Then the voices of heaven proc1aimed-"

The kingdom of the world is become the

kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ." This last

vial is poured into the air as if to shake the dragon's

power; and then a voice comes from the throne: "It

is done."
The last stream of wrath is emptied out, the

last force set in motion which shall bring proud Babylon

to the dust; and the declaration is accompanied

by a sign of what this vial can produce, for there is a

mighty earthquake and" the great city is divided into

three parts."
Considerable difference of opinion exists

as to whether this great city is Jerusalem or Rome;

176 Jerusalem FaDen. [XVI.

and certain expositors have reversed their former

judgements, so nicely does the evidence seem balanced.

This dubiety arises from the fact that all the

, foes of Christianity are here blended in one picture.

At first Judaism stood well to the front, but now it is

almost fully judged, and is receding before the advancing

prominence of Babylon. This" great city " is not

Rome ; since, as the visions proceed, we find the great

city which is the seat of Babylon, comparatively undisturbed.

It does, indeed, seem clear that Jerusalem

IS In view. The judgement of the holy land has been

described in this Second Part as until now falling only

" without the city;" and it is therefore to be expected

that we shall hear something of the city's fate.

Here, then, the catastrophe of judgement is complete,

partial as it looks. This tripartite division of

the city is apparently taken from Ezekiel's description

of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. That prophet

took his hair and divided it into three parts. One

part he burned, another cut with a knife, and the third

scattered to the winds of heaven. Said the Lord God

-" This is Jerusalem;" and the prophecy meant, a

third shall die by the pestilence and famine, a third

shall fall by the sword, and a third part be scattered

to the winds of heaven. Such, indeed, was Jerusalem's

fate in the siege of Titus. Politically and sacerdotally,

Jerusalem ceased to be.

The" cities of the nations" might be those Gentile

cities in which Jewish colonies came to grief at this

particular time, but more probably the towns and

cities of Decapolis, Edom, Samaria, and Galilee, called

"Galilee of the nations" in St. Matthew's gospel. In17-

21.] End of the Judaic World. 1'77

deed, these are distinctively called "cities of the

nations" in the history of Josephus.

"Babylon the great was remembered." Surely this

intimation is enough to warn us that Babylon is not

yet broken into pieces nor completely judged. We

are to understand that only the first distinctive foe of

Christianity is gone. The Jewish polity has been

shaken to its foundations. Its people have been

crushed beneath a plague of hail (a favourite symbol

of destructive military visitations in the Prophets and

the Apocrypha), the weight of each of which corresponds

with the stones hurled from the" scorpions" of the

Romans against the bold defenders of Jerusalem. "The

islands and mountains .fled away"-so
complete was

the dislocation of the Jewish world, so utterly did God

judge it and its ways. Nothing short of a new heaven

and a new earth were to follow the great day of the

Lord. And no one can doubt that this judgement-day

wrought a revolution in the outlook of the Church.

As Dollinger says-" Christians recognized it as a

providence of God, and a sign that the end of the

ceremonial law was come,-that Christian doctrine was

thereby completely taken out and separated from the

maternal womb of Judaism." A second deliverance

followed. "The church of Christ," says Mosheim, "had

at no period of time more bitter and desperate enemies

than that very people to whom the immortal Saviour

was more especially sent." Likewise Neander: "Jewish

proselytes were often the fiercest persecutors of Christianity,

and suffered themselves to become tools of the

Jews in exciting the pagans against the Christians."

When the sacred instruments of Jewish worship were

profaned, and the Jew had no longer a home on earth,


178 Iclzabod. [XVI.

his wrath might remain as fierce, but he ceased to make

proselytes, and his power to wound was gone. Isaac

was more than able to hold his own with Ishmael.

Solemn lesson! The most favoured Church may

become so corrupt as to be intolerable in the sight of

heaven. It may slay as the enemies of God his chosen

sons. When exalted to the heavens with pride,

Ichabod may be written on its walls, and its prayers,

its penances, its fasts, its genuflections, and its turning

over the pages of its Bible, be an abomination in

the sight of God.



"La, I begin to work evil at the city 0./ my 1wme, and should

ye be utterly unpunished?"

WE must be careful to note, as we enter on the

I ~ episode of Babylon, that we are not asked to

look and see an actual event transpiring. Failure to

mark this has led to error. John does not see the

destruction of Babylon by the fire of the breath of God.

He sees what Babylon is, and where she sits in her

self-vaunting pride, and is TOLD what shall be her end.

I n visions of occurrences, John sees what is immediately

to happen or what is actually in process and will soon

reach its culmination; but, when he is merely told that

anything slzall be, the event still lies a little into the

future, and is thereby marked with indefiniteness as

to the time of its occurrence. The fact that John is

told that Babylon shall be hated of the beast and his

horns, and slzall be burned; and that the trafficers of

the world slzall mourn for her, indicates plainly that

he prophesies of things a little distant and not of what

is actually transpiring before his eyes. Even the note

in the previous chapter-" Babylon the great was

remembered in the sight of God" is enough to show

that Babylon's destruction is not actually proceeding,

but is decreed and being kept in mind; and that in

the fall of the great city jerusalem (the destruction of

180 Babylon. [XVII.

Judaic hindrances to the triumph of the Gospel) God

is preparing the way for his judgement upon Babylon.

In short, God's judgement on Jerusalem is here set

forth as his pledge to the Church that Babylon will

not be spared. This episode, then, is intended by John

and the angelic host to be an offidal judgement pronounced

against tltt"s second foe
and proleptically

fulfilled. To faith, what God means to do is done.

Indeed, as we have already said-the deliverance of

the Gospel from its Judaic fetters was a sentence of

doom on Heathenism. In such grand creations, the

first hour is decisive. A Gospel for the Gentiles was,

in its very birth, the fall of Babylon.

How are we to think of Babylon, that great city, that

strong dty-which is, "Mystery, Babylon the Great,

the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the

earth?" Expositors have for the most part confined

themselves to one of three suggestions-all of which

have considerable resemblance to the truth. A few

have found Jerusalem concealed under the guise of

Babylon; and it is surprising how well they can make

certain marks of identification harmonise with the

history and fate of that once sacred city. They say,

Jerusalem was the wife of God, what other city can be

called an harlot? What other city is so chargeable

with the blood of Prophets and Apostles, or has so

plainly ceased to be in fulfilment of this prophecy?

(The ablest word for this view of Babylon will be found

by the English reader in Dr. Russell's Parousia.i The.

great majority of British expositors have, however,

found Babylon in the church of Rome, or the city of

Rome itself as head and centre of the Roman faith.

That church, they say, is the bride of Christ; but what

1-5.] Where is Babylon? 181

with its worshipping of saints and images, its idolatry

of the host, its assumptions of infallibility and dominion,

it is clearly marked as anti-christian and apostate,

and therefore is destined to the doom of Babylon.

And what have we to answer in return? That we

have no objection to find Babylon in Jerusalem. It

had apostatized from God-lost its grand ideal meaning

-come to worship force, and chose another God when

it cried-" Away with this man; crucify him, crucify

him; we have no king but Ceesar." We have no

objection to find Babylon in the Roman church, if it

be there; and, certainly there are many startling signs

of similarity. Weare prepared to find Babylon in

London or in Paris; or indeed, in Protestanism, with

its error and confusion. Babylon is wherever we find

Babylon's characteristics. Let us, however, be sure of

what Babylon's features are; for if we cannot see

what John is meaning, we are likely to fall into serious

and irretrievable mistakes; and to apply this shameful

name to men and systems who are no more nearly

allied to Babylon than we are ourselves.

Now, John is not thinking specially of Jerusalem,

though she was tainted by the Babel spirit. That city

is already judged and shaken to its base; and after

the woes which have been described, it is impossible

to imagine Babylon sitting at Jerusalem in its fulsome

sensuousness, cool and unconcerned. Nor is John

thinking here of an apostate Christian Church in the

dim and distant future. There is not a syllable in the

prophecies of this book to indicate that Christ's Church

has been apostatizing up to this particular stage of

history. On the other hand, the last vision of the

Church revealed it standing on the glassy sea. Nor

182 Not a Christian Chuyelz. [XVII.

is John concerned with anything that does not exist;

and that cannot afford light and consolation to the

infant Church amid the unparalleled trials which beset

it. At any rate, Babylon does not bear one single

mark of being a Church of Christ, however sinful and

apostate. She is described very literally as a city,

great in population, rich in wealth, given to luxury and

debauchery, dealing in horses and chariots, and keeping

multitudes of slaves. So vast her population and

so expensive are her habits, that she is the emporium

of the world's trade. Her collapse is a serious blow

to every shipmaster and mariner, and all who make

their living by the sea; and her sincerest mourners in

the day of her decline are the merchants who have become

princes by reason of her costly tastes for precious

metals, pearls, fine linen, fragrant woods, marbles

spices, ointmcnts-s-everything that is dainty and sumptuous

to the soul of man. How that describes the

church of the Vatican we utterly fail to see; or who

the transformation of Roman Catholics into Evangelical

Protestants would strike such a fatal blow at the

trade and commerce of the world that all the merchant

princes would stand aghast, and all the fleets of

the nations be disbanded for want of commerce! If

that really is to be the consequence of the new reformation,

will not our evangelical British merchants

wish the Millennial day to be indefinitely postponed?

We come to far more likely ground, when we take

Babylon to be some heathen, anti-divine organisation

existing in apostolic times; exercising its oppressive

power against Prophets and Apostles, and standing in

colossal magnitude as an insuperable obstacle to the

universal sovereignty of Jesus Christ. If there was

XVIII.] Found in Rome. 183

And 1st, her sensual

point we shall ask

such a city, then the centre of the world, great in extent,

costly in her habits, into which were gathered the

wealthiest families of the time, a market for all the

expensive luxuries of Arabia and the Indies; if this

city exercised its sovereignty in all the habitable

world, and withal was madly anti-christian and idolatrous-

then this city of John's time must have been

the seat and throne of Babylon. That Rome was such

a city, there can be no dispute ;. and we need not wonder

that when Jerusalem has just been trampled in the

dust, and Judaism blotted out, the infant Church feels

herself to be standing face to face with this gigantic

foe, wondering if it be possible that she can survive

the might of Rome.

Rome answers to her marks.

wantonness (xviii. 8). On this

Gibbon to bear his testimony :-

" The most remote corners of the ancient world were ransacked

to supply the pomp and delicacy of Rome. . . . . .

The objects of oriental traffic were splendid and trifling; silk, a

pound of which was esteemed not inferior in value to a pound of

gold; precious stones, among which the pearl claimed the first

rank after the diamond; and a variety of aromatics that were

consumed in religious worship aud the pomp of funerals. The

labour and risk of the voyage was rewarded with almost incredible

profit; but the profit was made upon Roman subjects,

and a few individuals were enriched at the expense of the


Rome was full of palaces, furnished with every

luxury; and built with a splendour that has never

been paralleled in the world's history. Pliny says that

Nero consumed more precious spices at the funeral of

his wife than all Arabia could produce in any year.

184 Rome's Sensuous Religion. XVIII.

This reminds us that we must not fail to note how

much Rome's luxury was connected with the services

of religion, and how deeply" a multitude of lazy and

selfish priests," and the merchants interested, would

deprecate the success of a religion like the Gospel,

without temple, sacrifice, or sacerdotal order. Mosheim

writes :-" The public worship of such an immense

number of deities was a source of subsistence

and even of riches to the whole rabble of priests and

augurs, and also to a multitude of merchants and

artists." As the ascendancy of idolatry was fatally

stricken, well might the merchants and the seamen of

the navies that went everywhere between Britain and

Ceylon be represented as bewailing bitterly the downfall

of the system which made them rich.

Another characteristic, and one which cannot mark

a Christian church, but marks distinctively imperial

Rome, is its traffic in horses and chariots, and slaves,

and lives of men (xviii. 14). As a warlike and imperial

city, and for the circus sports, horses and chariots

were in great demand. The horribly inhuman condition

of society may be imagined from the fact that

of 1,200,000 inhabitants in Rome quite one-half were

slaves-prisoners of war deported from their homes

and sold-males and females brought from every

quarter for the vilest uses. From so small a country

as Judcea, 90,000 were led away after the siege of Jerusalem

to feed wild beasts, or work as slaves till

death brought peace. So absolute was the slave's

subjection, and so worthless was his life, that in one

Roman household 400 were put to death because one

of them under provocation assassinated his master.

They were sometimes cut to pieces to feed the fish in

XVII.] Marks of Identity. 185

their master's pond; or to let some guest see the

dying agonies of a man. In fact, they were not

counted human beings in that Roman world, but only

chattels on their lord's estate; and as such they were

refused all share in the national worship. Never before

nor since have the sanctities of human nature

been so diabolically profaned.

This harlot has also slain tlte saints and the martyrs

This distinction is frequently made in the

Apocalypse, and not without good reason. "The

saints," we believe to be "the holy people," or saints

of Daniel, whom the beast was made to break in

pieces and wear out. We see, then, that the harlot is

the common enemy of Jew and Christian. The particular

reference before us is to Rome's cruel annihilation

of Judaic power; and to the Christian blood in

which she had so lately steeped her hands.

Again, this woman's seat is on the beast full of the

names of blasphemy. That beast is the Roman power;

or the emperor as its representative, with his claims to

be" Divus." The city where her palace is is Rome.

This woman sits upon" seven mountains." Rome

is often called in ancient literature" the seven-hilled

city;" and indeed had a yearly festival in honour of

the inclusion of the seventh hill in the city's boundaries.

We read that there are "<senen kings" who reign

successively, and are appropriately designated heads of

the beast. Of these, the sixth was reigning when

John wrote. That readily corresponds with the succession

of Roman emperors about this time.

Again, the beast John saw supporting the harlot,

" was, is not, and is about to come up from tile abyss."

186 The Beast that was and is not.

This curious enigma is hard to solve, because many

solutions have been found. Our first concern should

be to see what John means. The beast he saw was

Rome under that king or head in whose reign the

harlot's ascendancy will have reached its climax of

security, and, with the usual irony of fate, in which

her supremacy will be fatally undermined. A certain

mystery attaches to the person of this king; he was,

is not, and is about to come; he is the eighth, following

a seventh, who reigns a little time, and is from the

seven; and all the heathen world admires his reign.

The marks of identification are dark enough in all

conscience. But let us see.

A favourite interpretation with Preterists is, that

this eighth is the brutal Nero, who was supposed to

have escaped at his dethronement and fled eastward,

and was shortly afterwards reported to be returning

to claim his throne, supported by the Parthians. Beyond

all question, many doubted Nero's death; and

false Neros did arise and claim his crown. We do not,

however, believe that John here prophesies the literal

return of Nero; much less, as some have supposed,

his literal resurrection from the abyss. The most

probable interpretation is, that Vespasian may be

John's sixth emperor, reigning at this point in the

visions, after Jerusalem has passed away. The brief

and partially simultaneous reigns of Galba, Otho, and

Vitellius were the interregnum of the wound, because

all this year the empire was in the throes of continual

revolt. The seventh, who continues a little while, is

Titus, who reigned only twenty-six months; and the

eighth, brother of the seventh, who gathers up into

himself the material splendour, beastliness, and blas8-

11.] Nero's Duplicate. 187

pherny of the whole course of imperial reign, is


There is in the history of Domitian a fact, unnoticed

by expositors, which may have led John to make the

enigmatical remark-" which was, is not, and is to be."

Both Josephus and Suetonius tell us that in the

revolution which deposed Vitellius, Domitian was

brought forth to the multitude, recommended to the

emperorship, "and unanimously saluted by the title of

Caesar," after which he assumed the honours. Titus,

too, all along regarded Domitian as his partner in the

emperorship, although not visibly in power. "After

Domitian became emperor, he had the assurance to

boast in the senate that he had bestowed the empire

on his father and brother, and that they had restored

it to him." Thus Domitian might very literally be

described as the emperor that" was, is not, and is to

come "-the abyss being named to symbolize the

signally diabolical and anti-christian character of his

reign. He is thus, too, an emperor in close connection

with the healing of the deadly wound, inasmuch as he is

the first crowned of the Flavian line; and beyond question,

was the emperor in whom the specially beastly

features of Roman rule reached their culmination.

There was a remarkable resemblance between the

characters and careers of Nero and Domitian ; only, in

the acute judgement of Renan, "Nero had not the

dark wickedness of Domitian, the love of evil for the

sake of evil." Both of them were blood-thirsty, luxurious

and incestuous tyrants. Domitian like Nero had

a craving tv be invested with necromantic powers;

like Nero he commanded himself to be deified, and

addressed in letter or in speech: "Dominus et Deus

188 The Pagan Revival. [XVII.

Noster," Our Lord and God; and like Nero, he became

a violent persecutor of both Jews and Christians. The

likeness between the two was even physical, and is

verified by ample testimony. The common nickname

of Domitian in Rome was" Calvus Nero"-the bald

Nero. (juvenal, Sat. iv. 38). Tertullian calls him" a

fragment of Nero" and a" sub-Nero"; and Eusebius

says: "he at length established himself as the successor

of Nero in his hatred and hostility to God." In one

thing only did they differ. Nero was little better than

an atheist, and discouraged all religious ceremonies

but the worship of the emperors; Domitian, like his

father, laboured to revive the worship of the gods in

Rome, and succeeded. "It was the boast of Domitian

that in his youth he had waged the wars of Jove in

defence of the Capitol (the temple of Rome); that in

a later age he had scaled the heavens for himself and

family by piously restoring it." (Merivale's Conversion,

32). Beyond all question, the dying heart of

Paganism was galvanised into a quicker action by the

devouter faith of Vespasian and his sons. There was

no actual revival of pagan faith among the people of

the empire; but official Paganism took fresh heart, and

posed in greater ceremonial splendour to the delectation

of the Roman crowds. It seemed as if the old Roman

world had come to life again; the beast from the abyss

was more aggressive; the dragon again was vigorously

asserting his claim to be supreme in earth and heaven.

Even in the fulfilment of this mark-"and goetlt

into perdition,"
Domitian is again a Nero. He ended

his reign by assassination; and as the great Julian line

of emperors closed with Nero, so did the Flavian

dynasty go down with Domitian.

18.] Babylon tile Destroyer of Jerusalem. 189

Last of all, John is most distinctly told that this

woman Babylon is "The great dry which reigneth over

the kings of the earth]'
(xvii. 18). Mark specially the

tense in which the angel speaks-that reigneth, that

now reigns, not" that shall reign," as if speaking of a

distant day. This could mean none other than great

Rome, which then reigned jealously and tyrannically

over the empire and its many provinces; that is, by

symbol, "upon many waters" which are "peoples and

nations and tongues,"-a
Babel multitude.

All these indications most decisively point to heathen

Rome, and that is the interpretation which has found

the widest acceptance among Christian scholars from

the earliest times. There is a certain grand appropriateness

in the introduction of the Roman power at

this part of the apocalyptic drama. The prophets

of the Old Testament no sooner prophesied that Babylon

would destroy Jerusalem for 70 years, than immediately

their prophetic anger burst out on Babylon

with the reproach that although God had employed

her for the punishment of his unfaithful people, He

would nevertheless punish her speedily for her sins,

and reward her double for the intensity of her hatred

to Jerusalem. Correspondingly, when the Roman

power has here ground Jerusalem into powder, the

prophetic spirit of the New Testament turns against

the Roman power, and calls it " Babylon," and in the

repetition of 01.:1 Testament language, declares that it

too must be punished double for its sins.

This of itself is enough to refute the notion that

Babylon is Jerusalem. But the correspondence between

the Babylon of Isaiah xlviii. and Jeremiah 1.

and li, is to be found at so many points that the con190

Rome and A ncient Baby/on.

elusion seems inevitable. 1. Isaiah's oracle concerning

Babylon is of "the wilderness of the sea." The

Romish beast is from the sea; therefore Rome answers

as Jerusalem cannot do. 2. Babylon" sits upon

many waters" (Jer. Ii. 13), jerusalem's grief is that she

sits on the dry mountains. Metaphorically this fits

Rome, but hardly Jerusalem. 3. Old Babylon, like

the apocalyptic, is a "golden" cup of the wine of

fury to the nations, treading them down in her wrath;

and such was Rome, but Jerusalem never was, for

the Jew did not love soldiering. 4. Babylon as she

destroyed old Jerusalem boasted that she was" a lady

for ever," and the same boast is repeated here. 5.

The threatened tribulation is in both cases for the unmerciful

manner in which Babylon has carried out her

mission of being a whip in the Lord's hand for the

chastisement of nations. 6. This Babylon is called

" a harlot," and here the parallel so far fails. Yet other

heathen cities are called harlots, such as Samaria and

Nineveh. Tyre is charged with fornication; and in

2 Esdras xv. 47, Babylon itself is charged with whoredom.

We must not think that only Jerusalem can be

treated as a harlot in the Scriptures; and that therefore

Babylon is presumably Jerusalem. Babylon is

constantly depicted in harlot character, and barely

falls short of the name itself. These and other points

of identity between John's Babylon and the Babylon

of Isaiah and Jeremiah seem plainly to exclude all

reference to Jerusalem; because the balance of prophecy

requires that this Babylon, like the last, shall

be the destroyer of Jerusalem and the enemy of God.

But why is Rome thus to come into judgement?

] ohn is not the prophet of a new and startling politics

XVIII.] WIdell Rome is Babylon? 191

but the herald of a new dispensation; and the standpoint

from which Rome is judged is purely ethical and

spiritual. Ancient Babylon was condemned for its

haughty pride and its gross idolatry, and Rome its replicate

is condemned because she sits in her pride a

queen, is wanton in her sensuality, and acts corruptingly

upon all the kingdoms she reduces to her

sway; especially that she tramples with cruel and

contemptuous hoof upon all that is most sacred in the

worship of Christ and God. We must, however, be

careful to keep in view that it is not Rome politicalmuch

less is it the Rome of stone and lime-with

which the Apostle is concerned. Rome is here considered

as the centre and embodiment of heathen

thought and worship; as a woman, that is a church,

priding herself in finding all her exaltation and her

power in her reverence for the gods and the love which

the gods have for her. She is a pretentiously religious

city, a city of temples, of altars, of statues of the deities;

and thus a wanton, a harlot with many lovers.

Worse than all, she uses her religious sanctities as a

means of perpetuating her dominion and of gratifying

every unholy lust; and so she is the mother of all the

abominations of the earth. Herein lies the Babel

principle-the lust of dominion and worldly gain by

means of religious sanctities. Religion is only a ladder

to the glory of this world. The holiest things

come to be prostituted to the profanest and most infernal

uses, so that the hearts of the people become

utterly corrupt, even in their highest principles. And

such was heathen Rome. Intense as she was in her

religious fervour, she made religion a panderer to her

passions; and instead of being purified thereby, her

192 Rome's Fornications. [XVIII.

people's hearts became" the habitations ofdemons, and

the hold of every foul spin't, and a cage ofevery unclean

and hatiful bird."

One has but to look at the history of Rome to see

how true it is that she corrupted all the earth with her

fornications. Desiring to be the religious home and

political mistress of all nations, the native gods of

other countries were invited by the Roman Senate to

set up their altars in the capital. In times of war, the

particular gods of the besieged cities were implored to

give them up to the Romans in return for a more imposing

worship in the imperial city. Thus Gibbon

writes, "Rome became the common temple of her

subjects; and the freedom of the city was bestowed

on all the gods of mankind." The Roman people were

thus drawn from their primitive allegiance to their

fathers' God into the abominable dissipation of an

ever-growing, ever-changing polytheism. They fell

into the pernicious custom of worshipping at whatever

altars offered the freshest and most exciting


Not only did Rome receive strange gods, she carried

her own particular divinities to other lands; and

thus intensified the worst evils of idolatry throughout

the world. Especially did she force upon her provinces

the worship of the emperors; and even Rome

herself had a temple erected to her genius, and was

worshipped in every loyal province. This idolatrous

propagandism was part of Rome's settled policy as a

means to the subjection of the world and her own ascendancy.

She attributed to this recognition of all

the gods, her particular right to reign as queen.

" Every distinct nation worships its own country gods;

XVII.] Tile Goddess Roma. 193

we Romans all of them; thus, while we perform the

religious rites of all nations, we deservedly enjoy universal

empire,"-(Octavius of M. F., vi.) There was

but one God whom the Romans would not worship,

for whom the public revenues would build no temple,

one God who was despised and hated,-the God of

the]ew and the Christian. Do you wonder that this

imperious city, vaunting of its religious spirit, boasting

of its pantheon of false gods, exalting itself as the

goddess ROMA to a place among divinities; and

then turning upon the holy harmless preachers of the

cross to destroy them and proscribe the name of

Christ, and perpetuate the abominations by which it

lived,-do you wonder that on it should fall the anathemas

of heaven, and that the struggling infant

Church should have been comforted with heaven's own

assurances that this great system of iniquity should

totter to its fall and be utterly consumed?

And whence comes Babylon's destruction? It comes

from God; it comes from the kings of the East, the

surely growing power of truth in the new dispensation

of the Gospel; and it comes from the people over

whom she reigns. The nations of the earth-the diverse

peoples of the Roman world, grow weary of the

harlot and her pollutions. The provinces had always

maintained a higher morality, and a purer religious

spirit, than had Rome. They first felt the awful burden

of the idolatrous system which had obtained; and

were the first to break away from the religious domination

of Rome. But even Rome itself at last grew

sick of the hateful system that ruled its life, and was

happy to be free.

But this deliverance did not come without a struggle.


194 Rome's Destruction. [XVII.

The first instinct of Rome's dependents, entranced by

the mystic glamour of Babel error, was to support the

central power, and war against everything which

threatened to dethrone it. It was a bitter disappointment

to the Jewish revolutionary leaders that neighbouring

provinces, whom they expected to pant for

freedom, and to be ready to take advantage of Rome's

political disorganisation to strike for independence,

rather manifested sympathy with Rome and hatred

of the Jews. The soldiers that should have swelled

the ranks of liberty, flocked to Roman standards,

eager to assist in putting down revolt. So much was

the Jew hated and isolated in that ancient world.

Nevertheless, Jerusalem was to conquer, under the

guise of its defeat. From her went forth subtle influences

that the intensest bigotry could not resist.

The chaos of heathen thought presented no united

front to the solid onset of a more ideal Judaism, and

the diviner" truth as it is in Jesus." The best thought

of the provinces was weaned from its heathen bent.

Polytheistic harlotry was discovered in all its naked

vileness; and from every side there arose a spirit of

intense antagonism to the darker features of its cults

-until at last, even when it had reigned supreme, it

died and passed away. How magnificent is the contrast

here between this wanton Babylon and the New

Jerusalem, the chaste religion of the Gospel. The

kings of the Roman world make Babylon naked and

burn her in the fire of their wrath, when they come to

discover that she works only misery and oppression

in their midst; while all the kings of the earth become

nursing mothers to the Church, and bring the

glory and honour of the nations into it. Yes, all

XVIII.] Decadent Heathenism. 195

wanton love turns at last into fury and hate. There

is that in the Babel system which leads to discord,

strife, and death. Evil is ultimately suicidal. Though

men bind themselves with oaths into brotherhoods

antagonistic to the divinely-appointed order and progress

of society-thank God, such brotherhoods

are not permanent by reason of the disintegrating

character of evil. Truth is not at every moment

mightier than error; but in the end error falls to

pieces by its own repulsions, and then truth triumphs

on its ruins.

And Babylon, the fortress of decadent heathenism,

the eager searcher for new gods, and debaucher of

the nations with a multiplicity of idols, in spite of her

pomp, her pride, her wantonness, her lust of conquest

did fall and her ancient glory pass away. There is no

more telling witness to that fact than that on the spot

where apostolic blood was shed there stands the most

magnificent place of worship in the world, and that in

that harlot city one who, rightly or wrongly as it may

be, was named the representative of Christ, came to sit

in that imperial chair from which a heathen Ca-sar ruled

the world in the name of all the gods. And so every

Babylon will fall in turn; and men, grown wise

through their experience of evil, will learn that there

is no prosperity or joy on earth but in God and his





"As the bridegroom. rejoiceth over the bride, so shall th!!

God rejoice over thee."

JOH N has not seen Babylon consumed. It is

rather a future victory of which he has been

assured. It is, however, a result contained in the very

advent of the Gospel. The effect is hidden in the

cause; and thus already, by the angels, and all the

heavens, Babylon is seen as fallen. While John is full

of enraptured amazement at this prophecy, he hears a

burst of heavenly voices rejoicing in the righteous

judgements of the Lord. We know that when heaven

rejoices it is not because earth is cursed, and the area

of its sorrow widened. Rather is it because whatever

may corrupt the earth is judged and whatever

may cause sorrow and oppression is sentenced to be

cast down and broken, in order that God's kingdom

may be more fully realized in the hearts and consciences

of men.

These rejoicings could not take place over any

merely mortal city. Mere political overthrows have

little bearing on the moral history of the world. We

must not bring heaven down into the paltry politics of

Whig and Tory j or dream that heaven is largely in1-

7.] The Marn'age Supper. 197

terested in the transference of trade from Rome to

Constantinople, Venice, London, or New York.

When, therefore, we are asked to see that great city of

apostolic times, imperial Rome, in the Babylon of St.

John, the reader will understand that such a city

shaped itself to John as the very impersonation of the

heathen spirit, and as a standing challenge to the

Gospel's claims to be the only true and universal religion,

and Christ's own claim to be the King of kings.

There could be no revelation of Christ in his glory, no

claim to bring the world its righteous king, without

the distinct assurance that Christ would in due season

" Tread the idols in the dust,

Heathen fanes destroy;

Spread the Gospel's holy trust,

Spread the Gospel's joy I"

Suddenly, John hears a fresh outburst, apparently

of all in heaven and on earth, in sympathy with the

advent of the kingdom of God on earth, rejoicing over

the approaching marriage of the Lamb with his bride

the Church. It is somewhat disappointing that such

a beautiful and promising conception is not wrought

out in the visions of this book. We have only an intimation

meanwhile that the marriage hour is come.

Even this problem is left unsolved-Does the marriage,

scene occur on earth or is it placed in heaven? Our

answer is-It may be in both worlds, because the

Church in heaven and on earth is one.

This marriage may have some real significance on

earth. Those bright and festive robes may well typify

the Church which has faithfully answered to the call"

Come forth, my people out of Babylon." The

Church, we shall suppose, in her early zeal makes a

198 TIle Bn"de of God. [XIX.

perfect separation of herself from every false and evil

way of that Babel system by which she is encompassed.

When the smoke of Jerusalem's judgement is

cleared away, the world' sees this little company of

saints gathered around the name of Christ, worshipping

Him as seated on God's throne, and as having

won a triumphant victory over the evil power. Did

this not also put peculiar emphasis upon the Church's

own divinity, clothe her with the graces of her husband,

identify her with the heavenly destinies of her

Lord? Now she has come forth from the obscurity of

her virgin days; she is no longer confounded with

the beggared Jew, but is seen to pass into the palace

splendours of her marriage with the King of kings.

Clothed was she in mean and humble garments while

Judaism sneered, and asked-Where is the sign of his

coming? and Heathenism proudly stalked abroad in

all its glittering pomp; but when Christ was seen in

his divine ascendancy over human and infernal foes,

the Church appeared in all the grand significance of

her relation to the Eternal One. The time was come

for Zion to put on her beautiful apparel and shine

with all the light and glory of the Bride of God.

But who can those be who are" bidden" to the

marriage supper? The difficulty has been felt-Are

not those who are bidden "saints," and yet they

do not appear to be the Church, the bride? Let

us not press the figure quite so tightly. Those "bidden"

will be witnesess, at least, of the glory of the bride and

her beloved. Now, as the marriage of the Church can

only be beheld by the eye of faith; the blessedness

here spoken of will be the happy fortune of those only

who can discern at this particular time, the Church's

7-9.] Those Bidden. 199

wedded dignities. In short, those bidden are those

who see that the Church of Christ is indeed the bride

of God; a divine dispensation of love to men. These

will unite themselves with the Church and ultimately

enter on eternal life.

Of course, the Church beyond the veil will realise

this marriage in a much more realistic sense. Is it

not possible that this "fine linen bright andpure" is

akin to the white robes in which we saw the martyrspirits

arraying themselves in preparation for the coming

of their Lord? Is this marriage-day not after all

to them what we prosaically call" the resurrection"the

coming of their affianced Lord to lift them from

their low estate and make them partners with Himself

in the glory which He has with the Father? The place

in heaven has been prepared; the bride sits down

upon her husband's throne.

There is much here that reminds us of the parable

of the wise and foolish virgins; and from that we

mentally swing to the vision of the risen and reigning

saints, who have the first resurrection. Married union

with Christ is the close and intimate life of the risen

saints. Those" bidden" are spirits who are ready

and worthy to share in the first resurrection. Those

not bidden are the rest of the dead who do not live as

yet with Christ,-who "cannot enter now." There is

a wonderful harmony; and this may be the actual significance

of the marriage feast, for John plainly tells

us that the resurrection of the saints and the reign

with Christ take place at this point of time.

No wonder that the heavens rejoice-as the rcdeemed

enter on their grand inheritance, and the

Church on earth is seen arraying herself in beauteous

200 John's Fellow-Servant. [XIX.

apparel, and realising her eternal unity with the Son

of God. All this is significant of the departure of

long-reigning fallacies, and widely-corrupting iniquities

from the earth; and of the nations coming to the

feet of Jesus to be taught and healed. With universal

shoutings they exclaim-" Let us be glad and rejoice

for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife

hath made herself ready."

The infinite relief with which John heard the news

of this near and blessed consummation of his hopes

for the Church is well expressed in his instantaneous

prostration at the feet of the nameless one that

assured him of its truth. It was some spirit near him,

closer in sympathy than an angel from the heavens, a

fellow-servant from the human race, one of the prophets

who reckoned himself, as well as John, a witness

for the truth of Christ. The spirit of his prophecies

in the days of old was a testimony to this very Christ

who now initiates this Messianic age . The dead are

not like a burnt-out wick ; nor like men that dream

in sleep; nor is their life what Martensen describes as

that mere "esoterisches Leben in sich seiber leben,"

or " self-brooding," which is sometimes credited to the

Hades state. Here we discover that the Church in the

unseen, before the resurrection life, is in living sympathy

with the Church on earth, keenly conscious of

its struggles, intensely interested in the consummation

of its reign .

" TAe Lord Jesus from heauen. 1citl~ the angels of Ma power

in jlamin.q fire, rendering eenqeance to them. that know

not Gad."

Once more we come directly upon the person of

our Lord. John sees him riding on a white horse

Diqitrzed byGOOgle

10-16.] God's Word at War. 201

arrayed in garments red with blood, and crowned with

many diadems. The revised translation prefers to

read that his garment was" sprinkled" with blood.

That is the reading also of Origen and the translators

of the Syriac and Ethiopic versions. It would, therefore,

appear that John has Is. lxiii. 3 in view; and the

blood is consequently that of his enemies.

This revelation is the same in character as the

reaping scene of the xivth chapter; only here it is a

judgement of the heathen as yonder it was of the

Judaic world.

Christ's present office is the twofold one of judging

and making war; and as John here exhibits it, it proceeds

for a considerable space of time. To judge is

to separate good and evil in the minds of men ; and

to make war is to combat with evil until it is destroyed.

The just severity of his reign and his implacable enmity

to evil are well-expressed in those two characteristic

sentences-" He shall rule the nations with a

rod of iron; and He treadeth the wine-press of the

wrath of Almighty God." These are terrific words,

and awake suggestions concerning Christ to which

happily we are not accustomed. Have we any reason

to suspect that John is here allowing his own subjectivity

to colour his vision of the Saviour? Is John

still the son of thunder who would call down fire from

heaven upon villagers who refuse to receive his gospel?

Perhaps, indeed, he is; but any way, this description

of Christ's reign is most appropriate to the necessities

of that hateful old Roman world.

"He shall rule them with a rod of iron." In

some respects the imperial Roman government was

tyrannical and severe; but from a moral point of

202 Clmst's Righteous Rule. [XIX.

view, it was loose and easy to a degree. The Caesars

never intruded on the privacy of the citizens, nor took

means to repress free thought. Merivale says :-" It

was generally deemed sufficient to divert the interest

of the people from public affairs by supplying them

with a constant variety of employment or dissipation,

to amuse them in their casual bursts of anger by the

sacrifice of some object of their aversion, to soothe

their discontent by redoubled largesses, to allay their

alarms of plague or famine by the more extravagant

shows and massacres in the circus." The same looseness

was prevalent in religion. It was lawful to worship

any god or all the gods of the Pantheon, so long

as the national worship was not abandoned. Religion

at its best was a due observance of sacred ceremonies,

and was totally divorced from truth and purity in

daily life. Such was not to be the law of Christ. His

authority would be all pervading and obtrusive-even

into the domain of private thought. His law not

only says-Thou shalt not kill ; but also, Thou shalt

not hate. He not only forbids adultery, but the sensual

look. The common indulgences of heathen life

are abhorrent to the law of Christ; and this new King

will secure obedience not by pandering to men's lusts,

but by constraining them to obey the behests of truth

and righteousness. In His kingdom, the gods shall

not be made down to the measures of men; but the

one inflexible law will be: "Thou shalt worship the

Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."

The other function of this heavenly ruler is " to

make war."
The issue is described as full of horrors.

Weare in the thickest of the carnage of a dreadful

battle-field; and the air is dark with birds of prey that

17-21.] The Gospel Warfare. 203

come to feast upon the dainty flesh of men. We must

not freely take for granted that all this bloodshed is

an allegory. Alas, history will refute us if we do, on

almost every page. The garments of the Gospel are

besprinkled with the blood of friends and foes. The

truth of one God, and one Christ, has not triumphed

without the gathering of hostile nations, and the deluging

of fields with blood. Kings have gone out into

battlefields to war with Christ; and without victory in

war, the Galilean could not have conquered the kingdoms

of this world for God. But for the bloodshed

and suffering of the nations in the march of truth,

Christ is not responsible. His chosen weapons are not

carnal. His sword is the word of truth. His armies

are the prayers and inspirations of his saints. He wars

not against men, but evil principles j and if kings and

emperors were content to abide by the challenge

which truth throws down to error, then the triumphs

of the Gospel would be the victories of peace. Itis,

indeed, a painful sight to see Christian men warring

with the canon and the sword-" giving their brethren

to be food for the fowls of the air;" but there is this

consolation, that out of every Aceldema there will be

a noble resurrection of new truth, or holier influence,

or fresh-kindled zeal. Where conflicting hosts are

slain, there also will be slain some beastly lie, some

foul ambition, some accursed power, that was tending

to destroy the peace of earth, or the very souls of men.

" God's world has one great echo.

Whether calm blue mists are curled,

Or lingering dew-drops quiver,

Or red storms are unfurled,-

The same deep love is throbbing

Thro' the heart of God's great world.

204 The Victory of the Word. [XIX.

" Oh God ! man's heart is darkened

He will not understand,

Show him thy cloud and fire,

And with thine own right hand

Then lead him throngh his desert

Into thy holy land."

