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Church-State Relations and the Book of Revelation
An Introduction to The Parousia: A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming
by James Stuart Russell (1878) // Written by
Todd Dennis, Curator
 



 

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MODERN PRETERISTS
(Major Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Firmin Abauzit
Jay Adams
Luis Alcazar
Greg Bahnsen
Beausobre, L'Enfant
Jacques Bousset
John L. Bray
David Brewster
Dr. John Brown
Thomas Brown
Newcombe Cappe
David Chilton
Adam Clarke

Henry Cowles
Ephraim Currier
R.W. Dale
Gary DeMar
P.S. Desprez
Johann Eichhorn
Heneage Elsley
F.W. Farrar
Samuel Frost
Kenneth Gentry
Steve Gregg
Hugo Grotius
Francis X. Gumerlock
Henry Hammond
Hampden-Cook
Friedrich Hartwig
Adolph Hausrath
Thomas Hayne
J.G. Herder
Timothy Kenrick
J. Marcellus Kik
Samuel Lee
Peter Leithart
John Lightfoot
Benjamin Marshall
F.D. Maurice
Marion Morris
Ovid Need, Jr
Wm. Newcombe
N.A. Nisbett
Gary North
Randall Otto
Zachary Pearce
Andrew Perriman
Beilby Porteus
Ernst Renan
Gregory Sharpe
Fr. Spadafora
R.C. Sproul
Moses Stuart
Milton S. Terry
Herbert Thorndike
C. Vanderwaal
Foy Wallace
Israel P. Warren
Chas Wellbeloved
J.J. Wetstein
Richard Weymouth
Daniel Whitby
George Wilkins
E.P. Woodward
 


 

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 1-1000

070: Clement: First Epistle of Clement

075: Baruch: Apocalypse Of Baruch

075: Barnabus: Epistle of Barnabus

090: Esdras 2 / 4 Ezra

100: Odes of Solomon

150: Justin: Dialogue with Trypho

150: Melito: Homily of the Pascha

175: Irenaeus: Against Heresies

175: Clement of Alexandria: Stromata

198: Tertullian: Answer to the Jews

230: Origen: The Principles | Commentary on Matthew | Commentary on John | Against Celsus

248: Cyprian: Against the Jews

260: Victorinus: Commentary on the Apocalypse "Alcasar, a Spanish Jesuit, taking a hint from Victorinus, seems to have been the first (AD 1614) to have suggested that the Apocalyptic prophecies did not extend further than to the overthrow of Paganism by Constantine."

310: Peter of Alexandria

310: Eusebius: Divine Manifestation of our Lord

312: Eusebius: Proof of the Gospel

319: Athanasius: On the Incarnation

320: Eusebius: History of the Martyrs

325: Eusebius: Ecclesiastical History

345: Aphrahat: Demonstrations

367: Athanasius: The Festal Letters

370: Hegesippus: The Ruin of Jerusalem

386: Chrysostom: Matthew and Mark

387: Chrysostom: Against the Jews

408: Jerome: Commentary on Daniel

417: Augustine: On Pelagius

426: Augustine: The City of God

428: Augustine: Harmony

420: Cassian: Conferences

600: Veronica Legend

800: Aquinas: Eternity of the World

 


1000-2006

FUTURIST
HISTORICAL
MODERN

1265: Aquinas: Catena Aurea

1543: Luther: On the Jews

1555: Calvin: Harmony on Evangelists

1556: Jewel: Scripture

1586: Douay-Rheims Bible

1598: Jerusalem's Misery ; The dolefull destruction of faire Ierusalem by Tytus, the Sonne of Vaspasian

1603: Nero : A New Tragedy

1613: Carey: The Fair Queen of Jewry

1614: Alcasar: Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi

1654: Ussher: The Annals of the World

1658: Lightfoot: Commentary from Hebraica

1677: Crowne - The Destruction of Jerusalem

1764: Lardner: Fulfilment of our Saviour's Predictions

1776: Edwards: History of Redemption

1785: Churton: Prophecies Respecting the Destruction of Jerusalem

1801: Porteus: Our Lord's Prophecies

1802: Nisbett: The Coming of the Messiah

1805: Jortin: Remarks on Ecclesiastical History

1810: Clarke: Commentary On the Whole Bible

1816: Wilkins: Destruction of Jerusalem Related to Prophecies

1824: Galt: The Bachelor's Wife

1840: Smith: The Destruction of Jerusalem

1841: Currier: The Second Coming of Christ

1842: Bastow : A (Preterist) Bible Dictionary

1842: Stuart: Interpretation of Prophecy

1843: Lee: Dissertations on Eusebius

1845: Stuart: Commentary on Apocalypse

1849: Lee: Inquiry into Prophecy

1851: Lee: Visions of Daniel and St. John

1853: Newcombe: Observations on our Lord's Conduct as Divine Instructor

1854: Chamberlain: Restoration of Israel

1854: Fairbairn: The Typology of Scripture

1859: "Lee of Boston": Eschatology

1861: Maurice: Lectures on the Apocalypse

1863: Thomas Lewin : The Siege of Jerusalem

1865: Desprez: Daniel (Renounced Full Preterism)

1870: Fall of Jerusalem and the Roman Conquest

1871: Dale: Jewish Temple and Christian Church (PDF)

1879: Warren: The Parousia

1882: Farrar: The Early Days of Christianity

1883: Milton S. Terry: Biblical Hermeneutics

1888: Henty: For The Temple

1891: Farrar: Scenes in the days of Nero

1896: Lee : A Scholar of a Past Generation

1902: Church: Story of the Last Days of Jerusalem

1917: Morris: Christ's Second Coming Fulfilled

1985: Lee: Jerusalem; Rome; Revelation (PDF)

1987: Chilton: The Days of Vengeance

2001: Fowler: Jesus - The Better Everything

2006: M. Gwyn Morgan - AD69 - The Year of Four Emperors

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William Newton Clarke

Sixty years with the Bible; Ten Years With Hyper Preterism
 

FROM 1894:

"Intelligent study of the nature of prophecy tends to the conclusion that there is but little prediction in Scripture awaiting fulfilment, and that what there is consists in large outlooks, without minute details." (Outlines of Christian Theology)

TO 1909:

"It is interesting to note what this interpretation was, for the nature of it indicates again how far from being even and consistent was the movement of my mind." (Sixty years with the Bible)

"So I accepted the idea that the fulfilment occurred in the destruction of Jerusalem. . As for the interpretation itself, it now seems to me to have been a very good way-station on the journey to the true solution of the problem."


William Newton Clarke (1840-1912), was a Baptist theologian and famed professor of Colgate Theological Seminary. Dr. Clarke graduated from Madison University (now Colgate) in 1861 and from its theological seminary in 1863. After serving pastorates in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Montreal, Canada, and teaching in the Toronto Baptist College as Professor of New Testament Interpretation, he returned to Hamilton as pastor of the First Baptist Church. In 1890 he resigned to become Professor of Christian Theology in the seminary. Clarke’s lectures were published in 1894 as the Outline of Christian Theology. It represents a milestone in the development of progressive theology in the United States. The text was so valued it went through 21 editions.


Sixty years with the Bible
A record of experience
 

By
William Newton Clarke
1909

CLICK HERE FOR PDF FILE OF ENTIRE BOOK

Pages 136 - 149:

"Now again the doctrine of the second advent took a disproportionately prominent place in my affairs. It was necessary that I should explain the thirteenth chapter of Mark, the great eschatological discourse, the dread of expositors—unless indeed it chances to be their delight. It was the part of my task that I dreaded most, for I was well aware of the difficulty of the passage, and certain that I could not stand for any of the old interpretations. But I had been thinking more or less in that field, ever since the discussions of the advent that I have spoken of. Moreover, in the late Seventies a book treating the general subject of terrestrial eschatology had appeared, and had been much read and discussed in the circle of my acquaintance. The book was crude in some respects, and was far from uttering the last word in the constructive part, but it was unanswerable in its refutation of certain long- accepted doctrines, and at least it prepared the way for something better. It has now gone out of sight, for it lacked some of the qualities that make for permanence; but it freed many of us from inherited untenable views of the second coming, and offered us at least a tentative doctrine in their place. Under this influence I wrought out an interpretation of the difficult chapter which satisfied me at the time, and this I embodied in my commentary.

