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op the breach of His people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.” (Isaiah xxx. 26.)
If Israel's national “ fall” and “casting away " has occasioned large though limited blessing to the Gentile world, how much more shall their restoration and conversion prove “ life from the dead” to the entire Gentile world.
All these glorious predictions shall one day-O Lord hasten it!—be historical facts; then, as to the Land, restored Israel shall say, “ He hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations; which covenant He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac; and confirmed the same unto Jacob for a lawto Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, Unto thee will I give the Land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.” (Ps. cv. 8-11.) And as to salvation to Israel and the world, Israel shall say, “ The Lord hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel ; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” (Ps. xcviii. 3.)
The 148th Psalm forms a fitting close to a subject so grand and glorious, in which every thing and every body, in every way, are called upon to “ praise him," for “ Israel is exalted, and a people near unto Him. Mr. Wilkinson then said, I have endeavoured to direct
your attention largely to God's holy Word, feeling assured that the Holy Ghost would make His own impression, and that I could not do better than to refer largely to passages of Scripture on which you may found your interest in Israel, both prayerful and practical.
We do not on these occasions bring forward the interests of any Society as such, 'but we rather represent and plead a cause. There are six Societies in Great Britain and Ireland engaged in the work of evangelising the Jews in this and other lands. To these Societies God's blessing has been largely given.
Thousands now believe in Jesus, and hundreds preach His Gospel. The new Testament is extensively read among the Jews, and the name of Jesus is mentioned by them, as a rule, in most respectful terms. We do not on these occasions ask for money, but we do earnestly ask for prayer. I ask your prayers on behalf of an old Jewish Rabbi, with whom I have been on friendly terms for some years. He is a very able Talmudical scholar. I gave him an introduction to the British Museum library a while ago, and he is now studying the New Testament, and writing notes upon it, to show that the essentials of the Old Testament, the Talmud, and the New Testament, are the same ; and that God has given him a mission to reconcile Judaism and Christianity. He will not only take tea with me, but will remain during family worship, though he will not yet kneel to Jesus of Nazareth. I have won his heart for myself, for he scarcely ever leaves my study without kissing my hand, and I am now trying to win his heart for Jesus. He has got as far as this : he said to me, “I know what you wish to bring me to. You want me to believe that Jehovah, the God of Abraham, was veiled in human flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, and that His death on the cross was an atonement for sin ; that every sinner, trusting in that atonement, is to have peace here and everlasting life. I know that is what you want. But,” he said, “I cannot go so far as that.” He is a sort of Unitarian; but his Unitarianism is more promising than that of the so-called Unita
rians, for his is a step forward, while theirs is a step backward. He said, “I will never move one inch beyond my convictions; but I will go as far as my convictions will carry me, if I should have to suffer the loss of life itself. The truth I wish to have.” And the old man told me one day—“I have read the New Testament over and over again, and I tell you this, that Jesus is such a beautiful character that He has won my heart; I love Him in my heart.”
Brethren, this cause, Israel's cause, is the Church's cause, the world's cause, Christ's cause, and, as such, has a strong claim on the prayers and efforts of Christ's " friends.” The work is an arduous one, but a blessed one. We have enough of command to make the work a duty, and enough of blessing to make it a privilege, and to encourage our hearts.
THE SECOND ADVENT.
AN ABSTRACT OF AN ADDRESS BY THE REV. A. A. ISAACS, M.A.,
VICAR OF CHRIST CHURCH, LEICESTER.
