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Christ warned his disciples to be on a look-out, to be ready; "For the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not." In the parable of the sheep and goats, Matt. 25, he describes the scene by showing the different conditions of the obedient and disobedient. To the one it is said, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." To the other it is said, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." See Matt. 25 : 34–41.
The scenes above described were all to take place at the time when Christ made his second appearance on earth; when he deliv ered and rewarded the righteous, but cast off and punished the
The first passage we have noticed at the head of this class of scriptures, is John 14: 3. In the preceding verse Christ says to his disciples, “In my Father's house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for
Let it be here remembered that those scriptures which teach the judgment, the end of the world, or age, and the second coming of Christ, all stand connected, and allude to the same time and things; all of which are to take place on the earth, during the lifetime of men, and in strict accordance with their merit and demerit. We will also state that Dr. Macknight, Dr. Warburton, Bishop Newton, Dr. A. Clarke, and most others who have written on this subject, are unanimous in the opinion that what is strictly termed the second coming of Christ is a figurative coming, namely, in spirit or power; and that this took place at the destruction of Jerusalem, the abolition of the Jewish dispensation, and the establishment of the king. dom of heaven in the earth. That this opinion is correct, we think no well-informed mind will dispute. The words second time, in relation to this subject, occur in no other passage in the New Testament, excepting Heb. 9: 28, and which are sufficient to fix the period, as above stated, beyond a rational doubt.
There are other passages, however, in the New Testament, which speak of the coming of Christ, as attended by different circumstances. In Section II., this Chapter, we have arranged those passages which appear to teach the resurrection of the dead, in connection with the personal appearance of our Saviour. The object of this (third) coming appears to be to raise the dead to a state of incorruption, immortality and glory.
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you." Then adds, "And if I go and prepare a place for you,
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 (that is, the dead shall rise before the living do). 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."
These passages teach, firstly, that, at the time these instructions were given, Christ was actually in heaven, his risen state. This Paul affirms in Heb. 9: 24, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Christ was exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour; he has set down at the right hand of God, having obtained eternal redemption for He has ascended to his Father, and is now seated on the throne of righteousness, as mediator and judge of all the earth. From this throne, by his word and spirit, he administers justice and judgment in the earth. This mediatorial throne, or seat, is also his judgmentseat; and from this throne he is represented, in the spirit and power of the gospel, as seated in judgment before the world. Hence the propriety of Paul's expression, 2 Cor. 5: 10, " For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things in body, according to that he hath done, whether good or bad." In this manner Christ sits, in the spirit and power of gospel truth, judging the world in righteousness; and under this gospel administration every one receives according to that he hath done, whether good or bad. Upon this throne Christ will remain, as mediator and judge, until the great work of reconciling the world to God is accomplished. Hence Peter, in speaking of Christ, says, "Whom the heaven must receive, until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3: 21. Paul has similar language in Col. 1: 20, "And (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things to himself: by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." The same apostle has said, in 1 Cor. 15: 25, 26, "For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death," From these testimonies we learn that Christ will keep his position as mediator and judge until he hath subdued and reconciled all things to himself: until he hath
finished sin, made an end of transgression, and destroyed the last enemy, death. When all this shall have been accomplished, then will have arrived the period when the sleeping millions of our race, in connection with the living multitudes, shall all realize the resuscitating power of Him who is "the resurrection and the life." Then will" the Lord himself descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God ” —- not to destroy his enemies, or to execute judgment, but to arouse the living and the dead to a state of immortal and unending bliss. When he shall make this personal and last appearance on earth, he will have previously closed his process as mediator and judge, will have subdued and reconciled all to himself, and then only remains to raise and deliver up to God his Father the ransomed world, with his own subjection to him, that God may then be all and in all.
When Christ made his second appearance, he is represented as sitting on the throne of his glory, establishing his kingdom, and commencing his reign on earth. But altogether different is the object of his third or last coming. Then his work will be finished; the judgment day closed, and the kingdom, which he received of his Father at the commencement of his reign, ready to be resigned back to him, the Great Father and God of all.
In the second place, these scriptures confirm what we have already stated. John says, "But we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." This likeness to Christ is effected by the resurrection. See 1 Cor. 15: 51, 52, “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." To the Thessalonians, he says, "Them, also, which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him." "The dead in Christ shall rise first (before the living are changed). 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." Paul undoubtedly wished to have his brethren believe that their departed friends would all rise again to life and happiness; that death was not one long, eternal sleep, as many of his countrymen actually believed; he, therefore, labors to convince them that Christ, their risen head,
would raise the human family from the sleep of death, that one and
He informs his Corinthian brethren that the trumpet should
That Paul believed (not in a partial but) in a universal resurrection to holiness and happiness, is evident from 1 Cor. 15: 22, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." All must admit that Adam is the constituent and federal head of the human family. In him all, individually, die. It is also equally admissible, that the same all shall be made alive in Christ. The words, even so, imply that the same all who die in Adam shall, equally and individually, be made alive in Christ, their spiritual head and representative. Man is created "in the image of God." "Christ is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person." Hence, being created in the image of God, we are created in Christ Jesus, as our moral or spiritual head. "The head of every man is Christ." 1 Cor. 11: 3. Consequently, Christ is as truly the moral head of every man, as is Adam our earthly head. And Christ will as certainly reinstate and immortalize every man in himself, as it is certain that in Adam all are fallen.
But to this it is objected, because of the expression in the 23d