Let us not forget who is to win this victory: " The

Word of God."
Perhaps it was from this vision John

first learned the secret of this name. "The Word of

God "-significant of clearest light with a background

of profoundest mystery. So much we can understand,

for the Word is the expression and form of truth; but

so much we cannot understand, for" no man hath

seen God." Christ only knows the full significance of

this name. It is too extensive and intensive for us to

fathom it. This much we know-God is Light without

darkness ; Love without hate. He goes forth to

war with beast and liar-with brutality and error. In

this vision, we 'see the beginning of the conflict in the

beginning of the Gospel ministry to the heathen

world; and symbolically we see the end. The Word

goes forth to war with evil; to slay error, to explode

every fallacy that crushes men; to break up every

tyranny which is inimical to the full development of

what is best in human nature. If the progress of the

truth and the avengement of fallacy and wrong involve

bloodshed and its attendant horrors, let us

mourn for the perversity of blind and sinful men; but

let us feel assured that God moves on his triumphal

march through history, and that every century sees

some curse abated and some young trees of liberty

and righteousness planted for the healing of the





".No one can enter into the house of the 8trong and spoil

his goods, except he fir8t bind the strong; and then

he will spoil his Muse."

T\HE scene before us does not come unexpectedly

- upon the reader. Indeed, it may well be asked:

Should not the first strategical movement in this

war have been the capture of Satan and his ejection

from the earth? It will be found that the actual order

is the divine method. The struggle between good and

evil is depicted in figures of physical warfare ; but we

clearly see that we are looking on a moral contest in

which God respects his creatures' wills and overcomes

them by the persuasive force of truth and righteousness.

The Devil can be ejected from the earth only

when men learn to love the truth, and are willing to

be subject to its power. Therefore, the more visible

enemies of righteousness are first overcome. The

Church has an important share in the heavenly


The binding of Satan is intended to express the

restriction which the advent of Christ to power, and

the spread of Christian truth put upon the manifesta206

Satan BOU1ld. [xx,

tion of demoniacal power, so prevalent in the first

century. It is not easy for us to put ourselves in the

places of those early generations. We cannot feel how

real Satanic action was to them; nor even well imagine

what diabolical shapes it took. We know, however,

that it was" the hour and power of darkness" ;

and from this book itself that the Devil had come

down to earth in great wrath (xii. 12) in order to

crush the infant Church.

Let us go back a moment. What did we read on

that occasion? That the Devil knew that he had"but

a short time"
in which to meet the crisis of the war

between heaven and hell. Here then we have a test

of the principle of interpretation we have followed.

Every system which makes hundreds or thousands of

years to pass between the ascent of Christ and the

binding of Satan must be false; and false in the face

of evidence that amounts to demonstration. The

binding of Satan at the close of his short struggle for

ascendancy, we have the right to say is, the restraint

put upon demoniacal influence by the growing ascendancy

of the Christian Church-and largely, perhaps,

that Church in the invisible world. Heathenism itself

about this time bears witness to the growing silence

or the growing falsity of its oracles. The Church was

in gleeful spirits over its hold on demoniacal manifestations.

"Men dwelt with exultation on the power

which their prayers and the utterance of the divine

name, and the laying on of hands, had to drive the

demon howling and blaspheming from his usurped

abode."-(Demoniacs, Smith's Dic.ofAntiq.). Tertullian

asserts that the Christians had become essential to the

safety of Roman citizens: " We could ruin you only

1-3.] Tlte Saints in Power. 207

by dividing from you. If we retired, who could

deliver you from those insulting spirits, those disguised

enemies that torture and discompose your bodies"(

xlix.) This common power of the Christians

over demons was the current crucial test as to whether

Christ or Satan was supreme; it was the sign that the

age of demoniac heathenism was on its dying bed;

that a new age of divine power was begun-the

Kingdom of God and his Christ.

" They that are Christ's at his coming."

We cannot be surprised at what now follows, viz.,

that John should see thrones, and the saints who have

passed through death reigning in their resurrection

life. According to what we have found in previous

visions, we ought to come upon a scene like this-the

symbol of the Christian age begun on earth and the

heavenly reward of the faithful. It may be a surprise

to some to be told of a resurrection of the saints

occurring in apostolic or sub-apostolic times. Nevertheless,

such is the time appointed for the resurrection

by the uniform teaching of the Scriptures. Indeed

there is nothing new in this revelation given to John.

Paul before taught us that" the saints shall judge the

world." Every Gospel and Epistle tells us that Christ

is about to take his power and reign, to judge the living

and the dead, to raise his saints to kingly power.

John just sees these promises accomplished. This

unanimity of teaching ought to compel our faith and

to confute those interpretations which throw all this

into the indefinite future.


are exegetes who resolve the whole transaction into a

208 Who are raised from the Dead? [xx,

figure of speech-a resurrection of the martyr-spirit in

the Church on earth; others spiritualize it into the

Christian or regenerate life. Poor thin refinements utterly

unworthy of the grand occasion! Here is summed

up the grand result of the struggle of Christ

with Antichrist and Satan-the outcome of redemption,

and it can mean no less than actual immortality

and glory to the saints of God.

Others find here the actual resurrection, some of

three classes, some of two, and some of only one. Most

clearly, there are neither THREE nor ONE, but TWO.

There is no word here of " caught up and transfigured

earthly saints." John sees on thrones" souls"-that is,

persons separated from the body of flesh; and these

persons of two classes, differing however only in the

degree of bitterness which their fidelity to Christ occasioned.

The one became martyrs for their faith; the

other escaped through the great tribulation,-all of

them" faithful unto death." These two classes necessarily

embrace all the Christian dead of apostolic

times; therefore, we have here all who up to this point

of time" had died in the Lord." They at this moment

enter on their rest; become caught up into glory to

be for ever with the Lord.

WHERE DO THEY LIVE? Not upon the earth.

There is not a line in the vision to lead to such a

notion. They are with Christ; and seen by John

in heaven, along with heavenly armies, warring

with the sword of the word, against demoniacal

powers, whilst the destiny of the conquered is the lake

of fire and brimstone. Matthew Arnold complains

that the "Apocalypse replunged religion into the

materialism" out of which Jesus had laboured to de4-

6.] Christ's Coming Visible and Personal. 209

liver it. No book ought to have a more spiritualising

influence upon the Christian faith. Here is John carefully

explaining to the primitive Church that if any

of them cherished carnal hopes from the second

coming of their Lord they would be woefully disappointed;

and yet this carnal idea reigns in the

Church to-day, creating a very carnival of confusion

-a new Babel-and issuing in serious mistakes in

Christian doctrine, not to speak of it breeding confederations

whose whole atmosphere is polluting to

the inward life. Christ's return is VISIBLE and PERSONAL;


come for you," He says, "that where I am, there you

may be also." This clearly is the pledge of a visible

and personal return. So is the angelic saying on the

mount of ascension: "This Jesus shall so come in like

manner as ye beheld Him going into heaven." But

mark that it is the Apostles who are to behold Him in

this manner. He is to return to them. They however

have been distinctly told that possibly all of them,

with perhaps the single exception of J ohn, will be dead

before the time of his coming; and they must have

understood that they were to see Him come for them

wherever they were when dead. How this promise

can fairly be transformed into a corporeal descent into

the earth in the 20th century is a mystery to the

present writer. The coming of Christ to this outer

world is but phenomenal and dispensational, in the

signs of a providential judgement and a quickened

Church. These are the tokens of his reign; that is,

of his heavenly power, his true divinity, his functions

as Saviour and King of men. The risen saints live

with Christ in the glory of his Father.

210 The Reign of the Saints. [xx,

WHERE DO THEY REIGN? Christ reigns on and

from his throne in heaven. He ascended up to the

seat of power; to the centre of the sentient and

spiritual universe; and from thence his power proceeds.

It seems to be a jejune and trivial conception that

Christ must descend and reign like an Eastern prince

on earth. It is falling back upon carnal notions; upon

the rudiments of this world, plainly renounced by

Christ when he refused to be a King, and taught the

Jewish people that by no outward ordinances or

dragooning, or sensuous splendour issuing from a local

source, was the Kingdom of God to come. Christ

reigns in and by his Church. When Satan was cast

down the kingdoms of this world became God's and

Christ's; or in the language of St. Paul (1 Cor. xv. 24)

the Son delivered up the kingdom to God the Father.

The authority usurped by Satan was wrenched from

his wicked hands and delivered back to God, and over

this restored kingdom God and his Christ shall reign

for evermore,-Christ the active personal force which

guides its course, subject always to the infinite and

eternal Father whom no eye but Christ's can see.

This restoration of the kingdom involved the destruction

of the last enemy, viz., death-in the re-·

surrection of the saints to reign with Christ. The

government of Christ is not dissociated from the elevation

and sovereignty of humanity. Christ triumphs

over Satan only as men triumph over evil by their

faith. His sovereignty implies the sovereignty of man,

the regeneration of our hearts, the rule of God in the

conscience and life. The sovereignty of the saints, in

its ultimate form, may have its offices of rule over the

cities and kingdoms of a human spirit-world infinitely

4-6.] Tile Nature of tlte Resurrection. 211

vaster than this Monacoan principality of a world;

but certainly we must not despise the posthumous

influence of the saints on earth. There is a sovereignty

exercised by many of the departed saints

which certain living saints would give kingdoms to

possess. Do not the Apostles reign with Christ? Is

it not said sometimes that the authority of Paul within

the Church has deposed Christ from his throne? Do

not our prophets say :-" Paul is now coming to an

end of his reign" (Renan), because the sharpness is

wearing off our Protestant theology, and modern

thought is going back more than formerly upon the

person and words of Christ? All this, with the respect

so justly due to the martyrs and fathers of the early

Church, is no mean fulfilment of the saying-" they

live and reign with Christ."


TRANSPIRE? Let us be done with the mischief which

arises from the prevalent notion that resurrection is

some form of re-incarnation associated with the graveyard

and the cast-off flesh. Weare on a false track

when the heart of "resurrection" is the idea-" reembodiment."

Resurrection is not" rising again" as

if of something formerly recumbent. It is essentially

"upstanding (,)," and properly implies place,

position, power, in the Kingdom of Heaven. In its

ideal sense, it is the inheritance of the saints alone.

They only are" worthy to obtain the resurrection of

the dead, and arc equal to the angels, and are sons of

God, being sons of the resurrection" (Luke xx. 35-6).

In a looser and inferior sense, all men are to have an

"upstanding" in the unseen world; but the "standing"

of the wicked is on so Iowa plane as to be hardly

212 The Thousand Years. [xx,

worthy of the name. The question-" With what

bodies do they come?" is entirely aside from the fact

of resurrection; and whatever answer may be given

must not confound resurrection with re-incarnation,

materiality, and sense and time. The resurrection of

these saints indicates no particular change of form,

and certainly no transaction which brings them nearer

to the earth. John had seen some of them beneath

the altar now he sees them in a higher sphere,

and 5ird.,s upon thrones. That is the essential fact

in resurrection. What has happened in the interval?

The Lord has descended with the shout of a victor,

with the keys of Hades, for his waiting saints and has

led them into the Kingdom of Heaven. They were

caught up into heaven-underwent" the rapture of the

saints" in those seraphic bodies with which the indwelling

Spirit of God had clothed the mystic shrine of



ever and ever." The thousand years is the usual

period which Rabbinical theology assigned to an age

or dispensation, and does not limit the reign of the

saints; but only marks the period of a fresh Satanic

outbreak (unsuccessful) against Christ's kingdom.

This thousand years period has proved a stumbling

block to many students of New Testament prophecy.

Some feel strongly disposed to place but little weight

upon this prophetic annunciation because it is the only

place in Scripture where a 1000 years are spoken of

as an apparent limit to the Messianic reign. Others

cannot see that the teaching of this chapter is in harmony

with the rest of Scripture (for example, Beet,

4-6.] Tlte Millennium 1VO Utopia. 213

Symposium, 26-35), especially in the interval which it

is supposed to place between the resurrection of the

good and bad. All this apparent confusion only shows

that many of our exegetes have not yet found the key

which unlocks this important doctrine and harmonises

Scripture teaching. As to this thousand years limitation,

John neither tells us how he obtained this information

nor betrays its motive. It seems, however, to

be inserted here simply as a note of warning to the

Church. If the vision of an endless unbroken reign

of holiness alone had been presented, false hopes

would have been raised, only to be dashed in bitterness

to the ground. Indeed, otherwise sensible men,

in spite of the warning here so plainly given, have entertained

most foolish and unwarranted dreams about

this period of the Church's history, and failing to find

their imaginings realised, assert that this millennial

period is still to come. We believe the millennial term

is introduced, not to encourage such utopian dreams,

but to check them. A long period of growing power

and extended victory is said to lie before the infant

Church. This 1000 years will not be a battle for existence-

that is fought at the beginning of the Christian

age and won-but it will be a period of incessant

and successful work for the extension of Christ's kingdom.

However long these stretches of prosperity, evil

will still exist upon the earth, and the peace will at

times be broken. The beast and the false prophet,

enemies of the infant Church, will be "gone to perdition

;" Satan will be bound and cast into the abyss;

but the evil seed sown broadcast in the world during

the age of Satanic ascendancy still grows and flou214

Gog and Magog. [xx.

rishes outside the Church, stretching over many a distant

continent and shore. Even after a 1000 years,

there is a multitudinous heathenism which the

Church's agencies have not reached, and its existence

wiII be a standing menace to the cause of Christ.

Whilst heathen men are on the earth, there is a danger

of their characters becoming so Satanic that once

more they are in mental touch with hell, and the abyss

again is opened, so that Satanic thought and demoniac

powers swarm into human life and fill it with such

devilish potency that the very Church of Christ is

menaced, and old times when heathen influences

surged like waves around its walls come back again.

With such a state of things there might even be a revival

of the pagan spirit in the Church itself. John warns the

Church against such possibilities of invasion. That

any such danger could exist against a Church of

resurrected Saints, with a Divine Christ visibly reigning

in the midst of them, after a thousand years' triumphant

possession of the earth, is an imagination almost too

preposterous to enter the human mind. Only a reverent

and docile belief that such is taught in Scripture

can keep an idea so essentially insane alive. John's

thought is infinitely far from such an imagination,

and it ought for ever to be dismissed. The Seer describes

the future of the infant Christian Church on

earth, whose history is concurrent with the reign of

the saints in heaven. It will have its recurring outbreaks

of Satanic evil; it must never lull itself into a

false security because half a world is Christianised.

So long as Gog and Magog, heathen peoples, are

allowed to exist on earth, there will be Satanic invasions

of the Church. It is impossible that the gates

9.] The Camp of the Saints. 215

of hell can prevail against it. The fire of the Word

of the Lord-the brimstone breath of his righteousness-

issuing from the altar, will repel the foul invaders

that would desolate her hearth; and in some

more distant day the devil's work will be utterly undone

and consumed in eternal fire.


WARFARE? It is around" the camp of the saints and

the beloved city." We must remember that John is

not a political historian, but a seer depicting the strugglings

of the kingdom of God on earth, through certain

"signs" presented to his inner eye. Do not let the

notion of a stone and lime Jerusalem lead you into a

snare. John has shown us that historic Judaism is for

ever gone; its earthly site is even clean wiped out. He

writes with another Jerusalem in his eye-one dearer

than the old; the true home of God's saints; the real

metropolis of his kingdom upon earth. So soon as the

field is clear he will tell us of this Jerusalem; but,

meanwhile, principles must be postponed to persons,

if anything more interesting, and the work of the old

world be completely done before we are fully introduced

into the new.

That this millennial forecast of John's is not beyond

the truth, all history bears witness. The rapid spread

of Christian truth over the Roman world, was succeeded

by a dangerous relapse into heathen thought. The

dark ages, as we call them, was an invasion of the

Church by demoniac thought-a revival of sacerdotalism

with its pretentious claim to rule the heavens, and

its magical appeals to the superstitious fears of men.

The camp of the saints was compassed, the beloved

216 Satan Loosed. [xx,

city beleaguered by Satanic foes; and only the fresh

fire of God's word-breathed from the nostrils of such

heaven-born souls as Luther-

Miichtiger Eichbaum !

Deutsohen Stammes! Gottes Kraft!

-rolled back the tide of hel1 and saved the world.

Then it is possible that we are living in that

mille'nnial age about which men dream such utopian

dreams! It is: we are. That conclusion may be a

surprise to many of our readers. But let us not forget

that once in the Church's history it was the common

belief that John's 1000 years were gone. Dorner bears

witness that the Church up to Constantine understood

by" Anti-christ" chiefly the heathen state and to some

extent unbelieving Judaism-(System, etc., iv. 390).

Victorinus, a bishop martyred in 303, reckoned the

1000 years from the birth of Christ. Augustine wrote

his magnum opus, "the City of God," with a sort of

dim perception of the identity of the Christian Church

with the New Jerusalem. Indeed, we know that the

1000 years were held to be running by the generations

previous to that date, and so intense was their faith

that the universal Church was in a ferment of excitement

about and shortly after A. D. 1000, in expectation

of the outbreak of Satanic influence. Wickliff, the

reformer, belived that Satan had been unbound at the

end of the 1000 years, and was intensely active in his

day. That this period in Church history is past, or

now runs its course, has been the belief of a roll of

eminent men too long to be chronicled on our pageof

Augustine, Luther, Bossuet, Cocceius, Grotius,

Hammond, Hengstenberg, Keil, Moses Stuart, Phil7-

10.] TIle Jvlillennial Age. 217

lippi, Maurice, etc., etc. Let it be kept in mind that

John is not responsible for the extravagancies so

commonly associated with the millennial age. There

is not a syllable here to justify them. And yet the

millennium Christ has actually given us is better than

the sensuous dreams with which men stupify themselves.

Christianity has changed the world; made all

things new. Weare so accustomed to magnify the

evil in the world that we forget to give God thanks for

the evils which his Gospel has extirpated. Go back

upon that old pagan world into which the Gospel

came-take up such a book as Brace's Gesta Christi,

the achievements of Christ, and read there how Christianity

has changed the life and character of the whole

civilised pagan world. One may well exclaim in the

eloquent language of Farrar,-" What need to tell you

again how it purified a society which was rotten

through and through with lust and hate, how it rescued

the gladiator, how it emancipated the slave, how it

elevated womanhood, how it flung over childhood the

;egis of its protection, how it converted the wild, fierce

tribes from the icy steppes and broad rivers of the

North, how it built from the shattered fragments of

the Roman Empire a new created world, how it saved

learning, how it baptized and re-created art, how it

inspired music, how it placed the poor and sick under

the angel wings of mercy, and entrusted to the two

great archangels of reason and conscience the guidance

of the young!"


This reign of the saints with Christ is the first

resurrection; are there more to follow, and in what

sense? Another subject of bewildering perplexity

218 Tlte First Resurrection. [xx.

alike to pre- and post-rnillenarians, but which resolves

itself into sunlight when we think in the track of John.

We have not space to refute the many surmises which

are afloat; but hope to make John's meaning plain in

a few sentences.

Paul is our great authority on the resurrection of

the dead. When does it take place? "They that

are Christ's at his coming." This agrees with John,

who has just shown us the Son of Man in the clouds

of heaven, and now shows us the first resurrection in

these reigning saints. It is a simultaneous" upstanding

" of all the dead in Christ; and is signalised as

thefirst resurrection, not by any means, as is commonly

taught, to empllasise tile idea that there is one or more

similar resurrections still to follow at distant intervals;

but to emphasise the apostolic doctrine that this is

absolutely the first resurrection that has been achieuedthat

even the Old Testament saints Ilad not attained

their final destiny until that Chnst wlzom the Jews

despised and cursed, Ilad by his merits prepared a

place for them in heauen, and led tltem into its final

This resurrection is that which is immediately

anticipated in all the books of the New Testament.

John here assures us that it has taken place.

Every Christian soul at that moment in the intermediate

state was called up into the Father's housesome

one of the many mansions-for service in the

kingdom of heaven.

This however, while it is the first, and perhaps the

last of its kind, does not exclude resurrection in another

manner. The Church exists on earth; men are born

and die, long after the earliest saints have ascended

up to heaven. This too, is clearly enough indicated

5-G·l A re there other Resurrections? 219

in the Scripture. Paul's interest naturally does not

reach far beyond the first resurrection of the Parousia

time; but he ventures a step or two. "We shall not

all sleep at the last trump," that is, at the

coming of Christ's kingdom. Of course, it follows that

many of the Corinthians can not be in the first

resurrection, which is only of the dead or those fallen

asleep. Would not this be a grievous loss to these

Corinthians? Would it not consign them to the Hades

state, a time of waiting in imperfect conditions of

vitality and glory, until perhaps some other and distant

coming of their Lord for their deliverance? No,

by no means. They, in the putting off of their corruption

would not descend to Hades-they would be

caught up to meet the Lord; they would not be sentenced

to a long delay and eager waiting for their

Lord, they would be cllanged as it were in a moment

from the Church on earth to the glorified Church

above. They will have no reason to regret that they

are not dead before the coming of their Lord to take

his saints to heaven, because Christ has henceforth

abolished Hades for his people, and given them imme<

Hate victory over death's most sharp and bitter sting.

Such is Paul's answer; given, alas, if we may judge

by experience, too briefly and obscurely to be easily

seized; but plain enough when the key is found.

The first resurrection is that which takes place of all

sleeping Christians simultaneously at the Parousia;

afterwards resurrections are not general but particular

-" each man in his own order." The place is ready

for the Christian, if the Christian is ready for the

place; hence death is immediate translation. The

impression seems to be widely spread that Paul held

220 "Caugltt up together witlt thein," [xx

that at the moment of the last trump those Christians

living on the earth would be caught up into the mass

of the resurrected dead so as to be partakers in one

common act of ascension. Perhaps this idea is borrowed

from 1 Thes. iv. 15-17. It is, however, distinctly stated

there that what befalls the living Christian is an after

not a simultaneous experience (v. 17) ; and though the

words" together with them," look to be equivalent to

II simultaneously" they are not actually so. "AjJ-a

(together) may express the idea of place as well as of

time, and in the New Testament most frequently carries

the idea of identity of quality, and might well be

translated" likewise." The word is radically identical

with the Sanscrit sauui, Latin simul, Gothic santa,

English, same. In this light, it is seen that Paul instructs

the Thessalonians only to this effect, that they,

though not dead at the second coming, will afterwards

be caught up in similar manner to the dead, to meet

them and be for ever in their blessed society. Paul's

teaching is thus in strictest harmony with the intimation

of John: "Blessed are the dead which die in the

Lord henceforth," because they immediately enter on

their rest and the reward of their works. After the

simultaneous resurrection which John now witnesses,

each Christian dying immediately passes into the

society of his Lord. Hence, the doctrine of the

Apostles is far more reasonable and more comforting

than the usual interpretations make it. These point

us to a distant day as the complete realization of our

hopes. "Like the martyrs in Rev. v. 10, we are to be

in eternity waiting eagerly for complete triumph."

(Beet, Symposium,1.53). But the entire New Testament

teaching is, that as soon as the Christian age is

5-6.] " The Rest of the Dead." 221

introduced, the Christian heavens are opened, and the

Christlike worker meets with his reward. Immediate

transition from one life to another, from the Church

below to the Church above-such as will appear to

consciousness as an instantaneous change-is the wellwarranted

expectation of the ripened saint. Thus

does Christ equalise, as near as possible, the portion

of his saints.


" They lived not until the thousand years should be

John thus simply severs them from the

peculiar rewards of faithful believers in Christ Jesus.

In the spirit-world at that moment were all the past

generations of the earth. We need not be surprised

that multitudes of them could have no share in the

joys and triumphs of the Christian saints. Many of

them had lived and died in sin; and been" spirits in

prison" before the Saviour's advent. How could they

who were ignorant or unbelieving reign with Cllristhow

even could they li71e with Him? From the

rewards of the Christian age they are excluded. They

are" not worthy of that alwv (age), nor of' upstanding'

from among the dead" (Luke xx. 35); and hence,

they" go away into a10vLav separation." John's language

does not imply that at the end of the 1000 years

they are exalted to the society of the faithful in Christ

Jesus. Their future is somewhat strangely left

indefinite. His eye sweeps along the Christian age,

but not up to the very last does he see them enter into

the communion of the saints. It is with them as with

the foolish virgins. The sentence runs solemnly (as

some might think, with no positive encouragement to

222 The General Judgement. [xx,

expect a reversal of their doom; and as others might

say, not to the exclusion of some distant hope) :-" Ye

cannot enter now." This, however, is not John's last

word about" the rest of the dead." Here they are only

incidentally bounded off from the saints to give shadow

to the picture. By and bye, he will tell us more, and

when that moment comes perhaps this little ray of

hope may be totally quenched.


What then is the state, during these 1000 years, of

those vast companies of the dead who have not entered

into heaven with Christ? This is a question raised by

the usual interpretation of this passage-to which it

gives no answer. We know nothing of these myriads

of dead for a thousand years-a curious fact; and still

more strange if we are to spread out this period into

365,000 years, after the usual fashion of the year-day

theory. The Seer is not responsible for the awkwardness

of this eschatology. The puzzle arises from a

fatal misconception of John's meaning. This general

judgement is supposed to take place at tlu end of the

1000 years-to be preceded by a destruction of earth

and heaven-s-and to embrace Christians and 110nChristians,

and the dead who have been in Hades or

Gehenna during the 1000 years. A finer piece of

confusion is inconceivable. It utterly dislocates John's

thoughts; and introduces an eschatology which is

incoherent, and without a particle of support in Scripture.

Such, however, is the finding of such eminent

commentators as Bleek, Weiss, Gebhardt, Dorner,

Godet, Edwards, and, we suppose, all the ordinary pre11-

15.] The Coming and tlte Judgement. 223

millennial adventists. Dorner frankly calls attention

to the conflict which this interpretation raises with the

other Scriptures, inasmuch as they join the judgement

and the consummation of the world to Christ's second

advent, while Revelation interposes a reign of Christ

for a 1000 years before the end arrives (System, iv, 389).

The contradiction is seen by many, but has to be left


It has to be carefully noted that we must not read

the successive paragraphs of this book as if given in

strict chronological succession. Such an order is

simply impossible in a series of visions covering a subject

so many-sided and profound. Will our readers

be kind enough to extend to us their patience and

attention, while we try to show them now that the reward

of the saints just witnessed and the judgement

scene before us are essentially one transaction. John's

glance forward a 1000 years is no part of his original

purpose, but only an interjected note of neeciful warning

which breaks the continuity of his leading course

of thought. Again we say, what John does not see,

but is only told and tells again to us, lies out of the

direct line of his teaching, and is to be understood as

parenthetical. We must, therefore, as the method of

the book demands, take the vision of v. 11, and link it

on to the vision of v. 4, because the right concatenation

of John's thought lies along the line of what is

made visible to the seer, and not along the explanatory

by-paths into which he may digress. The saints upon

their thrones are therefore closely linked to the judgement

scene which follows.

That this is so, is plain from the corresponding moment

in the first or night-half of the book (xi. 18),

224 Good and Bad judged together. [xx,

(p. 102-3) when, at the completion of judgement on the

living Judaic world, the time of the dead to be judged

and the Lord's servants to be rewarded is corne. Beth

events proceed together and are inseparably one. So,

too, in the more constructive or day-side of the book,

we must clasp in one the judgement of the living

world in ch. xviii. with the reward of Christ's faithful

ones and the condemnation of the wicked dead. In

doing so, we fall into harmony with all the other

Scripture teachings on the judgement. Everywhere

the judgement is two-fold-of the living and the dead;

and everywhere it is at once of the evil and of the

good. If, for instance, we take the classical passage

in John's Gospel, its meaning seems so clear as to be

unmistakeable. " The hour cometh, and now is, when

the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God ; and

they that hear shall live "-cannot be explained away,

as do Augustine and a multitude of successors, into

conversion and its experimental life. The whole passage

is of the nature of a climax, and already Christ

has claimed the power to introduce men to the heavenly

life. Nor could Christ feci any need to say:

" the hour cometh," if he only claimed the power to turn

men from sin. He claims here nothing less than to

be the Lord of the dead. He will especially possess

that Lordship after his own resurrection ; but even

before that time, in special instances, the dead do hear

and obey-these individual cases being signs of a universal

sovereignty about to come. The altogether

future command of the dead which Christ claims in

vv.28-9 is his exercise of Lordship, in an hour then comparatively

ncar, over the final destinies of all tile dead.

"The hour cometh when all in the tombs shall come

11-15.] Harmony of Gospel and Apocalypse. 225

forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection

of life,and they that have done ill unto the resurrection

of judgement."

There is by no means that difference which Westcott

finds,-in the Apocalypse, "an open judgement of

men," and in the Gospel, "a judgement which is

spiritual and self-executing." This interpretation is a

desperate effort to harmonise what otherwise seems

confusion; but the judgements are the same in all

respects. Christ is equally active in them both, and the

harmony is complete. In both Gospel and Apocalypse,

as indeed in all the Scriptures, there is to be an

immediate judgement of the living and the deadboth

saints and sinners. Nowhere in Christ's teaching

is there a separation as to the time of judgement

between saint and sinner, nor is such a separation in

the book of Revelation.

We have already seen, in the preceding chapter,

the judgement of the living Heathen world, as before

we had seen the Jewish, and it is now meet that we

should see the Lord proceed with equal step to the

judgement of the dead. The first part of that

judgement scene is-the saints of Christ upon their

thrones. But why is the saints' reward thus severed

from the general judgement of the dead? It is only

severed in appearance; "the rest of the dead" are in

this very scene appointed their award-negatively, that

is by exclusion from the honours of the saints. The

saints are, however, of deliberate purpose made to

stand out from the judgement of the wicked. John

here follows a principle with which we are perfectly

familiar. Before the unfolding of every scene of

judgement or trial in this book, whatever is to be


226 Exemption from Judgement. [xx,

exempted from its severities is exhibited as divinely

saved before the judgement comes. Witness the

sealing of the servants of God before the trumpetjudgements;

the measuring of the core of the temple

before its outward destruction; the Witnesses before

their death declared to be indestructible and immediately

raised from the dead; the woman protected from the

dragon, the 144,000 on Mount Zion from the ravages

of the beast and the reaping of the land, the Church

upon the glassy sea amid the seven vial plagues; the

saints called out of Babylon before her destruction,

the saints called to the marriage supper of the

Lamb before his armies go forth to make war on the

earth; and finally here, the departed saints upon their

thrones before the opening of the judgement books.

Our readers will see that we are introducing no new

principle of interpretation, but only observing the

uniform habit of the book. Good news before bad ;

fears allayed before excited. " God is ready to judge

the dead" but no fear for his saints.. As Christ taught

John, believers shall not enter into judgement. The

saints come forth to a resurrection of life, and not like

the wicked to a resurrection of judgement. They need

no trial, no opening of the books of their inner life, for

their record is too manifest, their character too well

attested by their fidelity to the Lamb to need particular

questioning. Yes, they come to a time of judgement;

but are not judged so much as made the standard

which others shall be adjudged their doom. " The rest

of the dead" are not taken up to be for ever with the

Lord. Their judgement proceeds to its issues, as we


John sees "a great white throne." Such was the

11-15.] Earth and Heaven fled away. 227

splendour of the vision, its vastness and solemnity,

that nothing else was seen by John. One can only

smile when expositors gravely find here a destruction

of heaven and earth. John merely tells us, in a touch

of unparalleled sublimity, that from his sight the old

familiar earth has disappeared; and even the accustomed

heaven is gone. The Seer visually is he knows

not where. His topography is at fault. He does not

seem to be in heaven; nor yet in hell; nor certainly

is he standing on the earth, for God is not visible in

space and time. All he is sure of is that he stands

before the splendid majesty of God, and that all the

dead are there. We are left in doubt about the saints;

but we take for granted that the saints are here, not

among the crowd, but on their thrones. All Hades is

gathered in its mighty mass. Whether men were

buried in graves, burned on the funeral pyre, or tossed

in the restless sea, all are here. No form of bodily

death can keep souls from the judgement bar of God.

They are here in all their nationalities, in all their

faiths, in all their varieties of character,-the men and

the women, the kings and the beggars of that old preChristian

age. They are to be assorted and put in

order in the eternal world, so as to realise what their

life on earth has been, and what is the essential

outcome of the principles they have obeyed. There

is no partiality in the judgement; no injustice, no

difference of principle in fixing their rewards. "Every

man according to his works."
The issues of this life, we

see, are different degrees of happiness; different

destin ies, ranging between the two extremes of living

and reigning with Christ in age-long blessedness and

going away into age-long fire-the very fire which

228 Death and Hades destroyed. [xx.

had scorched so many of them on earth to no apparent

good result-with what fruits in the grand finality of

God no man, but God only knows.

And Death and Hades were cast into the lake offire.

"The last enemy is destroyed." Death and Hades are

overcome for the saints of God. The kingdom of

Christ knows them no more. Christ has abolished

Death; the Christian never dies. Hades cannot hold

the child of God; may be is abolished for dread

Gehenna to the sinner. Blessed are the dead in Christ

from henceforth. Heaven is open to believers. We

that live now immediately reap the fruits of Christ's

mediation. Weare already risen with Christ; and

when death comes, we shall be changed directly from

the Church below into the Church above-caught up

to meet the Lord with all his saints.



" The name of the cit!! from that day shall be,

The Lord is there."

T\H IS entire drama of the Revelation is the official

- close of the Judaic age or dispensation, and the

official instalment of the Messianic or Gospel age.

This transition point is much referred to by our Lord

and his Apostles as "the end of the age," and its

work is described as a judgement in the visible and

invisible which clears the field for the' advent of a

dispensation of more light and power. Always that

is described as" near," and it was near in the most

honest and human sense that words can bear. We

have seen how cordially Revelation is in harmony

with Gospels and Epistles on the subject of "last

things." We have learned here how the Lord comes

in his kingdom, warring with all the obstacles to its

triumph, judging the earth and consuming its evil

with unquenchable fire; ana now, along with this the

spirit-world, or Hades, is judged of its dead-the

saints raised up into their heavenly state, and the

other 'dead awarded to a condition suitable to their


, There are now only TWO things lacking. (1.) We

have seen the old dispensation in its typical formJerusalem,

with its temple and altar; but we have

had only the meagrest description of the new dis----------------------

230 Tlte New Jerusalem. [XXI.

pensation. It has not yet taken shape beyond the

intimation that it is the age of the Gospel for all

nations, and tongues, and peoples. The book cannot

be complete until it has set some definite form before

its reader's mind, revealing what shall take the place

of the old that has vanished away. Our eyes must see

Jerusalem's substitute. (2.) When John ventured for

a moment forward into the history of the new dispensation,

he spoke of "a camp of the saints, the

beloved city," as beleaguered by the demoniac hosts

stirred from the abyss. Then we knew nothing of

this beloved city; and in the keenness of our interest

eager questionings arose-What is it, where is it, to

what does the Seer refer? Patience-the old world

must be judged and put away before the new world

cim be seen; and as soon as John's pen is free he will

make it plain.

The remainder of the book exactly answers to our

wants. John sees a new heaven and new earth, in

which the sea does not count, because he sees by" a

light that never was on sea or shore." Prosaic commentators

tell us that after the thousand years there

is a great conflagration, by which the structure of the

globe is changed, and something organically different

created in its place. The supposition is not plausible;

it is totally incredible, when we see the grounds

on which it rests. Peter's prophecy (2 Ep. iii. 10)

is made largely responsible for this doctrine. But

why is the Apostle not interpreted by the meaning of

such language in the prophetic books? Why is he

not believed when he says that his generation is

looking for these things, and earnestly desiring them;

and that this judgement is about to begin? Why is

1.] A Re-constituted World. 231

his analogy of the destruction of the flood not kept,

and the revolution limited to the people and the

civilization of the time? If Peter was mistaken as to

tlte date of this destruction, was he not still more

probably mistaken as to its nature? And why, again,

is it not observed that before the thousand years

begin, and throughout the larger portion of this book,

the earth is swept by fire, scorching and burning men,

the heavenly bodies shaken, and the fundamental

elements of that old civilization consumed? It says

little for the visual organs of expositors that, when 'they

have been witnessing this burning earth, they come to

the closing scene so oblivious of what has taken place

that they are not aware that this burning has as yet


Of course, John expects that we know that Peter's

burning is overpast, We are now temporarily in the

beginning of the Christian age or dispensation. The

old elementary world has perished in a baptism

of fire. "All old things are passed away; behold,

God has made all things new," although it is only as

yet in germ, according to God's method of creation.

Oh, if only we lived for a decade under those old heathen

heavens of Persia, Greece, or Rome, peopled with their

wicked, quarrelsome, licentious deities, until we felt

the curse of them aright; and were then brought from

under their gloomy terrors into the bright and happy

sky of Christian faith, we would know whether or not

a new heaven has been created.' Does the reader who

wants something more spectacular and stunning for

his new earth know what sort of earth was that old

Roman world in which the Apostles shed their blood?

Conceive of an empire in which there were 60,000,000

232 A Re-constituted World. [XXI.

slaves !-where infanticide was practised even by

wealthy families-where empresses were strumpetswives

were husbands' chattels to be lent to other men

-where human sacrifices were offered to the godswhere

emperors were deified - where suicide was

counted virtuous-where fornication and adultery were

religious rites-where sexual acts were openly performed

upon the stage-where men were kept to fight

with swords, and prisoners thrown to lions for public

sport-where the poor man had no rights nor charities

-where almost all the rich were dissolute and princes

almost all oppressive-we say, Look upon that world,

and then-

" How soon a smile of God can change the world!"

look at the world which Christianity has created, and,

with all its shortcomings acknowledged, tell us if,

thank God, we are not living in a new earth to-day.

This new world is initiated by a city which John sees

come down out of heaven from God.
This city is depicted

with a brilliancy of setting which we dare not

touch. It is all glorious without and within. We,

6'aze and admire, but shall not stain it with the dull

and muddy pigments in which alone we could possibly

limn its features. If tempted to delineate the subject,

it could only be in the hope that our description

would somewhat veil its dazzling glory and let weak

eyes look it fuller in the face. Two mistaken interpretations

of this city are afloat. One makes it an

actual city of the newly-created and sublimated earth.

We have already disposed of this imagination. The

other view is, that it is the home of the glorified in

2-17.] What is the New ferusaiem ? 233

heaven. Weare surprised that such an interpretation

should find acceptance. Andrew Fuller says, with his

usual sanctified good sense,-" It seems singular that

the heavenly state should be introduced as a subject

of prophecy... The whole of what is said, instead of

describing the heaven of heavens, represents the glory

of that state as coming down upon the earth!" And

yet this vision does not, as he supposes, attribute a

glorious condition to the earth. This glory is not universally

diffused; but limited to the area of the city,

found only within its walls. Surely, there need be no

misapprehension. It is the city of Ezekiel; the ideal

Jerusalem in which God dwells with men; and that

can be only the Christian Church. Indeed, John tells

us it is only such a city as is equivalent co God's

coming down to dwell with men, to be their God, and

to make his peace and righteousness possess the

hearts of men on earth. Such a city is not visible and

tangible as other cities are. It is planted on that

mountain of the Lord which no earthquake can tear

up. It is seated high above the dank and fetid vapours

of this earth; in those superior realms where float the

heavenly atmospheres of humility and love in which

the angels breathe. I ts dimensions declare it to be

superhuman-1200 miles square and 1200 miles in

height, a perfect cube like the holy place: that part

of the ancient temple measured, because in the end of

John's book as in Ezekiel's it was to be restored as the

New Jerusalem. Well has the author of Ecce Homo

said something like this: No man built this city, no

architect designed it, no eye ever saw its walls

rising tier on tier, no ear ever heard the click of

trowel or hammer on its stones, for it is a city built

234 The Old and New ferusaiems. [XXI.

and planned of God and let down out of heaven to be

the metroplis of God's earthly kingdom, the seat of his


What then is this city? Augustine has made a

noble attempt to answer-and would, but for a too

prosaic literalism, have seized the truth. It is the

Christian dispensation; Christianity in its truths, its

affections, and its potencies: the seat and organism

of God's presence among men. If we describe it by

what it is to God, it is his temple and throne; or by

what it is to men, it is their light, life, and salvation.