DELIVERED AT THE FOURTEENTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
CLERICAL AND LAY ASSOCIATION, FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF EVANGELICAL
HE subject of the second Advent of our Lord has been very suitably
had their place in our expositions and thoughts, ---doctrinal, experimental, and practical, —all of which have served to indicate that we are still in a state of conflict, and still passing through the wilderness of the world. But now, pressing onward by faith, we seem to reach the confines of life, and stand upon the border-land. Our mental and physical energies may still be vigorous and clear, but our eyes look upwards, and they catch the sharp though still shaded outlines of the everlasting hills that tell us that the vision is yet for an appointed time-it will surely come, it will not tarry. (Heb. ii. 3.) In all their sublime and sacred grandeur, they stand out from the firmament of God's eternal counsels and designs, although to the eye of man they have not changed their aspect or character from the day when the Divine Word declared, “Behold I come quickly.” At times the cry of unbelief has been heard—“ Where is the promise of His coming ? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Pet. iii. 4.) Events too have often taken place which have excited the hopes and belief of the people of God that the hour of His Advent has been at hand; but like a fitful gleam of meteoric light they have passed away, and left these glorious expectations in their still existing state of uncertainty and suspense. Still we watch, still wo wait. We long to see the golden beams of the Sun of Righteousness gilding those outlines with celestial light, and to join in the blessed chorus of the redeemed, “ This is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us : this is the Lord, we have waited for Him ; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."
We cannot fail to be struck by the prominence which is given to this blessed theme in the pages of the New Testament, and the habit of prayerful watchfulness which is continually enjoined in common with the expectation of its fulfilment. It is impossible to identify these injunctions, whether uttered by our Lord or by the apostles, with that judgment which was outpoured upon Jerusalem when it was taken by Titus; for they are almost always associated in a greater or lesser degree with the glory of His kingdom and the final perfection of his Church. This is the more remarkable when we observe that (as in 2 Thess. ii. 1, 2) we have occasional intimations that the coming of our Lord was not immediate ; that a period, which, according to human computation, we know to be very lengthy, would roll away before He would appear in the clouds of heaven, and every eye should see Him. The believer was not taught to look merely at the end of the present life as the threshold of glory and of everlasting peace, but to the coming of our Lord as the object upon which his brightest hopes and desires were to rest. Two things appear to me to be indirectly taught in this fact. First, that although immediately the believer is emancipated from the body, he is present with the Lord, although the interval between death and the end of the present dispensation is, as I fully believe, & time of enjoyment and not of sleep; that nevertheless everything will be imperfect until He comes whose right it is. Then, and not till then, will the individual believer drink in all its fulness of that river of pleasure which is at God's right hand for evermore, and obtain his portion of the inheritance of the saints in light. The other inference which we may draw from this fact is this :—that our expectations and desires can never rest soundly and safely upon a merely selfish basis. The glory of the Church-the whole Church of Christ—is that which we ought to look forward to with strong desire. It is in the advent of our Lord that the Church of Christ will witness the complete redemption of the purchased possession. (Ephes. i. 14, and Luke xix. 15.) Not until this great event takes place will “ the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.”
In the first place I would observe that the general texture of Biblical statement indicates that the Jewish nation is the key to prophetical fulfilment. In all prophecy, the fulfilment of which is clear and indubitable, God has always worked by them. I think, moreover, that it is capable of satisfactory proof, that from the time the Jews ceased to occupy their natural position, and were driven from their land, the current of prophetical fulfilment has in its accustomed sense ceased to flow. Hence, that it is not until they again resume—it may be imperfectly at first-their national rights and inheritance that the stream will again burst forth from its long pent-up channels. To this our Lord alludes in several passages. (1) The withered fig tree is again to put forth its leaves, exhibit all the characteristics of renewed life, and once more become fruitful. It will be the indication that the spiritual summer is nigh at hand. (Matt. xxiv. 32.) (2) Jerusalem is to be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. (Luke xxi. 24.) (3) With the Jews is primarily associated the declaration—" When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke xxi. 28.) Amidst the denunciation of judgment our Lord says, i Ye shall not see me henceforth
until ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matt. xxiii. 39.) The restoration of the kingdom to Israel is identified with our Lord's return (Acts i. 6, 7); and to this may be added, that the “Gospel of the kingdom should be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations ; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. xxiv. 14.) To the Jewish nation therefore are we to look as a kind of spiritual barometer to indicate when the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Reference may be made to another contemporaneous event, which is generally designated “the rapture of the saints.” It is in these terms that the Apostle speaks of it in 1 Thess. iv. 15-17 : “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them that are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God : and the dead in Christ shall rise first : then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air : and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” It may be that amidst the din of the battle-field, and the gloom of that time which shall not be " day nor night” (Zech. xiv. 7), the process by which this will be accomplished will attract little or no attention. But we may conclude that those who are declared to be “for ever with the Lord” represent the Bride, the Lamb's wife, and will be the inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem, which cometh down from heaven, adorned with Divine glory, and filled with Divine light. These are they, I conceive, who are said to reign with Christ, and who being the blessed company who have come out of deep tribulation, and who have been witnesses to the truth amidst persecutions and conflict, shall occupy the highest positions among the redeemed, and "shall shine as the stars for ever and ever."