It is interesting to note what this interpretation was, for the nature of it indicates again how far from being even and consistent was the movement of my mind. I have spoken of the growing conviction that the early advent hope was disappointed. This conviction was steadily settling into certainty, and yet at this time I was fascinated by the claim that the hope had not been disappointed. I still felt that the prediction of an early advent must have been fulfilled, and that the fulfilment must be sought in the early history. So I accepted the idea that the fulfilment occurred in the destruction of Jerusalem. The taking of this position was not a consistent step in my progress, and yet it is quite accounted for by that blending of old influences and new to which every advancing mind is subject.

Knowing that my interpretation would be objected to, I purposely made my presentation of it just as positive and convincing as I could, in order that it might have as good a chance of favor as I could give it. As for the interpretation itself, it now seems to me to have been a very good way-station on the journey to the true solution of the problem. At the time, however, it was the best that I could do, and it was farther along the road than most of my readers were prepared to go. As I expected, it suited almost no one. After the first edition, the publishing society obtained another commentary on the chapter from an older man, embodying one of the more accepted views, and bound it into the book at the end of my chapter, under the title of "An Additional View." To this I had no objection whatever, and cordially gave the consent which the society courteously asked. At any rate, I had made my contribution toward a substitute for the old untenable views, and that was as much as I could hope to do.

As for the commentary itself, it contains much that I should now be glad to set right, for I can see in it many marks of immature judgment and insufficient knowledge. But the writing of it marked a great step in the forward movement of my mind in dealing with the Bible. It was the first large work of a new outspokenness. Views that had mastered me and become my own I was daring to offer to a larger company; and such work always takes hold upon the future of a man's own mind. In my case it was a preparation for still larger use of Christian liberty of thought and speech in handling the holy book. And my commentary occupied its place, though a very small one, in the progress of the general thought about the Bible.

In the city where I lived there were many warnings against crude though reverent use of the Bible. I came across much influence of the Plymouth Brethren, whose attitude toward the Bible was reverent almost to the point of worship, but who seemed to me utterly to miss the point, and to be making of the Bible the very thing that God never intended it to be. Under this influence profoundly ignorant persons were exhorted to regard their own understanding of the Bible as unquestionably the interpretation of the Holy Ghost—usually with the result of a most comfortable superiority to all other Christians. I met with much interpretation that claimed to be simple literalism; and I was confirmed in my old conviction that there is no man who will find more fanciful meanings than the average literalist. I found people who were using the Bible to identify the British nation with the lost ten tribes, whereby they brought over to the existing British Empire all the promises of God to Israel. I knew many who found prediction of great things yet to come in what seemed to me passages of plain and simple meaning. The handling of unfulfilled prophecy, indeed, was a favorite employment with very many, who deemed this one of the most important uses of the Bible. In a farmhouse I met a godly soul who said he had long desired to see me, because he wished to get my views on the millennium; but I fear he obtained less from me than he had hoped. I knew a village where the favorite topic of conversation when the people met was the return of the Jews to Palestine. I remember a man, a somewhat professional interpreter, I think, in his own little circle, who asked me for my view of a certain passage of Scripture, of which an elaborate explanation entered into his framework of doctrine. When I had given him my understanding of it, he looked up at me with a fine expression of surprise and puzzlement upon his countenance. "Is that it?" he said: "you'll spoil me—it's so simple." There was danger indeed, for elaborateness was necessary to satisfy him. I once said to a man that I did not think the Bible was intended to provide us with a map of the future, whereupon he exclaimed, "Well! then I don't know what the word revelation means." When I said, "Revelation of God," the words seemed to make no impression on his mind. And once I went, a few minutes late, into a prayer- meeting of another church than my own, which a deacon, in default of a minister, had been unexpectedly called to lead. When I entered he was saying that he had had absolutely no opportunity for preparation, and could only read a passage from the Epistle to the Galatians, as he had just done, and offer as his contribution to the meeting a thought that had been with him much of late, namely, how good God is, to let us Gentiles in to the privileges of the Jews. So near, and no nearer, his mind had come to the religious situation of the present age.

By no means would I represent that the general Christian community used the Bible in these strange and misleading ways, for that would be a slander. Very much of devout and intelligent use of the Scriptures there was, and I have never enjoyed sweeter fellowship over the Bible than I enjoyed with some Christians in that time and place. Nevertheless there was an immense amount of such unfortunate work, and it all seemed to me a sad perversion of the sacred book. I plainly saw that what was needed was a different conception of the whole matter from beginning to end. No mending-up would answer: these groups of earnest people needed a revolution in their entire conception of the book that they were both using and misusing. They held in their hands, as they understood the case, an infallible book, equally full of revelation in all its parts, and all addressed to them: and this book they were uncritically and unscientifically reading, taking their impressions of it as the word of God. When the book was thus viewed and used, the perversions that I was lamenting quite naturally followed. It was natural that the recondite parts should be the most fascinating, and that the unintelligible parts should seem to offer the best prospect of fresh revelation to the reader. It was natural, too, in certain stages of mental training, that the reader's interpretation should seem to him to partake of the infallibility of the book that he was interpreting. It was natural that the Bible should thus come to be regarded as a storehouse of mysterious information, rather than as a spiritual guide of life. There was need of a revolution: and I understood the case well enough to know that the only effective revolution must follow the line in which my own mind was moving. The mistaken methods must give way to a free, intelligent, and reverent handling of the Bible as it really is. Of course this sense of need intensified my convictions. By sad observation of the sufferings of the Bible in the house of its friends, I was confirmed in my judgment as to the treatment that Christians ought to give it. This manifold discovery of the tremendous necessity urged me on in my course, and in those years I labored with my best powers to set a clear and safe example in rational use of the holy book.

But I remember an incident of this period that shows how uneven my progress was. It illustrates also the various lights in which the uniqueness of the Bible may be viewed. One Sunday evening there strolled in to hear me a pair of scientists with whom I had a slight acquaintance, one of them rather eminent in his generation. Afterward I wondered what they thought. I do not remember what my text was, but it was one of the condensed expressions of truth that abound in the First Epistle of John. I spoke of this epistle as later in origin than the book that stands at the close of the Bible, and as occupying a place at the very end of the long course of divine revelation. I appealed to its testimony as the last and highest word, the ripened fruit of God's great revealing process, the very climax of that which has come from him to his world of men. I spoke, in fact, as if nothing had been heard from God since that epistle was written. I did not know at the time how far away I was putting God from his world. But the retributive power did not overlook me. After a while a wave of remembrance swept over me, to my humiliation, and I wondered what my scientific acquaintances thought that I, a Christian minister, believed about the living God. If they believed in God at all, as I think they did, they believed in a God who did not close his work of self- expression and betake himself to silence eighteen hundred years ago, but who "worketh hitherto," a God self-uttering as the light; and I had been addressing them as if God had been silent to men through all these ages. I wish I might have the opportunity of preaching to them now; but one of them is gone to the other life, and the other I shall never meet.