As this city is the new Jerusalem, it is plainly pointed

out as the successor of the old-a spiritualisation of

that New Jerusalem which Ezekiel describes as to

succeed the Jerusalem of his day. It will be found to

fulfil corresponding functions, in a degree as much

superior as Christ is superior to Moses, the Son to the

servant of God; or as the holiest of all was superior

to the outer courts in the elementary age of divine


1. It was in Judaism that God dwelt and communicated

of his truth and love to men in the last

age of the world; and it is in the Church that God

now dwells on earth and communicates Himself to

men. That Church is spoken of as Jerusalem in other

portions of the Scriptures; and no better commentary

than those texts can be written on the New Jerusalem

of John. The Christian Church, in its truths and

inspirations, brings together into one assembly of saints

and worshippers, the angels, the spirits of the dead,

the glorified apostles, and the saints on earth. Christianity

unites two worlds, makes one Church, joins the

2-17.] Defences of the Churclt. 235

visible and invisible into one. Heaven comes down to

earth; God is joined to man. This city was to the

writer to the Hebrews an existing reality. "Ye are

come to the heavenly Jerusalem. It is not a distant

terminus-a thing of hope-a glory the Church may

see after a thousand years are gone. Ye have received

it now, and are come into its blessed light, its happy

privileges, its saintly, angelic, and divine communion."

Judaism itself was a revelation and a gift from God to

men, that God might dwell among them; but it was

so only in a distant or elementary way. That dispensation

was ordained" in the hands of angels"; now

God immediately dwells with men in Christ. Christian

truths and principles are no elaborations of human

genius-no clumsy invention of needy priests or crafty

statesmen-no simple out-cropping of the superstitious

leanings of the human heart. Its foundations are still

seen dipping down beneath the strata of naturalism

into a region whither the eagle's eye cannot follow.

Her strong defences are her own divinity. Not by the

arguments of her profoundest theologians, nor by her

array of ecclesiastical laws and councils-not by her

political ascendancy where she has overridden the

State, nor by her political subserviency where she has

been its tool has she withstood the assaults and

batterings of her foes, and gone from one degree of

glory to another, in pursuance of the divine ideal

which she follows and is destined to embody on the

earth. These have been as much her hindrance as

her protection. She has survived as she has lived,

because she is a city of eternal truth and righteousness,

whose soul is God Himself, imparting to her outermost

circumference his own eternity, breathing into her that

236 Light and Life. [XXI.

love whose magic fire encompasses and thrills her, while

it blasts the earthly principles and potencies that in

hatred of her light, come up to assail her bulwarks.

2. This city is a source of light and life to the nations

of the earth.
"It has no need of the sun nor of the

moon." Clearly, that is no city of this world. "There

is no night there." That is no city subject to the

revolutions of this globe. "The Lord God Almighty

and the Lamb are the light of it." This is " the light

that lighteth every man that cometh into the world"

-"the light of life"-"the true light that now shineth"

-and what is this but the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and

where does it shine but in the Church of God? Then

we read that" the nations shall walk in the light of it."

Notably, it is not said that the nations dwell within

the New Jerusalem or Church on earth. The nation

as such is not pure enough to come into a city where

every inhabitant is searched and sifted to the core.

Every so-called Christian nation which has yet existed

has been to some extent a harbour of corruption, of

kingcraft, and of priestcraft, rent by feuds of blood

and class, and stained by sins which would defile

foulness itself. One by one we go into the city of our

God. One by one we bring our tribute of submission

to the feet of Christ, one by one we wash our hearts

and garments, one by one we bring our genius, our

talents, or common-place abilities, and yield them up

to the service of the Master. The nations as such will

recognise the city of God; they will receive so much

of its light, and shape their legislation somewhat by

its principles. The Gospel will become the bright

illuminating sun of social life and conduct; and in

22-24.] No Night in Christ. 237


proportion as the nations walk in its light will they be

blessed; or as they resist its teaching, dwindle in

influence, hasten to corruption, and perish from the


That sublime saying, "There shall be no night

there," may seem too much of heaven to be applicable

to any state on earth. We must not forget, however,

that it is an Old Testament anticipation of Israel's

glory upon the earth; and a distinctive feature of the

Gospel dispensation. "Ye are all sons of light and of

the day; we are not of the night nor of darkness." Is

not that the case? Do we not actually experience

the truthfulness of Christ's saying-" He that followeth

me shall not walk in darkness; but have the light of

life." What is the character of this light? It is that

glory of God which we are told" shines in the face of

Jesus Christ." If we know Christ, we have been

"called out of darkness into this marvellous light." If

we say, the light which is in Christ is not equal to

this, we condemn ourselves. If we dwell in the riches

of God's grace, then all mystery is made plain to us,

and there is " no night" with us. Even death will not

dim the splendours of the Christian's day. At

eventide it shall be light. The path of the just shineth

more and more unto the perfect day. As the higher

up we climb, the sun grows brighter, so the nearer we

draw to Christ and God the brighter becomes the light

until upon our eyes it breaks in spirit-worlds as from

the naked face of God.

3. There is no temple there because the city is all

temple: the perfect cube of " the holiest of all." All

in that city are priests to God, with access to the heart

238 No Ritual. [XXI.

and ear of God. Life is continuous worship j work is

sacrifice j and prayer the offering of sweet incense

unto God. That horrid notion, revived by premillennial

theorists, and diligently taught to-day, that

again the Christian is to cut the throats of beasts and

offer bloody sacrifices in a material New Jerusalem, is

utterly discountenanced by the Scriptures. It is a

surviving remnant of the pagan nature and the elementary

ritual which Christ came expressly to sweep away.

Its resurrection in these days is a disgrace to 19th

century Christianity; and is to be accounted for surely,

not merely by mistaken exegesis, but by that superstitious

revival of ritualistic flummery which has

invaded the Episcopal Church of England-only we

trust as a fitful and passing aberration.

4. Here is continuous peace' and consolation. " God

shall wipe away all tears." Augustine says that it

seems" excessively barefaced" to refer such words to

the present time. Weare bold enough to do it

Strictly speaking, they do not depict a state where

there is absolutely no experience of affliction. Rather

do they impress us that there are tears to wipe away;

but that there is no sorrow in Christ Jesus, and, in the

blessed hopes and consolations of the Gospel,

a remedy for every pain and sorrow of the heart

There always will be tears to wipe away so long as

babes are born and men are grown from infancy j but

the pains and achings of the soul's relations to the

eternal world are entirely overcome in Jesus Christ

Go back to your Old Testament saints, and mark

how doleful were their experiences. "The pains of

hell got hold on me "-" tears and sorrow were my

4.] Joy in Chnst. 239


meat." See what perplexities beset them about" the

ways of God to man "-what fears of death encompassed

them! Look out upon that old heathen world!

How sad it was although it had inherited the fairest

portion of God's earth! How comfortless the religion

even of its truest seekers after God! How gruesome

with its pictures of quarreling and avenging gods!

How repulsive its thin and hungry life beyond the

grave! How utterly changed is the aspect of the world

to the man who writes-s-" the kingdom of God is

righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost." Turn

to that man's epistles-follow him through the manifold

trials of his life and you find his pains and troubles

so lifted up into the marvellous light of God's eternal

love that they are transmuted into joys; and instead

of weeping, he is rejoicing in his tribulation. In

Christ's salvation there is not only nothing to pain

and disappoint; but everything to make pain and

disappointment in the world entirely change their character.

If our experience has fallen short of this, we

must not make it the measure of what the city of God

may be to other men. John must describe it according

to its ideal powers, its highest capabilities of endowment,

and what it shall be in eternity more truly than in

time. The city of God is heaven itself as well as

heaven on earth.

5. Continuous safety and blessedness. " No more

curse." The former earth was cursed by sin and

brought forth its thorns and thistles; but in the kingdom

of God, "every plant that our heavenly Father hath

not planted shall be rooted up." There will be

nothing to hurt or destroy in all God's holy mount.

240 No Death in Christ. [XXII.

It is a land of fruitfulness. "Wherever the waters

rolled there was life," and now the wilderness is blooming

like a rose, and the Christian is like a tree planted

by the rivers. It is a state of perfect righteousness.

" He that is born of God cannot sin." "There is now

no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,"

for they are "made free from the law of sin and

death." Walking in love and pleasing God, their experience

is " peace that passeth knowledge."

6. There is continuous life. It is startling to read"

Death shall be no more." So much is death with us

that we are constrained to relegate these words to some

entirely different state of life than this. However,

they are intended to be true to-day. What says the

Apostle? " Christ has abolished death." "He hath

destroyed him that had the power of death." What

says Christ of Himself? "He that believeth on me

shall never die." "He that keepeth my words shall

not see death." "He that believeth on me is passed

from death unto life." Every Christian then should

be "delivered from the fear of death." Its character

is essentially changed by faith in Christ; it is not the

ancient death, but ascension into fuller life. Death

and Hades are indeed cast into the lake of fire; there

is no death beyond bodily transformation to the child

of God, no dolefulness beyond " the shadow feared of


7. Contz'nuous royalty. "They shall reign for ever

and ever." The Church is destined to be triumphant.

Satanic outbreaks, John has warned us, will occur in

the course of history; but so far from destroying the

city of God, they will only serve to remind the saints

1-5.] A Missionary Centre. 241

that there are still portions of the earth to conquer,

and remnants of hereditary evil to be warred against

and overcome. "Behold, I make all things new."

This regeneration is accomplished through the

Church. New herself in all the principles and conditions

of her life, it is God's purpose to reign in her

and by her transform the earth. The kingdom of

God on earth is one continuous evolution from the

vital centre of the Church. All evolution implies involution.

Because God is in Christ, and Christ is in

the heart of the Church, the Church is the leaven that

shall work in the meal of universal humanity until the

whole is leavened. The earth shall slowly through

the ages grow liker heaven, as the Church continues

to utter the prayer" thy kingdom come," and to obey

the divine command, " Go ye into all the world." The

saints are to reign by putting down everything opposed

to righteousness within the nations of which

they are citizens, and by going forth to conquer the

peoples that still trust to other gods in ignorance of

the Gospel of Christ.

8. The identity of the New Jerusalem with the

Gospel dispensation is proven by the emphatic manner

in which it is charged with the work of evangelising

the world into which it has come. It is a holy city,

essentially incapable of defilement by the world's unbelief

and sin; but it is not on that account a city in

the clouds or in the eternal state, far separate from the

wicked world; nor is it simply a state of reward and

blessedness for the saved. In this city is "the tree of

life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations."

has been sent down from heaven upon this gracious


242 E'llangelizing Work. [XXII.

evangelical mission quite as much as to impart "tlte

fruits of life"
to the saints of God. "The river of the

water of life" is the Gospel fountain of salvation for

him that is athirst; and whosoever thirsts is invited to

come with freedom and partake. That this is a notification

for the beginning of the evangelization of the

world is beyond all question. The Christian does not

thirst, for he to whom Christ gives the water of life

"shall never thirst again," but become himself a well

of water unto other thirsty souls. Therefore, such an

intimation, standing as a divine preface to the figure of

the New Jerusalem (xxi. 6), stamps it as the Gospel

dispensation whose mission it is to carry the water of

life to the ends of the earth.

One condition of this evangelizing work is the

contiguity of saint and sinner. Nearness is an essential

requisite to power. God is able to save in Christ,

because, standing there, his hand is on humanity, his

feet upon the earth. The saint in the cloister or the

hermitage is a dead branch of the Church. Without

the city walls are dogs, sorcerers, murderers, idolaters,

and all who make and love a lie (xxii. 15); and it will be

the mission of the saint to change these men until

they become capable of a totally different classification,

and are numbered with the saints. While the New

Jerusalem exists, it is still the day of grace; the sinner

can wash his robes and enter in at the gates of the

city of God. Not otherwise can he enter into the joys

of God. Unclean and false, he cannot go in even at

the open gate which so cordially bids him welcome,

because to enter is to become clean and true. How

beautifully is there symbolised here the wideness, the

freeness, the impartiality of the saving grace of God.

1-5.] Universal Welcome. 243




condition required is- Wash your robesand enter in.

That this city is no emblem of a merely future or

distant state is most emphatically put before the

readers of this book. John is told that this new city

of God is an already accomplished fact. He had not

seen it in this light before, nor could the world see it

until the things which hid God's grace from men had

been removed out of the way; but the Seer is informed


PASS." (xxi. 6). The New Messianic Age IS COME

to the world, the City of God IS HERE, the water of

life is flowing to all mankind, eternal joys await the

saints that overcome. The cowardly who deny Christ's

name in the trials of this hour, the unbelievers, the

sorcerers, the idolaters who war against the Church,these

will have their portion, wherever they may be, in

time or in eternity, in unending restlessness and





" I come quickly: lwld fast that which tlwu luut that no

man take thy crown."

£. MODERN reader of Revelation opens it with

A. the impression that the book is a mystery, and

that it is hopeless to understand its lessons. If he reads

it with the help of commentaries of the usual kind his

perplexity will be intensified, and the more of them

he consults the more will his bewilderment be increased.

He finds that the 1800 years during which the book

ought to have been growing plainer to the Church,

still leave it wrapped in deepest mystery. Suppose,

now, that he reads the book with no pre-conceptions,

no sooner does he dip into its pages than he finds

that the primitive reader, even the casual hearer in the

Sabbath gathering of the Church, is expected to

understand and find practical guidance for his daily

life. Since, however, the learned commentator of

to-day betrays on every page the signs of uncertainty

and perplexity (after three-fourths of the book is said

to be fulfilled), how was it possible for the primitive

Christian to understand and practise if to him the

book's contents lay totally in the future? Is it not

clear that the early reader must have had a key to the

book which the scholar of to-day has lost? and is it

not also evident that if the book speaks truly when it

Tlte World in John's Day. 245

professes to deal with" things which must shortly

come to pass," it would necessarily be intelligible to

the first generation as it cannot be to readers who

will not use that key, or who take and shape it in the

fire of their a-priori prophetic theories into a form that

will not fit the lock?

Let us go back and take a hasty glance at what we

have found, and we shall see again how simple was

the structure of the book as read in Apostolic times.

John wrote to the early churches of "a time of trial

about to come to try them that dwell on the earth,"

a time as fierce and searching as a judgement-day.

That same season had been prophesied by the Baptist

for the Jewish nation; by Christ and his Apostles for

all the habitable world. We know from history how

true were those prophecies. It was a period of

climacteric. Old systems of thought and civilization

were ripening for decay; new ideas were in the air.

The political world was unstable, the social world

corrupt, the religious world demonised; and everything

gathering itself up for that geological upheaval which

came and made that time the watershed of two ages.

Amid the ferment of the times the Church was suffering.

Heresies were abroad; schism not uncommon. Jewish

patriotism was making men sorry they had become

Christians. Many believers were" drawing back unto

perdition," not prepared for the struggle of the new life

with the old.

This book is sent for the encouragement of the

Church. It reveals Christ afresh as no mere human

teacher whose influence might go under in the confusion

of the times; but as indeed Divine, clothed with

power and glory, and guiding the march of history.

246 The Message of John's Book. [XXII.

John foretells what Christ shall bring to pass: what

they themselves shall see. Judaism will be overthrown;

the Church of Christ will be God's temple without the

shell of ancient ritual. That would be the sign of the

Son of Man: the visible signal of his truth and power;

and the certain fulfilment of all his promises. The

fact that He judges the visible dispensation is the

proof that He judges the invisible; and that his saints

and martyrs have been caught up into the place which

He prepares for them in his Father's house, to reign

with Him for ever in his kingdom.

As surely as this first foe or rival of the Church is

overthrown, will that other foe through which the

Devil is deceiving men-the harlot system of polytheistic

confusion, heathen sacerdotalism-be also in

due time overthrown. _\ Gospel age will be instituted,

in which the Word of God will conquer every

diabolical foe, and go forth possessing men and nations

until the world is redeemed to God.

This new age necessarily implies transcendant

changes. A new heaven is a new God for the nations,

a new destiny for men, new worship in men's hearts;

and a new earth implies new experiences in religion,

new social states, new springs of life, a happier world.

Within this better world, as the secret of its betterness,

will be the spiritual Church of God,-the promised

Zion or Jerusalem, the true city of our God. It is to

be a dispenser of life and healing to the nations. They

walk in its light. Happy are the individuals who have

washed their robes, and entered into this heavenly

citizenship. This Zion shall no more be moved, God

is in the midst of her; and where God is there is no

more death, and no more curse. No, there is no longer

6-7.] "Faitliful and .True." 247

even any night, for the sun of God's favour never sets.

His light never fades. These are present day experiences;

true now, true everywhere, true eternally to all

who are in Christ Jesus. It does not follow that we

can exhaust them here. By and bye, we shall have a

more abundant entrance into the everlasting city of

our God. The New Jerusalem exhibits the ideal

Christian experience that God will be perfecting in us

to all eternity. Christ will be more to us in heaven;

but in the New Jerusalem here He is essentially the

same as He will be in heaven.

Take that outline as the meaning of this delightful

and magnificent book, and its mystery will flee away.

You will understand how the early reader was blessed

in proportion as he received its meaning. You will

find its symbols wonderfully clear, and every utterance

as straightforward and as honest as the "Amen" of


Is it possible that, as we close our studies, we are

flatly to contradict these solemn words of the angel

that spoke for Christ: "These words are faitlzful and

Have they indeed been such plain and wholesome

words that simple men can trust them to mean

what they say? Have they, indeed, been "about

things which must shortly come to pass?" If they

have mainly been about things removed a 1000 or

2000 years from those whom Christ addressed through

John, how are these words true? Remember, the

book started with this intimation; repeated it again and

yet again. First, John told us so; next, Christ

himself; and finally, the Angel of the Lord. Three

witnesses. Do we indeed believe?

" Be/wId, / come quickly." If that was true at the

248 The Duration of tlu Drama Short. [XXII.

beginning of the book, and true at the close, then the

time that intervenes between the first act and the last

is short indeed. As a matter of fact, the book is

constructed to cover the shortest time. The hour of

judgement was about to come upon the Asiatic

Churches. \Vith the earliest scenes, the judgement

thunderbolts are falling, the saints are sealed; in the

midst of judgement the martyrs cry for haste and are

told to wait a little time; and the first half of the book

closes with the assurance that the martyrs ARE

avenged. Not a syllable as to duration through all

the visions longer than three-and-a-half years, or 1260

days, and the Lord is come.

Take the second or positive aspect of Christ's

Coming. After Christ ascends to heaven, Satan is

cast down. He is in great wrath, because HIS TIME

IS SHORT. In ch. xix., Christ comes with his angels,

wars with the beast and casts him into the lake of fire,

while an angel binds Satan and casts him into the

abyss. This event is the initiation of Christ's kingdom,

or the official instalment of the Gospel dispensation.

Christ is come in his kingdom; thus again, we see

that the time between Christ's ascent and his return is

described as short. That advent is emphatically premillennial,

The forward reference to the close of a

1000 years is only a passing glance, a momentary note

of warning to the infant Church not to expect too

much in the earlier centuries of its history. All the

visions of the book are realised before the millennial

reign begins; the New Jerusalem being the reigning

Church, "the camp of the saints, the beloved city," the

new divine centre of the ransomed earth. Thus does

this portion of John's book clearly and persistently

8-11.] At Hand to tIle Apostolic Church. 249

insist on a brief space of time as enclosing all the

period between John's day and the institution of the

kingdom of our Lord. It was, therefore, true that

our Lord came quickly according to his promise; and

the only coming to which the Christian can now look

forward, beyond the increasing presence of Christ's

spirit in his heart, is that in which he shall be caught

up into a higher world to meet his Lord.

" Blessed is lze that keepeth tlte words of the prophecy

of this book."
How was that possible to those early

readers for whom scarcely a seal was opened or one of

the trumpets sounded? This appeal is made meaningless

unless all the prophecy is one event, realising itself

at one time, as the book itself says. The Preterist

is equally interested with the first generation in its

meaning; and equally called upon to believe and obey,

because it speaks to him of great divine transactions

that bear upon his duty and his destiny. No others

can keep this prophecy.

" Seal not up the propheC)! of this book, for the time is

at hand."
The same urgency is here as we have found

elsewhere. Daniel's prophecy reaches forward at the

utmost only to the abolition of" the power of the holy

people"; that is ·500 years from Daniel's time. Yet

his prophecy was to be sealed because the time was

distant John is not to seal for tlte time is at hand. In

the face of such a fact, students of prophecy will put

John's fulfilment 2000 years away! Does not the

comparison show that John's events must fall out

much within 500 years? Yes, and a great deal less.

For hear again:-

" Let the righteous do righteous1tess still; let the jilthy

be jiltlty still; and let the holy be holy still."

250 A Book to be Obeyed. [XXII.

words were never intended to prove that there can be

no change of character in eternity. They simply

express the suddenness of Christ's outburst upon that

generation. "Go on, thou hardened sinner, asking,

'Where is the sign of his coming?' You will not

have time to repent before your wickedness overwhelms

you! Be stedfast in your faith, 0 Christian, your eye

will soon behold the vindication of your righteousness j

the judge is at the door! "

Verses 18 and 19 are particularly convincing proofs

that John's generation were to experience the contents

of this book. This prophecy is-the Coming of Christ

in Judgement. It was to be read in the churches of

that day; and the penalty of perverse or unfaithful

hearing was to be exposure to these judgements as they

transpired from day to day. What more convincing

proofs could the book contain that its contents

especially concerned the people of its author's times?

As if, with a solemn oath, to put it beyond all dispute,

Christ avers" YEA, I COME QUICKLY;" and as a token

of the ripeness of the times, and the true understanding

of the Apostolic Church the answer is sent back:


We have all along kept in mind that this treatise

will fall into the hands of many whose interest in the

true interpretation of New Testament prophecy, is

largely subordinated to their desire to know what it

can yield them in the way of guidance and encouragement

in their Christian life. For such we reserve our

closing words.

The Goal of Prophecy. 251

This New Jerusalem would seem to be God's final

revelation for the salvation of the world. The Gospel

is the goal of all holy prophecy. The Scriptures from

the beginning point to Christ,-beyond Christ, they

are as silent as the grave. We are perfected in Christ

Jesus for ever. The Gospel is God's final remedy for

man's sin; the power of God unto salvation. The

Church is to grow fuller of the life of God; the belt of

darkness round the Church grow thinner till it vanishes

clean away. This can be accomplished only by each

citizen of the New Jerusalem doing his duty towards

the bettering of the world. Every man of God should

be a warrior against ignorance and evil in all its forms,

fired by the passionate impulse of the sculptor-poet-

" Bring me my bow of burning gold:

Bring me my arrows of desire;

Bring me my spear; 0 clouds unfold,

Bring me my chariot of fire,

I will not cease from mental fight

Nor shall my sword sleep ill my hand

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England's green and pleasant land."

Events of history in which evil is overthrown and

truth advanced should be hailed by us as signs of the

power and glory of our exalted Saviour. Since the

early Church was taught to see the hand of Christ in

that rapid evolution of events which issued in the fall

of Judaism, and the growing impotence of heathen

faiths, we also ought to see the interposition of the

Master in every victory of the right. At some points

history is the apotheosis of the wrong. Since Christ

reigns, evil triumphs that it may the sooner come to

ruin; and there are times when eyes almost blind

252 Hero- Worship.

might see the hand of Christ in history. Families,

churches, factions, and nations are seen swinging in

the scales of judgement, awaiting award or punishment;

and though for a time the test seems meaningless

and likely to end in confusion worse confounded,

at length the majesty of right is vindicated. There is

a Providence that makes for righteousness, and clears

the character of the God who rules the world.

Whatever be the part that any creature plays in

the march of progress the glory belongs to God alone.

How prone human nature is to make heroes, demigods,

or gods of its more assertive men! The adulation,

toadying, bare-faced fulsome flattery that are

poured upon leaders of religious movements in particular

is often painful to behold by those who have any

respect for human nature. That we are not beyond

the temptation of worshipping the creature is particularly

visible in the way saints are honoured with festivals,

and evoked in prayers as if keepers of heaven's

kingdom. Even your sturdy Protestant shows this

weakness in his unwholesome reverence of his favourite

religious leaders. The smaller the sect, the more

virulent the disease, even until it becomes a sin for

other men to differ in opinion. The following generations

are expected. meekly to chain themselves

around the great man's pedestal. Would that we

studied more this weakness in the character of John

as twice he threw his manhood at the angel's feet!

Would that religious leaders were as humble in their

claims as this other-world servant of the Lord.

" See tlzou do it not." Here is-a thorough abnegation

of all authority over men on the part of the angelic

world. Here is an ascription of all honour and glory

The Churclt and her Lord. 253

to God, and a touching manifestation of humility and

immeritoriousness on the part of the heavenly vehicle

of the truth, which ought to put to shame many

of its earthly mouth-pieces. What a rebuke to

Popes, and lesser holy fathers, sitting on their

thrones and holding out their toes and finger-rings

for brethren in the Lord to kiss! and how mean

and petty does such prostration make those who are

content so to be humbled and made nothing of before

weak men, too often swallowed up in the infernal lusts

of dominion and pride. "See thou do it not," in any

form. Worship no pope, no priest, no minister. Sit

under no man for his gifts. Love the Church of God,

and love its principles; and stand by them amid fortune

and misfortune. Keep in mind that to be attracted

by men and by their gifts, as distinguished from the

principles they represent, is to be drawn fatally near

the disposition which was condemned in John. "See

thou do it not."

The Church as the bride will always be looking and

longing for her Lord and husband. This figure gives

expression to a truth of prime importance, viz., that

every true believer in the Lord is being inwardly

united to Christ by ties that never will be brokenthat

mind and heart and soul are in some deep way

being filled and possessed by Christ, so as to lift us up

into his fellowship and closer conformity to his immortality

and glory. The cry, "Come, Lord Jesus I"

is the Church's desire to know ever more of Christ,

and see ever more of Him prevailing in the world over

the errors and unrighteousness of men. It is by

Christ's interior coming that we grow wise and good,

beautiful and loving, and meet for God's presence in

254 TIle Church and the World.

the heavens; and it is only as Christ finds fuller embodiment

in his Church that the world will feel his

influence and power, and grow a fairer and brighter

world for sin-stricken and heavy-laden men. Great

things are yet in store for the human race. The half

has not yet been told us of what Christ will accomplish

in the world. Even the most glowing prophetic

anticipations of the Word will be fully realised, though

not with the materialistic limitations in which they

were given. When we look at the capabilities of

Christ's loving spirit, and think of it as embodied in

a great and glorious Church in the continents and

islands of a coming age, we have an assurance of great

changes and reforms over all humanity in which every

grade of men will have its share of blessing. Even

so, Lord Jesus. May the fulness of thy kingdom

come. Though we shall not behold it with our eyes

of flesh; may we, from the upper realms where Thou

already reigncst gloriously, look down upon this better

earth and have the joy of thinking that we have individually

helped to bring about the happier day. Such

being the purpose of Heaven,

The City of God should always have a pressing

welcome for the sinner. Her voice must ever ring

out clearly through the ages-e-" He that is atlurst let

h£1Il come; let h£m take of the water of life freely."

Come now to be forgiven. Come to begin your life

anew under the inspiration of love to Him who loved

you and died for you; and all that is feeble and sinful

in your life will break up and float away. In clean

and holy garments you will stand within the City of

God, walk in its light, taste its fruit, and see your God

in the light that knows no setting while eternity endures.




WV/ E have taken our readers carefully' through

f the locus classicus of New Testament prophecy.

Our most adverse critic will surely confess

that we have been consistent in our principle of

interpretation; that our method has been at least

fairly reasonable, considering the changeable nature

of the book's contents; that no difficulty has been

purposely evaded; and that, on the lines laid down,

the Apocalypse makes one compact and harmonious

whole, according to the professed intention of its

writer-" a revelation of Jesus Christ in things about

to come to pass."

Now we shall proceed to judge the interpretation

given by the most exacting of all tests-comparison

with the prophetic teaching of the other New Testament

Scriptures. This is.a touchstone before which

no other theory can stand. The idealistic theory

lately so strenuously advocated throws the Apocalypse

out of gear with every other bit of Christian prophecy;

while the current historical methods not only

deal arbitrarily with many portions, but after all contradict

the express purpose of the author, and, as

their advocates frequently confess, raise many dis-


256 The Gospel oj St. Jolm

crepancies with the other prophetic writings which

no ingenuity can reconcile. We claim that we shall

be able to show the strictest agreement between all

the Scriptures--one prophetic mind existing in the

Apostolic Church, without repentance or even trace of

so-called " development" in the authors whose

writings cover the largest period of time.

Let us begin our studies with the other writings of

St. John. And to make sure work let us recall the

salient features of the teaching of the Apocalypse.

It has told us that the second coming of Christ is to

be soon after the book is written. This coming has a

two-fold sphere of manifestation. In this world, it is

the abrogation of a then existing dispensation in the

fires of judgement, openly signalised in the destruction

of Jerusalem; and it is the co-incident institution of

an age of universal grace in which God in Christ goes

forth to war with every evil, and the first fruits of

whose ultimate victory is the shattering of the power

of a then triumphant heathenism, the mistress of the

world. In the eternal world, it is Christ's descent to

meet the dead, in order to judge the wicked and to

raise up His saints into the glory which He had with

the Father, where they are henceforth to "live and

reign." In this new dispensation there is no material

sacred city, no temple made with hands. It is itself'

the New Jerusalem, spiritual and invisible, present

potently wherever are Christ and His truth, universal

and perpetual for His people. In this gracious dispensation

death is no longer a misfortune. The

Sheol-Hades state of waiting and looking for the

Saviour is abolished, and the dead who die in the

Lord reap at once the fruits of faith by entering upon

Written after the Apocalypse. 257

heavenly glory. To sum the whole into a sentence

-with the fall of Jerusalem, the then existing age

was ended, the dead were judged, the saints were

raised to heaven, and a new dispensation of a worldwide

order instituted, of which Christ is everlasting

King, and ever present with His people, whether

living here or dead beyond.

We take now into our hands the Gospel of St.

John. This work is so unlike the Apocalypse both in

matter, style, and language, that many scholars

hesitate to admit that they are from one pen. The

difference in language arises chiefly, we believe, from

the fact that he wrote the Apocalypse early in life

while as yet his acquaintance with Greek was limited

to what he had acquired from reading the Septuagint,

and conversing mainly with Greek-speaking Hebrews;

whereas he wrote his Gospel a quarter of a century

later, when he had resided long in Ephesus, and had

much intercourse with those to whom Greek was the

native tongue.t In comparing the matter of the

books, we must remember that John is not strictly

their author, and that the purpose of the two is

worlds asunder. The Gospel gives us only some thirty

days of our Lord's Judean ministry, whereas the

Apocalypse is strictly limited to a dramatic presentation

of the double judgement which closed a

dispensation and opened a new epoch to the world.

Of course, the question must arise-Why did John

I Fresh from a perusal of "Discu>lsions on the Apocalypse,"

(1893), we are more than ever convinced that the internal

evidence leaves us no choice between an earlier and later date

for the appearance of the book, and that too much weight has

been put upon the Ireneean tradition,

258 Why is there no Apocalypse in tlte Gospel?

omit from his Gospel this great field of eschatological

. teaching, especially seeing it bulks so largely in the

other three Gospels ?

The answer is simple enough. Granted that this

fourth Gospel is not written until the other three

have become the property of the universal Church,

and so long after the fall of Jerusalem that the

dispensational coming of Christ has lost much of its

interest and freshness, and it will be evident that the

author cannot think it needful to draw up another

record of discourses which have already been so

faithfully reported and have so largely served their

purpose and been fulfilled. Of course, this silence of

John's Gospel as to our Lord's dispensational teaching

cannot be easily justified if the contents of the

Apocalypse and Matt. xxiv. and xxv. refer to a

coming that is to lie before the Church for twenty

centuries, and a judgement still future for the world.

St. John, in that case, must have felt the permanent

importance of that doctrine for the Church, and his

silence would be inexplicable. But if these other

writings bear only on the crisis of the consummation

of the Jewish age, and the introduction of a dispensation

characterised by the universal presence of GO'd

in Christ, then it must surely have seemed to St, John

to be a needless task to reiterate teaching sufficiently

well known, and so palpably fulfilled some' thirty

years before. His Gospel was especially bound to be

vacant of all lengthy references to "the wrath to

come," the demolition of the temple, and" the end of

the age," in short, what has somewhat conternptuouslj-"

been called" Jewish Apocalytic ideas," if years before

its author had published the Apocalypse to the

The Coming in the Gospel. 259

Church. He would naturally feel that the time -was

past for reporting afresh such prophetic intimations,

since he had long before written out the key to their

fulfilment as the events were transpiring before the

eyes of his own generation. Thus does it seem inevitable,

in our judgement, that Apocalyptic

teaching must be largely absent from any very late

and genuine Gospel attributed to St. John.

Notwithstanding these necessary differences, it will

be found that the fourth Gospel contains some

remarkable and strongly characteristic references to

the dispensational coming of Christ. John remembers

Christ's prophetic forecast to the woman of Samaria,

that His mission would wrest the worship of God

from the hands of a hereditary priesthood and from

local limitations, by revealing God as a Father who

imparts His presence to the soul that comes to Him

in spirit and in truth. "The hour cometh" is an

index finger pointing to the dispensational judgement

on Jerusalem which ends the age of local cults, and

introduces the Parousia or age of universal presence.

In no other way could the localisation of God be

abolished than by the destruction of the temple, and

the imposition of a situation which made its renewal

impossible to the Jew. Beyond such broad and lofty

references as this, but little is said of the Second

Coming in its more familiar aspects. But in chapters

xiv.-xvi. there are many interesting notices of the

aspect which alone had any interest for John when his

• Gospel was compiled. It is too commonly supposed

that this long discourse refers to a merely subjective

and spiritual coming to His individual disciples. But

our Lord recognizes two degrees of presence accord260

Cltrist's Hea'l/enly Mission.

ing to the well knowing saying, "Lo, I am with you

alway, even to the end of age,"-one subjective by

His spirit, which is before "the end of the age," and

the other visual and personal by a meeting face to face

when the age comes to an end. Where Christ says

" I am with you," He promises the subjective blessing

of His presence; but where He says, "You will be

with me," He means the open vision of His face in

the prepared place in His Father's house. The

former is the presence vouchsafed to His personal

disciples up till the consummation of the age; the

latter is the meeting and visible communion of the

saints caught up to be for ever with the Lord in their

eternal home. In the beginning of chap. xiv. our

Lord distinctly intimates His ascension into heavenly

glory. "I go to prepare a place for you." In the

Epistle to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse brief

references are made to this heavenly mission, but

beyond hints of a purgation and a warfare in which

Satan is cast out, there is no clear light. As soon,

however, as this preparation is completed, Christ

comes to His disciples to take them where He is,

" that they may behold His glory." This coming is

certainly not to this material world, any more than

Christ's permanent dwelling place is to be henceforth

on the earth. The disciples to whom Christ comes

are not supposed to be living in flesh and blood. Our

Lord told them plainly that before "the end of the

age," some of them would be killed, others h e

tasted death in the course of nature. Peter was.

assured of martyrdom before His coming; John had

a hopeful intimation of the possibility of being spared

until that time (xxi, 22). Our Lord must therefore

The Lmgth of His Heavenly Absence. 261

have been looking upon His disciples as having for

the most part passed through death and entered upon

Hades when His promise would be fulfilled "I will

come to you." Indeed, almost in as many words, He

asserts the fact. He tells them that they know the

way by which it is needful to journey to the Father.

To their protest of ignorance, He answers that they

must go as He goes Himself, through the Cross or its

shadow, down by the tomb, upward in the quickening

of the resurrection life, that is the only pathway to

the stars. There is 110 single hint of any shorter or

more pleasing way to the incorruptible and eternal

life of Heaven. John might live until the Master

came; but even J ohn must die like other men, and be

caught up to meet his Lord only by putting off his

earthly tabernacle for his house which is from heaven.

Does our Lord give any hint as to what length of

time may elapse before He comes to give His disciples

this glorious resurrection? We have seen that on a

certain occasion our Lord covertly implied that His

coming would be after St. Peter's death and before

St. John's. In this same chapter we have a definite

assurance to this effect: "Yet a little while and the

world beholdeth me no more; but ye behold me;

because I live ye shall live also." (v. 19.) In all fairness

this "little while" should be referred to the

time between His own ascension and the time when

they should "live" and "behold Him." That the

disciples read our Lord's meaning thus seems evident

from Judas' question: "What is happened that thou

wilt SOON manifest Thyself to us and not unto the

world?" (v. 22). This manifestation is no mere

subjective feeling, but an open and personal revelation.

262 "A Little While."

It does not refer to the occasional appearances of the

post-resurrection days, but to a meeting of a permanent

and final character, when the disciples "live" in

their resurrection life. The same encouraging assurance

is repeated: "A little while and ye behold me

no more, and again a little while and ye shall see me."

(xvi. 16.) The reason given for this absence and

subsequent meeting i s : "Because I go to the Father,"

i.e., He ascends into divine conditions and becomes

imperceptible to flesh and blood, but in this very

ascension into complete Divinity He becomes the

resurrection and the life of all believers, and thereby

insures their meeting by organic incorporation into

His own glorious life. In this open meeting is fulfilled

the promise of the angels at the moment of our Lord's

ascension: "This same Jesus which is taken up from

you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye

have seen "Him go into heaven." He would come

openly and visibly in His glory to take them up into

the glories of the heavenly home; He would open

the gates of death and set: His waiting disciples free;

lead them up into the green pastures and the still

waters of the eternal home.

This meaning, we confess, is not that which carries

with it the names of our best recent interpreters. Dr.

Godet gives" his view in a sentence. "The first little

while ends at thedeath of Jesus, the second has for its

limit Pentecost." But how could our Lord say so

absolutely of two days' absence in death," Ye see me

NO MORE "? Then, what of our Lord's appearances

after the resurrection belonging to the seeing of neither

period? Besides, this puts two different senses upon

the word" see "-the first being ordinary eyesight of

" Ye sftall see Me." 263

the body and the second mental apprehension. Dr.

Westcott makes the second" little while" begin at the

resurrection, but creates fresh objections by making

" Ye shall shall see Me" carry three different sensesthe

vision of the risen Christ; clearer apprehension

by the gift of the Spirit; and open vision at Christ's

personal return. Dr. Wendt contends at length that

Jesus never "predicted transient appearances to his

disciples after death,"! and probably he is right; but

he is most certainly wrong when he interprets the

saying of the spiritual indwelling of Christ in His

disciples. Against all three expositors we more than

question the right to apply the verb optom,l£ to

intellectual apprehension. It is the choice expression

of St. John for open spirit sight. We utterly refuse,

besides, to admit that when our Lord is speaking of

parting and subsequent meeting, He could possibly be

so inaccurate as to mean by" Ye shall see Me "-a

fuller apprehension of His nature. If this were a

legitimate interpretation, then we ought to interpret

"Ye shall not see Me" as a state of growing ignorance!

Our Lord can refer in both cases only to open vision

of His person; and the first" little while" must cover

the period up to His ascension, from which point only is

He seen no more, and the next "little while" must

relate to the period between His ascension and the

disciples' meeting with their Lord in the unseen when

He descends for them to raise them up into His

heavenly life.

If this be the right interpretation of our Saviour's

teaching, it follows that He must certainly have taught

"Teaching of J esus," Vol. II. p. 302.

