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sound, the dead shall be raised in. of the Church, in a state of unicorruptible," and the living saints versal peace (Dan. vii. 18, 27; Ps. shall be in a moment similarly ii. lxxii.; Rev. xx. 4).
(3) That changed," and caught up to “meet the the family of true believers shall be Lord in the air.” Both these facts are all united under One Head, and clearly revealed in 1 Cor. xv., and in Priesthood, and the prayer of Christ 1 Thess. iv.; and also intimated in to the Father shall then be fulfilled, such passages of the Old Testament, “ that they all may be one, as as Job xix., Isaiah xxvi., Dan. xii., Thou Father art in Me, and I in Hosea xiii.
Thee, that they also may be one in Now, we understand that the us, that the world may believe that bodies of the saints which slept Thou hast sent Me.” (John xvii. 21); arise, after the image of Christ's (4) That the progress of the preaching resurrection body, He being "the of the Gospel shall be very rapid and first fruits of them that slept," and extensive, under the latter down-pourthey the ripe ensuing harvest. The ing of the rain of the Holy Spirit's spirits of the righteous, and all the grace, so that “all shall know Him triumphant Church of paradise come (Jesus), from the least to the greatest," down with Jesus, and such as are “ all nations shall call Him blessed," unclothed receive their risen new cor- and the saving knowledge of the poreal tabernacles of immortal flesh. King Messiah shall cover the earth The old earthly house of this body as the waters cover the seas. (5) That having been dissolved, they all have life shall be much prolonged, deaths now the new resurrection body, the rare, and fertility vastly increased. house not made with hands, the The millennial life of apostles and clothing of the soul, for a happy in- saints will, of course, be subject heritance in the earth and heavens. to none of the changes, trials, But, before this eternity is entered wants, infirmities, or inconveniences upon, it is decreed, in the everlasting of mortals in the flesh. Their risen purposes of Jehovah, that these shall bodies will resemble our Saviour's live and reign with Christ, on the after His resurrection. Tbey will re-baptized and regenerated earth, a be pure and spiritual, not natural thousand years. The rest of the and carnal. This corruptible will dead—not regenerated by the Spirit put on incorruption; and this mortal of God-remain in their graves till will put on immortality." Powerful, the thousand years are ended (Rev. like our Saviour's body risen from xx. 3), and the general judgment the grave of weakness, they move takes place. (Ver. 12.)
to and fro, without restraint from Such is the Scriptural doctrine of any obstruction of materiality, or the first and " better" resurrection to any hindrance from the grosser which the saints under the old cove- elements. Space is in a measure nant aspired (Heb. xi. 16, 35), and annihilated, and matter exhausted, as for which Paul prayed (Philip. iii. 11). in a vacuum, with regard to the caWhat that new life shall be on pacity of the spiritual and immortal earth, when Christ and His saints frame. This can be seen or unseen, are dominant and triumphant, we partake of food or not, at pleasure. have not much Scriptural data to It may seem difficult for us to comground any certain descriptions upon. prehend how the immortal saints can We are only assured (1) That, during for a thousand years live and hold this millennial state, the apostles ofour converse with mortal men in the Lord shall have supreme ruling powers flesh. Yet, the case presents no under Christ, over the twelve tribes more, but rather less difficulty than of Israel in the holy promised land, our Lord's " forty days'" tarrying in then " the glory of all lands.” (Ezek. His resurrection bodily state, and XX. 6, Matt. xix. 28.) (2) That the going in and out among His disciples risen and changed saints shall pos- during that period in the unregenerate sess the kingdom and dominion over condition of this earth. For, during the nations in the other parts of the millennium, we believe, the rethe earth, and regulate the affairs generative life-giving influence from
Jerusalem will extend, more or less, days,” and very little of faith and over the whole world. It will holiness. then be the time of the “ restitu- There are errors which strike at tion of all things ” to the Jews the very root of saving truths, such first, and also to the Gentiles. as denying the divinity of Christ, the The dominion of the Lord by the doctrine of the Trinity, the absolute blessed Gospel shall be “ from sea to need of Christ's atonement as the sea, and from the flood unto the satisfaction for a broken law; there world's end." * As soon
as they are other errors which, though not so hear of Him, they shall obey Him." deadly yet seriously affect the power “ All kings shall fall down before with which the gospel is preached, and him; all nations shall serve Him." deprive the church of that stimulatAnd, though we must allow that they ing hope which will more than any who are permitted to remain amid other conduce to holiness of Life and the millennial restitution, will not Christian effort. all be converted in heart, as true and The different interpretations given loving children, for
“ the strange
of the parables in the 13th of St. children, even then shall dissemble Matthew, especially of the six which with Him” (Ps. xviii. 45); yet, we are are generally called the “parables of assured that, till the very close of the Kingdom,” evidently receive their the millennium, these will be re- peculiar tone from the coloured strained ; there will be no open mani- medium through which they are festation, during the binding of Satan, viewed, and materially influence the of insubordination or disobedience any construction placed upon them. They where, but “the camp of the saints, have in my opinion a special connecthe Church of the living God, will tion with the great questions involved be everywhere secure,
unmolested, in the subject of our Lord's coming dominant in power, and triumphant again to this earth, and what He wil in glory! In belief and prospect of find when He comes. this, let us be prepared, and pray to Let us in a prayerful, teachable be partakers of this blessed life under spirit seek the guiding of the Holy the glorious reign of Messiah.