I remember a similar limitation upon my thought at an earlier date. One evening in my study long ago I had in my hand a volume that contained only two or three of the shorter Epistles: probably it was a commentary: and I remember reflecting upon what it would be if that were the entire Bible, the sum of revelation, the whole of what I had or was to have from God. How earnestly, I thought, would I search the volume through and through, eager to miss nothing of that unique treasure, to which nothing would ever be added! In the Bible, I said to myself, I had more than in that little book, but with equal eagerness I ought to search through that unique possession, the revelation of God. Revelation I was then regarding as something begun and ended, done and finished, written and preserved, gathered into one place, different from anything else that God has given or will give to men. Even as late as my preaching to the scientists the influence of that conception had not passed away, and later still it was upon me, though in diminished power. I was right in holding the Bible as a unique book, uniquely precious; but when one thinks of the living God, near to his human creatures and the same forevermore, it cannot be that he has given men no word of revelation from himself since it was finished. To know God as Jesus has revealed him is to know better than that."  (pp. 136-149)
 


FROM HIS EARLIER WORK:

An outline of Christian theology

1898

"HE SHALL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL THE TRUTH."

PART VI

THINGS TO COME

"Intelligent study of the nature of prophecy tends to the conclusion that there is but little prediction in Scripture awaiting fulfilment, and that what there is consists in large outlooks, without minute details."

It is the aim in this Part of Christian Theology, commonly called Eschatology, to obtain the light of the Christian revelation, so far as light has been given us, upon events that are yet to occur and destinies that are yet to be unfolded. We inquire concerning the unfoldings of the kingdom of God in this world, the nature of the events that mark the removal of men to the unseen life, and the destiny of men in the world beyond. In this work we study the Scriptures, and seek to draw out all clear and final testimony that they may bear concerning these subjects. We also seek, in loyalty to the mind of Christ, to learn what may be taught us by the great principles that are made known in Christianity. Upon these themes of undying interest we are impelled to seek and welcome the Christian teaching in all its forms. Christ who has taught us by his direct and special utterances has taught us also by his coming and his manifestation of the Father; and we cannot refrain from considering the large questions of destiny in the light of this general teaching concerning God and man. But we have to confess that the study of the future is as difficult as it is fascinating, and we must not wonder if on many points we are compelled to end with confession of our ignorance. There are many things that we can learn only by meeting them as we go upon the inevitable journey that awaits us all.

It seems most convenient to treat of Things to Come in two divisions; the first including things to come in this world, and the second treating of things to come beyond this world.

I. Things To Come In This World.

Here we meet many familiar questions, such as, — What are to be the fortunes of the Kingdom of God in this world: whether it is to conquer and fill the world or not; how long the present order is to continue, and how it is to end; what is meant by the Millennium; what is meant by the second coming of Christ, and when we ought to expect it. In this Part of Theology, theologians are accustomed to give answers to all these questions.

i. The Conditions of Study. — Before we promise to answer all these questions, however, it is well to consider the Conditions of Study concerning things that are yet to occur in this world. If we learn the conditions under which our inquiries must be conducted, we shall be better able to judge how far we can expect definite and positive conclusions. We may find some of our expectations disappointed, but we shall also find our responsibilities limited, and our difficulties lessened.

(i) These inquiries relate wholly to the future of human life, of which we are by nature ignorant.

Our ignorance of coming events in the world needs no proof; but evidently it makes us dependent upon revelation for all knowledge of them. Christian theology has no concern with coming events on earth, unless the Christian revelation has foreshown them. It is of course legitimate to infer what will follow from the working of known powers and principles, but such inferences must be taken only for what they are worth: they can afford no certainty, and can properly extend only to general forecasts, not to specific foresight of events. If such human forecasts should prove to be all that we have, the just conclusion would be that theology has no occasion to discuss things yet to come in this world. If we are to have definite knowledge of future events, God must give it. Prediction is the only means of information that is open to us.

(2) God has not given us by prediction a map of coming time.

The contrary is often assumed, and Scriptural prophecy is studied as containing a map of the future. Many Christians hold this view of prophecy, and apply it with greater or less consistency to the study of what is yet to come. But there are several facts that discourage this assumption, and confirm us in the conviction that God has left us mainly in our natural ignorance regarding the events of which history is hereafter to be made up.

a. The most Scriptural conception of the nature of prophecy discourages the idea that the Bible contains a map of the future.

Prophecy, like other elements in the Biblical history, has been more thoroughly studied in recent times than ever before, and has received much light from its historical setting. As the purpose that prophecy was meant to serve becomes more clearly known, the predictive element, while it does not disappear, occupies relatively a less prominent place. It was once thought that prophecy was mainly prediction: it is now perceived, from closer study of the life and work of the prophets, that prophecy was preaching under divine influence, with a predictive element to aid its moral purpose. The prediction that it contained was occasionally precise, but was oftenest broad and general, giving outlooks rather than descriptions, glimpses rather than details. Prophecy enkindled hope; it awakened and justified large expectations; but only in rare instances did it give minute indication of coming events. Moreover, the prediction oftenest looked forward from the prophet's own time, and pointed out what was to come from powers and principles then at work; the main object being instruction and inspiration for the time then present, rather than information to future generations. Still further, the event was not always as the prophet had conceived it. Sometimes the fulfilment of his vision never came, and sometimes it was larger, richer and more spiritual than he had expected. Even Messianic prophecy was far more ideal than specific, and no one beforehand could have pictured Jesus as time revealed him, from the materials that prophecy provided. After the fulfilment, true foreshowings could be traced (Acts viii. 26-35; xiii-27, Rom. xvi. 25-26): but that no full portrait of Christ had been drawn in prophecy is plain from the fact that even the devout souls who waited for redemption were not looking for One like him. Not even now, with all the Christian knowledge, can any detailed picture of Christ's life be drawn from the predictive Scriptures, without much aid from arbitrary and untenable exegesis.

This quality, having been found in prophecy on that great occasion, is likely to be found in prophecy always. It accords with God's general method in Providence, for he generally leaves the future to be found out in the natural way, when it becomes the present; and unless he gives express assurance to the contrary, it is safe to expect that he will act thus regarding the future of his kingdom. He gives .large outlooks in abundance, as he did of old, but reserves the details to be unfolded in the course of nature. Intelligent study of the nature of prophecy tends to the conclusion that there is but little prediction in Scripture awaiting fulfilment, and that what there is consists in large outlooks, without minute details.

b. After all the study that Christians have devoted to the Scriptures in hope of reading there the future of the world, the results are not such as to commend the method.

Study animated by this hope has been long and diligently pursued, and has yielded two results, — not one but two, —the premillennial and postmillennial theories of the coming of Christ. Both theories find in Scripture a period known as the Millennium, which both take to be a period of triumph' for Christ on the earth; but one holds that he will come to the earth before that period and make it a triumphant age by his personal presence, while the other holds that he will come to the earth only after that period of triumph, which will be brought on through the existing agencies. These two views do not differ merely as to what thfiy understand the Bible to contain: they differ widely in spiritual and practical quality, in their view of the method and power of the gospel, and in their estimate of the efficiency of Christ in the present time. The present Christianity, as an agency for saving the world, one regards with hopelessness and the other with unbounded hope, — so wide is the difference. If divine revelation had given a map of coming time, we might reasonably expect the outline to be more distinct and unmistakable than this twofold result from long study would indicate.

Both this double result and the methods by which it has been reached tend to show that the Bible does not contain the materials for a clear and consistent outline of things to come. If we listen to the defenders of the two theories, we feel that'neither is doing justice to the whole Bible. Each school is partial in its use of Scripture, and each answers the other by doing in this respect what the other has done. Each draws its conclusions from a class of passages, and fails to find an adequate place in its system for the passages that are relied upon by the other. Each runs its line through the Bible, but neither makes use of all the material that both admit as relevant to the subject, — that is to say, each school leaves certain biblical material unassimilated, because not easily assimilated to its own thought. But this is the same as saying that the Bible as a whole does not yield either of these theories. If it can yield any consistent theory of coming events, into which all its supposed testimony on the subject shall be harmoniously wrought, it certainly is neither of these two, nor is it any theory that has yet been framed.