264 Impending Judgement.

His disciples to look for a resurrection of the dead,

accompanied by a judgement and apportionment of

destinies, soon after His ascension into Heaven. His

coming before long to them in the state of death, and

their translation into heavenly glory, could hardly be

dissevered from the reward of all God's saints and the

punishment of His foes. An age or dispensation could

not fitly end without a judicial estimate of its results.

If the living generation were to be judged, ought not

all the generations of the dead? Messiah could not

be supposed to take His personal disciples out of

Hades and leave Abraham, Moses, and Isaiah, in its

unhallowed shades; nor can it be conceived that the

Old Testament saints had entered on their promised

rest before the Messiah had "prepared a place" for

them. All these considerations lead us to the conclusion

that our Lord must have taught that there was

ere long to be a general resurrection and judgement of

the dead.

Such was indeed the case. The healing of an

impotent man on the Sabbath day led the Jews to

murmur against Christ, and depreciate His claims to

anything like Divinity. (Chap. v.) In the face of

this revolt, our Lord asserted all the more strenuously

His personal dignity and supreme executive power.

His powers ran parallel with the peculiar functions

of the Deity. He could not only heal the impotent,

but they would shortly see whomsoever of the dead

He chose to call upon answering His voice and rising

into life. This saying is inanely frittered away by

most expositors into the meaning that Christ would

shortly show the Jews that He could regenerate the

bad, produce conversions! We cannot imagine why

Impending Resurrection.' 265

they should " marvel" at the production of a moral

change upon character. Surely such a thing was not

utterly unheard of in Judea. Much less can we see

how they should marvel more at such a change than

at the sudden cure of an impotent man; but we can

easily imagine the mocking look and incredulous

shrug with which His claim of power to raise the dead

was heard. The answer to their scornful unbelief was

more imperious still: "The hour cometh in .which all

that are in their tombs shall hear His voice and shall

come forth; they that have done good unto the

resurrection of life, and they that have done ill unto

the resurrection of judgement" (28). Our Lord

claims nothing less than the approaching exercise of

the function of apportioning all the dead to their

meriteci destinies. He is soon to be "executing

judgement." "The HOUR cometh" is the signal of

the immanence of a general judgement. as it was the

measure of the nearness of the new dispensation when

Jerusalem would cease to be a religious shrine, in. the

. address to the woman of Samaria. The two events

are indeed coincident. When !"judgement begins at

the house of God" on earth it begins also with" the

dead." Here then we see when our Lord was to take

His .disciples to Himself; when the saints were to

enter on "the Sabbath that remaineth "-when those

who waited for the hope of Israel were to be" perfected."

In the visible end of the Judaic age and the

official introduction of the Christian, we find the

period when Christ first opened heaven to all believers,

and the unbelieving dead beheld themselves shut out

of the glories of that life.

Is it not strange that with so much open light ex266

is tke "Last Day"?

positors will for the most part continue to stumble

over such a direct and simple reference to the time of

the resurrection as that which our Lord repeats so

frequently in the pages of St. John-" I will raise him

up at the last day." What accuracy can there

possibly be in that too popular interpretation of "the

last day" ?_U When an human interests cease"

(Westcott, xi. 24). When will such a void and chaotic

day arrive? Is the Creator purposing to depopulate

the globe before at least the earth is scorched to a

cinder by too close proximity to the sun? Are the

saints to wait until the crack of doom in some imperfect

or purgatorial state? Can the "little while"

honestly be interpreted by myriads of millennia of

years? Has Abraham not yet found the" city which

hath foundations"? Have Peter, Paul. and John not

yet been sought in the region of the dead by their Divine

Deliverer? Are they still orphans-still disembodied

-still sighing for the vision of Christ's face? Certainly

this is so, if Christ does not come to raise His people

out of Hades till "the day when all human interests


"The last day" is easily interpreted. It is the last

day of the age, the Judaic age then running, and was

a popular phrase for the time when the higher Messianic

privileges would be given to the people of God.

To mistake its meaning is inexcusable, seeing that

almost all the Apostles write of "the last time" and

" the last day" as being present for themselves j and

especially when John himself, so notably in his first

epistle, draws his readers' attention to the fact that the

old world is in its dying throes, the darkness of the

Devil's reign fast passing away before the true light of

St. fohn's Epistles. 267

the Gospel's morning, and that not only the "last

day" but the " last hour" of the day has come (ii. 18).

And here let us take a brief survey of what John

teaches in his epistles. There remains no authentic tradition

as to the date cf these letters, and we must judge

of the period from the contents as we find them. All the

evidence points us to some time between the writing

of the Apocalypse and the Gospel. To all appearance

Jerusalem is being rapidly pulverised by the Roman

power, if it has not actually fallen. The darkness of

the old age is passing away and the light of the better

day is already shining. What Paul wrote of as" the

latter days," days of apostacy and tribulation, are now

come; and indeed to John are nearly past. With

him it is " the last hour." One of the distinctive notes

by which the apostle recognised his whereabouts was

the visible advent of Antichrist. He tells his readers

that the advent of this power is plainly marked in

their prophetic charts, and now that it is visibly at

work the Lord must be at hand, indeed the Lord is

already come and requickening the energies of His

church (1 John v. 20). The whole tone of the epistle is

firm and confident of the nearness of Christ, and

already the apostle is rejoicing in a victory almost

completely won. He therefore urges his readers to

endure wrong patiently a little 1011ger. If" the last

hour" was not come, he must have woefully misconceived

the situation; and there could have been no

cogency in his exhortations or truth in his promises of

immediate relief.

Here endeth our survey of the writings of St. John.

268 TIle Harmony of St. John's Writing».

And how will the results compare? Without hesitation

we must answer that they agree with the utmost

precision. In the Apocalypse we have the second

Advent as it transpires in both the worlds of the living

and the dead. At the end of chapter xi. when

Jerusalem is judged, the world becomes Christ's

Kingdom, i.e. the Gospel age begins, the dead are

judged, the saints rewarded, and heaven directly

opened to mankind. The same order reigns in the

more positive representation of Christ's coming which

begins with chapter xii.-the dead are judged and the

saints glorified before the vision of the New Jerusalem,

or the advent of the Christian dispensation on the

earth. The Gospel deals only with the side of the

advent which affects those in the unseen, but as to

manner and time is in strictest agreement with the

"Apocalypse. The epistles land" us in the heat of the

crisis-the strictly transitional moment between the

Judaic and Christian ages j and" thus these three

agree in one. They speak alike of a critical dar

at hand, the close of the Mosaic age, and the introduction

of a brighter and more potent measure of the

reign of God. They tell us of a mighty work of redemption

that Christ wrought soon after His

ascension into Heaven, and gratify the longings of

our souls with the assurance that Death and Hades

have yielded up their prey; so that those dear disciples

and waiting saints of Old Testament times-yes,

and all who have since died in the ripeness of discipleship-

have already entered into rest, and been blessed

with the vision of their Saviour's face.



W~ff I D E as are the differences acknowledged to

f exist between the form and spirit of the

teaching of Christ in the Synoptics and in St. John's

Gospel, at no point is the divergence more notorious

than in that field of thought we have been traversing

in these pages. Weare no longer in the great unseen

world seeing Christ meeting with His lost disciples,

and judging all the generations of the dead; but

among the citizens of this world, watching the

devolution of the ages, the creation of a new heaven

and new earth, in transactions that we shall see are

identical with much that we have found in the

Apocalypse. This difference, at which many

express astonishment, perhaps needs explanation, but

it in no way throws discredit on the historical accuracy

of the one evangelist or the other.

The Synoptic Gospels were evidently written

before the destruction of Jerusalem. They betray no

particular knowledge of that event, or of the state of

things which supervened. They abound with statements

pointing to an impending dispensational crisis,

2'10 Messiah and His Days.

and are warm with the voice of warning and entreaty

to be ready for that event. This would seem to

indicate that they were written with a view to explain

to those then living the claims of Christ, and the

manner in which His mediatoral 'Messianic office was

about to be assumed. The motive justifies the

contents, leaving the authors, who believed with all

their hearts in the prophetic truthfulness of Jesus, no

option but to emphasise teaching which was of such

supreme importance for their contemporaries. Not

only so, but since as a matter of fact these prophesied

events were understood to take place as the fulfilment

of Old Testament prophecy, it was natural that the

earlier evangelists should bring forward whatever in

Christ's words or works seemed most surely to be the

realization of ancient prophecy. Hence much, both as

to form and substance, of the contents of the


Messiah and His days is the one ideal of Hebrew

thought. His coming is set forth 'under the twofold

aspect of deliverance and judgement- the opening of

prison doors and the day of vengeance of our God.

Most fitly, then, the Hebrew canon closes with a

brilliant prophecy of the T.ord coming suddenly to

His temple, as a fire that bums up the wicked like

stubble, while it shines as a sun of righteousness to

those who fear His name. Only one solitary sign of

warning is to be given as a fore-intimation of the

approach of this solemn judgement-time-the appearance

of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the

great and dreadful day of the Lord. These arc the

persons by whom, and the work by which, the long

promised ideal of Israel was to be realised; but

John the Baptist. 271

as events have proved, in a manner which no one

anticipated before the time. Let us proceed to see

how, according to our Gospels, this prophecy-is to be


1. Silent centuries have passed. The process of

divine revelation begins anew. If the time of fulfilment

is approaching, a striking personality, a central

figure of commanding influence, must appear upon

the field. In the beginning of the Gospel narrative

we seem to find the answering form. John the Baptist

is vigorously proclaiming His message of repentance,

and enforcing it with dreadful threatenings of

impending woe. " The wrath ABOUT to come" (see

the Greek) is the text of every sermon. Now, he says,

the axe is laid at the root of the trees, and every worthless

tree is about to be cast into the fire. He makes no

claim to be able to command the furies. One cometh

"whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly

cleanse His threshing-floor; and He will gather His

wheat into the garner, but the chaff He will burn up

with unquenchable fire." Thus John pursues his

ministry in "the power and spirit of Elias," ringing

out his two-edged message," The kingdom of God is

at hand," and" God's judgement slumbers not." We

know not whether the popular leaders were quite alive

to the significance of this fiery prophetic presence in

their midst; but, at all events, they had their suspicions,

and a general impression, perhaps ill to explain, that

the days of Messiah were at hand. A deputation from

them interviewed the Baptist, and bluntly put the

question" Art thou Elijah?" and the preacher, taking

their question as they meant it, bluntly answered-


272 Elias Recognised.

" No." Perhaps the prophet did not recognise his

mission; but this is scarcely probable, seeing that by

this time he had recognised Jesus as Messiah. His

denial certainly does not, as some will have it, invalidate

his Elijah ministry, for .Christ Himself recognized

the prophetic rile which had'fallen on John. "This is he

of whom it is written, Behold I send My messenger

before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before

Thee." Thus does our Lord in the directest.manner

identify John with the promised messenger of Malachi

who precedes by a little while the great Messianic

judgement by which the wicked are consumed and

the righteous left in peace to carryon God's kingdom

on the earth. But anticipating great unwillingness to

receive the truth, on the part even of His disciples, He

says again, more plainly, "And if ye are willing to

receive it, this is Elijah which is to come" (Matt. xi.)?

Later on, the disciples ask Him: "Why say the scribes

Elijah must first come? [i.e., If you are the Messiah

and your advent as near as you' say]. "And He

answered and said, Elijah indeed cometh, and shall

restore all things; but I say unto you that Elijah is

come already, and they knew him not" (Matt. xvii.)

See, then, what the actual situation is in the days of

Christ. Standing back there in thought, we are in the

brief interregnum between the appe:l.rance of Elijah

and the coming of Messiah to burn the land with fire.

The way of the Lord has already been prepared; and

therefore there must be at this point, according to

]. The Greek reads: "This is Elijah which is SOON to come." The

explanation of this peculiar form of speech seems to be, that it was a

popular saying at the time, "Elijah is soon to come," and that our Lord

here means to say-John is the Elijah that the people are expecting soon.

The Training of the Twelve. 273

Hebrew prophecy and our Lord's interpretation of

John's mission, an unparalleled crisis impending in

Jewish history, in which" God will come as a mighty

One, and His reward is with Him" (Is. xl. 10; compare

Rev. xx. 12, where the last clause is applied to

the coming of Christ).

2. It is hardly needful to do more than sketch out

briefly the facts that show how thoroughly our Lord

entered into the national situation as we have described

it. He began His ministry by re-asserting the prophet's

message: "Repent ye; for the kingdom of

heaven is at hand." All through His early Galilean

ministry He preached with diligence" the good tidings

of the kingdom" in irs three blessed characteristicsit

was to be spiritual, impartial and therefore universal,

and it was near. A little later on, we get very definite

information as to the doctrine of the kingdom in which

the Twelve were trained. They are being sent out on

an evangelizing tour through, and are

directed to preach, saying II The kingdom of heaven is

at hand" (Matt. x.) In the same connection they are

assured that the kingdom of God is so near that II they

shall not have gone through the cities of Israel till the

Son of Man be come." From such statements it is

seen that the coming of the kingdom and the corning

of the Son of Man are one and the same idea, (2) that

the kingdom is to corne while these very disciples are

engaged in preaching the gospel, and (2) that they

will scarcely have been able to cover the whole field

of the people of Israel before the end. This emphatic

teaching was supplemented by much information all

tending to the same effect. The generation then alive

274 The Coming of the Kingdom.

were for the most part to reject the Christ, and instead

of salvation, as God proposed, to reap judgement worse

than that of Sodom or Nineveh. Instead of procuring

the sons of Abraham for the people of His kingdom,

Messiah is " to declare judgement to the Gentiles and

lead it unto victory until the Gentiles hope in Him."

(Matt. xii.) Accordingly, in His parables, our Lord

teaches that the kingdom will be realized in a harvest

of the land in which the bad, like worthless tares, are

given up to burning, and the good, like wheat, kept

for the garner; or again like fish in a net, assorted into

the good which are kept and the bad which are thrown

away. "So," He says, "shall it be at the consummation

of the age,"-the Son of Man will come, as the

Forerunner said, with His fan and purge out the chaff,

and then the righteous shall shine forth as the lights

of the world. This consummation is everywhere in

the Gospels declared to be at hand. It is the coming

of the kingdom; or in other words," the coming of

the Son of Man in His kingdom." Christ Himself

was following up the work of John in sowing the seed

of the word and preparing a people for His Name;

the ripening of the elect who receive the word into

fitness for a spiritual kingdom is to be the sign for

judgement to begin; and the kingdom is objectively or

historically constituted when the harvest of judgement

and salvation is reaped. Then the kingdom runs its

prophetic course towards universal victory, according

to the parables of the mustard seed and leaven-all

the birds of heaven lodge in its branches, and all the

meal of humanity is leavened with its life.

Now, this teaching seems beyond misapprehension,

but as if to make assurance doubly sure, our Lord

The Coming within a Lifetime. 275

carried His explicitness still farther. When the time

had come for telling His disciples that He must be

killed in Jerusalem, He exhorted them to show the

same fidelity to the truth, and encouraged them even

to lay down their lives, with the stimulating promise

that He was SOON to reward His servants. We

quote the passage in full, making a needful alteration

on the translation: "For SOON the Son of Man shall

come in the glory of His Father with His angels;

and then shal1 He render unto every man according

to his doing. Verily I say unto you, There be some

of them that stand here, which shall in no wise taste

of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His

kingdom." (Matt. xvi, 27, 28). What else could these

words mean for the disciples, with their previous

instruction, but that while some years would pass and

thin the numbers of the living before His Second

Coming, yet this Coming would certainly transpire

within the boundary of the lifetime of the younger of

them standing there; and that, alive or dead at the

crisis, all of them proving faithful to the end would

reap a rich reward? Within six days the disciples

put their question, 'What, then, about Elias, who is to

come before the great and notable day of Thy

Coming? and received the answer, II Elias is already

come and gone! " We need not wonder that, on the

back of such startling announcements, the disciples

came to Jesus with the pertinent and practical

question, "Who is greatest in the kingdom?" and

that certain of them were already making sinister

provisions to occupy the highest places when the

kingdom came.

276 Typical Misunderstandings.

3. The pitiful confusion which exists in the highest

theological quarters upon the subject of the kingdom's

advent demands that we shall strive to make the

truth still more explicit. As examples of the serious

misunderstandings which are rife, we shall glance at

two recent works by authors who have carefully

studied the life and teaching of Jesus historicallyThe

Kingdom of God,
by Dr. Bruce, the chapter on

"The Parousia and the Christian Era," and The

Teaching of Jesus,
by Dr. Wendt, the chapter on

"The Nature and Advent of the Kingdom." The

former expresses the common perplexity of theologians

thus :-" There is no subject on which it is more

difficult to ascertain the teaching of Christ than that

which relates to the future of the kingdom." Neither

of these able scholars can offer us a reasonable solution

of the difficulty, for the very good reason that it is

entirely of their own creation. Dr. Wendt charges

the Evangelists with giving us bungled reports of the

Master's sayings, and finds, as well, that He

"developed," that is, changed His opinion as to the

coming of His kingdom. Now, we deny that there

is the slightest visible trace of such a development.

Certainly, our Lord never was under the pitiable

delusion that His kingdom would come in His own

and His disciples life-time through a general acceptance

of His Messiahship by the Jews; nor, later, of

believing that He would die, but that His kingdom

would come, and Himself return to the earth, in that

very generation, "at the close of the earthly development

of the kingdom of God." (I. 397-8.) As to the

earlier supposed belief, why, John the Baptist, echoing

Malachi, knew better, and prophesied the demolition

Typical Misunderstandings. 277

of the Judaic Institution by axe and fire; and, as to

the later, while it closely approximates the truth at

points, it is the grossest assumption to charge Christ

with the notion that His kingdom would close its

development in one brief life-time, in the face of His

distinct intimation that His disciples would be hated

and killed, and that when the Son of Man came He

would not find faith in the land; and it is an

inexcusable blunder to associate Christ's coming with

the close of His earthly kingdom in the face of the

many passages which universally connect it with its

official initiation.

Dr. Bruce, careful and patient student as he is, fairly

wanders in a maze between what seems to him

contradictory teachings as to the consummation of the

kingdom-here, by "an early catastrophe," and there,

by "a lengthened history." He offers us the solution

of bad reporting by the EvangeHsts, and two second

one SOON, and another DELAYED to some

indefinite period which has not yet arrived. The

features of these two comings are supposed to be so

jumbled together that it is now almost impossible to

dissever them and adjust them in their appropriate

places. For this third, far-distant coming, the proofs

relied upon are those passages which speak of the

Parousia as delayed. But how is it that the Parousia

is never spoken of as delayed through generation after

generation? It is delayed in appearance only to

some of those to whom Christ speaks ;
and neve" in one

single case delayed beyond tile limits of an individual

Those in whose eyes it is delayed are either

people who have been expecting it, and have often

been aroused by false alarms, and, of course, like every

278 The Parables of DlIlay.

eager watcher, thought the time unreasonably long;

or people like the upper servant who wish the coming

to be delayed, and whose wish is father to the thought.

In agreement with this, it is a decisive feature of every

Bible reference that those to wlwm it seems delayed

are the very jJersons to whom it comes!
Can this possibly

be the description of a Parousia which is delayed

over thirty or forty christian generations? Nay, it is

simply that very Parousia which was to be

SOON, within a generation, for which many were wearying,

but which, as always happens to the eager, did

not answer sharply to their hasty expectations, while

it came too soon to those who wished delay. Indeed,

the express motive of these warnings of delay is a call

to " watchfulness," but the demand for watchfulness is

essentially implicative of unlooked-for nearness which

takes one by surprise. Therefore the very proofs relied

upon for a long delayed Parousia disprove the doctrine

contended for.

The solution of this question is not far to seek, and

it would be surprising that so many life-long students

should have missed it, if it were not that we all know

too well the blinding effects of being trained in false

traditional ideas. Approach the Parousia from the

standpoint of the kingdom, and this is how its history

unrolls itself. The kingdom. as a reign of God within

the heart, came to earth in Christ Himself, and grew

as men's hearts opened to the Spirit of God. This

subjective form of the kingdom is not, however, the

prevalent form in the Synoptic Gospels. The kingdom

is there conceived in its distinctively christian form,

as Christ's mediatorial reign, a new dispensation of

divine truth and power, ministered fcr God's glory and

How the Kingdom Comes. 279

man's salvation. This kingdom as a historically constituted

most certainly comes by what Dr.

Bruce calls" an early catastrophe," and Dr. Wendt" a

sudden miraculous interposition of God." And why

should it not? We might even ask, Could it come

after any other fashion? Did not a previous divine

dispensation hold the field? Did not the Old

Testament prophesy the latter's destruction by a

catastrophe-a fire that would burn as an oven? Did

not Christ say, that, those who administered it were

determined to maintain it, and had refused to give it

up to the rightful heir? In that case, could it be taken

from them otherwise than by violence, " a catastrophe,"

"a divine interposition;" and do not the Synoptics brim

with the announcement that God is to send His armies

and cast those murderous usurpers out, and give His

kingdom unto another people? This divine assault is

Israel's judgement-day, the great day of the Lord, the

fire which Christ came to cast into the land so that it

should be turned into Gehenna, the burning of the

chaff and tares after the good wheat in Israel is

gathered into Christ's garner. Notice, however, that

this catastrophe is not called in Scripture the" consummation

" of Christ's kingdom, but of the Jewish age

then current. Christ's kingdom knows no consumrnationin

the sense of coming to an end, but steadily

expands according to those many parables in which

its "lengthened history" is described. There is no

end to the Christian world. Christ's kingdom takes

its official and historical beginning in a catastrophe

which visibly ends the effete Mosaic .tEon j its mission

henceforth is to conquer men of every tongue and tribe,

and hold the whole earth in possession, time without

280 Our Lord's Last PtOpltecy.

end. Here is the simple key to all the seeming confusion

of New Testament teaching; and it is to be

deeply regretted that this key has not been found as

yet by those who have the teaching of our students of

divinity, and whose literary arts give them the public

ear, for it puts a speedy end to that really unscholarly

licence which reflects on the accuracy of the evangelists,

charges such as Paul with ignorance, and even imputes

mistakes to Christ on matters which He taught with

confidence and deliberation.

4. At length our Lord is in Jerusalem to meet His

death. There His teaching as to His kingdom is

beyond all mistake. The chief priests and elders are

told that when they have killed Him they are to look

soon after for the day of their national destruction.

"The kingdom of God," He says," shall be taken from

you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the

fruits thereof." This desolation of Israel is the coming

of the Lord in the fires of judgement. The coming of

God's kingdom is the official withdrawal of the broken

covenant from the Jews and its rejuvenescence in the

hearts of regenerated Gentiles. The date of this

calamitous yet blessed tranference is sternly fixed:

-" All these things shall come upon this generation.

o Jerusalem, your house is left unto you desolate!"

Nowhere up to this last public discourse, is there a

syllable removing the coming of Christ in His kingdom

to a distant date, or placing it beyond the

experience of the men to whom Christ then spake.

Occasionally we find hints that this coming is a twosided

event-bearing upon the dead as surely as the

living, and creating a kingdom there as well as here;

The DiscijJles' Questions. 281

but never are the two sides severed as to time, or

other than one grand event, telling simultaneously in

both worlds, and with no dubiety as to its approximate

date and the outward signs which accompany it.

With teaching running on such plain lines, the

disciples' standpoint may be easily understood in

putting the questions recorded in the beginning of

Matt. xxiv. Strangely enough, as it seems to us, those

questions have been commonly misunderstood; and

exegetes have therefore found the interpretation of our

Lord's reply one of the most puzzling tasks presented

by New Testament Scripture. Let us see whether

there is not a simple and clear solution of this


The disciples, warned so frequently of coming

troubles, were not, like the great men in Jerusalem,

able to laugh at the threats of Christ. Hence, they

were eager to draw the fullest information from the

Master. Holding on to the subject on which the

Lord had just been speaking, they said to him,

"Before you leave the Temple will you not come

round and see the splendid masonry? Have you noticed

that massive stone in the south-west corner of the wallthirty

feet and more by eight? Was there ever such

wondrous masonry! Why, it will be beyond the

power of time to harm such ponderous work as that !"

The only answer was a sigh,-" There shall not be left

one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown

down." Curiosity was .only the more excited by this

doleful prophecy; but they dropped the subject for a

more convenient moment, which soon came to them

in the quiet of a short breathing-space on the side of

Olivet, probably in sight of the glittering splendour of

282 Mistaken Meanings.

the Temple buildings. Two or three of them, anxious

to probe the matter to the core, opened a fire of

questions, the purport of which is all summed up in

this-" When shall these things be? How shall we

know that the time approaches when the house of

God shall be made desolate, and Thy time be come,

and the age brought to its consummation? Tell us,

that being fore-warned we may be fore-armed against

that dreadful time." There is nothing fresh or out of

the way in these questions. They concern the most

ordinary common-places of our Saviour's teaching.

Over and over again, they had been instructed, on

every substantial point. and only one thing seemed

wanting to the perfection of their knowledge, a clearer

indication of the signs that would precede the climax,

and enable them to be the more on the alert.

Two mistakes have however vitiated the common

interpretation of their meaning and our T.ord's reply.

One of them arises from a wrong translation, or, on

the part of Greek readers, a misapprehension of lthe

meaning of one phrase in the disciples' questions. et

it be noted that the disciples make no shadow c f a

reference to any imagined "end of the world" ir a

physical or material sense. No such idea was in th ir

minds; their anticipations were entirely of t. e

opposite character. What they ask concerns "tl e

end of the age." It is most unfortunate that th e

Revisers have retained the word world as th.

translation of o.lwv in the New Testament. Only ir

, one single instance out of many can the translation

be in the least degree justified. On every ground, the

only possible translation is that of the marginal reading-

I< the consummation of the age';" and the phras

Mistaken Meanings. 283

" end of the world" has all along been a trap for the

popular mind (which even scholars like the two just

critised have not escaped), fixing it in the expectation

of a material wreckage, which has no countenance in

the Scriptures. Believing, as multitudes do, that our

Lord predicts terrific physical revolutions as the

accompaniments of His coming, their entire conception

of His parousia has taken a form prolific of very bad


The second mistake is still more widely spread.

Many scholars who perceive that the disciples are

not concerned with" the end of the world," but with

" the consummation of the age," nevertheless fall into

the serious error of importing into the disciples'

questions two or three different subjects. They are

thus forced to find two or three different answers in

our Lord's reply, so inextricably mixed, it seems, that

hardly two expositors of any self-reliance can agree in

discriminating this from that, or as to whether a

certain passage does or does not refer to two events

lying thousands of years apart, but which our Lord,

if He has not been mis-reported, is pleased to throw

together because analogous in their nature. In short,

they make the serious slip of supposing that the

coming of the Son of Man has no connection in time

with the destruction of Jerusalem and the abrogation

of the Mosaic ritual; and the still less excusable slip

of thinking that by" the consummation of the age"

the disciples meant the end of an age which had only

then begun and is running at this present day, and

which, therefore, lay twenty or thirty millennia away

from the subject of question one, the destruction of

Jerusalem. The disorder thus introduced into Christ's

284 A Specimen Exposition.

reply, when the questions are really one and deal with

a series of phenomena running simultaneously to

fulfilment, cannot easily be imagined. The task,

indeed, quite overmasters the interpreter, and almost

everyone going upon this hypothesis confesses his

perplexity. The more commentaries of this order one

consults, the more one is puzzled; and the dazed

feeling grows that the meaning is playing at hideand-

seek with us. In illustration, let us take a recent

able work on Matthew's Gospel and watch the author's

method. He pleads that the" Ye shall SOON hear of

wars and rumours of wars-the famines, the earthquakes,

the false prophets, and persecutions" of which

the disciples are warned-refer, all of them more to a

future age, than to the period before Jerusalem's fall!

Then vv. 15-22, beginning, " When, therefore, ye see,"

suddenly sweep backward, without warning, and refer

to Jerusalem alone. The next nine verses, beginning

"Then, if any man shall say to you," leap away

forward to the end of the Gospel age, and of course

are unfulfilled as yet. Ver. 32 takes us back to the

actual crisis around Jerusalem; and in contradiction

of the connected exposition, " He is nigh" (ver. 33) is

admitted to mean the coming of the Son of Man.

Again, " all these things" which that generation shall

see (ver. 340) concern Jerusalem alone; while in vv. 35

to the end we are again whisked away, without

warning, forward thousands of years. Thus tortuously

proceeds this wayward and arbitrary exegesis. The

"ye," in which Christ addresses the men to whom He

speaks, changes its reference backwards and forwards

every now and then from them to a generation yet

unborn; and the final" Watch ye " does not mean the

I j

The Dimples' Meaning. 285

audience of the hour, but believers who are to be alive

in two or three thousand years! And all this in the

face of Luke's report of Christ's concluding words:

"Watch ye at every season, making supplication that

ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall

SOON come to pass" [see Greek]," and to stand before

the Son of Man." If the bulk of the events foretold

lay twenty centuries away, what need to pray that

they should escape them? And if they actually did

escape the trials of their time through watchfulness,

how could escaping wars, famines, and persecutions,

make them stand before the Son of Man, if He was

not coming in their day, but in three thousand years?

Such are the tremendous exegetical difficulties of this

system of interpretation. Would that the difficulties

raised were only exegeticall We are constrained to

ask-What wiser could the disciples be for an answer

which they could not understand? or what wiser are

we, their successors, if the answer was meant for us?

Such an answer is not in keeping with the intellectual

power or the moral honesty of Christ; but the answer

really given we shall see was full and particular,

without mystery or dubiety, so clear that he who runs

may read.

5. Our immediate business at this stage is to see

that we clearly understand the meaning of the

questions which our Lord was called upon to answer.

"When shall these things be, and what shall be the

sign of Thy Presence and [no article in the Greek]

completion of the age?" That this is the most literal

rendering possible of the words will scarcely be


286 The Questions really One.

The first clause concerns, by unanimous consent,

the desolation of the Temple, of which Jesus has

just been speaking. The second is not concerned with

the COMING of Christ as the mere event of a moment,

but with the PRESENCE of Christ as a permanent and

abiding blessing with His Church. The third is not,

even in form, :l. separate question, but is treated as an

adjunct of the second. The Presence of Christ implies

the completion of the previous age. Therefore. it is

evident that "the presence of Christ" carries here a

dispensational sense, equivalent to Christ's age, as

succeeding the Mosaic. the presence of Christ's

kingdom, or mediatorial reign. Accordingly, ONE

sign indicates that both events have happened-the

Mosaic age having necessarily ended with the presence

of the Christian. Now, handle these questions as you

will, it cannot be denied that they enquire as to the

TIME of one event alone. The disciples were no doubt

intensely anxious to know the time of Christ's Presence

and the completion of the age, yet they did not

ask this question. Why were they content with

knowing only the time of Jerusalem's destruction?

For the very satisfactory reason that they identified

the two as occurring in very close proximity. They

required to know the time of one event only in order to

know the time of both; but in addition to the wIlen,

they thought it well to know the Sig1t which would

make it perfectly self-evident that Christ's age or

kingdom had been introduced in the plenitude of its

powers. If this really is the relationship of the

questions, it settles at one sweep, their general

interpretation. There is but one double-branched

question and not three. The disciples are concerned

The Time and the Sign. 287

about only one event, of which they wish to know the

when? and what the sign? They clearly proceed

upon the assumption that the desolation of the

Temple is not distant, and that no measurable

interval lies between that event and the Parousia and

end of the age. Even Dr. Bruce, who tears the answer

asunder limb from limb, admits that "the three

questions are apparently assumed by the questioners

to be equivalent in import." It seems to be perfectly

evident that our Lord heard them in this identical sense.

From His well-known candour we must expect a

plain correction, if the disciples are here proceeding

upon fallacious assumptions. From the vigour and

clearness of His judgement, we know that there will

be no weak confusion in His answer. Therefore, if

there is no plain correction in the answer (and none is

evident), there has been no mistake made by the

questioners. If, too, the answer proceeds clearly upon

the assumption of a closeness or identity as to time of

the parousia with the destruction of Jerusalem, the

disciples must have put their questions in that sense;

and the answer must be interpreted with that simple

meaning, whatever be the consequence to "our little

systems," and the serious task of reconsideration it will

impose upon our mistakes. That the answer does

certainly run together the two events without any

well-marked dividing-line, every competent exegete

will admit; and this we claim to be a prima-facie

argument for our Lord's intention to express the close

succession of the two in time.

(b) We submit, then, that the disciples could mean

by "the end of the age" only that particular age or

dispensation in which they lived. The Scripture ages


288 The End of the Judaic Age.

are all marked off by the current order of things in

the religious sphere. The disciples belonged to the

day of Moses, of the Law and the Levitical Priesthood;

the pre-Messianic age of Prophecy. Doubtless, they

were well aware that when the Messiah came He was

to institute a reformation that would be equivalent to

a new heaven and new earth. This Messiah had

already come to them; He had spoken plainly, in

awe-inspiring terms, of the consummation of the

existing state of things, and promised that all things

written should speedily be fulfilled. With such a

solemn tragedy in sight it is most improbable that

they were casting their eyes forward upon the end of

an age which had not then so much as dawned, and

with whose end they and their people had no

immediate concern. It is commonly understood that

this age of ours is a portion of the age in' which they

lived. In that case, either our age is Judaic or their

age was Christian. The latter is no more tenable than

the former. The disciples were not living in the fresh

beginnings of an age, but in the last days of a dying

one. Our Lord spake" at the end of these days." He

offered His sacrifice "in the end of the ages."

Therefore, there is no legitimate conclusion left to us

but that these disciples were concerned about the

completion of an age then hastening to its close, and

in whose dying agonies they were individually involved.

It would be strange indeed if the interests of these

simple men overleaped the end of an age so close at

hand to put questions concerning an end far distant

in the future.

(c) These questions had been excited by our

Lord's own thrilling discourses concerning the" end of

TIle End of the Age. 289

the age." That end was synonymous with the coming

of the kingdom of God, which they were assured was

at hand. I ts approach was to be heralded by the

travail-pangs of a fiery judgement that would purge it

from the foulness of the place and people of its birth.

(Matt. xiii.) This judgement would take place as

soon as the elect wheat of the Jewish Church were

ripened enough by Christian teaching to be easily

separated from their social entanglements with the tares

of Judaic formalists and unbelievers; and thus, first by

spiritual and then by local separation, be saved from

the deluge of fire that was to descend upon the land.

Nor was the approximate period of this judgement

left in any doubt. Our Lord's statements that He is

SOON to come, and that the kingdom is at hand, all

imply as well the nearness of the end of the age. In

one case He is recorded as having said that sin against

the Holy Ghost is forgiven II neither in this age nor in

the age ABOUT to come "-that is, neither under the

Mosaic nor Messianic measure of grace can it be anything

but fatal to the soul's acceptance before God

(Matt. xii. 30). That the disciples were quite on the

watch for this approaching age, the age of the kingdom

of God, up to the moment of Christ's death, is

witnessed by the regretful remark of the two in the

walk to Emmaus: "We hoped that it was He which

should SOON redeem Israel." This anticipation was

revived by the Resurrection; and on the very Mount

of Ascension they asked: "Wilt Thou at this time

restore the Kingdom unto Israel?" On the day of

Pentecost Peter expressed the common faith that they

were living in "the last days," according to the

prophecy of Joel j and that the wondrous outpouring

290 Tlu End Expected Soon.

of the Spirit they had just received was for the special

purpose of ripening the good wheat of the Church,

before the darkening of heaven and earth, which

presaged" the notable day of the Lord "-the reaping

of the han-est of the land. Our concern, at present, is

not with the accuracy of the disciples' anticipations,

but with their express convictions as to the end of the

age; and we claim that they were expecting a near

end to their age, an end which would transform existing

Israel into the ideal Israel of the Scriptures. We

claim also that our Lord's answer must be held to

homologate this conviction, if it is not disclaimed.

He who was the Truth would not have glossed over

so serious a mistake, especially when it concerned the

very point on which information was desired. Surely,

if an age were to intervene between the desolation of

the Temple and His presence, our Lord would not

have answered as if both events were simultaneous, or

as closely related as two sides of a shield.

(d) By another series of teachings the disciples

had understood that the parousia was to be heralded

by or be even coincident with the destruction of

Jerusalem. What else- mean the parables which S:lY

that the Lord is to go away and come again to judge

His persecutors? He is to send His armies and

destroy them; to take the vineyard (the kingdom)

and give it unto others. This work of vengeance is to

be the day of His triumph and vindication. His

Pharisaic auditors knew well that He spoke of THEM,

and prophesied that the kingdom would pass to the

Gentiles in their time (Matt. xxi, 43-46). We must

credit the disciples with as quick an apprehension of

their Master's meaning. The kingdom, thus redeemed,

. I

The Right Chronological Standpoint. 291

regenerated, and enlarged, was to constitute the new

successive age. Accordingly," the coming of the Son

of Man" has its equation in "the age about to come"

=" the coming of His kingdom "=" the kingdom of

Heaven" = Christ's mediatorial dispensation or reign,

in which all things are summed up under Christ and

administered by Him from the right hand of the

Father. Such, an age necessarily implied the destruction

of the Temple as a de facto abrogation of the

Mosaic mediatorship, and also the dispersion of the

Jews, in order to secure the permanency of the sign of

judgement. Christ's age begins where Moses' ends.

The abrogation of the Mosaic covenant, seeing that it

was unquestionably Divine in origin, is undeniable

proof that Christ is indeed the Son of God, and that

now He is invested with power and glory. Hence,

the destruction of Jerusalem and the advent of the

new age, or Christ's kingdom, are virtually coincident

in time. With this finding, our Lord's answer is in

strict agreement, and becomes at once self-luminous.

(e) In agreement herewith, let it be noted that the

chronological standpoint of all the New Testament

writers is in "the end of the age." The old world still

abides with them. The Temple stands in all its glory

defiant of the infant faith; and its elaborate services

are" as they were from the beginning." Unbelieving

Jews are mocking the Apostolic preachers, and demanding,-"

Where is the sign of His coming?" The

answer of faith is: God has been patient for your sakes;

but the old age has now nearly run its course. It is

the last time-the last days-and with John, the last

hour. The things that are, are to be shaken; the

Temple and its priesthood to pass away. The time is

292 The Parousia and tlte Fall of Jerusalem.

nigh-the Lord is at hand-the Judge is at the door.

In the Book of Revelation, its actual accomplishment

is pourtrayed in pictorial form to the opened eye of

John, as a process already begun. Surely all this

furnishes a faultless chain of evidence as to what the

disciples meant by, "What is the sign of Thy presence

and completion of the age?"

(/) This interpretation of the disciples' meaning

is strongly corroborated on turning to the corresponding

passages in Mark xiii. and Luke xxi. There the

questions are reduced in form: nothing being asked

concerning Christ's parousia or the end of the age.

We transcribe Mark's report from the Revised Version,

and Luke's is substantially the same: " When shall

these things be? and what the sign when these things

are all about to be accomplished?" The time and

the sign are here concerned, according to the context,

only with the desolation of Jerusalem, and the answers

reported by Mark and Luke embrace all the contents

of the answer to the three in Matthew. The destruction

of Jerusalem-the falling of the stars of

heaven-the coming of the Son of Man-every notable

feature is here in one close piece-woven, like our Lord's

garment, without seam. Now, these two Gospels are

of equal authority with the first-equally correct, and

equally inspired. They were originally put into

separate circulation; and must have been intended

separately to convey the Lord's very truth to their

readers. But if it be the case that the end of the age

and the Lord's parousia are separated by two

... thousand years from the fall of Jerusalem-what

accuracy, we might ask, is in the reports of the second

and third Evangelists? And how misleading they

The Parousia and Temple Worship. 293

must have been to their early readers! It seems that

we are shut up to hold either the conclusion to which

exegetical despair has driven every candid expositor

who clings to the orthodox view of the coming, in company

with such free-thinkers as Francis Newman, W.

