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light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.” Turn with me also to the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, ii. 9 : “ But, as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Nothing can be more mysterious than such things; yet hear what follows: “God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” And if you would find the root of this matter the secret cause of this objection to receive the Spirit as the interpreter of things to come-you have it from the mouth of God in the 14th verse : “ But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The expressions, “ things which must shortly come to pass,” and “ the time is at hand,” especially when connected with the frequent mention of Christ's coming quickly (Rev. xxii. 7, 12, 20), and the solemn command in the same chapter (ver. 10), “ Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book : for the time is at hand,”--these, and such like expressions, puzzle those who will not study Scripture, by comparing spiritual things with spiritual, but must have every thing to be conformed to common language, otherwise they call it either mystery or dishonesty in the interpreter. And I have even heard masters in Israel gravely argue, that something more must certainly be intended by the expression Christ's coming,' than his personal coming at the end of this age; otherwise the Holy Spirit of truth would never have spoken of it as near at hand. And they find a very convenient event in the destruction of Jerusalem, which they call a coming of Christ, and to which they find little difficulty (in their loose way) in referring the various predictions contained in the Gospels concerning the coming of the Lord. But this subterfuge being cut off in the Apocalypse, which, by common belief, was written posterior to the destruction of Jerusalem, I know not how they explain this matter; but do suppose they leave it with incurious ignorance and sapient indifference, to be explained by the event; as being of that numerous class of things to which none but fools would think of

applying themselves. Incurious and self-sufficient ignorance! The true resolution of this difficulty is, to refer to other parts of Scripture, where the Holy Ghost speaks of the time of Christ's absence, and see whether it be spoken of as a little while or not: if we find that this is God's method of estimating it, what are we that we should call it long, because it includes many generations of the sons of men? He who constituted the ages, is alone able to give their comparative dimensions: and if he calls the season of my Lord's absence a short season, I must believe that it is short, compared with the period of his abode when he comes again; that it is a brief season in the reckoning of Him with whom one day is as a thousand

years, and a thousand years as one day. Now, except in one place (Luke xix. 11),—where by a parable he endeavoured to counteract the rroneous opinion which then prevailed that the kingdom of heaven was then to appear, and therefore, as well as for the propriety of the parable, speaks of his absence as a season sufficient for a long journey, to permit his servants to trade and make gain of their several charges, except in this instance; and here also he is guarded against speaking of the time as long, though the distance be called great, -we always find the season of his absence spoken of as a short season. I shall quote three instances of this. The first is Luke xviii. 8; where by a parable having set forth his church by the similitude of a widow, and her Antichristian oppressor by that of an unjust judge, with whom the widow by urgency at length prevails; he then applies the parable (ver. 7, which should be joined to the preceding chapter; the parable of the widow being only as it were a way of half hiding, half revealing the endurance of his church, which needed to be spoken by proverbs, and not plainly), And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?” That the day of vengeance, and the time of his coming are one and the same event, is sufficiently declared in the discourse, of which the parable is, as it were, but an episode (Luke xvii. 24, 26, 30). And he expressly declareth, that the time from which he spake,




until that avenging of the elect, and coming of the Son of Man to the earth, was a short time, (ev taxel) in brief, the very same form of expression as is used in Rev. i. 1, the passage now under consideration. At the same time he calls it long, in respect to the sufferings of the elect, but short when compared with the other season of their reward. Parallel with this also is 1 Peter i. 6, 7, to which we refer without citing it. The second passage to which we appeal, in order to prove that it is the common form to speak of Christ's absence as a short period, is in Heb. ix. 37: “ For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come and will not tarry:" although in the verse immediately preceding, looked upon in respect of the trials of God's people, they are said to have need of patience. So also in the passage quoted (Heb. xii. 26, 27) from Haggai, ii. 6, it is there written of the time when both heavens and earth shall be shaken, that it is a little while : “ Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land.” Now the Apostle expressly referreth this to the removal of these things, and the introduction of the kingdom and glory of Christ, which cannot be shaken. The third passage, and, perhaps, the strongest of all, is taken from our Lord's discourse, concerning the duration of his absence, John xvi. 16: - A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me; because I go to the Father.” The little while here spoken of extends over all the season of his absence from the church at the right hand of his Father, and not to the little period of absence that was to occur before his resurrection while he lay in the tomb. For, during these days, he was not taken out of their sight; he was with them on the cross; and he was with them, in the tomb; and during the forty days he was with them, eating and drinking with them, and therefore to none of these can