Moreover, the more closely the map of the future is drawn, the less satisfactory does it prove to be. Postmillennialists usually leave the outlines large and unfilled, expecting no minute indications; but premillennialists, from the nature of their view, look for exact designation of coming events, and have often ventured to foretell the immediate future. But the more accurate the prediction, the surer thus far has been the disappointment. None of the schemes of the future that have been confidently drawn from Scripture have been confirmed as time unfolded. So numerous have been these failures as to suggest the real cause of them. Failure is not due to some one's miscalculation, which may be corrected in a later venture, but to the fact that the Bible does not contain the material for successful prediction of coming events upon the earth. The entire labor of forecasting is misplaced.

c. One main element in theories of the future eludes us as we study it,—namely, the Millennium. All the common discussions have for one of their fixed points this period, measured either literally or figuratively, of a thousand years, in which Christ is victorious on the earth. This period enters into all theories as an absolutely certain part, so important as to be the name-giving element. But when we seek to understand it better it escapes us. The only allusion to it in Scripture is in Rev. xx. i-io. The passage occurs in the great book of symbols, where every literal thing that is mentioned stands as illustrative symbol of some spiritual reality. This fact of itself casts doubt upon all literal interpretations and applications of imagery that is found here. Moreover, the meaning of this single passage depends of course upon the nature, scope, and meaning of the book as a whole. This passage does not promise a period of Christian victory yet to come, unless the book gives an authoritative outline of the events of coming time. But there is not sufficient reason for explaining the book as one that foreshows events that are still to occur. Both at the beginning of the book and at the end (i. 3; xxii. 10) it is declared that the fulfilment of its predictions was near when the book was written. It was once supposed that this book stood alone, without companions resembling it and throwing light upon its meaning; but it is now known that it is the noblest sample of a considerable class of apocalyptic writings, produced before and after the Christian era. It is also known that these apocalyptic writings were intended for immediate cheer in the midst of trials, and that they served this purpose by giving large symbolic pictures of the current strifes, and splendid outlooks of victory. Their language, however, was pictorial and vague, neither intended for exact fulfilment nor capable of receiving it. Such a book is our Book of Revelation; its pictures of conflict and victory were intended to cheer the early Church. It gloriously exalts Christ and foretells his victory, but it was by no means intended to describe his victories in detail, or to enable its readers to foretell events of the future. The millennium of the twentieth chapter, therefore, is not a period concerning which time-calculations can be made; and since this is the only mention of such a period in the Scriptures, it follows that there is no ground for a question of premillennial or postmillennial advent. The whole discussion has proceeded upon grounds that have no proper existence. The ascertainment of the character and scope of the Apocalypse ends the whole dispute by abolishing its chief material. Of course the question of the future of Christ's work on earth still remains, but not as a millennial question.

d. Very much of the language out of which pictures of future events have been made is language that ought never to have been taken literally.

The language of apocalypse, as we have said already, was not intended for literal fulfilment, and is generally incapable of receiving it. Of this kind is much of the language in which the coming of Christ in his kingdom is pictorially set forth in the Gospels and Epistles. Much of this language is borrowed directly from the prophets of the Old Testament, who applied it to events on the earth, in which of course it could not be literally fulfilled. The darkening of sun, moon, and stars in Matt. xxiv. 29, is borrowed from Isa. xiii. 10, and Ezek. xxxii. 7, where it enters into predictions of the downfall of Babylon and Egypt. The coming of Christ on the clouds of heaven is taken from Dan. vii. 13, where "in the night visions" one like unto a son of man came with the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of days who was sitting as judge of the world, and received a kingdom; and in the interpretation of the vision (verse 27) the event that is symbolized is declared to be the giving of the kingdom "to the people of the saints of the Most High." Upon such symbolic pictures it is impossible to build definite expectations of future events. If we look for disturbances in the starry heavens or a visible descent from the clouds in fulfilment of these predictions we shall be disappointed, for no such thing is meant by them. As for the coming of Christ on the clouds of heaven, the Biblical usage does not warrant a literal interpretation of the language in which it is foretold. It is true that even until now the Church has looked for an event that is literally described in this figurative and apocalyptic language: nevertheless the fact remains that the language was never meant to be taken literally, and could not have been so taken if the history of its Biblical usage had been considered. Thus the ordinary expectation regarding the manner of Christ's coming departs from the real meaning of the Scriptures on which it is supposed to be founded, and has no valid foundation.

These facts certainly seem to justify us in saying that God has not by revelation given us a map of the future. Rather has he left the future of this world to be in general as he made it, — unknown until it becomes the present. General forward glimpses he has given us; but our natural longing to foresee precisely what is corning is destined to remain unsatisfied. Such are the conditions of study concerning things to come in this world, — we are naturally ignorant of the future, and revelation has not opened to us the knowledge of its details.

If the study of things to come is to be prosecuted in such conditions as these, it is evident that many questions concerning the future must retire from their ancient prominence, and some from the field of study altogether. There is no millennium to be considered, and the field is not to be studied as one in which a well-filled scheme of events may be looked for. But there is one subject that remains for investigation.

2. The Second Coming of Christ. — Christ himself predicted that after his departure from among men he would return; and his apostles with eager interest took up and amplified the prediction. There would be zfarousia (iTh. ii. 19; 2 Th. ii. i). The word means "apresence," and obtains the sense of a coming from the idea of the beginning of a presence, a becoming-present. If we can learn what is properly to be understood by this promised coming of Christ we shall learn the most of what revelation has taught concerning things to come in this world.

(i) Christ's own predictions of his coming,—first in the Synoptics, and then in the Fourth Gospel.

According to the Synoptics, Christ, soon to leave the world, spoke of coming back (Matt. xvi. 27, xxiv. 29-31, xxv. 31). In the character of Messiah he spoke of returning in the glory of the messianic kingdom. In these predictions the kingly position is always an element in his thought; he will have the glory that his Father gives him, and will act as king. The special office that he speaks of executing when he comes is that of judge; he will be the judge of men, render to them according to their doings, and assign to them the destiny to which their actions entitle them. He says nothing of resurrection in connection with his coming, but only of judgment, which is regarded as the means of gathering into the messianic kingdom those who are found worthy to enter it. The current Jewish doctrine of the messianic kingdom included the expectation of such a judgment.

As to the time of his coming, he is recorded to have said expressly that it would occur within the lifetime of the generation that was then living (Matt. x. 23, xvi. 28, xxiv. 34). He also said with equal clearness that nothing more definite than this was to be known concerning the time, and declared that he did not even know it himself (Mark xiii. 32; Matt. xxiv. 36, Revision). His coming was thus represented as near, but of unknown date. It was also associated in his discourse with the impending troubles of the Jewish people, especially with the destruction of Jerusalem and the removal of its sacred institutions. He said, in fact, that immediately after the tribulations that introduced that great event his coming would occur (Matt. xxiv. 26-30). This is the same as to say that he would come in connection with that event.

As to the manner of his coming, the Synoptics quote him as describing it in glowing apocalyptic language, borrowed, as we have seen, from the prophets of the Old Testament. The first and second Gospels are much alike in language; the third gives a part of the same apocalyptic language, but adds other elements of description not apocalyptic. The apocalyptic tone in this prediction is unlike anything else in the recorded discourses of our Lord, and has been variously accounted for; though there are some who feel no need of accounting for it, since they look for an event that literally corresponds to it. Some think that this peculiar tone was imparted to the record in the Synoptics by the writers or the preservers of the tradition of his sayings, and not by Christ himself, whose plain speech concerning what was then future was thus translated, as it were, into the current apocalyptic language. Others think that just as the time of his coming was unknown to Christ in the days of his human limitation, so also the manner of it was not opened to him, as being a matter that he did not need to know for the purposes of his earthly work, and that he therefore conceived of it in the apocalyptic form that prevailed at the time. Still others think that he knew perfectly well how thoroughly apocalyptic the prophetic language that he quoted was, and used it with no intention of predicting an event in which its highly-wrought imagery would be literally fulfilled. Whatever explanation of these peculiarities may be accepted, it is the growing opinion among students of the New Testament that the utterances of Jesus show him to have expected in some form an early return in his kingdom. These synoptical passages describe his coming in language familiar to Jews, and descriptive in the Old Testament, whence it is taken, of national overthrow and the inauguration of a kingdom.