R. Greig, Dr. Martineau, and Matthew Arnold, that

error has marred the Evangelists' reports; or else, that

the questions in Matthew are one in import, and

identical with the single subject of Mark and Luke.

(g) Finally, the matter must be tested by the

ability of this interpretation to make our Lord's reply

cogent, lucid, and of service to the disciples for whose

sakes it was spoken-qualities that are lacking to the

popular exposition of its meaning. The key of the

whole position, as we deem it, lies in noticing the emphatic

opposition here set up between the TEMPLE

and the PAROUSIA. Their mutual attitude is not

merely antithesis, but marked antagonism. The age

then existing had for its soul, its inspiring genius, the

Temple. There it stood, the centre of Israel's faith,its

glory, and its hope. Nowhere else was God; on

no other altar could man offer sacrifice; at no other

spot, receive heaven's blessing. Such ideas had had,

in the olden time, a happy educative influence on Israel;

but they had served their time, and become obsolete.

Worse than obsolete, they were fostering an idolatrous,

inhuman, and hypocritical spirit in God's Church.

The Temple and its furniture had become fetishes,

more sacred than Jehovah's law; and to many, than

Jehovah's self. Worship had become punctilious

ritual, and a price for the favour of God. jehovah•.r

was appropriated to the uses of the Jew as if He had

been a merely local" lares and penates," and not the

294 Tne Parousia a Fni'VtrsaJ Presence.

God of the whole wide earth; and the Gentiles were

scarcely accounted worth)" of being respected as His

creatures. Israel had therefore failed to serve the

purpose of its Divine election. The only remedy for

this fallen condition of the Church is the total

abrogation of the dispensation, and the>ubstitution of

another that shall lay a mightier hand upon the heart

and conscience of humanity. The age of local shrines

and prescribed rituals must cease. Men must henceforth

be compelled to face the truth that God is not

limited to temples made with hands; that no priesthood

keeps the key of access; that .. neither in this

mountain nor in Jerusalem," and by no fastidious ritual,

does God seek man to worship Him; but that He is an

immanent Presence-a Spirit and a Father, who makes

only this restriction upon man's power to worship, that

it shall be .. in spirit and in truth." This more spiritual

age was about to be ushered in. The clock had

already struck-s-" the hour cometh, and now is." The

Temple of Herod would go down; the Temple of

Christ's Body would ascend through death into a

Diviner state. Then, the centre of all worshipping

eyes would be no temple built by hands, but the

adorable Parousia or presence of an unseen but omniscient

Christ, who could say: U Lo, I am with you

alway, even to the end of the age; but more intimately

and abundantly when the cumbrous scaffolding of the

present dispensation, to which, alas, you cling too

much, shall have finally disappeared, and all your eyes

and hearts be constrained to seek with deeper eagerness

the consciousness of a Divinity in which you live

and move, by which you are inspired to lofty faith and

noble deeds; and, abiding in which, you are united to

A Near or Distant Parousia ? 295

the spirits of just men made perfect, to innumerable

hosts of angels, and to the city of the living God, the

heavenly Jerusalem." And so it seems that to realize

the Parousin here is, like St. John, to "know that the

Son of God is HERE and that weare in Him. This is

the true God and eternal life." The age of the disciples

knew God only as shut up in a sanctuary at Jerusalem;

the following age was to dwell in God by the personal

though invisible PRESENCE of Christ with every true

believer. Such is the antithesis which lies at the

heart of this great prophetic discourse. The Temple

age, with its materialistic localizations, is about to

disappear; the age is about to dawn when every true

disciple can enter into the Holiest of all and stand

perpetually in the Parousia of" God in Christ." Does

it not appear evident, then, that "the age about to

come" is indeed no other than this blessed Gospel age,

in which we are favoured by a Presence which is with

every two or three who are gathered together in Christ's


6. Let us now search the answer in detail that

we may see whether it agrees most with a near or a

distant parousia. It is as well to note, at the outset,

that our Lord's express intention in answering these

questions is to arm His disciples effectively against

the errors and temptations peculiar to the times. We

may, therefore, confidently hold that the instruction

given runs upon the plainest lines, and that any serious

mistake under which the questioners may lie will be

speedily corrected. It is, surely, the very last occasion

on which our Lord would speak, as Dean Mansel says,

" with the obscurity of prophetic language," or mingle,

296 Signs oj tlte End.

without sufficient definition, His disciples' personal

experiences with other events lying thousands of years

apart. No method could better lead them to confusion

and serious mistake.

" Take heed," He says, " ye will hear of many calling

themselves Christs." This prophecy was certainly

strikingly realised in the Apostolic age, and especially

before the fall of Jerusalem. There is even good reason

for believing that the Emperor Nero was at one time

prompted by the phantasy that he was the King of

ancient prophecy who was to rule the world from

Jerusalem. The probability that any future generation

will be troubled by many Christs is very small

indeed. Here and there some idiotic individual, moved

by current prophetic teaching, may be seized by the

fancy of calling himself" Christ," but those led astray

will not be many. In fact, the prophecy must be read

of the first christian generation. When our Lord says

" ye " to men standing in His presence, He in no case

means the "ye" to carry an indefinite or merely

general reference to believers of some distant date.

Certainly, the next sign cannot be thus postponed.

"Ye shall SOON hear of wars and rumours of wars."

This troubled state of society was to continue for some

years, and was not ., the end," but only the" travail

pangs" of the corning Messianic age. The historians

of the period fill their pages with" cities sacked by the

enemy or swallowed up by earthquakes" throughout

the Roman empire. From the year 52, when a savage

war broke out between the Galileans and Samaritans,

there was no peace in Palestine until Jerusalem was

levelled and her worship silenced.

At this period the disciples are to suffer persecution

Work to be Done before the End. 297

as preachers of the Kingdom. " Ye shall stand before

Sanhedrims, and in synagogues shall ye be beaten"

(ver. 9 with Mark xiii. 9). This is a certain note of

first century life, when Jerusalem still stands, and the

evangelists are of Jewish blood. Indeed, the reference

is mainly Palestinian in scope. Amid the calamities

of this period, many in the church grow cold, and turn

treacherously upon their friends. These evils are

aggravated by the spread of" damnable heresies" that

might almost deceive the elect, (vv. 10-12). This

picture is exactly realised in the later epistles, and in

the seven Asiatic churches of the Apocalypse. St.

John recognizes" the last time "-the time just before

the end-by the many servants of anti-Christ who had

invaded the infant church-a veritable flood of waters

from the Serpent's mouth.

"And these good tidings of tlte Ki1zgdom shall be

preached in the whole inhabitable worldfor a testimony

unto all the nations and then shall the end come."

length there comes into our horizon what seems to be

a sign that" the end" could not have been intended

for the Apostolic days. It is argued that a generation

was not sufficient for such a work, and that Luke must

best represent the teaching of the Master when he

reports that this season of evangelization is " the times

of the Gentiles," which in fairness must last as long at

least as the Jewish seasons, which were for many

centuries. Now this interpretation is simply ridiculous

in view of the number of palpably erroneous notions

it contains, although it is the product of a writer whose

eyes are usually in his head. How can" the end" be

at the conclusion of the evangelization of the Gentile

world when the end is either coincident with or close

29~ The Gospel Preached before the End.

upon" the abomination of desolation" standing in the

temple? and when the social and political troubles of

the apostolic age were its birth-pangs, and when" the

end" is the end of the then existing Jewish age?

The" times of the Gentiles" are certainly this current

period of Gentile evangelization, but the evangelization

referred to here is quite another thing. It is identical

with that evangelization which our Lord orders for all

the cities of Israel, and which will hardly be accomplished

before His coming. The Gospel to be

preached is " the good news of the coming Kingdom."

All the lsraelitish locations or colonies throughout the

world were to be visited and evangelized so that the

Jews and Gentiles in those cities might hear for themselves

that Jerusalem was to be destroyed, and Mosaic

worship cease, as the sign that God had made Jesus

Lord and Christ, and that all nations were henceforth

to obey Him. This divine arrangement was a wise

and kindly providence in the interest of both Jew and

Gentile, and the fulfilment of this pre-intimated

purpose must have been a valuable" witness" to the

divine claims of Jesus. And this general evangelization

of the civilised world need not have been

misunderstood, because the Scriptures recognise it as

an accomplished fact as early as the days of Paul. The

faith of the Roman Church was then spoken of

"throughout the world." The Gospel was a ready

come" to all the world and preached to every creature"

(Col. i. 6, 2:~). No doubt, by the year 70, every considerable

city of the world, where at least a Jewish

colony had been planted, had been visited in order

that the scattered brethren might be apprised of the

judgement impending over Jerusalem and its Temple,

II Then Cometlz tlze End." 299

and be convinced upon its accomplishment that Jesus

was the Christ, the Son of God. St. Paul prided

himself upon the fact that through him alone the

Gospel had been fully proclaimed and heard of all the

Gentiles (2 Tim. iv. 17). Why then should this

evangelization in the Synoptics be so grossly misunderstood

as to be taken to indicate a "distant foreshadowed

fulfilment" (Alford) of the coming to another

people in another age? It is to the credit of Chrysostom

that he seized upon the proper meaning of this

verse, and saw that the Divine intention of it was to

leave the Jews throught the world" without a shadow

of excuse" for unbelief. Would that his example had

been more catching amongst his exegetical successors!

The fitness of the divine long-suffering through such

. a testifying period of years agrees with what was due

not only to the covenant people, but as well to all

throughout the world who had put any faith in the

divinity of Jerusalem's religion, or had any knowledge

of Israel's God.

This work efficiently done by Christ's messengers..

then cometh the end." We claim that what immediately

follows is our Lord's definition of" the end."

Interpreters can hardly mistake the meaning of vv.

15·22. II The abomination of desolation" is in all

probability the now notorious profanation of the

Temple by Eleazer, and his crew, before the investment

of the city by the Romans. The warning to flee

from J udsea into the mountains, shows that this judgement

day is to cover the length and breadth of the

land; and its distinctively Jewish area is plainly

indicated by the instruction not to let this danger

overtake them on a Sabbath day when the gates of

300 " The Days of Vengeance."

the cities would be shut and it would be impossible to

procure the assistance of their neighbours, nor in the

winter when the days arc short and cold, and the

roads impassable from the heavy rains. These and

other simple admonitions, with His kindly remembrance

of mothers and mothers-about-to-be, speak

volumes for the tenderness of Christ's heart, considering

that at the moment He is sitting under the shadow of

His Cross. Indeed, the unparalleled severities of this

judgement-harvest of the Holy Land seem to have

painfully impressed our Lord. This catastrcphe is without

doubt to Him, however commentators may belittle

it, "the great and notable day of the Lord "_u the days

of vengeance, that ALL THINGS which are written may

be fulfilled" (Luke xxi. 22.) The fiery judgements

anticipated by the prophets are therefore here realized'

and exhausted. Let this be marked and well digested.

Strongly as certain exegetes affirm a second fulfilment,

and on a necessarily larger scale, as Christendom

exceeds J udsea, more strongly does our Lord contradict

their expectations, for such great tribulation has never

been "nor ever shall be" again. So fierce, indeed,

will this Gehenna be, that without a Providential

shortening of its duration no flesh shall be saved from

its unquenchable furies. There is no need to array

evidence of the terrific trials which befell the

Abrahamic people in the concluding years of the

Judaic age. So marvellously was this prophecy fulfilled

that many of the freer critics of the Gospels have

asserted that these books must have been written after

the fall of Jerusalem, because prophecy never can

anticipate history so realistically as it is said to have

done here.

Pretended Christs. 301

Besides the physical dangers to which the infant

Church would be exposed in this bloody Armageddon,

there was a still greater danger from the current

expectation of the Jews that on any evil seriously

threatening the national life and its religion, the

Messiah would certainly appear and bring salvation.

Nothing therefore was more natural than that in the

feverish atmosphere of the nation's dying throes false

Christs should be reported. Such would-be Saviours

might even attest their Messiaship by miracles, and

almost succeed in deceiving the Church itself. Well,

how does our Lord proceed to arm His Apostles

against this immanent and destructive delusion? Will

He not here speak out in plainest terms; or will He

take shelter behind the custom of" prophetic obscurity"

in which now-a-day exegetes believe so much? Why,

if ever our Lord can have felt a necessity for plain and

explicit counsel, so as to leave no excuse for ignorance

or loophole for blundering, it is now, when His very

elect in the infancy of their faith are in danger.

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the common

belief of to-day was the actual mind of Christ

as He was addressing His ciisciples, what naturally

would have been the form of instruction best fitted to

secure the stability of the Apostolic Church? Good,

kindly, Christian men, of great teaching power, and

with a multitudinous following, are consumed with

zeal for the idea that Christ Himself will visibly

appear, next year or a little later, to destroy the wicked

and rule over His saints on earth,-this or some

kindred notion, for the idea is protean in its shapes.

If our Lord had had as much as the faintest notion

that He was to come personally only at the close of

302 Tlu Real Christ InvisilJle.

the Gospel age, two thousand years after the fall of

Jerusalem, He could have secured the absolute safety

of His elect with a single explicit word. It was only

needful for Him to have said, "My coming is not

connected with the fall of Jerusalem; but lies far

forward in the future." Nothing approaching to such

words were spoken. While the disciples are to believe

in the coming when Jerusalem is in its dying throes,

they are not to believe that Christ is" here" or" there"

-localized in some palatial chamber or in the retirement

of the desert. Our Lord is far from denying

that His Advent is appointed for this time. The

word that would have justified the notion now

believed was never spoken, useful as it would have

been to the blundering Church of these eighteen

centuries. Instead of such advice, the disciples are

warned that their defence against delusion lies in clearly

understanding that there is never to be such a local and

physical manifestation of the Christ on this earth.

" The world seeth Me no more." A physical Christ,

visible in Jerusalem or elsewhere, is strictly forbidden

to Christian faith. Never is it to be said in history

concerning Him or His kingdom (Luke xvii, 20):

Lo here! 10 there! Our Lord abjures that questionable

privilege of material localization which so many of His

followers impute to His return. The notion is a

survival from the rudimentary structures of the Judaic.

Messianic faith. To hold it in the Church is to encrust

Christianity with a Judaic shell; to conceive Christ's

glory under the very limitations which He is throwing

off by His death and resurrection; it is to contradict

the most vital and essential meaning of His parousia

or Presence, which is really absence if it is not as

His Presence not Local. 303

universal as His Church, as ubiquitous as God Himself;

and it is to turn back upon that very idea of a

temple-presence which Christ is dying to make obsolete.

Most plainly is this local personal idea of His return

repudiated by Himself: "Never will it be true that I

am to be seen here or there. My coming has a twofold

aspect. It is an outbreak of new light that shall shine

from the East to the West; and it is, as well, like to

the gathering of eagles round the carcase to devour it.

To the new world, it is a coming full of new illumination,

a new sun arising on the world; to the old world, it is

a corning to judge and to sweep corruption from the

land." In other words, it is the official advent of the

Christian age by the flashing forth of the brightness of

Christ's glory on the world, the breaking of new light

upon earth's darkness, fresh revelations of Christ's

ascended reign, and a larger influx of Christ's Spirit

to His Church; and it is as well, the close of the

Judaic age by the judgement and destruction of the

rotting carcase of a church which has ceased to have

God's life in it, and is now only an encumbrance and

pollution where it lies affronting Heaven.

Thus our Lord instructs us that His coming cannot

take the personal and local form under which men so

commonly, and, we might say, naturally, conceive it.

He does not say, " I am not coming at this time, nor

.in your lifetime." That would clearly have put the

disciples beyond all danger of delusion, and it would

have given reasonable cover to the zeal of those who are

looking for the Advent now. But He did not say itcould

not: because His express intention was to tell His

disciples that He would verily corne while some of

them had not tasted death, and that the signs of His

30~ .. After the Tribulation."

Advent to supremest authority in heaven and on earth

would be the destruction of Jerusalem as the

abrogation of the former covenant, and the increasing

dominance of the Christian faith over the beliefs of

men. Again, history agrees with our interpretation.

When the Lord of the Vineyard sent His armies into

Judsea, the Christians recognized the signal for their

flight, and only the spiritually dead were left behind.

The Roman eagles spread over the land like a devouring

plague, and never ceased their consuming work

until the land was peeled, Jerusalem laid waste, and

Jewish worship rendered void. The carcase was

devoured; the eagles fattened on its unwholesome flesh.

The land was finally judged for its sins because the

cup of its iniquity was full.

Is the story of Jerusalem finished here, or are we

transported into some more distant time? Our Lord

proceeds: "But immediately after the tribulation of

those days" (ver. 29). Here there is no break in time,

but the closest succession; and if we read Luke's

report, identity of time with the time of Jerusalem's

tribulation. The passage is "very difficult," says

Mansel, from its so intimate connection with Jerusalem,

and its unmistakable reference to the Second Coming.

Luckily, for such perplexed commentators, Luke

supplies a remark about Jerusalem's tribulation at

which they grasp with the proverbial despair of a

drowning man. .. Jerusalem shall be trodden down of

the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

This is interpreted as covering all the period during

which the Jewish race are dispossessed of the Holy

Land; and Matthew's" immediately" therefore comes

in after this age-long tribulation has passed away!

The Times of the Centzles. ' 305

But what are we to think of a system of interpretation

which makes one Evangelist contradict another? Then,

again, we may ask, What ends this supposed long period

. of tribulation? And" immediately after" the end of

the Jewish tribulation, is there to be such a convulsion

of the physical universe as is here described; or, if

understood spiritually, such an utter collapse of the

Christian Church as Alford describes? On the contrary,

Paul tells us that the restoration of the Jews to

Divine favour will add immensely to the fulness and

glory of the Gentile (Rom. xi. 12). Altogether then

the interpretation is out of joint. Meyer's view is, that

Luke's statement refers to the short period during

which the Roman trampling on Palestine is allowed to

run. Better still, we think, is the idea that our Lord

means here to say, "The Gentiles shall tread down

Jerusalem until an end is made of the Judaic Dispensation,

and the age of the Gentiles is ushered in."

Such an age for the Gentiles had been foreshadowed

in the Old Testament Scriptures. Our Lord had said,

"The kingdom shall be given to the Gentiles;" and

Paul accordingly was looking forward to a time, not

far distant, when "the fulness of the Gentiles should

come in," i.e. when the Gentiles would have their full

standing in the kingdom of God, by the official abrogation

of the Jew's pre-eminence in the destruction of

Jerusalem. When Jerusalem's day would be completely

gone, the Gentile's season would begin, and

the Scripture be fulfilled. Thus does Luke's intimation

finely resolve itself into an idea in completest harmony

with our exegesis of the passage; and bring all three

Evangelists into strict agreement as to the time and

place of what is immediately to follow, according to

306 Tke Powers of Heaven Shaken.

Mark's words: " In those days, after that tribulation."

Taking the narrative, then, as it reads, without intercalating

long periods according to our fancy, this

"difficult" passage becomes like simplicity itself.

When Jerusalem has passed through this great tribulation,

the people been broken and scattered, and

worship made impossible, is there any mode of speech

that will better describe Israel's unspeakable desolation

and horror of great darkness than that old figure which

the prophets had made familiar to every Jew-" The

sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give her light,

the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of tlte

heavens be sltaken"?
This cannot be interpreted as an

actual rupture of the sidereal system, as the earth is

standing fast in its place, and men living and beholding

in spite of the catastrophe. It is a prophetical quotation

to be interpreted in its well-defined Biblical sense.

The same language was used by Isaiah to describe

Babylon's destruction by the Medes; by Ezekiel concerning

Egypt's fall; by Joel and Amos of the

tribulation of their days. Let the reader put himself

in the place of the Jew immediately after the national

collapse, and he will see that it is not too strong an

Orientalism to describe the mental darkness, the

stupefaction and the misery of a people whom God

had judged, and who are forced to see every prospect

blasted without hope. Such was Israel's outlook.

The sun of Israel's day had set; and God's face was

dark with indifference and silence. So dark was the

nation's night that no single star of hope shone in their

sky. Bitter as wormwood and gall was Israel's disappointment,

and utterly lost its faith in God.

And worse is yet to come. There was no intelligent

Christ Coming in His Kingdom. 307

Jew in those days but knew that Christ's disciples had

been foretelling far and wide this fall of the nation and

its temple, and asserting that this doom was specially

to be taken as a proof that Christ was indeed the Son

of God, and had substituted His own mediatorship for

the divine legation of Moses. When this dread event

occurred, it was a magnificent triumph for the preachers

of the Cross. The fall of Jerusalem brought in a

spiritual rejuvenescence to the Gospel cause. As a

matter of fact, Christ's star rose in proportion as the

star of Moses set; doing for the Church what the

Resurrection had done for the disciples. Thus, every

eye observant of the signs of the times, saw" the sign

of the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." And

the background of this coming was "the clouds of

heaven," Again we are face to face with Oriental

imagery. The" clouds" are poetry for gloom, for

darkness, for threatening tribulation. Isaiah says: "The

Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and cometh unto

Egypt." Later, Daniel prophecies of the Son of Man

under a similar figure. So the coming of Christ in His

kingdom was seen over against the darkness of the

Jewish day, the cloudy prospects of Israel's personal

and national life. He came to His dispensational day

through the dank and portentous darkness of the

heavens-as every new day rises to its strength, breaking

through the heavy curtains of the night. Salvation

is seen only through the clouds of judgement. Calvary

shines brightest against Sinai's dark and thunderous

gloom. If Judaism had not been turned to darkness,

the Apostles could not have triumphantly asserted that

Christ was on the Father's throne, and that all the

kingdoms of this world were given into His hand.

308 Gathering in the Elect.

But with Jewish hopelessness ever growing darker, and

the Church of Christ achieving year by year its destined

supremacy over every faith, surely it was demonstrated

to all eyes that Christ was coming in His kingdom,

endowed with the power and glory of the Father.

That this is the gist of our Lord's meaning is witnessed

by His remark to the priests and elders at II is trial:

"From now, ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at

the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of

heaven." How else, we ask, than in the growing

spiritual power of Christ and the growing darkness of

the Judaic sky? Yes, this was one of the bitterest

elements in Israel's cup. The logic of events did seem

to chide them with their blindness and stupidity. It

looked then as if it were possible that they had embrued

their hands in Messiah's blood. The brighter

were the prospects of the Crucified, the more bitterly

did "all the tribes of the land" lament over what

presaged to be the final extinction of Israel's hope.

All this, again, was the fulfilment of the prophecy

describing the Babylonian desolation of the land: " For

this shall the land mourn, and the heavens above be

black" aer. iv. 28).

The statement that "Christ shall send forth His

angels with the sound of a trumpet to gather His elect,"

would have lost much of its perplexity if" angels" had

been displaced by " messengers." There is no better

suggestion than that of Rabbi Lightfoot: Ministros

suos cum tuba evange/ica.
The verse is founded upon

Isa. xxvii. 13: "A great trumpet shall be blown, and

they shall come which were ready to perish ... and

shall worship the Lord." Our Lord delighted to point

to Himself as the fulfiller of all the prophecies of jhe

All fulfilled in that Generation. 309

ancient Word. At this stage, when the covenant

people are exhibited as broken and scattered, what

more appropriate than to show that Christ's mission is

a healing one, and that He gathers" a people for God's

Name," builds up another elect nation out of every

blood and tongue, to dwell in the New Jerusalem which

comes down from heaven? Here we see the kingdom

growing around the Person of the ever-present Christ,

and promising to fill the earth. It is the dramatic

expression of the truth: "There shall be one Fold and

one Shepherd," "One Lord, one Baptism, and one

Father of all," with one centre and home for the human

race. Indeed, we might have limited our comment to

this selection from the prayer in the Didache: "Let

Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the

earth into Thy Kingdom."

The verses which here follow are simply an emphatic

assurance that the disciples will see these things

accomplished within the generation. The historical

occurrences around Jerusalem are to be the signal that

" He is nigh "-not, of course, in His visible personality,

as is shown by Luke's substitution of "the kingdom

of God" for Christ's Person. The approximate date

is fixed by the term" generation." No manipulation

can make "generation" mean other than the lifetime

of those then living; nor" all these things" less than

the totality of the events before described. So certain

is Christ of the nearness of His age, that He affirms

that His promise is more stable than the foundations of

heaven and earth; and yet, with excessive frankness,

He confesses apparent limitations to His knowledge.

He knows not" the day nor the hour," nor even the

season ofthe year. Here again excuse is found for read310

Our Lord's Ignorance of the Day and Hour.

ing a double meaning into our Lord's discourse. An

able writer already quoted, says-" The two declarations,'

A II will happen in this generation," No one knows

the time,' are irreconcilable taken as referring to the

same event." The ignorance professed must therefore

concern "another day, separated from the former by

an unknown indefinite interval." We are curious to

know by what rule of logic it can be established that

if one is certain of an event occurring within forty

years, he must be ready to predict the very day and

hour. Such a dictum is belied by all experience. If our

J .ord was, while in human form, commonly subject to

our limitations of prevision, then He might from His

own sagacity, or very well from the prophetic writings,

forecast the general date of the end of the dispensation,

while confessing that minute exactitude of knowledge,

dependent on so many contingencies, was possible only

to the Infinite, and not needful for His disciples. Our

Lord's reserve, however, may not be so much due to

any invincibility of ignorance as to a certain natural

impossibility of reducing the events described to the

precise dimensions of a day or hour, A definite prophecy

of the day and the hour, if He could have given

it, would almost certainly have been discredited by

many witnesses, even after the event. Narrators are

all at variance as to the hour of the day when the

battle of Waterloo began. How could men have

agreed as to the hour of the coming of that Kingdom

which Christ said was "among you," and yet was

"about to come," and to be seen from the date of His

Crucifixion, and yet not till after the abrogation of the

Mosaic kingdom of God? Had our Lord's coming

been a purely personal and local manifestation, the

One Taken, Anotker Left. 311

moment might have been foretold. But it was to be

like the advent of the summer; and could man or

angel fix the hour when summer dawns? It was to be

like light breaking in the rosy East: and who but God

can tell the moment when dawn changes into day?

Mechanical arrangements can be measured by the

clock; God's great evolutionary processes cannot be

fixed to the human eye by smaller measurements than

generations. No wonder that Christ said, "I cannot

fix the day and hour for you." By that very reticence,

or ignorance if you will, He shows that •• the kingdom

of God cometh not with observation," and will scarcely

be discerned by the multitude until it is firmly rooted

in the earth.

The same spiritual character is given to His coming

in the warnings which conclude this chapter. The

Old Testament Kingdom was a geographical quantity;

a family and tribal dispensation. Not so the kingdom

about to come. It is to be spiritual, and thus

elective, discriminating. Of two neighbours, one will

be carcase for the eagles, the other elect to the kingdom.

It will be of no use to say then, "We have

Abraham to father." One of the same family shall be

taken, the other left. The two are severed in their

destinies, because severed in their spirits. One hears

the trumpet call-responds, and enters into life; the

other stays in old beliefs and sins, and becomes food

for the eagles or fuel for Gehenna. Destinies are

settled by affinities. God treats us as He finds us-tares

or wheat, sensual or spiritual, obedient or contentious:

these are the secrets of men's destinies.

Here ends our task with chap. xxiv, It is not

probable that we have satisfied all readers. But let

312 What current Interpretations lead to.

the dissatisfied remember what a labyrinth of confusion

the chapter becomes in the hands of most interpreters,

and how unsatisfactory their expositions have been to

multitudes of our ablest Biblical scholars. We could

readily fill a page with eminent names whose ultimate

verdict is summed up in one or other of two propositions,

which we cull from a recent work by a wellknown

English critic:-

1. Either Jesus was mistaken, because He did 1I0t come as

is foretold; or,

2. The Evangelists are inaccurate reporters. And they

~em so, for" neither question gets a plain response, and both

are partially evaded. The parts comprising the answer are

without proper connection, and have no perceptible progress," -

Certainly our current expositions justify the charges

made. Every expositor of the double-reference theory

more or less explicitly acknowledges the-same. - Even

our unconvinced reader will admit that the exposition

given in these pages is the refutation of such charges,

by the comparative readiness with which the discourse

resolves itself into an intelligent and relevant answer;

the close, consecutive order of its thinking; and the

fidelity of the meaning obtained to the most natural

sense that can possibly be put upon the words. We

boldly make the claim that, when properly expounded,

the chapter leaves no room for the accusation, either

that Jesus was mistaken, or that His answer was misrepresented

by the Evangelists.

One word of caution in conclusion. Let us not

imagine that this discourse, including chap. xxv., was

intended to cover all aspects of the Second Advent. It

js simply a clear, orderly, and instructive response to the

The Parable of the Virgins. 313

disciples' questions, meeting their immediate demands

with frank explicitness, It professes to be no more

than an answer to the When? and What is the sign ?

of the earthward and temporal aspect of the advent of

Christ's age or dispensation; and only by its profession

can it be fairly judged.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins has been found

difficult to expound by all who have sought for more

in it than the one direct and much-needed lesson which

our Lord was endeavouring to impress on His disciples

-the need of being prepared for delay in the advent

of the Kingdom beyond the moment at which it would

be commonly expected. It is not taught that the

Advent will be delayed indefinitely, but simply that

as some like the Tyrannical Servant will find it come

sooner than it is looked for, many in the church who

are eagerly wishing for it, will find it delayed longer

than they expected.

The parable does not carry us beyond death, nor

make any direct reference to eternal destinies. The

time is not in the distant future, but" immediately

after the tribulation of those days." The marriage is

the conscious and historical recognition by the Church,

that her day of grace, her dispensational reign on earth,

has come; that she is indeed the Bride of Him who

sits upon the throne, and is spiritually and corporeally

united in her life and destiny with her Glorified Head;

or, to put it in more official language, it is the formal

initiation of the reign of Christ on earth, the introduction

of the Gospel Age or Dispensation. Interpreted

on these lines, we remain true to the time, the

place, arid the methods of the Kingdom's coming, as

314 Expectant but S/umberj,zg.·

expressed in other Scriptures, and find the parable

unfold its beautiful meaning without hitch or strain,

and to be rich in practical teaching for all time.

The Church and her friends are represented here as

in hourly expectation of the Parousia or discernible

conjunction of the Church with her Divine Lard. Yet

the time drags heavily on; the very eagerness of expectation

makes the hours seem longer than they are.

In their protracted vigils the friends of the Bride grow

weary, and at length their heads droop on their breasts,

and they drift into a troubled sleep which is broken

only when certain startling signs are in the air that

the hour of hope has come. Every reader must admit

that this is a speaking picture of the Apostolic Church.

The time is " midnight "-" The night is far spent, the

day is at hand!" Everyone is here patiently waiting

for the Bridegroom's arrival. Is not that the repeatedly

expressed expectation of every Epistle, and the

attitude of every New Testament Church? The

Bridegroom's coming is unduly delayed. Did it not

appear so to the Thessalonians, and those who upbraided

Peter with the long delay? Was not

" patience" an oft-commended virtue to those who

waited for the coming? Whatever the bride may be,

her friends are slumbering drowsily. Did not the

Apostles chide the congregations oftheir day because

they were not half alert? "It is high time to awake

out of sleep." "Let us not sleep as do others, but

watch." When at length the clock has struck, it is

found that one-half of the watchers are without oil in

their cruises and their lights going out. Do we not

find that on the eve of the Parousia, one-half at least

of the seven Apocalyptic Churches are needing, like

Missing the Marriage Joys. 315

Sardis, "to strengthen the things that remain, that are

ready to die "-the eye of faith dim and needing eyesalve

that it may see, and the lamp of love going out

in a careless and indulgent temperament that has

taken too kindly to the pleasures of the world, and

that compels Christ to threaten a portion of His followers

that they will be treated like His foes?

The immediate result of this difference in the

preparation of the heart is a total severance of

experience between one professor and another. The

Bride recognizes that the fulness of her privilege has

come. The really godly portion of the Apostolic

generation shared so fully in "the unction of the

Holy Ghost," that it beheld the sign of the Son of

Man in the darkened clouds of heaven, and knew that

the day of H is power had come. When the smoke of

Jerusalem's judgement cleared away, all interested

saw the Church gathered around the Christ, worshipping

Him as seated on God's throne, and as having

won a triumphant victory over the evil powers that

had crucified Him. The Church became more

conscious of her own divinity, beheld herself more

distinctly clothed with her Husband's graces, and felt

herself much more a partaker of His heavenly life and

destiny. Now she has come forth from the obscurity

of her virgin days; she is no longer confounded with

the beggared Jew, but is seen to pass into the palace

splcndours of her union with the King of kings.

Realizing the grand significance of her relation to the

Eternal One, she knows that the time has come for

Zion to put on her beautiful apparel and shine with

the light and glory of the Bride of God.

The Virgins are those whom the Apocalypse speaks

-:316 The Parable 01 the Talents.

of as bidden to the marriage supper. The wise are

the happy witnesses of the Church's glory. Their

experience is quickened by what their _eyes behold;

and they enter in to the more secret joys of their Lord

-or, indeed, become an integrant portion of the Bride.

Those left outside are those less spiritual friends of

the Church, who had not eyes to see the Parousia for

themselves, and are consequently self-excluded from

the festive joys of the Church's conscious triumph, and

more innerly communion with the Spirit of Christ.

They are not shut out of the kingdom so much as

excluded from the triumphant joy of being consciously

in fel owship with the ever-present Christ, the Husband

of the soul. The parable thus recognizes the serious

danger of being disappointed at the epoch of the

expected Parousia. Not realizing the Lord's presence

as they anticipated many of the less spiritual, in their

disappointment, would experience a positive reaction

in their faith, and perhaps drift out permanently into

the outer darkness of unbelief and apostasy. The

midnight might be permanent. There are oportunitics

which do not readily return.

The Parable of the Talents, like that of the Virgins,

is barren of any particular notes of time or place that

will throw light upon its interpretation. We are not

told whether the scene is laid in spirit-life or here; and

commentators wisely make little of its eschatology.

Whitby thinks that the parable refers to the Jewish

people. In this case, it probably expounds the law 01

on the Kingdom. Our Lcrd certainly did

often warn the Jews that their final relation to the kingdom

would be determined by the use which they made

The Parousia not Postponed, an

of the truth revealed to them by Moses and the

Prophets. Faithful use of the oracles of God would fit

them to pass in into the newer arid purer light of the

Kingdom, whereas abuse of their dispensational gifts

would have a totally different issue-the loss of their

distinctive privileges and rejection into the outer darkness

of disappointment and despair.

I t is possible, however, that our Lord was narrowing

His thoughts to His own disciples, and unfolding the

principle on which the honours of His Kingdom would

be dispensed. Perhaps He was answering that recent

disputation: "Who shall be greatest>" without recalling

painful memories. They should be most

honoured who dealt most faithfully with the evangelical

truths committed to their care. The parable is applied

concretely in our Lord's Epistles to the Apocalyptic

Churches when the dispensational crisis of His coming

is at hand. The faithless and slothful are to be blotted

out of. the Book of Life, while the loving and diltgent

servant is to be made a pillar in the Temple of God,

and, it may be, allowed to enter so far into" the joy of

his Lord" as to" sit down with Him on His Throne."

Against a speedy return of Christ (and also against

the early existence of this Gospel) much is made of the

remark-" Now, after a long time," But a generation,

or forty years, the actual distance of the Parousia, is

an unusually long time for an individual to hold wealth

in trust for a master; and therefore the par-ible does

not postpone the Parousia or show that the disciples

were beginning to despair of their Lord's return when

this Gospel was written.

As to whether the reward is a temporal experience,

or is limited to the eternal world, the parable doth not





The Shei!'(J and the Goats.

sa}'. There is, however, a common feeling among expositors

that there is a present-world fulfilment, even

while their sympathies arc with a " last-day" interpretation.

We humbly suggest that our Lord is thinking

here only of the broad determining principles by which

men enter on, or are excluded from, the supreme

rewards of the kingdom of God--consequently, that

the parable applies equally to the life beyond and the

kingdom here. Indeed, the veil between the temporal

and eternal was so thin to Christ that He never thought

of His kingdom as divided. There is but one Church

and one reward. They who do not enter are in the

outer darkness whether here or there.

The powerful representation of the Sheep and

Goats, with which chapter xxv, finishes, is neither a

parable nor the realistic picture of a formal judgement

which transpires in place and time. It is a highly

dramatic setting of some function of judging and

separation which Christ fulfils in the destinies of nations

and of men: but it is difficult to disintegrate the hard

stern facts; and consultation of our front-rank expositors

rather adds to the perplexity. It is a common

mistake to assume that this representation is an official

and concrete judgement, taking place at the end of

the Gospel Dispensation, Lange entitles it, "The

Final Judgement in its Last Form." This takes too

much for granted. It is a remarkable fact that the

Scriptures know nothing of a last or final judgement

of the world. Immediately an expositor is dominated

by the idea that any particular judgement is the last

historically, he is on very slippery ground, since every

judgement whose time is located in the Scriptures is

Not the" Last Judgement." 319

described as "about to come to pass;" and not one as

" final," although its results may be final so far as concerns

the fate of individuals. Take the coming of the

Son of Man before us, and it is undeniably the same

as that in Matt. xxiv, 30, 31 ; and it was promised to

that generation, and before some of the disciples should

taste of death. If this be so, imagine the distortion of

prophetic outlook which takes place when this judgement

is wrenched from its true historic setting, and

transported forward to the end of time, and there left

suspended in the air without a single note as to the

world's fate beyond that point! In view. then, of

the demands of faithful exegesis, this judgement

scene must take its beginning in the period immediately

succeeding the downfall of Jerusalem. There

is no hiatus in our Lord's discourse, no historical

sketch of the progress and consummation of the

Messianic Kingdom, to justify us in postponing the

contents of this scene to any distant day. Following

Bishop Westcott, we feel constrained to say: "Christ

came in the lifetime of St. John. He founded His

immovable Kingdom. He gathered before Him the

nations of the earth, old and new, and passed sentence

upon them. He judged in that shaking of earth

and heaven, most truly and decidedly the living

and the dead. He established fresh foundations for

society and a fresh standard of worth." 1

Another bad mistake is made when local and

temporal ideas are made emphatic. Place and time

are left so indefinite, that if, with Dr. Martineau, in his

Seat of Authority, we insert into the transaction an

actual throne planted on the grass, and the people

1 "The Historic }'aith," p. 90.

320 Represents /l Continuous Process.

dragged from their cities and lands to stand in a

sweltering mass before a judge upon a certain day,

then we utterly misconceive the theological meaning

of the picture, and make it, in fact, ridiculous. The

whole pictorial element is mere dramatic setting, and

is present because needful for the disciples' education,

as it is for all eastern and uncultured peoples to this

day. Scientific students of the Scriptures should be

able to transcend the spectacular form in which truth

is cast, and instinctively discern the essential meaning

apart from its ornate covering. Here, then, as

instructed, we are at the entrance of the Christian age.

The Son of Man is in authority, so far above principalities

and powers that even the angels are His servants

in the administration of His Kingdom. As it was

anciently the most common function of the king to

judge his people, so it is the permanent and continuous

function of Christ, the Son of Man and .. King" of

men. This work proceeds in no merely local court,

with any visible congress of dead or living men. Its

area is the world, All nations are gathered, as it were,

before His throne. God now dwells with men. The

Jew is no longer the only" people of His presence."