Spirit to lead us to the true under“Come, Thou, and, added to Thy many
standing of this important subject
and enable us to divest ourselves of Receive yet one as radiant as the rest, any impressions that are not in Due to Thy last and most effectual work,
accordance with the general scope of Thy word fulfilled, the conquest of a
the mind of our Great Teacher. world !"
Our Lord's hearers were Jews, He
Himself, as well as His apostles, was THE PARABLES OF THE
a Jew, and we must therefore try to THIRTEENTH OF ST. MATTHEW IN
place ourselves in their position and RELATION TO THE SECOND
view all these questions as a Jew ADVENT.
would have done. Losing sight of THERE is a cheering sound arising in this spoils the interpretation of the the Church of Christ, awakening a whole. long slumbering interest in the sub- In the endeavour to explain what ject of the second coming of our our Lord intended in His illustrations blessed Lord and Saviour. Believers when speaking of the “ Kingdom of are not now satisfied to take for granted Heaven," it is often taken for granted the correctness of those views to that He in every case intended to which they have so long listened, represent only that idea which He which teach us that the state of Himself would attach to that term ; material progress in which our lot is that is, something pure and holy; and cast, is fast ushering in the millennial that His view wasconfined simply to reign of universal peace and purity. descriptions of the subjects of His In the prophetic language of both the kingdom, such as they will appear old and new dispensations they read when He shall reign in righteousness, much of woe, of rebellion, of ungod- and all nations shall wituess and liness which are to mark the "last rejoice in His glory. We are asked
to interpret the parables in accor- The Messiah, however, when He dance with these views. But this came, was rejected, and the true could not be His meaning, as the first, church was, and is still, a small, and I believe the second and third despised, hated thing, while a visible parables, speak of a mixture of good church is, as it was in Jewish times, and bad.
an imposing, self-glorifying bodyThis great difficulty is generally vaunting itself up to heaven, but so disposed of by again taking it for far as we can see preparing for great granted that our Lord spoke of a judgments, when the Lord shall kingdom which He came to set up on manifest Himself a second time in earth at His first coming, which
His glory. kingdom, however, the nation, insti- The first parable in the chapter is gated by Satan, opposed and rejected, the sower, it speaks of Christ the while a few gathered out of the nation, great husbandman sowing the word alone being made willing to have and the results of it. Even here only Him to reign over them, accepted ; one part in four falls on good ground, and thus the kingdom of Heaven this part alone brings forth the fruits was set up in their hearts only. of righteousness.
The most careful examination of He then speaks of the “ kingdom" the subject will, however, I think fail in six parables—the first three being to disclose that our Lord intended by man's view, and the last three the the term “ kingdom of heaven" to Father's view. They are, from the apply the teaching in this way. In nature of the case, both historical the parable of the sower indeed men's and prophetic.