There are two rich utterances of Christ in Matthew which, though found in one of the Synoptics, are more nearly akin to the predictions of the Fourth Gospel,— "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (xviii. 20), and "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age" (xxviii. 20).

In the Fourth Gospel the prediction of coming again is not less real; but the tone is different, and the coming is of another kind. Here our Lord is represented as speaking of a spiritual presence with his people and with the world. Sometimes it is the Holy Spirit that is to be present (John xiv. 16), sometimes it is himself (18), and once it is the Father and himself (23). This spiritual presence was impossible, he declared, so long as he remained in the earthly life; only after his departure could it begin. He was going away; but he said, "I will not leave you orphans; I am coming to you." "That day," in xvi. 23 and 26, which was coming after "a little while," was to be the time of his new personal relation with his friends, —"I will see you again;" "Ye shall behold me." He spoke also of coming to his disciples at their death, to take them to himself (xiv. 3). He spoke of himself as the judge of men (v. 22), by whose word they should be judged at the last day (xii. 48); but this Gospel represents him as really the present judge of men, just as truly as the future judge (ix. 39). At the last day he would " raise up " those who believed on him (vi. 40); and he spoke of a future resurrection of life, and of judgment or condemnation (v. 28-29). But his coming is nowhere connected with the last day, or with the resurrection. In the Fourth Gospel the coming of Christ is altogether invisible and spiritual, and is to occur as soon as the coming of the Holy Spirit occurs.

Thus in the Synoptics the coming that Christ predicted appears as kingly and judicial, near in time, associated with the fall of Jerusalem; and it is described in apocalyptic style, in terms of visible appearing. In the Fourth Gospel it appears as still nearer, but as invisible and spiritual, and destined to pass over into a spiritual abiding with his people and the world.

(2) The manner in which Christ's predictions of his coming were understood.

The prediction of the return of the Messiah was quite in accordance with the expectation that prevailed among the Jews. The idea was current among them that after the Messiah had come he would depart, to return in the glory of his kingdom and destroy the hostile powers of the world. This is the thought in Luke xxiii. 42, — " Lord, remember me when thou comest in thy Kingdom." The disciples of Christ were Jews, and the inherited ideas of their generation were influential in their thinking. After he had taught them, their conception of the kingdom that he would found was lifted above the plane of ordinary Jewish thought, for he spiritualized their minds, really though imperfectly; and yet it was inevitable that their conceptions of his kingdom should retain the form to which their early training had accustomed them. However he may have meant his predic* tions of a speedy return, they naturally understood him m the light of their familiar inherited ideas.

Accordingly the expectation of the return of Jesus became immediately a large element in the thought and life of the Church. To the early believers his speedy return seemed most desirable, both because they loved him, and because the messianic hope looked forward to the completing of the messianic kingdom. The Hebrew Christians imparted this hope to the Gentiles. The first generation of Christians, and the second which grew up under its influence, understood that he was coming soon, and had no doubt that he would come within their lifetime. The apostles and their companions entertained this expectation, as their writings show (Acts iii. 19-21; I Th. iv. 13-17; i Cor. vii. 25-31; xv. 51-52; I Pet. iv. 7; Heb. x. 37). The reality of this expectation has sometimes been denied, largely under the influence of the a priori belief that the apostles cannot have entertained an expectation that was not realized; but the language is perfectly decisive, and a large section of the New Testament thought corresponds thereto. We cannot doubt that at first the Christians generally thought the Lord was at hand, quickly to be manifested among them.

As to the nature of the event that the first Christians were looking for, the expectation still bore the familiar Jewish form. It was expectation of a visible return of Christ, still described in language of the apocalyptic type. The expectation was freed by the spiritual quality of the Christian faith from much of the narrow and carnal char- icter of the Jewish hope, and was filled with a heavenly quality never known before; but it continued to be the expectation of a visible return soon to occur. Both points, the nature of the event and the time of its occurrence, appear in i Th. iv. 13-17, where Paul represents the advent most vividly in apocalyptic style, and makes it plain that he expected it soon, — not so soon, indeed, as his Thessalonian readers understood him to mean, and yet so soon that Paul could speak of the destined witnesses of the event as "we," in contrast to the Thessalonian Christians who within the preceding few months had "fallen asleep."

Thus Christ's predictions of a return were interpreted

in the light of the current thought of the age. The interpretation that was thus reached was not surprising but inevitable, for critical knowledge of the literary quality of the ancient prophecies had then no existence, and apocalyptic literature was an influential element in the religious thought of the time. But the interpretation that was thus inaugurated under the influence of Jewish thought was not temporary: it has held the field in general till now. In all ages the apocalyptic language has been literally interpreted, and has given form to the expectation of the Church regarding Christ's return. The Church generally still looks for a literal fulfilment of the details of the ancient apocalyptic visions.

(3) The manner in which Christ's predictions of his coming were fulfilled.

These predictions were not fulfilled according to the Jewish expectation. The event that the apostles and their fellow-Christians expected did not occur, and has not yet occurred. If an early visible appearing of Christ was really promised, the promise has not been fulfilled. The unquestionable expectation of the early Church, recorded in the New Testament, was unquestionably disappointed. But before we decide that the promise of our Lord has failed, we should inquire what did occur, and whether in any proper sense Christ after his departure returned as Messiah in his kingdom.

The invisible and spiritual return of which the Fourth Gospel speaks took place almost immediately. The spiritual presence of Christ in the Holy Spirit became manifest on the Day of Pentecost, and was thenceforth an abiding presence, fulfilling the great promises of the parting interview. This presence was joyfully recognized by the apostles and their brethren as the secret of life and power for the Church: of this the entire New Testament gives evidence. The " Lo, I am with you alway " then began to be fulfilled, and has been in course of fulfilment ever since. Through all these ages Christ has been the actual king of the messianic kingdom in the world, exalted to the right hand of God, and reigning in the interest of the salvation for which he died. It is true that neither in the apostolic age nor afterward was this reign of Christ recognized as fulfilling the prediction of his return, nor has it withdrawn the attention of the Church from the apocalyptic visions. Nevertheless, if we ask what would constitute a return of our Lord in the work and glory of the kingdom that he left unfinished when he left the earth, we cannot think of a more genuine fulfilment than is found in the coming and abiding of Christ by the Holy Spirit. It was by this that the Saviour of men carried on the messianic work for which he died, and established the kingdom for the sake of which he came. His kingdom is not of this world, and his method of founding it was not such as the Jewish training had led his friends to expect; it was more spiritual and inward than they thought; "the kingdom of God cometh not with observation " (Luke xvii. 20). In this spiritual coming, so characteristic of himself, the real Messiah returned after departure, to do the real work of his kingdom.

But something more occurred. Our Lord's prediction of doom upon Jerusalem (Matt. xxiv. 2) was fulfilled. The old dispensation had rejected its own Messiah and set itself against the true kingdom of heaven, and its end soon came. The great event of A. D. 70 is commonly known as the destruction of Jerusalem, but it was not merely the destruction of a city; it was the ending of the old and hostile organization that still claimed the name of God and the providential vindication of the claim of the true Messiah to the world. With this event, which was not long to be delayed, Jesus associated the prediction of his own entrance to his kingdom. In this there was a true fitness, in spite of the fact that the Christians of the time did not so interpret the event when it occurred. The destruction of Jerusalem may be called his advent on its negative side. He came positively in the Holy Spirit of power establishing his kingdom; and his coming was providentially accompanied by this removal of the apostate church which had still claimed to be the true representative of the true God among men.