The times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. The Son of

Man upon the throne initiates the new age of humanity,

the age of solidarity in saving privilege, and all the

nations are invited to repent. In Apocalyptic

language: .. An angel is flying in mid-heaven, having

an eternal Gospel to preach unto every nation, and

tribe, and tongue, and people." The Apostles are

busily fulfilling the command: .. Make disciples of all

nations." The result tells speedily both upon the

characters and the destinies of men. Preaching Christ

Not a Judgement of tlte Dead. 321

is the shepherding of men into sheep and goats; it is

the severance of destinies into life eternal or condemnation.

The Kingdom of God is not an indiscriminate

universalism. Wherever it comes, it tests and

severs by the fact of accepted or rejected truth, and

the wheat goes to the garner and the chaff to unquenchable

fire. Thus, this judgement is no one day's work,

or the mere hasty summation of an exhausted age.

Nor is there any place here for the medieval hymnwriter's

Tuba mirum spargens sonum

Per sepulchra regionum.

There is no word here of dead souls; but of living

men on earth who have made their choice between the

Kingdom and Gehenna. Hence there is no express

terminus to the judgement scene, no visible beyond of

world-history. This judgement is a never-ending

process, a daily settling of men's destinies according

to an "everlasting" Gospel and in a Kingdom which

has no end.

From this view-point we can be fairly certain of the

law or principle of the judgement. We may at once

dismiss the idea that men's destinies are determined

by their acts ofhospitality to men as men, or that merely

natural humanity can be the condition of salvation.

Loath as we are to say a word in depreciation of

charitable deeds, or to make light of the spiritual value

of pitying love, we are compelled to see that personal

and national destinies alike are settled not by this but

by the entertainment or rejection of" the brethren" of

the King. These are a distinctively outstanding class,

whose treatment by the sheep and goats is the determining

element in the destinies of both. Look at the

322 The Principle of the Judgement.

earthly experiences of these" brethren "-sick and in

prison, naked and hungry, strangers in the land of

their sojourn-do we know any class of Christian men

whom that describes? Certainly it pictures Christ's

Evangelists in the ancient days, especially when they

passed into lands inhospitable to "the truth as it

is in Jesus." Let the dubious reader turn to Matt. x.,

and notice how the disciples are sent out to evangelize

and made dependent for their entertainment on the

welcome accorded to their message, and how their

rejection or reception is to seal for judgement or for the

righteous man's reward, because to receive or to reject

the evangelist is essentially to receive or to reject the

Lord Himself-and all doubt will be at rest. The law

of judgement, then, is really a synthesis of Wendt's

contradictory findings on the meaning of our

passage-the attitude of individuals to Christ

and His Gospel (II. p. 285), and their practical treatment

of His disciples apart from belief in Christ (p.

349).1 The disciples as preachers, represent their

Lord; their hospitable entertainment in their necessity

is practical recognition of their mission and acceptance

of their truth; whatever is done to them is done to

Christ. An old Messianic prophecy runs thus: "The

nation that shall not serve Thee will perish." This

scene is Christ's claim to be the Person of that

prophecy, and how true His word has proved the history

of the nations can testify. Only eternity can show

how true it is of individuals.

Severe attacks h-ive recently been made upon the

veracity of the Gospel narratives. on the ground that

the Apocalyptic judgements of the Synoptics are out

1 .. The Teaching of Jesus."

A self-executing Judgement. 323

of harmony with the spiritual self-executing judgement

recorded by St. John. Christ says in the latter, of the

unbelieving man: "I judge him not: the word that I

spake the same shall judge him in the last day." But

docs not the interpretation for which we plead show

that the two judgements are essentially the same?

These goats judge and condemn themselves by their

attitude to the word of Christ. In Matthew our Lord

speaks with dramatic eloquence and prophetic fire;

in the quieter narrative of John the self-same truth is

spoken by a divine philosopher. Dr. Martineau says,

concerning our Lord's great discourse: " Had the things

announced happened when, and as they are described,

they would have borne Him a witness worth preserving.

But since the generation vanished, and all these

things did not come to pass, surely there need be no

regret in letting these Apocalyptic leaves drop from

the blighted tree of Israel's national life, and lie upon

the devastated soil of Palestine." We claim, however,

that the Messianic teachings of the New Testament are

simple and harmonious-that the prophetic utterances

attributed to our Lord are faithfully reported, and have

been identically realized in history, so far as this world

is the field of their fulfilment. However damaging the

indictment drawn up against the Gospels on the basis

of the traditional interpretation, we dare assert that if

this more spiritual and homogeneous interpretation of

Christ's prophetic teachings can be substantiated, it

will henceforth be impossible to impeach the veracity

of the Gospels' witness to the Person and work of

Christ. With His fulfilment of the Messianic ideal of

the Scriptures all stands or falls.



AVING considered at length our Lord's own

- - teaching as to His second Advent, we now turn

to review the impression made upon certain of His

disciples in so far as it finds expression in their epistles

to the Churches. The accuracy of our interpretation

of the Master can be put to a very severe, almost

infallible test, by strict compari 'ion with the teaching

of those Apostles who have left us instruction on the

question. Five of them, and the anonymous author

of the Hebrews (equal to, if not, an Apostle), have

with more or less explicitness expressed themselves

on various aspects of the subject; and it will be a

marvel if, with the most versatile ingenuity, we can

show that the strictest agreement exists between them

all, if in any serious degree we have misunderstood

our Lord. St. John's brief epistles we have already

glanced at and have found the harmony complete.

Saints James and Jude, as brothers of our Lord,

must naturally interest us; and with no little

eagerness should we consult their pages to see

what form the primitive belief assumed within their


St. James wrote his epistle between 60 and 62 A.D.,

and it is believed was stoned to death by the Sadducees

of Jerusalem soon after, because of his faith in the

Messiaship of Jesus. Eusebius has preserved an inSt.

James' Testimony.

dependent testimony to James's doctrine in his

narrative of his death. The Scribes and Pharisees in

Jerusalem asked him a question concerning Christ.

He answered, "Why do ye ask me respecting Jesus,

the Son of Man? He is now sitting in the heavens,

on the right hand of great power, and is about to lome

on the clouds of heaven." (B. I I. c. 23). The epistle so

well known to us is quite pronounced for the same view

of the second coming. It was written because the

author was deeply grieved over a very visible decline

in the faith and practice of the Jewish Christians

scattered abroad. Many of them appear to have become

impatient, under the unsettled condition of

society, on account of the long delay in the coming of

Christ. (i. 3, 4). The state of things existing in the

Church is precisely that foretold in Matt. xxiv, The

love of many has waxed cold, the spirit of social caste

has entered as a dividing wall, and discordant teaching

abounds. St. James prescribes diverse remedies for

these evils, but his chief hope manifestly lies in the

speedy coming of the second Advent. To the subject

he devotes eleven consecutive verses of chap. v. The

rich especially are threatened with coming misery.

Their wealth has been unjustly gotten, and they have

stored it up in vain as "the last days" are upon them.

Their crimes have at last entered into the ears of the

Lord of Sabaoth, and they shall drink of the cup to

the full.

Now, this" day of slaughter lJ (v. 5) for these wealthy

and wanton Jews is beyond all doubt that deluge of

calamity which fell upon the race wherever it was

settled, and which had its culmination in the destruction

of Jerusalem and the permanent desolation of the

326 The Testimony of St. Jude.

Jewish Fatherland. This national Gehenna is stated

to be the judicial infliction of Israel's rejected King.

Accordingly, it is immanent for St. James. He asks

his brethren to be" patient until the
parousia of the

Lord" (vcr. 7); he says" the
parousia of the Lord is

at hand"
(H);" the judge standeth before the doors" (9);

and the moral is therefore again, " Be patient." Thus

does our author beyond all question identify the

Jewish judgement-day of the Apostolic age with our

parousia. His epistle is a brief but most explicit

comment on our Lord's great prophecy, and

justifies the interpretation we have given. He evidently

knew nothing of a distant fulfilment of Christ's

promise, nor was troubled by any hesitancy as to

whether the judgement of Jerusalem and the Jewish

race was also the
parousia, the advent of Christ's age,

and a happier era for His Church. If St, James was

right, what grounds have we for asserting that up to

the close of the nineteenth century the
parousia has

not occurred?

51. Jude, another brother of our Lord, ought to be a

competent witness of the accepted doctrine in

Apostolic times. The epistle which bears his name is

rather indefinite on many points of interest to us; but

the doctrine of an impending Advent is there beyond

all dispute. The writer's standpoint is from about

62 and forward a few years. J erusalern does not seem

to have fallen, but we have references to the political

'turbulence, the sensual immorality, and swarming

spiritualistic speculations which invaded the Church

just before that crisis. We note the existence of the

Balaamite and Nicolaitan vices mentioned in the

addressesto the Apocalyptic churches. In this deThe

Eve of the Parousia.

cadent faith and life, Jude sees the fulfilment of a

prophecy of St. Paul, concerning" the mockers of the

last time." That day has arrived, the servants of

Satan are at their sinister employment. and against

them he quotes a prophecy from the Jewish book of

Enoch-" Behold, the Lord came with ten thousand

of His holy ones to execute judgement;" while of his

faithful brethren he says that they" look for the mercy

of the Lord Jesus Christ." That this impending

judgement is of an external and catastrophic nature

is evident from his exemplary instances. We cannot

therefore doubt that the pen of Jude is occupied with

the same dispensational crisis as we have in the

Gospels and the Apocalypse; nor can we hesitate to

add him to the list of witnesses who testify to a then

impending and now past parousia.


Acts of the Apostles enable us to form a

- fairly complete conception of St. Peter's views

of the second Advent immediately after our Lord's

ascension. On the day of Pentecost we find that he

takes the miraculous gift of the Spirit to be the

fulfilment of the Divine promise given by Joel: ,. It

shall come to pass in the last days that I will pour

forth My Spirit." This clearly indicates that the

Apostle does not think of himself as having entered

upon a new :tge, but as still in the old age of the

prophets. We cannot suppose that the phrase "the

last days" applies in any sense to the Christian age,

as if it were the last age of the world. The word

"days" shows the period to be strictly limited and

short lived; and the connection teaches us that from

this beginning of last days there continues a period ot

intense miraculous manifestation which culminates in

the sun being turned to blackness and the moon to

blood, as preliminary accompaniments of " that great

and notable day of the Lord" which is Israel's last

because its judgement-day, the extinction of its light

and life. The point of interest here is that Peter

recognised himself as living in "the last days" of the

Old Testament age, and immediately in front of a

terrific judgement for his people, which would be a

manifestation of Christ's Messianic glory. Doubtless

St. Peter's Speeches. 329

he was guided to this conclusion, not only by the

enlightenment of the Spirit, but by his Lord's distinct

assurance that" the end of the age" was approaching,

and would be finished within a generation, with a judgement

of the living and the dead, and the resurrection

of the just. Accordingly, we find his addresses and

letters full of that tone of distressed earnestness and

apprehension which so dreadful an expectation must

beget in the heart of one who knows that he will have

to enter on its terrors, even when he believes that for

himself it will end in eternal gain.

Again, we are with Peter in Solomon's porch. He

addresses a rousing appeal to the people to repent and

be converted, with the assurance that the condemning

element in the impending coming will be changed into

abundant showers of blessing (Acts
iii. 19). Then he

affirms distinctly that, whether they repent or not, a

new dispensation is on the wing, whose special feature

is to be that it is "a restitution of all things which

God has spoken by His prophets since the age began."

A little further on he states that the utterances of

the prophets concern "TH ESE DAYS," and that they

ought to remember the covenant God made with their

fathers, saying unto Abraham," In thy seed shall all

the kindreds of the earth be blessed." What does the

Apostle mean by this" restitution
"? Meyer in loco

limits the idea to" a restoration of all moral relations

to their original normal condition," amongst the

covenant people. This suits the "restitution" demanded

by John the Baptist, and effected upon many

(see our Lord's interpretation, Matt. xvii. 11); but is too

narrow for the larger vision of the Christian Apostle.

It is evident that Peter conceived of this" restitution,"

330 The Restiluli01Z of All Things.

as a complete theological upheaval, involving a return

to the more vital and liberal faith of their illustrious

progenitor, in whose seed, that is Christ, all nations

were to be blessed. This change is all contained in

the abrogation of the Mosaic covenant and the bringing

in of the fulness of Gentile privilege in Christ's

kingdom. Of course, commentators in large numbers,

carried off by their imagination, have gone astray over

this" restitution of all things," and have conjured up

dreams of an ideal paradisaical world, which we

venture to think can never by any possibility be

realised on earth. They overlook the fact that Peter

distinctly limits this restitution to the fulfilment of Old

Testament Messianic prophecy, and that our Lord has

already given us a substantial taste of its meaning in

telling us that John the Baptist :' restored all things"

in his preaching, by calling the people from their sham

ritualistic sanctities to faith and repentance toward

God, and plain honest dealing with their fellow-men.

Yet those Utopian dreams might have been lawful

had they been kept as ideals to be spiritually realised.

Christ takes us back beyond Moses to the grand

fundamentals and sweet simplicities of the early days

when men lived near to God without the help of priest

or temple. He makes all men kin, casts down every

wall of partition, raises woman to her pristine dignity,

makes an end of sin and brings in everlasting

righteousness, reconciles God to man, abolishes the

curse of death, removes the flaming sword that guards

the gate of paradise, and opens the Holiest of All to

men; and on the Divine side of things puts down all

rule and authority and power, and restores the king.

dom to the. Father. Thisideal restitution is depicted

St. Peter's Epistles. 331

in concrete form in the New Jerusalem of the

Apocalypse, the ideal Christian state, tasted in this

world, perfectly realised in God's hereafter.

A student of St. Peter's epistles is struck with the

constant presentation of Christianity as the fulfilment

of Old Testament ideals-"the restitution of all things."

The Church is richly clothed in Israelitish garments,

and all the Apostle's prophetic ideas are moulded in

the forms in which the Old Testament prophets conceived

the future. A quarter of a century after Pentecost,

no change of view can be detected, beyond the

hurry and passionate earnestness of one who feels that

the anticipated crisis is at hand. He still believes that

the age is near its end. Christ was manifest II at the

end of the times for you" (1 Pet. i. 20). He says,

"The time is come that judgement must begin";

"Christ is ready to judge the quick and the dead" ;

"the end of all things is at hand." Meanwhile the

Church is "expecting and hastening unto" this day of

terrific judgement, " sober and watchful unto prayer."

But, as in this time of fiery trial some of them will

taste of death (by reason of the Neronic persecutions ?),

they are exhorted to fix their hopes especially upon

the heavenly prize. Indeed. the dead in Christ will be

more fortunate than the living. At this critical epoch

Christ will reveal Himself in His glory to His saints.

His descent to judge the dead is to His own only the

fulfilment of His promise," I will come unto you to

take you to Myself, that you may behold My glory."

Thus, "the appearing of Christ" in His glorified nature

issues in their II praise and glory," because as God

II gave Him glory" in exalting Him to Heaven, so

Christ will share that glory with His people.

332 "Tlte Glory A bout to be Revealed."

The Apostle, it should be obser. ed, never once refers

by name to the resurrection of the dead. With him

the essential idea in that event is not bodily reinvestment,

but the translation of the saved dead from Hades

to Heaven when the Lord, at the initiation of His

sovereign dispensation, appears to show that He is the

Lord of death by their deliverance. The inheritance

of the risen saint is no millennial reign in earthly

splendours: " it is incorruptible and undefiled, reserved

in heaven,

TIME" (1 Pet. i. 4,5). In the strength of this delightful

hope of immediate glorification, Peter looks

complacently upon the prospect of suffering like his

Master, certain that he is "a partaker of

ABOUT TO HE REVEALED" (1 Pet. v. 1) How did

he reach this unbounded confidence in his speedy

meeting with his glorified Redeemer? Surely, as we

have pointed out, by the very plain and frequentlyrepeated

assurances of Christ Himself. Could he

believe anything else who remembered the comforting

words spoken more than once during the last few days

on earth: "A little while, and ye shall see Me"opsesthe,

with spirit and not carnal eyes-Co to dwell

with Me in My permundane glory"? Great emphasis

does Peter put upon the heavenly character of his

speedily approaching destiny-Co God hath called us

unto His eternal glory in Christ Jesus."

It may be asked, was not this epistle written too

late to be applied to the downfall of the Mosaic

dispensation? The date is written on its forehead in

the st:ntence-" The time is come that judgement

must begin at the house of God," This can refer only

to the judgement of the covenant people. There is

The Second Epistle of St. Peter. 333

no validity in the argument that the epistle was

written between A.D. 70 and 75, because not until

Vespasian became emperor were Christians persecuted

for the name.' That mayor may not be a fact in

Roman law. We must remember, however, that if

Christians were prosecuted on the false pretext of

being thieves and murderers, or because of absence

from the national festivals, it was most natural for them

to speak to one another of this as persecution for

Christ's name sake. They knew well that hatred of

Christianity was the moving spring of all their annoyances,

inflicted by either magistrates or neighbours,

and this epistle does no more than give full expression

to this feeling. We cannot allow that the casual

phrase "suffer as a Christian" could not be applied

by Christians to persecutions inflicted under Nero,

ignorant as we are of the precise attitude of the Roman

law, and in face of overwhelming evidence that this

epistle preceded the judgement day of Jerusalem.

Even the second epistle bears the marks of having

been written earlier than the fall of Jerusalem, and

probably, as Weiss thinks, in the latter days of Nero's

reign. Coming to the second chapter, we find the

Church in the state of disorder and decline prophesied

by our Lord. In chapter iii., we have" the last day

scoffers" as foretold by Paul. Faithful Christians are

taunted with the query->' Where is the promise of

His coming?" It seems that the parousia had been

expected earlier, and that many had grown sceptical.

This disappointment was also foretold by Christ.

Now, what is the Apostle's answer? He replies..

One day is with the Lord as a thousand years." It

1 Ramsay's "The Church in the Roman Empire," pp. 242, 28].

334 Tlte Parousia not Postponed.

has become the fashion to find here the indication

that Peter is beginning to feel that the parousia is

"indefinitely postponed." " Shortly" in prophetic

usage may therefore mean thousands of years! On

the same principle, seeing that" a thousand years are

a; one day," a "long delay" in prophetic language

may be intended for only the fraction of an hour! All

this fooling with Scripture has no excuse, seeing that

the Apostle is not weaving pretexts for delaying the

parousia still further, but is simply explaining the

delay already past. Men are in a hurry to have their

wills accomplished; God can afford to bide His time.

He never is too late because time proves too short for

His readiness, nor too soon because time is too slow

for His patience to hold out. .\11 appearance of delay

was due to the Lord's unwillingness" that any should

perish," and not come to repentance (ver, 9). The

reference is chiefly to the Jewish race, and the

possibility of greater numbers being" saved from that

untoward generation" before the deluge of blood

should sweep over them. Instead of the Apostle

seeking to excuse further delay, he distinctly pledges

himself as to the nearness of this" day of judgement

and perdition of ungodly men." He threatens them

with It swift de~truction"; .. their judgement now of a

long time lingereth not and their damnation slumbereth

not" (ii. 1-3), while the Christians are with

confidence" looking for and hasting unto the coming

of the day of God," because" the Lord knoweth how

to deliver the godly out of trials and to reserve the

unjust to the day of judgement."

This judgement about to descend is described as a

physical and temporal visitation. .. Heaven and earth

The " Elements" on Fire. 335

are reserved unto fire "-" the heavens shall pass away

with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with

fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are

therein shall be burned up" (iii. 10). This language

has its parallel in our Lord's great discourse and in

the Apocalyptic vision, vi. 12-17, and beyond doubt

the}" all describe the same event. Is it needful to say

that this destruction is not to be taken in a modern

scientific sense. As such, it would imply the wreckage

of the universe, after a method that cannot happen.

The destruction Peter anticipates is one paralleled by

the destruction of the Noahcian world in the flood,

which was not cosmic, but only the destruction of the

people with their earth and heaven, their civilization

and their religion. The passage must be read in the

light of oriental modes of speech. A similar destruction

took place for Idumea in Isaiah xxxiv. 4, 9, 10.

This fire is the prophetic fire of every Old Testament

judgement, and which Christ came" to kindle in the

land." The earth is not the globe, but the land

inhabited by the people ready to be judged. Dissolved

and melted signify the total abrogation of the systems

judged. The elements are not earth, air, fire, and

water, but substantially the same as " the elements of

this world," "the beggarly elements" we read of

elsewhere. The word lTTOLXfLa (elements), carries a

covert reference to the heavenly bodies, and in ancient

thought these were the abodes of gods or powers that

ruled the destinies of men, and by their movements all

the feasts and fasts of religion were regulated. Hence

the term here covers all those religious practices and

superstitious belief's which ruled ancient life from the

cradle to the grave. The whole scene, as Peter


336 The Cleansing Process.

pictures it, is therefore just that fiery renovation of the

world which runs through all Messianic prophecy, and

especially comes to the front in all the New Testament

al1usions to the impending judgement of the Judaic

age. In the Apocalypse we have seen this fire in

process of consuming al1 the elementary things of

man's moral and religious life that cumbered the pathway

of Christ's coming chariot wheels. It is the

shaking out of heaven and earth all the elementary

conceptions which concealed the deep eternal principles

which cannot be shaken (Heb. xii, 27). It is the

judgement of that God who is " a consuming fire," and

yet the very gentleness of patience when He works for

man's salvation. Out of the cleansing process came

"a new heaven and new earth." (iii. 13.) The day of

universal grace that supervened on the destruction of

the old Judaic and pagan earth was indeed a blessed

" day of visitation to the Gentiles," drawn all the more

to the sweet and simple faith of the primitive Church

that its Judaic elements had been consumed in judgement

fires, and its adherents had illustrated its virtues

through years of blood and fire.

The rejection of this interpretation involves the

expositor of Scripture in very serious troubles. The

Apostle's prophecy has been falsified, inasmuch as it

did not happen when he said it should. Either then,

it is not to be fulfilled at any time; or else it is to be

accomplished at the end of the Christian age. That

the incarnation, the atonement, the ascension and reign

of Christ, and the Church's labours through centuries,

are to end in such a disgraceful collapse for the

universe we cannot believe. It writes" failure" on the

works of creation and redemption alike. It contradicts

No other Interpretation possible. 337

the plainest of all Christ's prophecies, those that

predict 3. universal victory for His kingdom in this

world. What becomes of the parables of the mustard

seed, and the leaven, in which Christ foretells a slow

and gradual but steadily progressive growth of His

Kingdom towards universal conquest? It implies that

all through the Gospel age the world will be growing

worse in faith and morals, and there be nothing for

all our labour beneath the sun but complete physical

destruction. Indeed, the difficulties are endless; and

what the advantages are we fail to see.


THERE is every probability that" the things hard

- to be understood" which St. Peter found in the

Epistles of St. Paul related to matters we now sum

up under the heading .1 eschatology." Time has not

helped the Church to a solution of these Pauline

problems. The great Apostle is still badly understood,

judging by the contradictory verdicts given by critics

who have made a lifelong study of his position. Dr.

S. Davidson affirms that St. John's eschatology is

much more spiritual than St. Paul's, while Professor

Sabatier calls our attention to the" profound analogy"

between them. Almost all our standard commentators

confess that they cannot interpret our

Apostle except on the supposition that he was

mistaken in some respects, and partially discovered

his mistake before he ceased to write epistles. Indeed,

it is now the fashion to take the position from

which Jowett in his day seemed to shrink-s-" to

allow that St. Paul was mistaken, and that in

support of his mistake he could appeal to the

words of Christ Himself." It will be apparent

that we have undertaken a task of tremendous

difficulty if we mean to show that the Apostle

did not err and is neither inconsistent with himself

nor with the facts of history. Such, indeed,

is our contention; and it will, we hope, be greatly to

-", - --- ---------

St. Paul at Thessalonica. 339

the credit of the preterist theory if we can even

approximately prove our case.

For obvious reasons we shall take up his Epistles

in their chronological order. Happily this leads us

directly to the heart of St. Paul's convictions as to the

Second Advent. His statements in


have not always the clearness or fulness of meaning

we could desiderate with a view to the settlement

of all outstanding controversies, but on certain points

of moment nothing more need be desired. Much

that we find puzzling arises from our traditional standpoints

being so essentially different from the Scriptural,

and from the Thessalonians having known Paul's

mind so well that elaboration or minute explicitness

which we now would gladly welcome was unnecessary

for their purpose.

It is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles that St.

Paul's teaching in Thessalonica shortly before the first

of his Epistles was largely occupied with the Kingship

of Jesus. Much emphasis was necessarily laid on the

advent of the kingdom of God, the impending judgements

connected with the violent transition of the

Mosaic age into the Christian, and the new ethical

character of the coming epoch. Apostolic preaching

was pre-eminently a speaking to the times. The New

Testament Scriptures are all strongly impregnated

with an eager interest in a shortly-expected transformation

of the world, and so disproportionally did

this temporal aspect of the kingdom absorb the

attention of Paul's hearers that, on his abrupt flight

------------ -----------~------~---~----

340 St. Paul to tke Thessalonians.

from the city in order to escape the persecutions of

some venemous Jews, many of them had failed to

grasp any sufficient idea as to the accompanying

development of the kingdom amongst the human

race beyond the grave. This culpable ignorance or

forgetfulness seems to have been the occasion of this

first Epistle, and the definite instruction which we find

in iv. 13-18. The Second Epistle fullowed shortly

after, and was perhaps occasioned by some slight misunderstanding

of the First. Grouping their teachings,

the results may thus be summed :-

1. TIle Second Coming is anticipated as a time of

peculiar judgement
(i, 10; v, :3-9). Jesus, for whom

they look from heaven, is described as their Deliverer

from" the wrath to come." By long habit of thought,

most readers attach an exclusively next-world sense

to such words, but we can scarcely doubt that the

"coming wrath" of Scripture is primarily a temporal

judgcmcnt which was to fall upon the world at the

approaching end of the age-a visible and material

Gehenna of fire into which God was about to cast His

enemies. The apostolic generation justly attached

extreme importance to this impending judgement-day.

The heavens and the earth were to be burned up with

fire-" sudden destruction " to come upon that godless

generation. I n the face of such terrific adjurations, it

was the delight of those within the Church to rejoice

in their own immaculate safety, knowing that" God

had not appointed them to wrath, but to salvation."

This judgement was to fall with especial severity

upon the Jews (ii. 14-16). "Judgement must begin

at the house of God," and this time, the .. wrath is

to the uttermost;" i.e. to complete destruction of

The Coming of a Jewish Judgement. 341

their national existence. Faithlessness to the

highest privileges necessarily reaps the severest doom.

The Jews had crucified the Son of God; and instead

of seeking a place of repentance during the quarter of

a century which had elapsed, had increasingly persisted

in. their sin by an incessant musketry of persecution

which almost made it impossible to preach the Gospel

to the world. This hatred of the name of Jesus was

to Paul the culmination of Jewish guilt. Their cup

was running over. His divinely-illumined eye saw in

the events transpiring everywhere the token that

God's wrath was about to burst upon His faithless people

and never rest until it had made a final end. This

drastic punishment is foretold in plainer form in the

Second Epistle, written a few months later. God is

to give His Church some rest, when Christ shall

appear and punish the troublers "with aionian

destruction from the presence of the Lord" (i. 6-12).

Controversy enough has gathered about these words,

but what they plainly say is that" the people of God's

presence" are to be permanently broken off from the

enjoyment of their distinctive privileges (Rom. ix, 4)

in the age about to come; in other words, the Jews

are to reap the penalty of their Christ-rejection and

persistent persecution of His people in the absolute

rupture of the sacred relationship they had so long

sustained. Now is it possible to deny that this judgement

was consummated in the age-long destruction of

the Jewish nationality? Can it be denied that the

Apostle does, in both Epistles, identify the final

judgement of the Jewish economy with" the revelation

of Jesus Christ from heaven"? Was not Paul's mind,

like the rest of the Apostles' steeped in the idea of a

------- -- -

342 The Thessalonians in Expectation.

judgement just at hand? Did he not even venture to

assert to the philosophic Athenians, shortly after he

left Thessalonica, that ,. God has appointed a day in

which He IS ABOUT TO JUDGE the world by that

Man whom He has ordained"? (Acts xvii. 31). Does

he not assure the Thessalonians that this day WILL

OVERTAKE THEM, though not as a thief, because they

are forewarned and forearmed? And does the

Apostle not feel it needful to pray that in the hazardous

circumstances just impending the Thessalonians

may be preserved IN BODY as well as in spirit" unto

the parousia of Christ"? Thus we see that Paul

apprehends the parousia as near to that generation,

as having special importance for the Jews, as involving

bodily dangers for those exposed to its fiery tribulations;

and also as a permanent dispensation of

heavenly grace to the Christians who survive its

dislocations. All these are familiar aspects of the

parousia in the Scriptures we have examined up till

now. In nothing does Paul diverge from the teaching

of our Lord and the other Apostles.

2. The adueut ot Christ is signalised by a resurrection

oj the dead
(1 Thess. iv. 13-18). Some of the

Thessalonians were troubled about the relation of dead

believers to the coming kingdom of God. It looks as

if they had imagined that the kingdom would run a

protracted course on earth before the dead would be

raised to share its privileges. We need not wonder at

their mistake, when we consider the confusion of ideas

which still exists upon the subject of the kingdom.

Their error is corrected by the simple statement, "The

dead in Christ rise first." The new age is instituted

first beyond the veil; the kingdom of the heavens is

lV/uTe are those wleo " Sleep ?" 343

opened; death is vanquished, and Hades despoiled of

the believing dead. Thus opens the grand campaign

of the world's salvation. The cardinal fact of the

Christian dispensation is that the Christian dead are

from the moment of its initiation, in the presence of

their Lord, and that He and His risen Church are in

close conjuction, dynamically though not visibly, with

His Church on earth. We are" gathered together

unto the Lord;" we are come unto Mount Zion, the

city of the living God. This is the age of the divine

universal presence of God in Christ in contrast with

the previous age when the Jews were" tlu people 0.1

His presence"
and the Temple His only shrine.

It seems beyond all question that Paul held and

taught that those who "sleep" are not visibly and

consciously with Christ until their resurrection at the

second coming. The Lord descends for them from

heaven. They are called forth by His mighty energies

from the state of death and caught up to be for ever

with the Lord. If then the parousia has not yet

transpired, we are letting sentiment run away with

judgement when we speak of the saints as passing into

heaven at death. Scripture uniformly teaches that

there is no resurrection till the Second Advent, and

no living with Christ until the resurrection,

Such was our Lord's own teaching: "When

I have prepared a' place, I will come for you,"

and only after this coming are they where He is. In

Thessalonians Paul again and again brackets the

parousia and the meeting with Christ, or " our gathcring

together unto Him." No doubt he speaks later on

of "absent from the body" as being" present with the

Lord," but this was natural, seeing that he knew death

:l44 St. Paul to the Thessalonians.

to be the only way to resurrection, and the parousia to

be so near at hand. However, Scripture is not selfcontradictory;

and we beg our readers to note and

inwardly digest the fact that there is no presence with

Christ until this second coming, and then to give the

fact its legitimate application to their own beliefs concerning

the dead in Christ.

3. The Apostle taught that tltis coming was at hand.

It is not necessary to fill this page with a concensus of

passages in proof. As we have already said, the fact

is almost universally admitted, and with a frankness

that is often painfully explicit.

We limit our attention for the present to that wellknown

passage in which the Apostle certainly impressed

the Thessalonians with the conviction that when

the Lord descends from heaven some of that generation

will be alive. "We who are alive and remain unto the

parousia" does not indeed assert that Paul himself

will live to see that day, but it plainly means that

some of them will live to see the abolition of the age

and the birth of its glorious successor. How could

Paul possibly cherish any other belief? Was he not

aware of the sayings of our Lord, " Some of you here

shall not taste of death until you see," etc. ; "This

generation shall not pass away"? And with this

knowledge it was surely no bold flight for him to

prophesy, a quarter of a century later, that some of

them would live into the day of the Lord.

Some, however, say that the Apostle modifies his

views in his Second Epistle to this Church. So says

Jowett; and yet with so little ground that Grotius,

Baur, and Ewald assertjthat the Second Epistle was

written first. Certainly Paul had occasion to moderate


The Comin.t: not Postponed. 345

the expectations which his first had helped to excite.

It is no wonder that, with their naturally eager and

passionate natures and the unsettled condition of the

world, they read the Apestle's "soon" as if he had

said ., just now," or within a year. But Paul corrects

their blunder in the plainest terms. He writes, "Don't

think that the day of the Lord is PRESENT. It is not

quite so near. As I told you when I was with you,

the mystery of iniquity must reach up to a more

horrible accentuation of profanity, even until a certain

man will claim the right of sitting in God's temple,

and receiving the worship due to God alone. You

know what hinders that blasphemous climax from

being reached, until it is taken out of the way." There

is not the slightest indication here of any undue postponement

of the parousia. The evil specified was

already working. Whatever be our difficulties of

identification, the Thessalonians had none. Paul had

explained it all when among them. That fact is

enough to condemn all futurist interpretations; for

how was it possible for the Thessalonians to read a

future that is utterly black to the scholars of to-day,

unless they can see as far as Archbishop MacEvilly

(Roman Catholic), who knows that the Man of Sin is

attached to some great apostasy from his Church

larger than that headed by Luther and Calvin? In

all reason we cannot seek the interpretation in anything

beyond the apostolic age. Within that field we can

have a choice between a Jewish and a Roman Man of

Sin,-for the first, following Tertullian, Whitby,

Jowett, Weiss (Bib. Thea.• i. 309), Sabatier, though

not quite confident (St. Paul, 119), Godet (Intro. au

N. T.),
Usteri and Le Clerc, who name Simon of Gioras,

346 Tile Man of Sin.

and Stephenson, late rector of Lympsham, who

(Christ%gy, vol. L) cites proof upon proof that the

Man of Sin is Eleazer Thebuthis, first a Jewish Gnostic,

then a Christian and rejected candidate for the

bishopric of Jerusalem on the death of St. James, then

an apostate, and finally a leader in the Jewish rebellion,

possessing himself of the Temple and .aiming at

making himself the Messiah of the Scriptures; and

for the second following Dr. Lee for Domitian checked

by Nero, or Dollinger, Renan, Farrar, and mostly all

the Fathers, for Nero checked by Claudius-qui claudz!

- who was against being personally worshipped as

God. Those familiar with the abominable blasphemies

involved in the deification of the Roman emperors will

not hesitate to admit that this climax of iniquity, so

intimately connected with the Jewish revolt, is a

perfectly adequate fulfilment of Paul's prophecy. That

some contemporary development of evil was before

the Apostle's mind is evident by the whole tone of the

Epistle, and the evident contrast drawn between the

destruction coming on those who were deluded by the

blasphemies of the time and the glory coming to the

brethren by the belief of the truth.

Such, however, is the unconscious twist that has

come over r.lany modern minds, that even while the

latest commentator (Denney) admits that the

apostasy here referred to is of the Jews, that the

Temple is that then standing in Jerusalem, he yet

maintains that "the precise anticipation which the

passage embodies was not destined to be realised."

"Inspiration did not enable the apostles to write

history before it happened." Here then are more of

Paul's mistakes! Yet, with the grossest inconsistency,

The Coming Misconceived. 347

we are told[that alllthis will be substantially fulfilled

after" the fulness of time ;" so that we are to believe

that an apostle who could not prophesy over a period

of fifteen years is to be trusted if you will make his

vision stretch over thousands, and that he who could

not read the already visible signs of his times could

write out a philosophy of history and prognosticate the

end of all things!

The one blunder which underlies all this denial of

the accuracy of New Testament prophecy, is a very

mistaken idea of what is meant by the coming of the

Lord. Commentators lay stress upon an event, the

occurrence of a moment, the sudden revelation to all

arid sundry of a glorified omnipotent Christ, who is

supposed by an immediate miracle to abolish evil,

transform the physical world, open the burial grounds

and bring up the dead to a permanent or at least a

temporary sojourn on this earth. All this is exceedingly

gross, materialistic, opposed to every reasonable

conception of God's methods, a violation of the law of

'continuity so profoundly reverenced by even the

discoverers of these Jewish Apocalyptic ideas. Such

interpreters are deceived by the strongly oriental

language in which the Presence is commonly described.

But a little calm consideration might show that the

primitive conception of the second coming was not

quite so hysterical as it is conceived to be. As Jowett

says, .. The habitual thought of the first Christians was

not so much a 'coming' as a' presence,' as its very

name implied." The distinction is of vast importance.

What was looked for was not one miraculous event,

but a dispensation-the coming of a kingdom, the

presence of Christ in His sovereign power,-in other

348 The Nature of Clm'st's Presence.

words, the age of Christ, the dispensation of His power,

the institution of His personal authority in the seen

and unseen worlds. Now, this so far as it was an

event, or had a beginning in time, had its sign in the

destruction of the former covenant. From that day

forward, Christ's age had come in, the King was upon

His throne, the dead had been gathered to Himself,

and henceforth His work on earth was to subdue all

wickedness to Himself. The language in which this

is described in our Second Epistle may betray the

reader into the conception of a visible Christ, warring

in some physical way, with some transcendent enemy.

But if it were remembered that the most striking figure

here (ii. 8) is simply a repetition of familiar Old

Testament phrases which had their own fulfilment in

Jehovah's victories over the idolatrous nations of the

ancient world, it might then be easy to see that Christ's

presence and victory over heathen idolatry imply no

visible external pomp and glare of supernatural

accompaniments, but a spiritual presence in His

Church, a moral victory over error springing from

His ascension to the throne of God, and His supremacy

over the principalities and powers, and wickedness in

heavenliness places which had kept the world in


There is another capital objection against finding

the parousia accomplished in the apostolic age. The

resurrection may, indeed, have taken place, since from

its nature it might be invisible; but, it has been argued,

"certainly there was no transfiguration and glorification

of those who were alive and remained to the

coming, as Paul very plainly taught." Such a transfiguration

of living Christians into glorified saints

The Rapture of the Saints.

without passing through death is one of the commonest

ideas in eschatology, Well, those who demand it

should consult Dr. Russell's" Parousia" and see what

can be said in defence of the notion that it actually

accompanied the parousia of those days. Frankly, we

must confess that in our judgement this sign of the

parousia was wanting. Perhaps we do not see it

because long convinced that such a transfiguration is

an aberglaube, and a most unhappy one, on apostolic

teaching. Could Paul actually mean that at the

parousia, whose beginning he most distinctly asserted

was at hand, every Christian on the earth was suddenly

to be rapt away into the heavens? We arc not justified

in saying that Paul refers only to a few of the more

select spirits then living in the Church. He either

means all Christians, or his words mean nothing.

Then how were the promises of a universal reign of

Christ on earth and of His kingdom as" everlasting"

to be realized? Why does Paul never in any of his

Epistles frankly congratulate Christians on their

probable escape from death, but rather distinctly congratulates

the Corinthians that they and he shall be

raised up together from the dead? (I I. vi. 4). The

difficulties thicken the longer one thinks of it. Is it

possible that at a time when the Church is confessedly

weak the Lord is going to deplete it of its richest

blood and either destroy it or leave it helpless? Does

Paul really contradict himself when he sars that flesh

and blood cannot see the kingdom of God, nor corruption

inherit incorruption? for what else is an instantaneous

transformation of flesh and blood into a state

of glory? And, if the living at the parousia enter on

heavenly glory at the very same moment as the

3.50 The Silence of History.

believing dead, why should he in Philippians wish to

depart (die) rather than abide in the flesh; and why

does he describe going home to the Lord as being

"absent from the body," or putting off his tabernacle?