These events bring us to the threshold of the millennial kingdom and the millennial reign, which is so distinctly set forth in Revelation xx. I presume that every day the opinion that the millennial period is either already past, or that we are now passing through its various phases, becomes more and more untenable. That it will not be a time of complete and absolute sinlessness may be seen by the great outbreak and the confederation of all the powers of evil with which it will be followed. But its distinctive characteristic will be the suspension of Satanic power. During the 1000 years the great enemy of souls will be bound, and no heart will be exposed to the assaults and temptations by which he now carries out his work as the god of this world. It must be admitted that of such a deliverance the world has had no experience since the transgression of our first parents. And we may also infer that it will be the period, most probably through the instrumentality of the Jewish nation (Isa. lxvi., Psa. lxvii., and Rom. xi.), when the Gospel shall make unbounded progress, " and all the ends of the world shall see the salvation of our God." These circumstances, accompanied by the personal reign of Him who sits upon the throne of His father David, who executes judgment and justice in the earth, may well render it a period of unspeakable happiness and blessing. It may be very nigh, or it may be still far distant. The dark events which cast their lengthened shadows over the world may be the harbingers of the opening morn, or centuries may still roll on their way ere the world witness His appearing, and His house be filled with glory. But it is the star which stands over that spot in the purposes of our God whither our hearts and desires turn in expectation and adoration. It is to that light that we instinctively look until the Day-star not only arise in our hearts, but arise upon the world.
In fulfilling my part, and in a brief and necessarily very imperfect manner calling the attention of our brethren to the chief points involved in this inquiry, I neither speak in a spirit of dogmatism, nor am I insensible to the difficulties which beset every system of prophetical interpretation. In this, as in all other branches of study, it is those who know the most who generally speak with the greatest amount of diffidence. That differences of opinion should exist can be no matter of surprise when we remember how indistinct are many of the revelations given in the Divine Word, and how much there is which is intended to exercise our faith. But I believe that in all essential particulars we shall be agreed. We have a common expectation of the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. We believe that it will be the precursor ofextraordinary blessedness to the world at large.
Swift and sparkling as the lightning flash (Matt. xxiv. 27), unex. pectedly and covertly as a snare, or as a thief in the night (Luke xxi. 34, 35), when unfaithful servants are reckoning on delay (Jude 14, 15, 18), when the powers of hell are shaken (Luke xxi. 25-30), then will He, as the rolling flood, break on the world (Matt. xxiv. 37-39), then will He come to subdue His enemies with a rod of iron (Psa. ii. 9), to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. When this blessed doctrine is rightly received it stimulates our activity and our zeal, and enables us more courageously to breast the waves and billows of this troublous world. It will excite to watchfulness (Matt. xxiv. 42), to prayer (Mark xiii. 38), to expectation (Phil. ii. 20), to preparation (Luke xii. 35, 36, 40). There will be no impatience at apparent delay, there will be no querulous questioning concerning the Lord's ways and dealings. It will be our happiness to wait patiently for the accomplishment of all that the Lord has promised, and we shall take heed, when, at the appointed time, the announcement is heard“Behold the Bridegroom cometh : go ye out to meet Him," that we with oil in our vessels, and with our lamps burning, and our loins girded, may go forth rejoicingly to meet our Lerd. Seeing that these truths embody the most blessed realities, seeing that we look for such things, we shall be diligent that we may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. Clothed in the spotless garment of the perfect righteousness of the Son of God, we shall be welcome guests at the marriage feast, and sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God. Blessed be God, we are looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, and long for the fulfilment of His promise that there shall be new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
“ 'Tis but a little while
And He shall come again,
That we with Him might reign.
My soul for that glad day,
And take my sins away !"