A spiritual advent, though it may be introduced by a striking event, is not itself an event, but a process. The coming that the Fourth Gospel describes is a perpetual advent, in which Christ comes ever more fully into the life of the world, —and this is the coming that has occurred and is occurring. The destruction of the hostile Jerusalem may well be regarded as one event out of many, significant of divine judgment or victory, by which the ever-advancing advent is accompanied.

Thus the two fulfilments of the first age promise more, and indicate that the real coming of Christ is not an event by itself, but a spiritual process, long ago begun and still continuing.

To sum up these statements: Christ foretold a coming in his kingdom; the prediction was understood by his disciples to promise a visible coming at an early day, with startling manifestations of visible glory; but the prediction was fulfilled in the spiritual and invisible coming by means of which his spiritual work in the world has been carried forward.

Or, to state more fully the view of Christ's coming that the Scriptures seem to warrant: —

a. When he left the world, the work of Christ for the world, far from being finished, was only begun, and he was expecting still to carry it on toward completion. His prediction of a return, and an early return, was a true prediction, not destined to fail.

b. Christ came again, in that spiritual presence with his people and the world by which his kingdom was constituted and his work upon mankind was done. This presence is such that his friends are not in orphanage, deprived of him (John xiv. 18); or, to use a figure frequent in the Scriptures, his Church is not a widow but a bride (Rev. xxi. 2-4). The New Jerusalem pictured at the end of the Apocalypse as the bride of Christ is not the symbol of the future life, but, as a careful reading is enough to show, represents the ideal Church of Christ in this world. To the production of this ideal state the spiritual coming of Christ tends, and is essential.

c. Christ's coming was not accomplished in any one event. In reality, the event in which it was announced and introduced was the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost; and its first great providential accompaniment in history was the overthrow of Jerusalem. But his coming is not an event, it is a process that includes innumerable events, a perpetual advance of Christ in the activity of his kingdom. It has continued until now, and is still moving on. Christ came long ago, but he is truly the Coming One, for he is still coming, and is yet to come.

d. No visible return of Christ to the earth is to be expected, but rather the long and steady advance of his spiritual kingdom. The expectation of a single dramatic advent corresponds to the Jewish doctrine of the nature of the kingdom, but not to the Christian. Jews, supposing the kingdom of the Messiah to be an earthly reign, would naturally look for the bodily presence of the king: but Christians who know the spiritual nature of his reign may well be satisfied with a spiritual presence, mightier than if it were seen. If our Lord will but complete the spiritual coming that he has begun, there will be no need of visible advent to make perfect his glory on the earth.

The picturing of Christ's coming as a single event dramatic in its splendors and terrors, attended by resurrection and judgment, has served a useful purpose in keeping the thought of the unseen Christ fresh and vivid to the Church, in times when no other presentation of him, probably, would have been so effective. But at the same time it has been hurtful. It has led multitudes even of Christian people to regard the advent of their Saviour with more of terror than of desire. That great but terrible hymn, the " Dies Irae," has been only too true an expression of the common feeling. The Church has been led to regard herself as the widow and not the bride of Christ, and prevented from perceiving the power and love that were already abiding with her. This misapprehension has made it common for Christians to speak of the absent Lord; whereas he is the present Lord, reigning now in his spiritual kingdom. It has also led to a habitual underestimate of the intrinsic value of the present life and its common interests. Placing the reign of Christ mainly in the future, it has drawn attention away from his desire to fill all life now with the fulness of his holy dominion. Christianity has by no means been the friend to the family, to the nation, to commerce, to education, and to the common social life of man that it might have been if Christ had been recognized as the present reigning Lord, whose kingdom is a present reign of spiritual forces for the promotion of holiness and love.

The present need is the need of living faith and love, to perceive the present Lord. It has long been common to call him the absent Lord: but after so long quoting his word of power, " Lo, I am with you alway," it is high time that the Church heard her own voice of testimony, and came to believe in him as the present Lord. The prevailing non-recognition of the present Christ amounts to unbelief. What is needed in order to awaken a worthier activity in the Church is a faith that discerns him as actually here in his kingdom, and appreciates the spiritual glory of his presence in the world.

This view of the coming of Christ implies that the apostles grasped the spiritual idea of his kingdom but imperfectly, and that they expected what did not come to pass; and to many this seems inadmissible. Misapprehension on their part was of course a constant thing during his lifetime, but many think it cannot have existed after the Day of Pentecost, when they were taught by the Spirit of God. But it must be remembered that the Master told his disciples that "the times and seasons" were not for them to know (Acts i. 7), and that no man knew the time of his

coming save that it would fall within the life of that generation (Mark xiii. 32). In this matter they were not to be helped by revelation. But apart from all theories of what the apostles were, we have to deal with the plain fact that the writers of the New Testament did expect an advent that did not occur. Wonderful indeed was the clearness of vision, and the trueness of perception, to which Christ's influence raised the disciples who knew him best; but we do not understand them if we overlook the fact that they were men of their own age, who received his truth into minds in which the thoughts of their age had influence. Here indeed was their power: for this enabled them to influence their own age, and send the influence on to ours. The glory of the first disciples lay not in the infallible correctness of their conceptions, but in their spiritual fellowship with Christ their Master.

This doctrine of Christ's coming leaves some questions unanswered.

As to the length of future time on the earth, this doctrine leaves us in ignorance. According to this the Christian revelation does not show how long the present order of things is to continue. If science offers any light upon the question we are free to receive it; and from this source we learn that God's processes are very long, — so long, in fact, that when once we have gained the point of view for the long perspective we wonder that we ever thought of a speedy ending for the great process of human existence. Life as we find it came out of the past, and is moving on to the future, and the end is out of sight. We find ourselves on the stream, but see neither the fount nor the ocean, nor can we tell how far away either is, except that both seem far remote. After all, what need have we of seeing either? How should we be better for knowing how long the earthly future of humanity is to be?

As to the question whether the kingdom of Christ is ever to gain complete possession of the world, this doctrine of Christ's coming leaves us dependent upon other sources of information. If the millennium drops out of our computations, and there is no single event in the future around which earthly destinies manifestly gather, we are left to general Christian considerations in judging the future of Christ's kingdom in the world.

When we look about us for light on the question whether Christ is ever to conform the entire life of this world to his likeness, what we behold is an unfinished-conflict. An observer might say that there is a great reign of evil in the world, and a great resistance to this evil from God in Christ. A man of faith may say that there is an original and eternal reign of the holy God, a great resistance on the part of evil, and a mighty exertion of the forces of God's holiness and love in Christ to conquer evil. This is the truer interpretation of what we see. But there is a world-wide and age-long conflict, and the good can win only by fighting; and we eagerly desire to know what will be the outcome.

On the one hand, we are reminded that this world is only the cradle of souls, the earliest school in endless life, where nothing comes to perfection; that life is short, and generations are ever changing, so that individuals are here as it were but a moment of their duration, and are imperfect during their entire stay; that there are evil tendencies deeply implanted in the race, to be eradicated only by inward grace and long practice in goodness; that life is complex, comprising many interests, and requiring the victory of the good to be won in a thousand forms; that the conversion of all the individuals in the world to Christ, so far from ending the work, would only open the way for the long work of renewing the life of mankind ; that as yet the Christian conflict is but just begun, since to the vast majority of men Christ is still unknown. These facts teach us that if Christ is to win a complete triumph in the life of mankind his victory is in the far future. On the other hand we are reminded that God is avowedly and visibly working toward victory for Christ's kingdom; that his providential and spiritual movement is in that direction; that his agencies are powerful, — more powerful than they have ever yet been shown to be, even by all the successes they have won; that Christ has bidden us pray, " Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven," and pray in hope; that we gather faith for such prayer from our instinctive Christian confidence that God must conquer and conform to his own will the world for which he gave his Son; that the kingdom.of Christ is in the broadest sense a missionary kingdom, working forth from man to man and from company to company; that God is constantly bringing to his help more and more of renewed and consecrated human energy; that human experience is disciplinary, and the strifes of good and evil train the world in conscience and in preparation for the best; that new times develop new methods and open the way for large advances toward the desired end; that Christ is here as the present king, the Holy Spirit is here to convince and renew, and the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. These are the elements in the unfinished conflict, in which the friends of the holy cause may say to one another, " Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world."