In short, this idea of" rapture," though fondly held by

multitudes, involves Paul's teaching on " last things"

in the most flagrant inconsistencies, and makes a

science of eschatology on any understanding quite


Nor is there anything in the silence of history as to

the period about and after the fall of Jerusalem. It is

not usually the Saints who write history, though they

do much to make it; and surely the second-rate

Christians who were left after the" rapture" to rule the

church were competent enough to chronicle so startling

an event as the sudden disappearance of the more

illustrious leaders. As a matter of fact, we have satisfactory

testimony to the deaths of the great apostles;

and good reason for the scantiness of church history

of the sub-apostolic age in the martyrdoms which

continued from Nero's reign to Domitian's. 1

Let us look with a little patience at what Paul

actually teaches on this matter. Why does he say to

the Thessalonians, "We who are alive and REMAIN

UNTO the parousia," and not content himself with

simply" We who arc aiive AT the parousia"? Was

he given to tautology of style? Rather was he

pregnant and elliptical, and careless of qualifying

clauses which might readily be supplied by his readers.

It is therefore next to certain that he had a deliberate

meaning in this word" remain ;" and when it is seen

1 Clement to the Corinthians 1. iii. 16; and for additional reasons,

Ramsa>"ll "Church in the Roman Empire," :ld. ed. p. 227.


The Rapture of the Saints. 351

that the parousia is not so much a local and temporary

act as it is a permanent state or relation of Christ to

His Church, the characteristic of the Christian age or

the realised Kingdom of Christ, his meaning appears

to be, "We who are alive and remain living in the age

of the parouJia shall be caught up like them to meet

the Lord." Everything here depends upon the

meaning of the adverb
/lILa, translated "together."

This rendering inevitably suggests identity as to time.

But while the word may have this temporal reference,

it never carries it in the writings of St. Paul, but some

other identity, of place, quality, or manner. The

Apostle's meaning can be seen from his repetition of

the phrase a little further on. In v. 10, " live together

with Him" cannot possibly mean that all Christians

shall begin to live the resurrection life at the same

moment as Christ begins to live it, but shall possess

life of the same quality and in His company. Thus it

is to be taken in this passage-predicating a similar

resurrection into the company of the saints. The

meaning is the same as in 1 Cor.
xv, 51: "We shall

not all sleep" (some of us will be alive when the Lord

descends from heaven, and will not therefore share in

the resurrection which takes place at the last trump),

"but we shall all be changed" (from the earthly state

into the heavenly, as in a moment). This new order

of procedure comes into operation after the resurrection

which initiates Christ's Kingdom in the heavens.

Our relation to Hades, which Christ shuts for his

people, and to Heaven, which He opens, is so radically

changed at this particular moment that henceforth

death is utterly transformed. It is no longer a descent,

a waiting for the fulfilment of a promised Deliverer, a


First Cori1ltltians.

state of comparative nakedness, but it becomes an

instantaneous ascent to be for ever with the Lord.

The teaching is precisely the same as in the Apocalypse,

when, in connection with the resurrection, the

proclamation is made, "Blessed are the dead that die

in the Lord from henceforth," because they enter at

once on their rest and the full reward of their works,

being immediately caught up into the glory of the

Lord. This epoch of changed relations consists

essentially in a closer conjunction of heaven and earth.

God comes down with more abundant power for the

glorification of His people; the life-giving breath of .

Heaven bathes the Church more blessedly; and in

this approximation of two worlds we are all " gathered

together unto the Lord," and are" come unto Mount

Zion, the city of the living God, and the spirits of just

men made perfect" Henceforth Christians do not die

in the ancient sense, but are translated without pause

into the heavenly land. Hades, with its terrors, is

swallowed up of victory, and death is but the dropping

of a veil, the opening of an eye, the rapture of the

quickened soul from time into eternity.


takes us forward a few years into the ever-ripening

experience of the great apostle, but it shows no abatement

in his expectations of the Lord's parousia.

Indeed it shows that this subject had a powerful and

permanent hold upon his mind, and seriously affected

all his thin kings, and toned all his judgements of the

events through which he had to pass. He compliments

the Corinthians for their faithful "waiting for the

revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ" and assures them

The Lord's Coming a Jewish Judgement. :l53

that they will be confirmed in faith" unto the end,"

that is until" the day of Christ" (i. 7-8). Now in

what particular respect were the Corinthians in danger

of being misleci? In favour of believing in the

imperative need of being subject to the Jewish law as

well as to the Gospel of Christ. They were at this

moment beset with Judaizing teachers, who were

building on another foundation than Jesus Christ.

. Here is the danger. But the day of Christ, Paul says,

is at hand; it is to be revealed in fire; and the fire is

to burn up all that is not of Christ, to the loss and

shame of those teachers and their dupes (iii. 13).

This judgement is said to be impending-so near that

the Corinthians are asked to suspend their verdict on

the case between him and his opponents "until the

Lord come" (iv. 5). And what fiery judgement will

meet the requirements of the case, but the divine visitation

upon jerusalem, which is already described in

Thessalonians as the "wrath of God" and" flaming

fire"? That surely was the specific judgement which

settled the question between Paul and the Judaizers

who were the vexation of his life; and beyond question

this judgement-day is identified with our Lord's


How actually near this day of judgement was is

seen in Paul's earnest exhortation (vii. 29-30). Like

a good captain, he is ordering the ship to be put in

trim because the barometer indicates a storm. " The

time is short" till the "instanding distress," will be

upon them. Radical changes are impending, "the

scheme of the world is to pass away." Just as our

Lord gave warning as to certain unlucky domestic

circumstances in the hour of His parousia, so does

r-~--------~- ~~~--

I 354 " Then is the End."

Paul. It is better not to marry and not be encumbered

with children in such a crisis, as these impediments

will bring" trouble in the flesh." "The ends of the

ages" were come upon that generation (x. 11). All

the preceding epochs of the world's history (ii. 8) were

finding their culmination and final judgement in those

apostolic days, and giving place to the great ideal age

of prophecy, in which God's eternal purposes were to

be fulfilled. Such a transition period was necessarily

brimful of "distress," and demanded the greatest

watchfulness on the part of Christian men, even though

they had the promise of special divine protection.

When this is the constant attitude of St. Paul and his

repeated note of warning, we surely are guilty of great

presumption if we say he was mistaken. And on what

subject are we to trust the apostolic judgement, if not

upon one that affected him so profoundly and

constantly as this?

Indeed, our Epistle shows that Christ's Coming was

a subject which had been carefully thought out by Paul,

and an article of prime importance in his scheme of

Christian thought. He tells us, for instance, that at

parousia the resurrection of the dead takes

place; but before that time all rule and authority and

power opposed to Him have been put down, the last

of His enemies being death-I( then is the end." (xv.

23-26). This whole passage is bristling with insoluble

points to the old interpretation; but it falls easily into

line with what we have found to be the teaching of

the other Scriptures. The" end" is the only" end"

of which Scripture knows anything, for of Christ's

Kingdom or the gospel dispensation there is no end.

We are standing at the close of the Judaic age. Christ

Puting down all Rule, etc. 355

has come according to His own parable and taken the

Kingdom or the Vineyard out of the hands of men

who had usurped it, and claimed a right to its

permanent possession. The New Testament tells us

of Jewish dignitaries who must be humbled, of angels

in whose hands the Covenant had been ordained, but

who are superseded when Christ ascends to the

Father's throne
j of Satan and his angels in heaven

with whom Christ and His angels fight, and whom He

finally casts into the bottomless pit. All this work of

conquest comes in between Christ's death and the

resurrection of the dead. Paul speaks of it as if with

knowledge which he did not choose to reveal. "He

made a show of principalities and powers, openly

triumphing over them." The last enemy to
be overcome

is death. This is achieved first by puting down

Satan who has "the power of death," and then by

opening the gates of Hades, and leading forth death's

captives into the heavenly place prepared for them.

This grand work of conquest done, the Kingdom is of

course by its accomplishment restored to God. The

usurpers of whom we have read in Scripture are all

dethroned, and an age begins which knows no sovereign

but the Lord God Almighty, and no mediator but

God's only-begotten Son.

Some reader may demur to our suggestion that the

first resurrection took place after the close of the

Judaic age, on the ground that such an event must

leave its mark on history, while history's page is blank.

This objection presupposes that the resurrection is a

carnal re-embodiment. Certainly, it is not. The

bodies with which the saints come forth are" spiritual,"

or" heavenly," or "glorified." What have such bodies

356 The Resurrection Near.

to do with earth and time and space? The way from

Hades to Heaven does not lie through the cities and

villages of this world. No eye of flesh can trace

that passage; no mortal form can intrude upon its

privacy; its thronging multitudes let no footfall be

heard by sensuous ears; no record of such transactions

can be written for the daily press. If men

stumble at this, it is because like the Sadducees they

do not know" the power of God," the multiplicity of

the bodies He has constituted in this universe, the

secrets of inscrutable wisdom.

If we turn to u. 51 we shall there plainly read that

this resurrection was then immanent. Paul says" we

shall not all sleep," that is, at "the last trump," the

signal of this deliverance of the dead. If this were

true, what date within a lifetime was more likely

than immediately after the old dispensation was judged

and done away? Indeed, if we turn to "the last

trump" in the book of Revelation, we find that it is

the time for the judgement and resurrection of the

dead, and that it is also the close of the old dispensation,

as witnessed in the overthrow of Jerusalem.

Another objection is based on the idea that at the

resurrection the living saints are to be caught away

instantaneously to heaven. Our readers know that

this opinion is based on a remarkable paucity of proof.

Only two passages, or at most three, in Paul's writings

seem to say anything in its support. The first and

strongest, we have seen, contains no such teaching.

Neither does the verse which is now before us. What

Paul teaches is that from "the last trump" forward,

the manner of resurrection is essentially changed.

Before this, Hades received the dead, and they waited

Changed in a Moment. 357

for the Lord's appearing to raise them up into His

heavenly Kingdom; after Hades has been emptied,

the saints who die are instantly changed and caught

up to join the heavenly ranks. Therefore it is true, as

Dean Stanley says, that in this chapter "the whole

resurrection of the human race is represented as one

prolonged fact of which the resurrection of Christ is

. the first beginning." Although our resurrection will

not transpire in the category, " those who are Christ's

at His coming," we nevertheless fall into that other,

" every man in his own order," amongst his own band,

as the great "change" overtakes him, and with the

happier fortune of being spared waiting in intermediate

and imperfect states for the appearing of our Lord.

And so it appears that Paul is completely misunderstood

when it is asserted that he expected not to die

but to be wrapt away as a living man to Heaven.

The new order of immediate transfer into glory at the

moment of death, from the occurrence of the Parousia

is mistaken for transfer without death at the


Any other interpretation makes Paul's teaching

contradictory. Flesh and blood which is stained with

sin is not to inherit incorruption. He speaks of his

own death, while still thinking that he may live into

the parousia " and in this same Epistle writes to the

Corinthians of their and his own resurrection (vi. 14).

It can scarcely be doubted that if he had anticipated

for himself and his friends such a pleasing escape as

this, his epistles would have contained many jubilant

anticipations of such good fortune. Nor can the

silence of the other Scriptures be explained. This

" rapture" was no commonplace experience likely to

358 " Maran A tha."

be treated with neglect. Was Peter not aware of it,

or why his silence? Was our Lord aware of it, then

why did He say" Some of you standing here shall not

taste death until you see the Son of Man coming," and

not rather-" Some of you shall see the Son of Man

coming and not taste of death"? Such silence might

well make us suspicious that this doctrine is not taught

by St. Paul, especially when he makes so little of it

that it is only to be deduced from two passages

susceptible of a totally different meaning.

As we finish our glance at this Epistle, our eye is

caught by the startling interjection of the two Syriac

words "MARAN ATHA" (" The Lord cometh! "), so

significant after the imprecation upon Christ's enemies

and immediately before the solemn benediction which

closes all. It is probable, as Renan remarks, that

these were passwords which the Christians used to

encourage one another in their hopes. Can these

hopes, universally entertained, supported by the

remembered utterances of our Lord, and taught

directly by all His Apostles, have been totally delusive

and grossly mistaken as the modern church declares?


The Epistle to which we have now come takes us

forward only a very little way, in all probability not

more than a year, into the life of St. Paul. There was

no time for any perceptible change from the views of

the Second Advent expressed in the First Epistle.

But certain interpreters take advantage of the fact that

this epistle contains no direct allusions to an impending

parousia to more than hint that the Apostle was

beginning to. discover his mistake. So careful a

Paul's Change, of View. 359

student as Sabatier says that" notions maintained to

the end of the First Epistle to the Corinthians disappear

or at least are transformed from the Second

onwards. ., The parousia is indefinitely postponed,

and makes room for a darker and more sorrowful

perspective." The author, however, betrays the rashness

of his assertion, again and again, as when

commenting on Philippians he says, " Paul still expects,

as he always had done, the great day of the Lord."

This supposed change of view is based largely on

the notion that Paul till now has been positively

asserting that he will live to the time of the parousia,

and was passionately desirous of so living. We

again affirm the absence from Paul's pages of any

assertion that he will be alive at the parousia.

As the event was so near, he would not have been

human if he had not desired to see it. When, however,

he gives expression to his natural desire to live longer

in the world, he never once mentions the parousia as

the boundary of that desire, nor gives as his reason the

wish to escape from death by a miraculous transformation.

If he entertained this passion to the degree

credited to him, it is most strange that nowhere has it

found unmistakable expression. On the other hand,

he frequently takes for granted that he shall die. And

still, when in 2 Cor. i, 8, he writes that he has been

nigh to death and goes on to add, " Death worketh in

us," and "God will raise us up also with Jesus:' the

judgement of many is voiced in Dean Stanley's note,

"An exception to the general expectation of the

Apostle." The Speaker's Commentary can only avoid

the attribution of change to Paul by asserting that

being" raised up with Jesus" here means that he will

360 11. Corinthians, V. I -9.

always supernaturally recover from his sickness,

as if this evasive gloss did not simply add another

mistake to those with which Paul is credited!

It is this unfortunate belief in "the rapture of the

saints" which misleads expositors. For years before

this time, St Paul knew that he carried his life in his

hand. Did he not write, "I die daily," "am always

delivered unto death," and in the First Epistle declare

his settled impression that "God had set forth the

Apostles as men doomed to death"? Is not the entire

conclusion of chap. iv. occupied with this idea that his

outward man is perishing? And is not chap. v. a

brilliant exposition of how it matters nothing to him

that the earthly tabernacle is dissolving, since in the

inward man he is renewed day by day? We do not

mean to raise the question as to what becomes of

Apostolic inspiration, or whether doctrinal error is

consistent with any form of inspiration worthy of the

name. All we care to ask is, Can the Apostle's writings

be made intelligible even when the commentator is

allowed the assistance of this supposed change in his


Let us take as a test this classical passage

about the heavenly tabernacle (v. 1-9). Is there

a commentator up to the latest who does not

betray the perplexity which the acute Whitby so

frankly acknowledges: " I confess it is difficult to give

the clear sense of the Apostle's words"? Consult

Meyer-usually so lucid-on what a sea of trouble one

is launched! Take Pfleiderer's or Sabatier's attempts

to systematize the Apostle's beliefs, and what confusion

covers the whole subject, although the latter almost

seizes the meaning of the present passage! How are

The Heavenly Bod)'. 361

we to harmonize the single point that the dead sleep

and wait till Christ descends for them with this

supposed later view that" to be absent from the body"

is to be with Christ in heaven? Does Bishop Lightfoot

help us by telling us to qualify the one representation

by the other? "Asleep and waiting" and yet

"with Christ "-who can resolve these contradictions

into any intelligible idea? What secret can harmonize

the Apostle's hope to keep his earthly body and be

with Christ with His immediately afterwards expressed

affirmation that to be in the body is to be absent from

the Lord, and to put off the body is to be with Him?

But we must call a halt, and proceed to unfold what

we believe to be the Apostle's teaching in this passage.

It is in explanation of what he has just said of the

renewal of his inward man while the outward man is

dying, that he proceeds :_U If this earthly tabernacle

were dissolved, we have a building of God." There

would be no room for the questions expositors raise as

to when this heavenly body is possessed if only they

had observed Paul's conception as to how Christians

come into its possession. He certainly did not hold

the common notion that the future body is a separate

creation into which the naked spirit mechanically slips

at the word of Divine command. With all plainness

he has taught us that the process is by vital growth,

as the seed corn clothes itself gradually for the new

function it is to fulfil. Not otherwise in any case does

the Creator make bodies than by organization around

the central vital nucleus, which thus comes into relation

with a harmonious environment. The heavenly body

is therefore a crystallization of heavenly substance

around the soul, conditioned by its ethical spirit, as

362 Inward Glorification.

the fleshly body comes to bear the impress in its

countenance of the soul which dwells behind it.

Nature may well be trusted as God's prophet in this

matter, especially when Paul distinctly homologates

this method of being clothed upon. How otherwise

can we construe his statement, "God quickens our

mortal bodies by His Spirit dwelling in us"? He

seems to say that when our bodies are the temples of

the Holy Ghost there is a quickening process going on

within, creative of another substantial form, although

not occupying space as known to us, so that when the

former is dissolved the "inward man" is found in a

superior body, in a sense derived from the first as to

its Wlos or essential form. 1 Did this idea find only

isolated expression in his writings, we might doubt his

meaning; but have we not the same idea when he

uses the analogy of the glorification of Moses in the

Mount and says that we, looking (mentally) in the

face of Christ, are transformed into the same image,

from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit, which is the

Lord? "Glory" is not merely sanctification, but

transformation of our inward manhood by participation

in heavenly qualities. The same idea lies in the

antithesis of the decaying outward man and the daily

renewal of the inward. The Apostle faints not before

his visible decay because conscious that" the more the

marble wastes, the more the statue grows," while

looking at eternal things. Is not the same truth

expressed again when, a little later on, he writes, " He

that hath wrought us for this selfsame thing is God"?

1 Baur is the only first-class interpreter who has at all

seized a.right conception of the Apostle's meaning. His remarks

are well worth careful study.-St. Paul, II., pp. 265-8.

Resurrection already begun. 363

The process of" mortality being swallowed up of life"

is not one altogether relegated to the future, but has

been in continuous process since the Apostle received

the gift of that Spirit whose presence is the earnest of

the full possession of the heavenly form. And this

process, of which he has been conscious in himself, the

Apostle prays his Ephesian brethern may know

experimentally: "the greatness of God's power to usward

according to His working in Christ when He

raised Him from the dead." It follows from this conception

of the glorified body as a PRESENT work of

God, dependent for its rapidity of growth and measure

of glory on the fulness of the Spirit's power in us, that

Paul may speak of it as a present possession which

becomes functional in spirit-life at death; or, in

humbler mood, speak dubiously, as when he writes to

the Phillipians, "Not as though I had already attained"

(the resurrection of the dead) "or were already perfect,"

i.e. in his inward heavenly resurrection form; and,

again, may write of it as a body only perfected when

Christ shall appear, and we shall be made like Him in

the fullest degree, because we shall see Him as He is

and by the contemplation of His glory be changed

from" the fashion of the body of humiliation into conformity

to His glorious body." Holding this view,

Paul might well say that though his fleshly body

should soon be dissolved, as he feared it might from

his manifold afflictions, he has nevertheless this

comfort: that by his conscious renewal in the inward

man he has already a heavenly house for the dwellingplace

of his soul. When Paul's actual teaching is comprehended

we can understand how Hymenzeus and

Philetus came to teach that" the resurrection was past

364 Longing to be Clothed upon.

already" (2 Tim. ii. 18). That shows that the resurrection

was not understood to be a physical resuscitation

and earthly appearance of the dead; nor a distant

occurrence at the end of all things, but an unseen and

immanent event, since otherwise they would have been

refuted by the simple fact that it had not happened.

The approximation of this opinion to the Apostle's

own teaching may be guessed from the mildness of

his rebuke: "Concerning the truth, they have missed

the mark."

The "longing to be clothed upon" of the second

verse is almost unanimously taken to mean that Paul

was anxious not to die, but to be caught away in

rapture. With all our heart we say with Baur: "A

mere expedient of interpretation." Why, the Apostle

has just been belittling the effects of death, and now

he is made to be afraid of it! He is only expressing

the common feeling that the earthly life is burdensome,

because man in the flesh is " subject unto vanity," and

that in the Christian heart especially there is a strong

desire for a more exalted life, "to wit, the redemption

of the body," or full adoption into Divine incorruptible

sonship. To" put on over" is not the gross and

incongruous idea of covering the earthly body with a

heavenly one. Such a conception is utterly un-Pauline,

as we shall see. The heavenly body is put on over

the soul by the indwelling Spirit of God from heavenly

substances, as the seed germ has a new body put over

it by the Spirit of God in nature.

Verse 3 is made perplexing with various Greek

readings. Alford makes it to read, "seeing that we

shall really be found clothed and not naked." The

Revised Version abides by the Received, and is more

Soul Nakedness. S65

hypothetical: "If so be that," etc. Then a very old

reading, which Sabatier maintains is the original,

substitutes "unclothed" for "clothed." Two false

views are taken of the Apostle's meaning. Chrysostom,

Calvin, Usteri, and others, take it to refer to spiritual

nakedness, the absence of the robe of righteousness.

But this is to introduce an idea foreign to the context.

Others (Bengel, Billroth, Conybeare and Howson,

Weiss,) interpret as referring to the Apostle's escape

from death by continuance in the flesh until the

Second Coming. This interpretation makes Paul's

statement purely personal, or at least only applicable

to his own generation : but the kindred reference in

Rom. viii. 20-25 shows that Paul holds this longing to

belong to human nature, and especially to Christians

who are filled with the Spirit. The interpretation we

submit is suitable whatever Greek reading be preferred

:-" If so be that being completely clothed with

the heavenly body our spirits are not found naked at

death, and comparatively helpless in that other world,

as heathen men believed themselves to be"; or, with

the other reading," so that being unclothed of the body

of the flesh we are not naked and helpless spirits."

The longing for being unclothed of the fleshly body

could not possibly exist if the possession of the

superior body were believed to be a distant possibility,

with a painful interregnum of soul-nakedness. Thus

plainly does Paul refute a view of the resurrection

body which is commonly believed to be his own.

Verse 4 is almost universally interpreted as expressing

an idea not flattering to Paul's manliness.

Alford actually tells us that the Apostle and his fellow

Christians groaned and were afflicted, because not


-----~--- ~-----------~-

At Home with the Lord.

willing to divest themselves of their earthly bodies!

Surely such a feeling was entirely alien to Paul, as it

has been to every spiritually-minded Christian since.

The truth is that he is here repeating the idea just expressed

in a slightly different form in order to repudiate

for himself and other Christians the Stoic notion then

prevalent that it was right to long for death, and even

commit suicide if weary of the world. No such selfish

and morbid desire to be rid of life is to be found within

the Christian's breast.

" More life and ful1er 'tis we want "-

even that glorious state in which we are equal to the

angels of God, being children of the resurrection.

Then immediately (ver. 5) he claims that God has

already been weaving the texture of this heavenly

body within the vesture of the mortal. And this confidence

makes him always of good courage. He is not

afraid of death, nor does he shrink from it, because to

be in the body is to be absent from the Lord, and to

be present with the Lord is the consummation of all

his possible desires. Is it not strange that the Apostle

should ever have been understood to be expecting and

desiring to keep his body alixe and to be at home with

Christ in it? His meaning is the direct negation of

such a thought.

To some there is a difficulty in the way Paul couples

"being absent from the body" and "being at home

with the Lord," as it looks inconsistent with his

doctrine that the dead are not with Christ until the

resurrection. The solution is easy when two things

are kept in view: first, that to the Apostle there is no

such thing as "rapture" or being present with Christ

otherwise than by laying aside the body; and secondly,

The Gain of Dying. 367

that, according to his belief, the interval between his

death and the descent of Christ for His dead is so very

brief that, as Delitzsch remarks, he may well pass by

the intermediate state in silence. 1 St. Paul would

never have written to the Philippians," It is better to

depart and be with Christ," "To die is gain," if he

had believed that he would be as soon with Christ by

remaining alive to the parousia ; but knowing that

even if the parousia were come, death was still the

only way into the state of glory, he did not care for

himself how soon death might come, knowing that it

would not find him naked, and therefore in a state less

happy than he was on earth. II

The exposition now submitted shows that this

passage is perfectly' lucid and self-consistent, perplexing

as it has been to the multitude of expositors.

It will be seen that the Pauline doctrine of the

resurrection includes two processes for the Christian:

first, the clothing of the spirit with a body of heavenly

texture by the working of the indwelling Spirit, a

process begun here and perfected by closer contact

with the Lord; secondly, ascent from Hades when

the Lord descends for His people at the parousia, and

after that event immediate ascent into the heavenly

state in the degree in which the soul is clothed upon

with heavenly essences. The first was already in

1 "Psychology," English translation, p. 510.

2 Our latest interpreter (Denney) sees no change in the

Apostle's views; but is so far in confusion that he actually

believes that the heavenly body is rut on over the body of flesh

and blood, and that at this time Pau stands in such contradiction

with himself that he has a "shuddering fear of dying" and hopes

to escape "the terrific experience of death." WaB this Paul's

feeling about death at any time, and especially when he wrote

that he preferred to die rather than to live on 1

368 TIle Epistle to tlu Galatians.

process with St. Paul, and it might be near its completion

j the second could only be accomplished at the

parousia. Long study has convinced us that the

entire teaching of the New Testament on last things

becomes simple and harmonious on these lines, and

we confidently commend this view to our reader's

patient and prayerful study.


This letter is believed to come at no great distance

after the Epistles to the Corinthians
j indeed, the

assertion is sometimes made that it ought to come

before them. In any case, we can hardly expect to

find further information on the subject of the parousia.

There are, however, certain definite references well

worth our attention. In chapter i. 4, we are told that

the aim of Christ's sacrifice was our deliverance from

"the present evil age." The contrast before the

Apostle's mind is not that of this material world as

evil over against heaven as holy, but the idea which

is developed so fully in our Lord's discourses, of two

successive ages in this world-the age of law and sin

and the age of grace and everlasting righteousness.

We see here that in Paul's judgement, the Judaic age

was still running, because not yet officially abolished,

and the Christian age not yet initiated publicly by the

deposition of its predecessor. It is not needful that

we should again remind our readers how perfectly this

is in keeping with the chronological standpoint of all

the New Testament writers. The old age had not yet

reached its consummation, and the kingdom of Christ

had not then externally come.

The Old and New Jerusalems.

The only other reference to be noticed is iv. 25, 26.

Here Jerusalem and its legal religion is compared to

Hagar, and said to be in bondage with its children,

whereas the Jerusalem which is above is free. We

have to note again that for Paul at this point the New

Jerusalem has not yet come down from heaven; that

is, the gospel age is not yet initiated, the New Testament

Church has not officially supplanted the Old.

It does exist in heaven, it waits for the fulness of the

times, the moment when there can fittingly be a

" restitution" or turning back to the great fundamental

religious principles of Eden and the days of Abraham j

and then, as seen in the book of Revelation, it descends,

and the Church officially exists as the one and only

representative of God on earth. Meanwhile, the seat

of the old Covenant is a place of bondage. It imposes

on its votaries burdens too hard to be borne j demands

righteousness without imparting power, as the

Egyptians demanded bricks without straw. Hence,

in Rev. xi. 8, Jerusalem is said to be spiritually called

" Egypt," and out of it God is about to call his people,

by separating them from the outer courts of His temple,

i.e., from a legal and ceremonial service inconsistent

with the liberty and universality of true worship in the

Kingdom of Christ.


This letter proceeds but a very little way before the

reader is startled with the ominous rumble of the

sounds of approaching judgement (ii. 5, 6, 9, 10). As

in Peter, the Jew is to be judged first j on "the day

when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus

370 The Epistle to the Romans.

Christ, according to my Gospel" (ver, 16). What

Paul taught as to the time when this judgement would

take place can be seen by turning to the addresses

spoken at Ceesarea somewhere about the time this

Epistle was written. In his confession before the

Roman judge he distinctly announced his faith in an

immanent resurrection: .. having hope in God that

there IS SOON TO BE a resurrection both of the just

and unjust"; and a few days later, when asked to

explain the Christian faith more fully, "he reasoned of

the judgement ABOUT TO COME" (Acts xxiv. 15, 25),

and brought it so well home to the immediate interests

of Felix that he trembled. Now, as this resurrection

and judgement are functions which St. Paul held to

belong distinctively to the advent of Christ, it is

evident that he was still strong in the expectation of

a parousia close at hand.

Nor indeed does the Apostle shrink from committing

himself to this effect before the Roman Church. In

viii. 18, et seq., he speaks of the resurrection as "the

redemption of the body from the bondage of corruption,"

and contrasting it with the present state, calls it

"the glory to be revealed in us." Well, is this a

distant prospect? By no means. He writes: "It is

about to be revealed." Most translators seem afraid

to record it, but so it is written; and the whole tone

of the Apostle's expectations is derived from this

inspiriting belief. He appeals confidently to the

Church's knowledge of the times and seasons, " The

night is far spent and the day is at hand" (xiii. 12)the

day of the Church's salvation, when "God shall

bruise Satan under your feet slzortZy" (xvi. 20). The

reference here is externally to the humiliation of the


The Restoration of the jews. 371

Jew in the visible destruction of the Mosaic Covenant.

That abated Jewish persecutions, ended all weighty

claims to the perpetuity and extension of Jewish

ceremonial within the Church, and so brought peace

from "the God of peace." More profoundly, the

bruising of Satan lay in Christ wresting the dead from

his power, and apportioning resurrection or condemnation,

according to His own authoritative will.

Death was no longer in Satan's hands. "I have the

keys of Death and Hades."

There is only one point more to notice in this

Epistle. In most modern prophetic schemes the

restoration of the totality of the Jewish race to Palestine

holds a conspicuous place. St. Paul is the only

New Testament writer who makes the slightest

allusion to Israel's distant fortunes. (Rom. xi.) It is

somewhat difficult to determine his precise belief as to

the effect of the Advent on his people. He certainly

does not teach the restoration of the Jews to Palestine,

nor a revivification of Jewish modes of worship. He

says that Israel is not cast off absolutely and irrevocably.

The temporal judgement of the nation does not

involve the eternal preterition of the individuals who

compose it. Therefore the Apostle sees a hope for

Israel. Its very chastisement is intended by the unchanging

God to be a door of repentance. When the

Redeemer returns to Zion to purge the iniquity of

His people, judgement ought to work salvation for

those who are its witnesses, Seeing the dispensation

overthrown and the Gentiles progressing in Divine

favour through their faith in Christ, Israel will have

the strongest motive to quit its unbelief, and, repenting,

will be saved. Thus Paul vindicates God's faithfulness

372 The Epistle to the Ephesians.

to His people; but beyond asserting that all Israel

can and may be saved if taught by the Providence of

their times, he does' not pass. The times of "the

fulness of the Gentiles" after the parousia, before

which they were only proselytes of the gate of

Christianity, did sec the conversion of many Jews to

Christ, but the great mass remained unconvinced.

There can be little doubt that such hopes as the

Apostle cherished concerning Israel were fixed on a

future very near to his own day, in harmony with his

other expectations concerning the parousia and its



Paul in this Epistle treats our subject in a broader

and more occult way than in any other of his Epistles.

He scarcely speaks of the coming of Christ; but his

thoughts are big with the Advent and its consequences.

It introduces" the dispensation of the fulness of the

times": the world's majority, the full-orbed spiritual

privileges for which the race was created (i. 10). This

grand reconciling age is not yet come (ver. 21), but

Christ is already exalted to supreme power in the

Heavens, and His sovereignty will soon be manifest

in the introduction of a dispensation in which the

Gentiles will be elevated to the fulness of sonly

privilege. This is the "mystery" hidden from all

previous ages, and made known especially through

Paul himself (iii. 2, 3). This great movement is the

unification of heaven and earth, and not merely of

Jew and Gentile. God comes down to earth to dwell

among men. He comes into His inheritance (ii. 18),

Shadow and Substa1tce 373

because the Kingdom is now made subject to the

Father; and we come into our inheritance (i. 14),

because Christ has opened the Holiest to believers in

the resurrection of the saintly dead, and by the gift

of the Holy Spirit without measure to His Church.

The days are still evil (v. 16), the SO\ereignty of

Christ not yet manifest; but every sympathetic reader

feels that the Apostle's mind is filled with the conviction

that the new age" is about to come" (i. 21), and the

Church's installation as the heir of the world just at



This letter is in tone very like that to the Ephesians.

Still, we shall find here that St. Paul continues to

occupy the same outlook with regard to the coming

and Kingdom of Christ as he did in the earliest of his

Epistles. As we rca.l, we come first upon a statement

to which we have already called attention (p. 298) as ex,

plaining the sense in which our Lord meant the gospel

to be preached in all the world" before the end." In

i. 23, Paul claims that this work has been fully done,

and we cannot doubt that this was to himself one of

the signs that the parousia was at hand.

In chap. ii. 17 we have a remark which clearly

reveals the Apostle's temporal standpoint at this

period. The verse is not properly translated in our

current versions. Referring to certain Jewish ordinances

he says they are "a shadow of things about to

come, but the body is Christ's." It is customary for

expositors to project the emphatic words into the

spirit world, because they suppose that Christ's King374

The Epistle to the Colossians.

dom had already come in the Apostolic days. But

we trust we have exposed this fallacy so completely

that our readers will now be ready to agree substantially

with Meyer: "These things belong altogether

to the age about to come, which will begin with the

coming again of Christ to set up His Kingdom-a

Kingdom, however, which was expected as very near

at hand." The reasonableness of the interpretation is

evident if only it be remembered that the .,shadows"

were still visibly in force, and the christian dispensation

not visibly nor otftcially ushered in. Therefore the

body, of which Mosaic symbolism was the shadow,

was not yet come in its full reality.

In the 20th verse we have another note repeated

from verse 8, which indicates the contrast Paul saw

between past ages and the coming age of Christ.

" The rudiments of the world," that is, the elementary

religious fancies of the world, embodied in Jewish and

heathen thought alike, are now obsolete and worthless

things for Paul compared to the fulness of wisdom to

be found in Christ. The Divine sentence was soon to

be passed upon those phases of religious life in their

most perfect form as centered at Jerusalem. Like

Peter, our Apostle believed that "the wrath of God

was coming" (iii. 6) upon these elementary forms of

faith, as systems fruitful only in fostering .. idolatry."

All the adherents of these systems would pass under

the severest judgements, but what to them was death

would be life indeed to all who were in Christ Jesus.

The same epoch would see the manifestation of Christ

in glory to His saints, and when He appeared those

who were His would be manifested in a similar

heavenly glory (iii. 4). This statement has a double

No C1zange of View. 375

fulfilment-first, in this life, when Christ being proven

Lord and King by the judgement of His enemies, His

people share approximately in His glory; but chiefly

it is fulfilled in the personal glorification of each

believer as in putting off the veil of the flesh he attains

to the vision of Christ.


We find ourselves drawing somewhat close to the end

of the Apostle's days, and with the greatest interest we

may well scan this letter to see if the years have

made any change in his views. Very soon (i. 6)

we come upon a significant reference to "the day of

Jesus Christ." Then we come upon another (10), and

still another (ii. 16). There are two significant features

in these references :-lst. The day is one which the

Philippians will live to see; and, 2ndly, it is a day of

manifestation or judgement. We have already seen

that such is an inseparable accompaniment of the

Second Coming. Christ judges the dead on His

descent from heaven; and the tribulation which tests

the faith of His Church on earth, separates the wheat

from the chaff, and commends or condemns the

Christian Teacher whose work is thus put to the test.

That this day of Christ is very near in the Apostle's

conviction is placed beyond all doubt by his emphatic

statement (iv. 5), "the Lord is at hand." What then

about his supposed expectation and desire that instead

of dying he will be transfigured alive? Now is the

time when these ought to be felt and expressed most

strongly. But what then are we to make of his candid

statement (i. 21) that "to die is gain," and that his

376 The Epistle to tlee Philzppians.

own preference is to put off the flesh? Where now is

the supposed "earnest desire" of 2 Cor. v. 2? It is

gone from the Epistle to the Philippians-because it

had no existence anywhere. Why, too, is it that "to

depart" or die is " to be with Christ," if so be that the

living are caught up to be with Christ at the same

moment as those who are dead? These questions cannot

be answered on the usual hypothesis. Nor does

the answer satisfy, that the dead are nearer to Christ

than the living. Paul nowhere teaches that. The

dead wait for Christ till His parousia, when He

descends from heaven for thcm; and therefore Paul

could not mean that death would unite him to Christ

before the parousia. How, then, is the inconsistency

to be solved? In this simple manner-Paul knew

that the day of the Lord was just at hand, and that

dying was the only way to heavenly glory; therefore

dying was better than living, and death that was not

far distant was just in his view equi-distant with the

coming of his Lord to take His saints to glory. Thus

naturally and most consistently does Paul express

himself, and not otherwise can he be understood.

Look now at Paul's peculiar expressions as to the

resurrection. "If by any means I may attain unto

the resurrection from the dead '? (iii. 11). No serious

objection need be taken to the view that Paul means

"the first resurrection" at Christ's parousia. But

what does he refer to when immediately he adds"

Not that I have already attained, or am already

made perfect"? Meyer says, it is to " the bliss of the

Messiah's Kingdom." Surely, there was no need for

Paul to make so obvious a remark, or to leave so

abruptly, in words that look so continuous, his former

Sanctification and Glorification. 377

line of thought. What he really means is-that he is

not yet in a state of ripeness for the resurrection-not

yet perfect in his pneumatic form. How natural this

remark is becomes immediately evident when we

remember Paul's doctrine concerning the present

growth and possibly perfect developement of the

house from heaven around the spirit. He wishes to

be perfectly clothed upon at death, so as not to be

found naked or only half clothed with his heavenly

form. But he is not prepared to say or take for

granted that this state has been attained; he presses

on, however, into the fulness of the self-sacrificing

mind of Christ if so be that this prize of the high

calling may be obtained! The process of sanctification

proceeds par] passu with the perfecting of the spirit


Meanwhile he waits for this Saviour from heaventhis

quickening Redeemer whose work it is to change

this body of humiliation for one heavenly like his own

(iii. 21). The process of spirit-clothing is continued

into a long and steady process of glorification, by

open intercourse with the risen Christ. But only" the

ages to come" will unfold the secret of how much it is

in God's heart to do for His Christian people.


The Pastoral Epistles give us the Apostle's latest

convictions on this subject. We may not find in those

letters statements as clear and definite as in some of

the earlier Epistles, but we are not on this account at

liberty to conclude that the Apostle's interest in the

subject is abated, much less that he has altered his

378 The Pastoral Epistles.

expectations, or indeed to settle anything more than

that the doctrine is by this time so well understood by

his correspondents that it requires nothing to be

written in explanation or defence. The nearness of

the coming is clearly asserted when Timothy is

exhorted to fight the good fight of faith "without

reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."

In the Second Epistle this admonition is repeated in

a form which leaves no mistake as to Paul's belief: "I

charge thee in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus,

who IS ABOUT to judge the quick and the dead, and

by His appearing and His kingdom" (iv. 1). What

more explicit language could the Apostle use to express

his constancy to his earlier convictions?