Man is the same hearts are spoken of, but here it is under every dispensation, outward the simple question of the effect of circumstances alone differ; but his reHis word, in gathering His children lation to God and God's dealings with out of the world, or as James said, him are esentially the same at all "to take of them a people for His times. name." But in the six following In the first of these six, the scene parables not a word is said about is laid in a “ field ” (ver. 24), which men's hearts; it is in these the“ kingdom the Lord says is the“ world ” (ver. 38). of heaven."
The wheat and the tares describe two I believe that our Lord, in the first classes, " the children of the kingdom, three parables of the kingdom, is and the children of the wicked one." pointing out to His Jewish hearers Man cannot discern the difference betheir erroneous views of the Messiah's tween them with sufficient accuracy, kingdom as they then expected to see and therefore their final separation it set up; and then in the next two must be the work of angels (ver. 39) : teaches the nature of the true church who, being divinely directed, will in the world as seen by the Father. make no mistakes. After giving a slight sketch of the Some prefer a more direct and parables, I hope to show in what perhaps more accurate application of consists the danger of the interpre- the tares, by supposing that it is not tation to which I object. And I may all mankind who are included, but here observe that the views I am enemies who have crept in unawares, about to express, though probably a class of wicked men introduced by new to some who may read these re- Satan amongst God's people; thus marks, are by no means new in the showing his power to catch away that church.
which was sown, as in the first paraNow the term “ kingdom of heaven” ble-in fact, a mixture of good and is said to have been commonly used bad that outwardly bore a resemby the Jews when speaking of the blance to each other. expected advent of the Messiah. The second tells of a good seed ; a With this they always associated the mustard seed being sown and springidea of temporal glory to the Jewish ing up becomes a great swelling thing, nation, with divine power, and the under the branches of which birds restoration of their pre-eminence take shelter. See a description of over the Gentile world.
Neb::chadnezzar's tree. (Daniel iv.)
See also what part birds play in these head; and soon, as far as man could scenes (ver. 4).
see, nothing was left of true ChristiThe third tells of “ three measures anity but the name. Darkness of meal," again a good thing, cor- covered the Christian world, and gross rupted and made perishable by being darkness the people. There were inmixed with leaven, an emblem of deed a few to be found in the Cottian what is human, and everywhere a bad Alps and elsewhere, hidden in dens thing. Leaven has the property of and in caves, who had not bowed the penetrating and swelling up the mass, knee to the Roman God, but they making the meal indeed palatable could not be discerned by man, and to man, but it soon sours and be- the few that had the truth would comes corrupt.
perhaps suppose that all the rest was How does this correspond with the leavened," that all had been facts? All history tells the same story; corrupted. it would take too long to enumerate May not the same thing in kind even the best known facts which could though not in form be seen now? have been brought forward even in The glorious Reformation did dispel our Lord's day. Before the deluge much of this darkness, and a bright and after it, in the history of
en for a little while, but Abraham, of Moses, of Joshua, of the leaven is still at work. What Elijah, and others, we read of the would Luther think if he could visit good seed and the fine meal; we the nations which profess to be his see men turning to God, the Church followers, and call their church by purified for a while, but as time his name! Would he not be tempted to goes on, and numbers increase, the feel that the thing had changed its world enters in and all goes wrong colour, but not its nature, that idolaagain. The name is retained, but the try was still rampant, that pleasure, thing itself has lost all its purity till and science, and gold, were the man of God can see, even in the shipped with all the fervour that chosen nation, nothing but corruption, marked the worshippers of Baal, and and is tempted like Elijah to think that true spiritual worship on the that he alone remains of all the seed sound basis of Christ the only and which has not bowed the knee to all sufficient Saviour was nearly extinBaal, and although the prophet was guished ? Apostasy has marked every inistaken, yet of the thousands of dispensation, and if we are to see in Israel only seven thousand had St. Paul's words what is certainly escaped the corruption, and they ap- their literal meaning, the present disparently were not to be recognised by pensation will be no exception. (See inan, for Elijah was not aware of 2 Thess. ii. &c.) God, however, even their existence.