Here we must leave the question of the future of our Saviour's kingdom in this present world, glad to work with God and trust the victory with him. The main motive to holy effort is not that so much depends on us; it is not that we have but a scrap of time and must make all speed to use it. Nor is the main motive drawn from results. The main motive is that the kingdom of Christ is the glory of God and the crown of humanity, — that what is holy is good for men, that God is love and power, that Christ is the captain of salvation, and that labor for divine ends can never be in vain in the Lord.

2. Resurrection.—The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead was not originated by Christ or peculiar to Christianity, for it existed already in the later Judaism (Dan. xii. 2; Acts xxiii. 6). The Pharisees held it, though the Sadducees rejected it. Christ himself testified clearly and positively to the reality of the resurrection (Matt. xxii. 23-33), though he never entered freely into details of description concerning it. His own rising from the dead instantly fastened the idea of the resurrection in a position of the utmost prominence in Christian preaching and thought. Paul, trained as a Pharisee, and thoroughly familiar with the doctrine from his youth, fixed his gaze with intense interest upon the resurrection of Christ and of his people, and did more than any one else to give definite form to the general Christian hope which Christ's own resurrection had awakened. Nevertheless Paul's doctrine of the resurrection was very unlike the Pharisaic doctrine in which he had been reared. By Christ himself, in the conversation with the Sadducees just cited, resurrection is not distinguished in any way from continued existence. All that he there asserts is that such men as the patriarchs, having been claimed by God as his own, still live; and this continued life he identifies with the resurrection, or raising-up of the dead. He also speaks, however, according to John v. 28-29, of a resurrection of all who are in the graves. By Paul the doctrine is unfolded into a more definite doctrine of rising from death, —not a literal or carnal rising, indeed, or a rising of the same matter that was laid down in death, which Paul expressly denies, but an entrance into an organism called a spiritual body, incorruptible and glorious (i Cor. xv. 35-54).

The resurrection that Paul spoke of in his great passage on the subject (i Cor. xv.) is the resurrection of Christians. To this his view was limited in that chapter, and of this alone he spoke in his earlier passage, I Th. iv. 16. John v. 28-29 and Acts xxiv. 15 are the chief passages that refer to a resurrection of bad men as well as of good, and thus represent resurrection as universal. But the resurrection upon which thought in the New Testament dwells is that of Christians acceptable to God. Resurrection of wicked men, though mentioned, is nowhere made prominent or dwelt upon. The "sons of the resurrection" of whom our Lord spoke in Luke xx. 35-36, are those who are about to enter the glorious kingdom of God; and the apostolic allusions to the subject follow the same line of hope.

This resurrection of Christians is associated very closely in thought with that of Christ himself. The resurrection of Christ is held forth as the pledge and promise of his people's resurrection, and as the sure foundation of their hope (i Cor. xv. 12-19; 2 Cor. iv. 14); Rom. viii. II. It is not declared, however, that there would have been no such thing as resurrection for men if Christ had not risen, or that by rising he added a new element to human destiny. Christians have sometimes represented that resurrection itself was due to Jesus, but this is not the thought of the Scriptures. The writers of the New Testament do strongly feel, however, that the peculiar glory and blessedness of the Christian resurrection is due to Christ. This experience, as well as others, he transfigures.

The resurrection that we hear of in the New Testament implies the possession of a body, an organism for the use of the spirit. It is opposite to disembodiment. But here we need to note that there are two thoughts within the New Testament, both represented by the one word, resurrection. The resurrection that the Pharisees taught and the Jews largely believed in was a resurrection of the flesh, consisting in the return to life of the very body that died. But though Paul was educated in this belief, his Christian doctrine of resurrection was distinctly opposite to it. With him, the restoration of the body that died has no place whatever. For that body a " spiritual body" will be the substitute. That there will be a resurrection of flesh and blood, such as the Jews looked for, he strenuously denies. By a spiritual body, Paul means a body in contrast to the flesh, which he considers to be inextricably entangled with sin. It is a body that has no identity with flesh, but is adapted to the free and uncarnal life of the spirit, which through partaking in Christ's resurrection has been delivered from the flesh and has no further relations with it. The difference between this body and the one that the Pharisees expected to be brought forth from the grave is immense, and equally great is the contrast between the two conceptions of the resurrection as a whole that correspond to it.

This body Paul expects to be like the body of Christ's glory (Phil. iii. 2l). In accordance with this hint, and in view of the narratives that we have of Christ's appearings after his resurrection, Christians have often endeavored to learn the nature of the future body from what we are told about the body in which he rose from the dead. But this avails little, and our knowledge still remains more vague than clear, for we know too little of Christ's bodily'state and characteristics after the resurrection to build up a definite doctrine. The narratives seem to imply both that natural bodily acts were possible to him, and that he was independent of the need of them. In such a case a clear doctrine is impossible.

In the conversation with the Sadducees as it is reported by Luke (xx. 35-36), Jesus spoke a suggestive word about the life of " the sons of the resurrection." He says that " they neither marry nor are given in marriage, for neither

can they die any more." Where there is immortality, there is no marriage, — the idea being, apparently, that birth and death are correlatives, and consequently where there is no death there is no birth, and no need of marriage, or of the physical element in sex. It does not follow, however, that the differences between masculine and feminine spirits vanish, or that spiritual fellowships founded upon them cease.

Concerning the relation of the future spiritual body to the present physical organism speculation has always been busy, — often more busy than those who indulged it were aware, — and much that is really speculation has been taken for revelation. In spite of Paul's explicit teaching to the contrary, there has been an almost universal impression that the very bodies that have died will be restored to life. Here Christendom has parted company with Paul, and gone with the Pharisees. That the deserted body will be revivified, brought forth from the grave, and transformed into a spiritual body, has been the common expectation. But wherever a good knowledge of physical conditions has come in, this idea has retired as untenable, never to return. In place of it some have accepted the idea that from each body a germ will be preserved in the grave, or wherever the body may have gone to decay, to serve as the starting-point for the formation of the resurrection-body. This fancy was admitted because there appeared no other way of representing a connection between the physical body and the spiritual body that would arise ages after it had been returned to the fellowship of matter, — it being assumed that such a connection must exist. This connection is supposed to be affirmed in Paul's comparison of the seed and the harvest, in I Cor. xv. 36-38; but that comparison was intended to illustrate the unlikeness of the two bodies, rather than their connection. Some believe that the spiritual body is now forming itself within the physical body, being built up by moral action, every deed of right or wrong contributing some beauty or deformity to its proportions and its features; and that this body, in which the mortal life has been unerringly registered as to its moral quality, will be set free by death, to serve the spirit as its fitting organ in another life.

If the kingdom of Christ were an earthly kingdom like the kingdom of David, as the Jews imagined, the revivification of dead bodies would be essential to the entrance of the dead upon its experiences. But since the kingdom of Christ is a reign of the spirit, there is no such necessity. The reasonable view of the matter is that the present body, belonging wholly to the material order, has no further use or destiny after death has detached the spirit from the material order, and is abandoned, to be known no more; and that whatever organism the spirit may need in the other life, will be provided there, without contribution from this world. The personality will have such body as it may require, but it will not be an outgrowth of the flesh. If it has a real connection with the present life, it will be a connection not with the body that now is, but with the life that the spirit has lived here.