The Epistle to Titus contains a passage which

shows that this anticipation was the common attitude

of the Catholic Church of the period: "We should

live ... godly in this present age, looking for the

blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great

God and Saviour Jesus Christ" (ii. 12, 13). This verse

has two noteworthy phrases: "this present age" (not

" world"), by which he means, as in Galatians, " this

present evil age," over which Satan is god. The

Apostle's antithesis is not, as Bishop Lightfoot says,

between" this transitory world and the other world of

eternity." The eternal world cannot well be called

"the coming age," or, as in Heb. vi. 5, .' the age about

to come,"-although two of the Apostolic Fathers take

it in that sense. If the Bishop is right, we must conclude

that Christ's mission is to save Christians out of

this world into eternity and to leave this present world

under the dominion of Satan, as it was in Apostolic

times. The contrast rather lies between that godless

Not a Personal Manzlestation. 379

and idolatrous age, which had so nearly run its course,

and the succeeding Christian age, in which the Divine

name would be again reinstated in its just authority.

This had been long understood in Israel to be one of

the functions of the Messiah, "the Father of the age

to come," and is constantly referred to in the New

Testament as the Gospel's gift to the human racethe

promise of the life which now is as well as of the

life to come.

The other phrase we wish to notice here is the

decidedly impersonal one in which the Apostle describes

the parousia. Many read into every intimation

of the Advent a strictly visible appearance of the

person of the Saviour to the material eye. This

passage rather intimates that the parousia is not a

visible personal manifestation of Christ in this life, but

chiefly a mental perception of the signs of His

presence with His Church and of His Divine supremacy

as seated on His Father's throne. The visible

Christ is the peculiar prize of those who have passed

within the veil. St. Paul here tells us that what is

manifested is the glory of Christ, which is also the glory

of the great God-the one and only God claiming His

supremacy over all the races of the earth, and calling

upon all nations to worship Him through the one

Mediator, Jesus Christ. In short, this epiphany is

identical with the initiation of the Gospel age as a

world-wide dispensation, exalting the glory of God as

the one and only sovereign, and the glory of Christ as

the one and only Saviour of the world.

Another very distinctive landmark is found in these

Pastoral Epistles. It will be remembered that our

Lord intimated to His disciples that one of the im3HO

Tile Pastoral Epistles.

mediate forerunners of the end of the age would be

"the love of many waxing cold." The spirit of

prophecy seems to have kept this fact constantly

in evidence before the Apostolic generation. Paul

reminded the Thessalonians that there would be a very

visible apostacy before the parousia, in "the latter

days" of the age. In 1 Tim. iv. 1-3 this apostacy is

described in process as an invasion of Jewish Gnosticism,

and in vi. 20,21, as a profane and babbling gnosis

which had already made some to err. Then in the

Second Epistle he refers again to this well-known

prophecy concerning" the latter days" (iii. 1-9). In

this passage he is not prophesying of any distant

future, but pointing out the very evident fulfilment of

this latter-day prophecy going on before Timothy's

eyes. The flood of error was in full spate, and those

Gnostics who were "ever learning" from their intercourse

with demons were gaining the ears of many for

their marvellous revelations. That this apostacy was

only a short sharp spell in "the last days" of the

Judaic age, and no lingering decline within the Gospel

age, as some will have it, is evident from verse 9: "But

they shall proceed no further, for their folly shall be

evident unto all men." The Apostle hints that the

providential judgements soon to break out will overtake

many of these servants of the devil, and that

Jerusalem's destruction will sufficiently demonstrate

Christ's supremacy as the Saviour of the world.

Such is a brief vidimus of the more salient statements

of St. Paul in his last Epistles. Surely the

assertion that he latterly postponed the Second Advent,

or lost his interest in the event, will not lift its face for

a moment in view of this evidence to the contrary!

Tlte Pastoral Epistles. :-J81

And yet the disappointing fact is before us that the

great body of expositors assert that the Apostle

latterly speaks of his death and of going to be with

Christ in a manner that seems to contradict his early

hopes of surviving till the parousia and of then being

translated into the heavenly kingdom without tasting




WE no sooner begin to read this grand Epistle

~ ~ than we discover the temporal standpoint

of the author. God's message to men by His Son

was spoken in "the last of these days." (i. 1.)

That is to say, the days then running were to this

author part of a distinctive period near' the end of

which Christ appeared. Christ's life and death were

not the initiation of a new age, but a sign of the end

of the old. As Dr. Davidson says, "this old age had

not closed when the author wrote; it would close

definitely when Christ should come again the second

time (ix. 28). But in the minds of all the saints then

living His second coming was immanent, and therefore

His first manifestation is considered to mark the

close of these days." A similar note of time occurs

in ch. ix. 26: "at the end of·the ages hath He been

manifested." All past time is considered as broken

up into preliminary periods of graduated discipline, in

preparation for the economy which is the culmination

of God's purpose with humanity, and which is to have

"no end at all." But Christ's earthly life is in the

" end" of the last of these preliminary periods, not in

the beginning of the newer age. The apostolic

generation recognised that Christ had a work to do in

the Heavens before the new age could be formally

The World to Come. :383

introduced. This was in harmony, too, with the

teaching of Jewish Rabbis who spoke of " the present

age" (o/am Izadse/z), and of "the age to come" (o/am

Izabba), between which they sometimes placed the

days of the Messiah, that is the period of His manifestation,

and the time of the travail-pangs of the

age to come (Matt. xxiv. 8). We see then that the

author regards his generation as living in troublous

times-the death throes of one age, and the birth

pangs of another which supplants it, and faces the

Gentile as strenuously with its demands as it does the


Hence this writer will have much to say to us con-

. cerning "the world to come." In ch. ii. 6, he says,

-" the organised inhabitable about to come has not

been subjected to angels." He means that the divine

government of the world about to be introduced is

not, like the Mosaic government, "ordained by

.angels." (Acts vii. 53; Gal. iii. 19.) The Son of God

will be the only mediator, and in His hands all power

and authority will be concentrated. This should

make clear beyond all dispute that" the age about to

come" means in this Epistle the Christian dispensation

as displacing the then-existing Judaistic age, when

angels were the communicating media between God

and men. Accordingly in ix. II we lead of" the good

things about to come" -which Christ is to introduce.

Westcott and Hort reject the" about to"; but even if

right, the" good things" are said to come as "a time

of reformation" upon the abolition of the carnal

ordinances of Judaism as no longer a part of the divine

government of the world. We see too that these

"good things" are the opening lip of the privileges of


~84 The Epistle to the Hebrews.

the Holy Place to God's believing people. Judaism

was only the Outer Court, of which Christianity is the

Holy Place-the dispensation of God's presence. But

this privilege is not really open to men when the

Epistle is written, because" the first tabernacle is yet

standing" (8). The Temple's fall will be the providential

sign that Heaven is opened to the saintly dead,

and that God has officially begun His new covenant

reign amongst men.

The same immanence is re-asserted in ch. x. 1"

The law having a shadow of the good things about

to come." These good things are-perfect cleansing

from sin, great peace, a 'present near approach to God,

and immediate entrance into Heaven at death.

These came to men only in the divine government

of the world by Christ. From this point of view, while

Judaism was still in force Christians had only" tasted

the powers of the age about to come" (vi 5), and

would have much larger privileges when the gospel

age was authoritatively ushered in. Indeed, it is a

note of God's procedure that the present is always a

foretaste of what is yet to come. The best wine is kept

unto the last. What we enjoy now is the shadow of

a coming substance, because un.ler God"we are always

travelling towards the rising sun, and we meet the

shadows before we touch the things themselves.

In keeping with this idea of the changing dispensations,

we naturally have a contrast between the local

Jerusalem in which Judaism centred, and the Jerusalem

which is from above. The passage is one of sterling

eloquence, and is flashing with heavenly scintillations

(xii. 18-24). Mount Zion is the spiritual height that

stands over against Mount Sinai; the heavenly J eruThe

City about to Come. 385

salem or gospel dispensation which comes down to

earth, and brings God in Christ, innumerable hosts of

angels, and the saints who have just entered into

heaven with their perfect natures, into close and

intimate communion with' the Church on earth In

this sense, even we below are" gathered together unto

Christ "-have entered into a fuller and more internal

communion with the ever-present Saviour. But we

have to notice that this consummation was not then

fully reached. "We seek after the city which is about

to come" (xiii. 14). The old Jerusalem was about to

vanish and leave the New Jerusalem in its place. This

latter was already constituted in its heavenly form.

God had prepared for His Old Testament saints a city

(xi. 16) ; but it was only prepared by Christ, for whose

coming they had to wait. "Apart from us Christians

they could not be made perfect" (xi. 40). They were

still under the disabilities of sin, still partially in the

grasp of Death, until Christ had prepared a place in

heaven, founded a heavenly city for their habitation,

and raised them up into its glory.

Now, if we have interpreted rightly, we ought not

. only to hear of this blessed transformation scene, but to

find it accomplished amid the thunder tones of judgement.

And indeed the heavy tread of coming doom

is heard echoing through the whole Epistle. "To-day,

if ye will hear His voice." "The rest of God JJ is near.

The forty years in the wilderness, corresponding with

the forty years between the ascension and the parousia,

are now almost gone. The land so often watered, ana

bringing forth only thorns and thistles, is rejected and

nigh unto a curse, and its end is to be burned (vi. s),

The Mosaic Covenant waxeth old and is nigh to

386 The Epistle to the Hebrews.

vanishing (viii. 13). Christians must be increasingly

faithful as they" see the day approaching" (x. 22).

Apostatizers have nothing to look forward to but" a

certain fearful expectation of judgement and a fierceness

of fire which shall devour the adversaries." "Vengeance

belongeth unto God. The Lord will judge His

people." Let Christ's people maintain their confidence.

"For yet a very little while,

He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry (x, 37)."

Surely this is positive assertion, the frank committal

of an inspired writer to the fact of an impending

parousia. And indeed the quoted prophecy was fulfilled

as certainly in its New Testament application as

in its original application to the judgement of the

Chaldeans. Christ did come to judge the world. His

coming shook not only the earth but heaven, not only

the political status of nations but the religious faiths of

men, and gave us a new earth and new heaven. Nothing,

however, that was essential or spiritual in the

former dispensation was destroyed. Christ came to

fulfil the law, to preserve and beautify the Holy of

Holies, and to cast down only the outer courts with

their rudimentary religious observances, and jealous

exclusion of Gentile men (xii. 27, compare Rev. xi. 2).

Thus did God prove Himself to be a consuming fire;

and introduce His Kingdom in its gospel form, as

a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, the everlasting

heritage of His Son (xii. 28).

These notes must have reminded the reader of how

much there is in common between Hebrews and the

Book of Revelation; and indeed renewed the reader's

surprise at the perfect unity of teaching which exists

TIle Agreement of Scripture. 387

between all the books of the New Testament. There

is not so much as a divergent note, not orie sign of

reversed opinion. From Matthew to Revelation the

Kingdom is about to come, the dead about to rise, and

the judgement of two worlds to proceed. We also

claim that these New Testament predictions were

most fully and literally realised in the world's history,

so far as this earth was to be the scene of their fulfilment.

Perhaps the Church's actual experience does not so

well correspond as one might wish; but the fault lies

in the Church's blindness and. spiritual inaptitude.

Neither were the spiritual anticipations of the Second

Isaiah completely realised in the post-exilic return.

God always prophesies the ideal best, expresses the

desires of His own tender love; but the fulness of

blessing is attained by the Church only when she lives

up to her ideal best. Man's irresponsiveness to the

will of God always lessens, if it does not sometimes

quite annul, the blessing which He is able and willing to


It is difficult to realise, in face of this large array of

positively uniform Scripture testimony as to the time

and nature of the Second Advent, how the present

belief of the Church can continue to exist. It is especially

puzzling to understand the position of a rapidly increasing

number of interpreters who read the Scriptures

rightly as to the time of the Advent, and yet assert

in one breath Apostolic inspiration and Apostolic

failure to solve one of the simplest elements in

the Advent problem. Those who try to save the

authority of Scripture by interjecting a second and

distant fulfilment on a larger scale cannot possibly

succeed. There is no tlzird advent in the New Testa388


ment, nota single whisper of a Coming distant from

Apostolic days, not a sign of any Parousia that is not

distinctly mixed up with the tragedy of Jerusalem's

destruction. The proximate date and the whole

historical environment are fixed for the beginning ofthe

Christian dispensation. The plain truth must be

told, expositors have turned Eastern poetry into

Western prose, and camalised the spiritual blessings

of the Advent. Christendom has therefore remained

as blind to the fulfilment of New Testament prophecy

as the Jew did to the Old, has precisely repeated his

mistake, and thereby justified his unbelief and postponed

by centuries the time of Israel's conversion.

In conclusion, we thank every reader who has given

us a patient consideration. We trust the views unfolded

have been hurtful to none, if not profitable to

all. The results to which we have sought to lead our

readers are fitted to establish their faith in the

harmony of the Holy Scriptures, their confidence in

the continued conquest of the world by the preaching

of the Word, and to calm their fears of either any

cyclonic catastrophe happening on some near day to

the world, or of some lingering and unhappy experiences

for the Christian between death and glory.

Christ is on His throne, claiming the kingdoms of this

world, and making all things, even death itself, subservient

to the final glory of those who love and serve

Him. A few short yeal s, and we shall realise how

true are all the teachings of His Word, and how

certainly He has opened the Kingdom of Heaven to

all believers, and made their passage from grace to

glory the happy transaction of a moment or the

twinkling of an eye.



' T may be well in Closing this volume to bring into

~ distinctive array the prominent findings of our

finished research. These we doubt not will be disappointing,

if judged from the standpoint of current

beliefs in the Church; but we claim that the latter are

groundless inventions, drawn from Scripture on

principles that are violations of fair and candid

exegesis, whereas the following positions are almost

literally the verbal statements of the Word itself.

Which is better, time will tell; but already we can

venture to say that current methods of interpretation

are condemned by their sadly disappointing resultsdates

minutely fixed, prophesies falsified, hopes deferred,

new methods of interpretation invented to be

falsified in turn, and, on the surface, the wildest

liberties taken with the Sacred Word.

We submit the following as the teaching of


1. The Second Coming of Christ, whatever it may

mean, is invariably stated to be near, at hand, within

a generation at the most distant extreme. There is

no change of language, no modification of this expectation,

and the passages which seem to speak of delay

declare that the apprehension of delay is a delusion

which will speedily prove itself to have been mistaken.

390 Notetoortky Findings.

2. The coming of Christ is also the coming of the

great God, and is equivalent to the coming of the

Kingdom of Heaven, which is equivalent to the

official initiation of Christ's authority, or the gospel

age or dispensation.

S. The coming of Christ's Kingdom is the abolition

of the Old Testament kingdom in its corrupted forma

spiritual coup d'etat-a change of government, and

a decentralisation of the seat of government in keeping

with its higher spirituality and the extension of its

area. The Kingdom is no longer subject unto angels,

but' entirely in the hands of the Son of God; and its

earthly administration no longer confided to the hands

of Jews but given very largely to the Gentiles, who

thus come into" the fulness" of spiritual privilege.

4. The coming of Christ, as a process and event in

time, is not so frequently in evidence as appears to an

English reader. The Scriptures lay emphasis on the

Lord's parousia or presence as an abiding possession

rather than upon the dramatic episode of a temporal

or local approach. For the apostolic generation, the

parousia had a twofold sphere of manifestation-first

in the invisible, where Christ appeared personally and

locally to His dead saints in order to exalt them to His

glory; and secondly, in this world, personally but not

visibly to flesh and blood, except in certain historical

signs, and by an increase of power and life to His

struggling church. All hope of a local and visible

manifestation of Christ on earth is distinctly forbidden

in the Scriptures j this is reserved for the risen and

glorified Saints.

4. The presence of Christ has invariably as its sign,

NotewortllJl Findings. 391

a 'visible judgement on the Jewish nation in its then

existing generation. The most evident sign of " the

end of the age" and the presence of Christ in His

Kingdom was, as a matter of course, the demolition

of the temple and such a treading down of Jerusalem

as made the restoration of temple worship an impossibility.

The coming of the Son of Man in His Kingdom

was visible only in this and such other natural

indications as must necessarily accompany a change

in the nature of the divine dispensation or spiritual

economy of the world .

.5. There is no prophecy in the New Testament of

any catastrophe to the physical world in connection

with Christ's coming. The" end of the age" is totally

different from the modern phrase "the end of the

world." The convulsions which accompany the end

are supposed to be physical only by the very blameable

forgetfulness that social, political, and religious

overthrow is invariably expressed in Hebrew literature

by catastrophal images borrowed from the material


6. The Kingdom of Christ is ushered in by one 0

these revolutions, begins in catastrophe to the preexisting

order, but itself knows no catastrophe. Of

Christ's Kingdom there is no end. Once introduced

it grows like the mustard seed, insinuates itself into the

total mass like leaven, has incidental struggles with

recrudescent or outlying heathenism (Rev. xx.), but

in spite of occasional retrocessions is ever gaining

ground amongst the human race, until at length it

achieves a universal victory.

392 Noteworthy Findings.

7. The coming of Christ is accompanied by a judgement

of the dead as well as of the living. It seems

natural that when Christ assumes the government of

the living human race, He should also assert His

sovereignty over the race in spirit life. "He is Lord

of the living and the dead." His appearance is thus

personal to the great majority of the race-the host

of waiting souls in the unseen. Thus He fulfils His

promise-" A little while and ye shall see me," and

His appearance is a judgement, inasmuch as He raises

His own out of Hades into the place prepared in

Heaven, while those left behind realise that they are

permanently banished from His presence.

8. We have found, as might be expected, that from

this first ascension of the dead onwards Christ's people

no longer at death, pass downward into Hades. For

those fully prepared, death is immediate transition

from the church below to the church above. There is

at the coming of Christ no such rapture of the living,

unchanged by death, as has been so long and so constantly

imagined; but from and after His coming, in

the experience of death ripened saints are changed in a

moment, caught up to meet the Lord; and at such a

happy alteration in the order of death, well might the

exclamation be heard in heaven and joyfully re-echoed

on the earth-" Blessed are the dead that die in the

Lord from henceforth." Thus death, the last enemy,

is swallowed up in victory.

9. The resurrection for the Christian now consists in

the spirit being clothed upon with a form from heaven,

with superior essences that enable it to find its suitable

environment in God's heaven. The soul thus clothed

N otewort/zy Findings. 393

upon is not found naked in the article of death; that

is, it is not rendered comparatively impotent or made

to experience loss by the dissolution of the fleshly

body. On the contrary, when the consciousness awakes

and finds itself centered in a heavenly body, its powers

and its joys are enhanced, and by its superior organization

it gravitates upwards into heaven. This tabernacle

is the present creation of God's Spirit dwelling

in us. Weare not only sanctified but glorified here

and now as we commune with Christ, by the inward

operation of the Holy Ghost mystically transforming

us into the likeness of the angels of God. To such a

happy transformation few of us like Paul will be willing

to believe we have yet attained, but if not perfected

here we shalf be perfected beyond, and in good

time pass into the palace of the King, glorious without

and within.

Such are the most notable findings of our enquiry.

If in any of them we are mistaken, we shall be

thankful to reviewer or reader who will take the pains

to enlighten us. If these positions are scriptural, as

we maintain, then we need not add a word as to the

egregiously mistaken character of present-day expectations

and beliefs. Like the Jews, we are looking for

a Messiah who has come; a veil of the grossest

ignorance is upon our eyes as we read the Scriptures,

and as to all the future our darkness is very great.

God grant that the clouds may soon be dissipated

from the Church's sky, and the sun of truth shine

out with the clearness of noon-day.



'VIIAT impression did Apostolic teaching make upon those who

immediately succeeded them '\S teachers and leaders in the

Church? This question cannot fail to be of interest to all

seekers after the truth, although we do not look to these successors

as authoritative interpreters 'Of Scripture, but only as to

men who stood in very intimate relationship with the Apostles

and were therefore in a fair position to understand what they

had received from the founders of the Church. We surely have

good reason to conclude that the authoritative doctrine on

this matter would be fairly apprehended, and taught with

general accuracy. Corruptions are usually of slow and gradual

growth; and to a careful student the joiniugs of the old stones

with the new are al ways traceable. In the present case, however,

where the truth is mainly as to simple concrete facts of

time and place, beyond which Apostolic predictions of the second

Ad vent rarely went, mistake was almost an impossibility.

What then do we find was the view of the second Advent held

by those sub-apostolic teachers whose literary remains have

couie down to us ?

CLEMENT OF ROME states in perhaps the earliest of these

writings, at the latest sometime in Domitian's reign (but Hefele

thinks as early as 68 A.D.), that the Apostles went everywhere

by Christ's command, teaching" that the Kingdom of God is at

hand," and himself asserts witt. confidence the immediate coming

of the Lord, and an impending general resurrection and condemnation

of the wicked. In the so-called Second Epistle,

which is really a homily, and may not be Clement's, he exhorts

his readers to "expect every hour the Kingdom of God," as they

kuow indeed that" the day of judgement cometh EVEN NOW as

The Epistle of Barnabas. 3D5


a burning oven." There is, however, a decided difference of

tone between these two books as to the nature of the resurrection.

In the epistle the resurrection is spiritual, a new life

springing suddeuly out of the dissolving flesh, while in the

homily we are told that the flesh itself will have an actual


THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS is placed by Weizsacker, Lightfoot,

and Ramsay, in the reign of Vespasian, by Renan in

Nerva's reign, and by Cruttwell any time between 70 and 132

A.D. Here then we find ourselves still in the period covered by

the Revelation of St. John. This writer regards himself as still

living, like the Apostles, in an "evil age"; it is "the last

times," the" consum illation of trial according to Daniel is come,"

and there is need to look into" the things which are near to

come to pass," and especially" the coming up of the little horn

which plucks up three horns by the roots "-probably, as Ronan

suggests, a reference to the deposition of the FIavian dynasty

(Veepasian, Titus, and Domitian,) by the succession of Nerva.

GOI!, he says, has not" suffered His people to be without understanding

of those things which are to come." "The Son of Man

is SOON to come to judge both the luick and the dead." Saint

and sinner shall see Christ in that day, but apparently the

vision is after death in the spirit world; and so far as the Kiugdoni

is realised on earth it is not ideally perfect, but has its

"evil and filthy days," amid which Christ's people shall be saved

-probably an allusion to the invasion of the beloved city by the

unbinding of Satan in Rev, xx. Barnabas recoguises this

programme as already so far accomplished. For the Scripture

saith, " and it shall come to pass in the last days, that the Lon!

will deliver lip the sheep of His pasture, and their sheepfold

and tower, to destruction. And it is come to pass as the Lon!

hath spoken." The Jews are forsaken because they put their

trust in the Temple and not in the Lon! Himself; and now

God's temple is in His people's hearts. "The day is at hand

when the lawless One will be destroyed. The Lon! is near and

His reward is with Him." It is evident that this writer seized

clearly the distinctive difference between the 0111 age and the

new-the first as the dispensation of the Temple, and the

second as the dispensation of the parousia or presence of God

396 The Pastor of Hennas.

through Christ in Hill people's hearts. He ill in fullest harmony

with the conception of the Advent which we have found in the

New Testament. For him, the first act of the drama is already

finished in the fall of .Judaism, and the second is in process of

being consummated by the destruction of pagan supremacy at

the centre of the world.

THE PASTOR OF HERMAS is supposedly the production of

a brother of Pius, Bishop of Rome, and like the foregoing works

WIl.8 long read in maIlY churches as a portion of the Sacred

Scriptures. Zahn and Salmon fix its origin for the year 9fj or

97, Ramsay between 100 and 120, and no one will care to name

a later date than Cruttwell's extreme point, 139 A.D. The book

purports to be a revelation given to Hermas, an elder of the

Church of Rome, in the reign of Domitian. When it touches on

the second coming the language is strictly Scriptnral. " Christ

appeared in the last days in the fulness of time." The great

tribnlation is about to come, aeculum hoc per aanguinem et ignem

deperire; but this fiery destruction will only test and purify the

saints. Although this dissolution is not at all material he uses

the usual Apocalyptic images -the heavens, the mountains, the

seas are removed; and the structure which displaces Jerusalem

is a tower into which faithful Christians are built as stones, as

in the Apocalyptic letters they are made pillars in the Temple

of God. This Temple is then almost entirely built. The nearness

of the judgement of the Roman world in Domitian's days

is frequently insisted on. The end will soon be accomplished

(cito cOl1aummabitur), and the appeal is strenuously made-" give

heed to the judgement that is about to come upon you."

Seven EPISTLES OF IGNATIUS now hold the field as genuine.

This father is.said to have been a disciple of St. John, and wrote

his letters in 108 or 109, just before his martyrdom at Rome.

In a letter to the Ephesians he reminds them that "iL is the

last time," and calli!upon them" to fear the impending wrath," at

the same time rememberiug that for the Church the powers of

the devil are destroyed, and their mischief dissolved by the

unity of Christian faith-which reminds us of the binding of

Satan in the Apocalypse, and the flood of watery heresies by

which he attempts to destroy the Church. Ignatius seems to

have had most happy views of the Christian's state in death and

The Epistles of Ignatius. 397

his own immediate prospects. The prophets who had been

eagerly waiting in Hades for the coming of Christ, "had beeu

raised up from the dead." If this be indeed "the first resurrection,"

which takes place "at Hill coming" according to St,

Paul, then we should expect Ignatius to believe that death to

the Christian is from that point forward, immediate entrance on

the presence of God. And as such he regarded it. His own

approaching passage through death is ." a rising again to God" ;

if his martyrdom is prevented he is "hindered from living," his

death is "entering into pure light," where being come he is

indeed" a man of Ood,"-as if only full born or come into complete

adoption by his upstanding from the dead. (Cf Rom. viii.

21-23.) In keeping with this, Ignatius says that the gospel

dispensation is" the completion of immortality," an evident reference

to the fact we have found in Scripture that the gospel age

is initiated with a resurrection and entrance upon the heavenly

life. Ignatius also seems to have been strong in his grasp of St.

Paul's resurrection process as begun in the present life, so that

Christians are found at death more or less clothed upon with

their heavenly body. Refuting Doketism, he says to the

Smyrnreans that as these heretics believed in a bodiless Christ, so

would it appropriately happen to themselves at death, " when

being divested of the body they shall be bodiless and demoniac."

This was the condition which was believed to overtake all the

dead, whether Jews or heathens, and of which Paul expresses

dread. The same view of death is also found in the ACTS OF

ANDREW, considered by some as belonging to the Apostolic age.

The Devil eagerly keeps men captive so that when they die they

shall be naked, while Christ renews the soul with a glorious and

immortal form, and at death it ill found clothed upon. The

same Pauline view of resurrection is found fully expressed in

THE ACTS OJ' PHILIP, where the Apostle in the act of dying

prays to Christ :-" Put on me Thy glorious robe and seal of

light, transforming the form of my body into angelic glory, so

that I shall rise ami meet Thee in the air."


there is a slight departure from the New Testament meaning of

" the age about to come." With him it appears to exclude all

reference to the age of grace on earth, and to be confined to the

:lOR Sub-Apostolic Religious Literature.

unseen kingdom into which the Philippians will be raised and

reign with Christ. He writes in the belief that at death this is

an immediate experience, for those Christians already dead have

gone" to the place that was due to, them from the 1.01',1,"being

a reminiscence of " they rest from their labours and their

works do follow them."

The above may suffice as iIIustratious of the teaching which

immediately succeeded that of our canonical books. While no

doubt grossly materialistic views of the second Advent were in

circulation from the earliest times, it is pleasing to find that the

leading teachers of the Church retained the spiritual teaching of

the Master awl Hi8 Apostles. The harmony is not perfectly

exact, but it is sufficiently etrikiug. Indeed, all the earlier

literature is saturated with references which show that the

Scriptures were interpreted by the eub-apostolic generation in

snbstantial harmony with the views unfolded in this work, only

as might be expected with an occasional touch of groasuess.

Simon Magus and other magical heresiarchs like him are

pointed out, as Anti-christ and the incarnation of the Devil ;

Doruitian aud other Emperors are said to be warned that St.

•John and other tenchers are spreadiug the report that Rome is

to be quickly rooted out and the empire broken up ; destruction

and perdition are swiftly coming upon society, the world is

near its end, the demons of the temples are already bound in

chains, Both Jewish and Christian Sibylline poems are fiery

with the imagery of the Apocalypse, all interpreted of Rome,

which is called Babyiou, and threatened with speedy destruction

-evideucing that in those days there prevailed that view of the

Messianic kingdom which we have found ill the Sacred Books.

As time advances, error creeps in in the carnal guise which it

takes on in the writiugs of Papias and .Iustin Martyr. The

falseness comes from a growing inability to interpret writings

that were essentially Hebrew in spirit and structure, and a

rigid fixing of them into the formal exactness of Greek and

Latiu thought. As Renan truly say>!, in Hebrew thought and

language everything is black or white, sunshine or darkness,

set down" in a just proportion of materialism and spirituality,

01' rather an indescribable confusion of soul and sense, making

that adorable language the very synonym of poetry, the pure

Degradation of the Doctrine. 399

vestment of the moral idea." When the apocalyptic teaching

came into the custody of Greek and Latin speaking men, it was

materialised and even sensualiaed, until in two generations the

current doctrine of the second Advent was a thing to be ashamed

of. And such are the views which for the most part have

continued alliong students of prophecy, the earthly and sensual

showing the greatest fitness for survival, although they have

never been able to justify themselves from Scripture without

resort to artificial methods of interpretation far from complimentary

to the Sacred Word they professed to interpret. We

who have come into a. purer light owe a debt of gratitude to

those who have pioneered the way back for us to the highly

spiritual and comforting doctrine of our Lord and His Apostles,

III no field more than in that of Eschatology is there need for the

cry-" Back to Christ," and in none is the cry as yet so much a

faint voice in the unheeding wilderness,


The following Authon may be consulted witb profit, altbougb some of them

are not in entire agreement witb the views presented in this work :-

ABAUZIT-O" tlu Apocalypse. London, 1730.

ALCASAR- Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi. 1614.

BLEEK-Vorlesungen ulJer die Apocalypse. 1862.

BossUET-L'Apocalypse. 1690.

COWLES, Prof. HENRY, Oberlin, U.S.A.-The Revelation tfJoltn.


DESPREZ, l'. S.-The Apocalypse Fulfilled. 1861.

DE WETTE-Kuru Erklarung, etc. 1862.

DUSTERDIECK-Kritisc~. Exeget. Handb. (Meyer's Series). 1877.

EICHHoRN-Com. in Apocalypsin. 1791.

EWALD-Die Joltan. Schriften. 1862.

FARRAR, F. W., D.D.-Tlte Early Days of Cltn·stianity. 1882.

GEBHARDT-Doctrine of the Apocalyp.'e.

GOODHART, C. A., M.A.-Tlte Cltn'stian's Inlteritana. 1891.

GROTIUS, H.-Annotations. 1644.

HAMMOND-Annotations. 1653.

HAMPDEN-COOK, E., M.A.-Tlte Cltrist Has Come. 1893.

HARENBERG-Erkla~ung, etc. [759.

HARRIS, J. TINDALJ.-Tlte Writings of tlte Apostle Joltn. 1889.

HARTWIG-Apologie der OffenlJarung. 1759.

HERDER--Ma~anatlta. 1799.

HERIlNSCHNEIDER-Commmtary, etc. 1786.

HOOPER, F. J. B., B.A.-7ne Revelation ofJesus Christ. 1861.

LEE, S., D.D.-O" Propltecy. 1849.

LUCKE-Com. on St. fohn. 1820-32.

MAURICE, F. D., M.A.-The Apocalypse. 1861.

NEWTON, THOMAS, D.D.--Dissertations, etc. 1754.

REI';AN, ERNKsT-L'Antechrist. 1873.

REUSS, E., D.D.-L'Apocalypse. 1873.

RUSSELL, J. S., D.D.-The Parousia. 1878.

STARK, ROBERT-Order and Course of Divine Revelatiol1. 1851.

STEPHENSON, J. A., M.A.-Cllristolog)'. 1838.

STUART, MOSES, D.D.-The Apocalypse. 1864.

TOWNLEY, ROBERT-Tlte Second Advent. 1145.

WARREN, J. P., D.D.-Tlte Parousia. 1878.

WILKINSON, W. J. P., of Exeter-·Various Pamphlets.

ZULLIG-Die Offen. Jolta,m;s. 1834.

If the reader cares to go back to the earlier centuries he will find tnuch to interest


City of God.




Advent, the second, its nature, 115,

157,209,291 ; its purpose, 159;

never delayed in Scripture, 277,

317, 333·

Advents, the two, how related, 2.

Age, the end of, 2, 25, 149, ISS,

177, 229, 282, 287.

Age, the Gospel, beginning of, 146;

characteristics of, 259, 293.

Alford, quoted, 8, 42, 80, 89, 91,


Anti-christ, 131, 140.

Apocalypse, related to the Gospels,

3; its purpose, 16; two-fold

structure of, 106, 109; M.

Arnold's estimate of, 208;

chronological order of, 223; time

occupied by, 248; trumpets and

vials of, how related, 165; date

of origin, 257.

Apollonius, 135.

Apostacy, angelic, 114,117; of the

apostolic Church, 19, 346, 380.

Arnold, M., 208.

Ascent, Christ's, 115.

Augustine, 216, 224, 234.

Babylon, 149, 180, 190.

Beast, number of, 136.

Beet on the resurrection, 220.

Body, the heavenly, when and huw

created, 361; Baur on, 362.

Briggs, Dr., on "near" and "at

hand," 9.

Bruce, Dr., on the Kingdom, 276;

on Matt. xxiv., 287; on "the

times of the Gentiles," 297.

Colani, quoted, 87, 158.

Christ, his divine humanity, 15;

his work two-fold, 2; his

mediatorial work, 37; his supremacy,

38, 172; in the Old

Testament, 94; his second

coming, see Advent; his ignorance

of the time, 310.

Chrysostom on Matt. xxiv. 14, 148.

Church in bondage to the Law, 62,


Dante on Hades, 36, 104Davidson,

A. B.; on the ages, 382.

Day, ureat, 01 the Lord. 110; as

darkness, 48, 306.

Days of jehovah, 9.

Dead, judgement of, 102,202, 225;

pre-advent, where? 343.

Delitzsch, quoted, 367.

Delusion, education by, 8, I I. 19.

Denney on Paul's mistakes, 346; on

Paul's fear of death, 367n.

Devil, 113, 116, 205.

Dollinger, 91, 177.

Domitian, a second Nero. 187.

Dorner on Anti-christ, 216; on the

time of the judgement, 223.

Ecce Homo, quoted, 223.

Election not immutable, 62,

402 Short Index oj Subjects and Authors.

Elements on fire, 335; of the



Farrar, 130, 217.

Fire on earth, 74, 169, 335.

Freedom and necessity, 34. ,

Fuller, Andrew, on the New Jerusalem,


Gebhardt, 68, 88, 99, 117.

Gentiles, the times of, 90, 304.

Gibbon, 183, 192.

Gnosticism, 27, 120, 380.

God, love and severity in, 27; his

providence, 29; faith in, 35; the

wrath of, I So, 161, 165.

Gog and Magog, 214-

Gospels, synoptic compared with

the fourth, 269.

Guiness, Grattan, 7, II.

Hades, 36, 44, 46; our Lord's

descent to, 1°3; Christian dead

in, 152, 200; saved from, 219;

abolished; 228.

Heaven, none of the human race

in, 56, 164; ready to be opened,


Heavens, rolled away, 48,306.

Ideals, eternal, 87, 97, III, 113.

Israel, destiny of, 53, 371.

James, St., his death, 324; on

second coming. 325.

Jerusalem, end of, 176, 299;

Isaiah's utopian, 57.

Jerusalem, the New, 232; ritual

in, 237.

Jews, their hatred of the Gospel,

62, 177; their final conversion,

99; restoration, 371•

J ohanan, Rabbi, 64-

John's Gospel, agreement with the

Apocalypse, 268.

Josephus, 64, 65, 98, 124, 126.

Jowett on Paul's mistakes, 338.

Judaism and Christianity, how

related, SS; conflict of, 81; fall

of, a Christian victory, 91, 177.

Judgement, of the living, 41, ISS;

of the dead, 102, 202, 225, 265.

Juvenal, ISS.

Kingdom, the, in the Synoptics,

278; date of its coming, 31o.

Last day, 266.

Last days, 328.

Law and love, 92.

Lightfoot, Bp., on "this present

age," 378.

Lightfoot, (Rabbi), on Matt. xxiv.

31, 308.

Lucan, quoted, 127, 130.

Luther, 216.

Man of Sin, 345, authorities as to

the, 140.

Man-worship, 292.

Martensen, quoted, 200.

Martineau on the second corning,

312, 323; on the sheep and the

goats, 319.

Maurice, 68, 118.

Merivale, 91, 129, 134, 188.

Meyer, on the age to come, 374.

Millennium, 212-217.

Milligan, Dr. on "three sixes,"


Minutius, Felix, on Rome's gods,


Morison, Dr., on Matt. xxiv., 284.

Mosheim, 177, 184.

Mystery of God, 81, 86, 100, 147.

Short Index of Subjects and Authors. 403

Nation and the Church, 236.

Neander on Jewish proselytes, 177.

Nero, uS, 135; a second, 189.

Parousia or presence, its meaninp,

286,347; co-incident with judgement

on Jerusalem, 290; a universal

presence, 294; not local

nor visible on earth, 302, 379.

Paul (St.), supposed change of

view, 358; feelings as to death,


Persecution" for the name," 333.

Peter (St.), view of second coming,


Philo on the Mosaic legation, 157.

Pliny on consumpt of spices, 183.

Plumptre on Demonism, 206.

Principalities and powers, 30.

Prophecy, Jewish, 69; heathen; 133.

Providence, does it discriminate?


Racial distinctions in the Kingdom,


Rapture of the saints, 153,220,348.

Reign of the saints, where? 210.

Renan on the terrors of the Jewish

revolt, 49; want of plan in the

Apocalypse, IIO; on Nero, 127;

destruction uf Jerusalem, 162;

Rome a hell, 17I; on Paul, 2II;

on Hebrew language, 397.

"Restitution of all things," 329,


Resurrection, for whom, 207; in

what form, 211, 355; the first,

103; how first, 217; its date, 265;

Stanley on order of, 357.

Reuss on the Elders, 31.

Revenge, the saints', 46, 81.

Righteousness, Christian, II5, 202.

Roman Empire, 123; and religion,


Russell, Dr., on measuring the

Temple. 87; his l'arousia, 180;

on the" Rapture," 340.

Sabatier, quoted, 358, 365.

Seneca, on the Roman world, 126;

on Jewish influence, 172.

Son of Man, ISS.

Soul-nakedness, 365.

Spirits in prison, 221.

Strauss on Gospel discrepancies,


Suetonius, 126, 129, 189.

Tacitus, 33, 124, uS, 131.

Tertullian on Christian restraint of

demons, 206.

Titus on Judaism and Christianity,


Uhlhorn on preparations for

Christianity, 173.

Virgins, the ten, 313.

Vischer, difficulties with Apocalypse,


Waller, on certain apocalyptic

symbols, 88, 89, 95.

War and the Gospel, 203.

Wendt, on Christ's after-death appearances,

263; on the Kingdom,

276; on the judgement in Matt.

xxv., 322.

Westcott on judgement in the Apocalypse

and John's Gospel, 225;

on the last day, 266.

Wickliff on Satan unbound, 216.

World, destruction of, 227, 230;

the old, 231; end of, 282, 335.






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A Short and Easy Answer to Baptist Objections.

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Baptism. We know of nothing better on this question.v->

Methodilt Hew Connection .Magazine.

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succinctness and pointedness, we do not know its superior, The

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but courteous adversary. If our Baptist friends can escape such

arguments they cannot be overcome."-St. LoUM Observer.





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