66 the little while” during which they should not see him, be applied. This will more clearly appear by observing the reason which he assigneth," a little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me;" and why? because I go


Father. Now, I say, that Christ did not ascend to his Father during the time that his body was lying in the grave, for



when he was risen from the grave, he said to Mary Magdalene, “ Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father.” The ascension to his Father was when he ascended on the Mount of Olives; and here, therefore, we have a manifest proof that the expression “ little time refers to the time of his absence during which his church hath not seen him,--the interval of time that he is with his Father. To confirm this, let us go on with the context. “ Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice : and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” This duration of the world's joy is until his coming to judge it; - the little while of his absence, which is also the season of the church's sorrow, according to his answer to the question, Why do thy disciples not fast? Those of the bride chamber do not fast when the bridegroom is with them; but when the bridegroom is taken from them, then they will fast. Then he likeneth the anguish of his church for his reappearance, to the agony of a travailing woman, because like this though it hath an appointed time, it is ever uncertain., “ Of that hour knoweth no man.” And so in all the prophets, the resurrection of the saints is compared to travail, (Psalm cx. Isaiah xxvi. Hosea xiii.) and likewise in the Epistle to the Romans, chap. viii. And the appearing again of Christ with his risen saints unto creation, is this birth of her joyful burden with which she has been so long distressed. And so the Lord himself interprets his own parable: “ A woman when she is in travail, hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow : but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” And so, oh ye scoffers, it is not so, absurd or uncommon as you think, to speak of Christ's coming as in a short time, and after a little while ; nor do we make God a liar when we so interpret it, but follow the manifest sense of his word. And surely it is a very

little time when compared with the eternal age of Messial's kingdom which is to follow.

Farther, with respect to the word shortly-shortly come to pass,—it is a remarkable thing, that in the third verse the nearness of the time should be given as a principal reason for reading the book : “ Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein ; for the time is at hand.Seeing, then, the blessing is to come on account of this very thing, " that the time is at hand,” we conclude, that if God had not known that this book was to be instantly useful, and immediately profitable to the church, he would not have urged the reading of it by the instancy of the time, and the urgency of the events. It is as much as to say, You cannot delay it ; you must not delay it, because the time it is needed for is close at hand. And there can be no doubt, that it was this book which supported the martyrs of the primitive church. And it is observable, that no book of Scripture is more quoted in the writings of the Fathers of the second and third centuries, than this book ; and I believe that it was the epistles to the seven churches which supported the hearts of the martyrs. Of the great attention given to this book in the first centuries of the church, nothing is so clear a proof as that a great part of the heresies of those times arose out of the things contained in it. The heresy,

" that there is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. xv. 12), “that the resurrection is past already,” arose out of the leaven even now working in the church, which explaineth away " the first resurrection," into the regeneration of the soul, set forth and sealed to the believer, in baptism ; and at this door rushed in the heresy of Cerinthus, “ that the believers should enjoy the earth, and make themselves merry with the abundance of its delicacies.” The Millennium, we know, was so much thought of and acted on in the first centuries, that Millenarian became a name for a body in the church ; amongst whom, even in the fifth century, Jerome says, there were a very great number of the orthodox. And an earlier father, I think Justin Martyr, says, that those in his time who were altogether orthodox believed in the Millennium, during which Christ's kingdom was to be set up, and Christ personally to reign on earth. Papias,

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