now does not leave Himself without But extending
view to witness, and has raised up many Christian times, to which those faithful prophets, whose sound preachappeal who teach the other view of ing and earnest prayers for unfaithful these parables, and we see in a still nations and churches avert His more striking manner a confirmation judgments still. of the saying that history repeats it- We are generally taught that the self, and that these parables were in mustard tree and the leaven repreour Lord's time a true prophetic sent the commencement and progress sketch of what history has since in of true Christianity in men's hearts. part revealed to us. Some of the seed A striking instance of this teaching sown by the Son of Man and His is given in the Christian Advocate, apostles did bring forth fruit, but that for October, 1873, from the pen of "mystery of iniquity," which began Miss E. J. Whately, in a paper ento work in St. Paul's day swelled up,
Thoughts on some Difficulties and when Christianity became a in the Parables." great thing on the earth, Constantine Miss Whately writes: “A large class and other kings sheltered under it; of modern interpreters, many of many heresies sprang up in the whom deserve respect not only for church, and popery began to rear its their piety, but for their diligent and
close study of the Scriptures, have says, "a little leaven leavens the maintained that two of these parables, whole lump :" by no means implying those of the grain of mustard seed, that Christianity would cease to exist and the leaven, refer exclusively to amongst them, but that the whole the progress of evil in the visible
and Church would suffer if the leaven were external Church of Christ. That not purged out again. Miss Whately Church, in its early days pure and however draws the only logical consimple, became tainted with evil as it clusion which is possible from the grew and increased in number and views entertained by those who think importance. The mustard seed (?) with her, and she fairly and openly these commentators consider repre- states it. She says, “ the new ele. sents the external progress of evil in ment" (leaven) was good, not evil ; Christendom generally: the profes- the evil existed in the original subsion of faith which had been limited stance; it was the flour, so to speak, to a faithful few, was extended over that was evil." (!!!) the whole civilised world, and the Now it must be recollected, as Church consequently became the re- before stated, that our Lord, in his sort and harbour for the spirit of evil human nature a Jew, was addressing in various forms, worldliness, haugh- Jews and Jews only; taught from tiness and pride, false doctrine, and their earliest youth to look on leaven corruptions of every kind; the evil as absolutely forbidden to form part spirits and ungodly men being typi- in their most sacred feasts, and never fied by the fowls of the air,' which to be burnt; while flour was comtook refuge in the branches of the manded to be used in them all as tree sprung from a small plant.” (Qu. something most holy and acceptable seed ?)
to God; and when our Lord speaks “The leaven on the other hand of leaven it is“ hypocrisy," and with they view as typifying the spread and the apostle it represents “ malice and growth of the evil principle within wickedness," while the bread made the Church, gradually diffusing itself from pure flour, or unleavened bread, through the whole body of professing is an emblem of " sincerity and Christians, till at last it will be com- truth.” What would have been the pletely given up to evil unchecked astonishment, and we may add the and unmitigated."
horror, of our Lord's apostles if in Further on Miss Whately asks “the house" afterwards He had ex. “How can the kingdom of heaven' plained His parable as Miss Whately signify something purely evil ?" has done,-a view wholly opposed to
The above description of our views all their most cherished impressions. would be very fair, but for a few The general teaching of the Bible, toglaring mistakes. The mustard seed gether with history and experience, does not represent the " progress of are exactly opposed to the views so evil;" the seed is good, it is the tree frequently set forth. that springs from it that represents Oh! when we hear from our pulpits the "progress of evil.” Miss Whately the flattering tale of the world in its also speaks of the tree springing from present condition, to be purified by the a plant, the parable speaks of a seed preaching of the gospel, of the Church (ver. 31, 32). Again Miss Whately which was at first a little seed, rearimplies that by the interpretation we ing its head and becoming the admiraput on the leaven, we make the tion of nations, no longer the Church
kingdom of heaven" to "signify of the despised Nazarene, but the magsomething purely evil.” Surely Miss ficent edifice which contains three Whately is again mistaking our views. hundred millions of the human race, I do not think this is ever intended. do we not see how self-satisfied souls Our interpretation is that the leaven rest upon the privilege of calling (a bad thing) corrupts the meal (a themselves Christians, and are lulled good thing), in the sense used by St. into a fatal lethargy from which Paul when he twice cautions believers crowds will not awake till the cry of the against allowing known sins in their Bridegroom is heard, and find they communities to remain unrebuked, and have no oil in their lamps? Or when