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this Lord and Saviour, for whose glorious appearing we now joyfully look, though now we see him not bodily—as he himself forewarned us, and as the apostle Paul rejoicingly declares, it was "needful” and “better” for us, and alone consistent with his necessary presence and mediation, that we should not-yet believing in and realizing his assured, actual, and spiritual presence with us, both personally, in his ubiquitous manifestation, and by his Spirit, we rejoice in him with a joy unspeakable and full of his anticipated glory. This faith and hope constitute the very essence of our Saviour's farewell comforting discourse with his disciples, and, through them, with his people always, in which he now says, as it were, “I have now finished the work of salvation so far as it can be done upon earth, and now, therefore, I go to my Father's house in heaven, there to continue and perfect it by my mediatorial and intercessory work, so that ye shall see me no more in the flesh, until I appear the second time unto all that look for me, to consummate the great work of salvation in your heavenly and everlasting glory. Nevertheless, I shall be always with you to the end of the world, in my spiritual presence and by my Holy Spirit to inspire your hearts, indite your prayers, exalt your praises, fill you with peace and joy in believing, and with all the fulness of the blessings of the gospel of Christ.” O, that christians would mediate more on the priestly office and intercession of our exalted Lord and Saviour, in his glorious character of High Priest of our profession, so as to be more identified with him, in all our reflections and in all our reading and meditations, and especially in our prayers, whether in the closet, in the family, or in the house of God; so that, on these solemn and interesting occasions, filled with all the fulness of his gracious presence, we might be able to approach the throne of grace, not only with more pious confidence and boldness; but with more fervent, tender, and affectionate sympathy and confidence. 14. Finally, let us triumphantly say that our divine Lord-our life, our love, besides whom there is none in heaven and none upon earth that we desire-comes virtually with that glorious grace with which he shall appear the second time unto salvation, to every believer at the hour of his departure. The unmistakable promise, so miserably perverted by the fictitious and unwarranted expectation of a mere Jewish, earthly, typical, and preparatory kingdom here upon the earth, has been hitherto, is now, and shall be fulfilled, in all its comforting and happy experience to every true believing heart. “I am with you to the end—this day shall thou be with me in Paradise—I will guide thee by my counsel and afterwards receive thee into glory-I have prepared a place for you, and at the hour of death I will open for you the kingdom of heaven, and will receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. And when thou passest through the valley of the shadow of death, thou shalt fear no evil, for I am with thee, and my rod and staff they comfort thee. To depart is to be with Christ.” (See James v. 7, 8; Heb. ix. 24, 26-28; x. 36, 37; Rev. ii. and iii.; 2 Cor. v. 8-10; Acts vii. 55-60; Luke xvi. 22, 23; Ps. xxiii. 46.) And as it regards the unhappy, miserable, infatuated, and ever to be lamented man, who dies in his sins, unpardoned and unrenewed, let it be solemnly remembered, that Christ will in the hour of death virtually come to him as the great and terrible judge—“Behold, the judge standeth at the doorbehold, I come quickly and the door was shut-and he stood speechless—for after death is the judgment, when we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ to receive according to our deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil. And so short will the time intervening between the sinner's death and the sinner's final actual judgment and destruction appear, that when that last day, the day of wrath, shall come, as Luther says, “Every one will say, 'Lo, I have but just now died.'” O yes, it will be as the interval between conviction and sentence and execution to the guilty culprit,—while to the righteous it will be like the seven years of Jacob's loving and hopeful toil for Rachel. “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me.”
Note.Since closing the article, we have met with a beautiful confirmation of the closing point, in Stier's Words of Jesus, vol. ix. pages 447-8, on the Epistle of James, v. 7-9: "St. James could in his day predict the coming of the Lord as at hand, and his word was soon confirmed. But after this first typical coming of the Lord to judgment upon Israel, the faithful always regarded the reserved and proper day of judgment and redemption, the last coming of their Lord, as near. When he shall come the second time. (See page 448.)
It is the will of God that there should be a reality in the continual presentation of the coming of the Lord as near. Every generation should wait for his day, for to every generation and to every mortal, the Lord already comes in death.
Because, for wise reasons, the interval between death and the last day is concealed from us, and the day of our death is dark. The Scripture sets before us instead, the day of Christ's revelation as the bright goal of our expectations, and believers are generally, in the New Testament, (since the Lord's Parables,) those who wait for the Lord.”
On the Fellowship and Communion
of Believers with the Father,
Son and Holy Ghost
Rev. THOMAS SMYTH, D. D.