As to the time of the resurrection: It was the common doctrine among the Jews who believed in resurrection that it would occur at the establishment of the messianic kingdom on the earth. Paul, in i Th. iv., associates the resurrection of the dead in Christ with the coming of Christ, which he expected himself to witness. So, according to I Cor. xv. 23, they that are Christ's are to be made alive " at his coming." In the great event for which the early Christians were looking, the resurrection was to be included. The same view has been held by the Church generally till now, — that the dead will be raised when Christ comes visibly in the clouds. The " last day " of John vi. 40, etc., at which Christ will " raise up " those who believe on him, has been identified with this day of Christ's appearing, and a simultaneous resurrection at that time has been expected. Postmillennialists have expected that after the visible descent of Christ to the earth the dead will all be raised, all humanity will be assembled, and a general judgment will be held. Premillennialists expect the resurrection to be divided. In connection with the descent of Christ will occur the resurrection of Christians; then will follow the reign of Christ for a thousand years, and then the resurrection and judgment of the rest of the dead. This view rests solely upon Rev. xx. 4-6.

It is plain that one's view of the resurrection must correspond to the companion view of the second coming of Christ. As the one is understood, so will the other be. If the coming of Christ is conceived as spiritual, not visible, and as a process, not an event, a change in one's idea of the resurrection will necessarily follow. If no visible descent of Christ is looked for, no simultaneous resurrection of humanity on the earth will be expected. If we accept the view of Christ's coming that has been expressed on previous pages, we shall naturally think that each human being's resurrection takes place at his death, and consists in the rising of the man from death to life in another realm of life. The spirit does not rise thither alone, but whatever organism is needed for its uses in that other life the spirit receives; so that the man, complete in all that personality requires, stands up alive beyond the great change that we call death, having in the same hour died and risen again. According to this view resurrection is not simultaneous for all, but continuous, or successive; and for no human being is there any intervening period of disembodiment. This is what we shall probably find to be the fact when we have died, when first we shall really know what lies beyond.

The practical and moral value of the resurrection as an element in belief is secured by any view that holds to the presence in the other life of all that is essential to a human being. The doctrine of the resurrection has rendered service of great value in Christian thought, by adding definite- ness and vigor to the hope of immortality. It is easy to see how much the expectation of a body added to the practical strength of the hope of future life. The common world is vastly indebted to the doctrine of resurrection, and even to that doctrine in its grosser and less spiritual forms, for it has made immortality easier to believe in, by rendering the unseen world more homelike. Even in its lower forms it is a great advance from the thought of a shadowy, dim existence where no tangible realities appear; and in its more spiritual forms it continues to add strength and beauty to our conceptions of the unseen life. The grosser forms, extending only to revival of the flesh, and later to revival of the flesh with subsequent transformation, were helpful while they were natural, but they are sure to be outgrown, and the more spiritual forms of the expectation should be eagerly welcomed. It may be added that a doctrine of the resurrection that dispenses with the intermediate period of disembodiment has exceptional advantage in power to lift the gloom of death (2 Cor. v. 2-4).

3. Judgment. — Much of the language about judgment, in the New Testament, refers to a process that goes on in this world, as it must in any world, — the testing and dividing of men according to their character and relation to Christ, and the providential judgment between sin and righteousness in the present affairs of mankind; but a judgment to come is pointed out, relating to the destinies that follow the present life.

This coming judgment is set forth in the Scriptures as a judgment of God concerning the life that a man has lived, regarded as indicating the state and destiny for which he is prepared, and to which he must go. Such a judgment the Scriptures bid us all expect; but we should have reason to expect it if the Scriptures said nothing of it, for it is a necessary element in human life, if only there is a God over all, in whose hands men are. The theory is very simple. We are not our own masters in going out of this world; we go we know not whither. Yet our going is not without its just and holy method. Our place and lot in the life that is beyond must be determined righteously, in accordance with the life that we have lived thus far, that the next stage in our existence may be what it ought to be. But God is the one Lord of all worlds, and the only one who knows us well enough to judge where we must be placed in the world to which we are going. We must expect, therefore, to be estimated by his unerring judgment, and to move on to a destiny that corresponds to his just and faithful finding.

The only judgment that the Scriptures foretell is a judgment according to works; and by a judgment according to works is meant a decision founded upon an estimate of character as illustrated and proved by conduct. Thus, in 2 Cor. v. 10, Paul foretells a manifesting of every one in judgment, that each may receive thereafter according to what he has done while living in the body, whether it be good or bad. Paul is thinking here only of Christians; but what is true of them must be true in principle of all men. In like manner Christ, in Matt. xxv. 31-46, shows destiny assigned according to the spirit of previous conduct. So throughout the New Testament, — men are judged, or estimated, according to what they have done, and go each to his own place under the direction of God's true judgment. To this judgment according to works, or just summing-up of life, all men must be subjected. It is sometimes believed that Christians will be exempt from it; and in popular teaching it is often repre* sented as desirable to make a friend of the Judge, as if he could exempt whom he would from this final test of life. But exemption is impossible. God's judgment is not an arbitrary thing, or an act that is optional with the Judge. When a life is ended God must estimate the man according to it, and assign him his proper place in the life beyond; and this judgment is as inevitable in the case of a Christian as in the case of another man. Only by abrogating his own moral order could God dispense with it.

The Judge of men is of course God, who alone has either right or power over human destiny (Rom. xiv. 10-12). But Christ is equally said to be the Judge (Matt. xxv. 32; John v. 22, 27 ; 2 Cor. v. 10). God is said to judge men by Christ, and in Christ (Rom. ii. 16; Acts xvii. 31). The

two conceptions are united in the statement of the Fourth Gospel, that the Father gave to the Son to execute judgment " because he is a son of man " (John v. 27). Christ is one of men, and at the same time is God manifest among them; in him God's requirement upon men is brought near and livingly illustrated; in him God's love to men is shown; to him is committed the administration of the kingdom of grace in this world; he therefore is the proper person to execute the divine judgment, whether in this world or beyond it. When it is said that men are to be judged by Christ, more is meant than that Christ will personally preside in judgment, and announce their destiny. It is meant that Christ is the standard by comparison with which character is to be estimated and destiny to proceed. The judgment upon men is to consist in the application of the principle and law of his kingdom as the test of their conduct and their moral state. This is both right and necessary; for Christ, being " a son of man," is the true standard for human character and conduct, and the law of his kingdom is the only rule according to which men can possibly be approved or finally condemned by God.

The applying of the law of Christ as the test of judgment is illustrated in the great parable of judgment, Matt. xxv. 31-46. Here is set forth in most impressive pictorial manner the judgment that Christ must execute, and from which no man can escape. At the time of his speaking there was nothing peculiar in the fact that he announced a judgment. All his hearers expected that when the messianic kingdom was revealed in its glory a judgment would occur, in order to the admission of the worthy and the exclusion of the unworthy. What was peculiar in his teaching was the test that he announced. He said that in his judgment men would be judged by the law of love, which is his own characteristic law. He says in this passage that those who have done the works of love out of a free and uncalculating heart will be accepted, and those who have had no heart to perform such works will be rejected,— that is to say, Christ's own law, illustrated in his life and death, and announced in his gospel, is the rule by which men will be estimated in his judgment. To be judged by Christ is to be judged by this principle. And upon what other principle should the King who wore the crown of thorns judge men? This great passage does not refer exclusively to any single event, but sets forth the principle on which Christ's judgment must proceed, whether to-day, or at the end of life, or on any day whatsoever, in any age or world. The test of judgment corresponds to the nature of the kingdom, and the nature of the kingdom corresponds to the character of the King.

So the judgment at the end of life is an estimating of men according to the life that they have lived, viewed in the light of the standard of Christlike love. Those in whom the right spirit has come to action will be approved by God in that judgment, and those in whose conduct it has been wanting will be disapproved. It should not be forgotten that, while this judgment will be perfectly just, — that is, in perfect accordance with truth and reality, — this very statement implies that it will be made in the light of all just and fair allowances, in that right spirit of kindness which is always characteristic of God. It is a mistake to suppose that for the purpose of judgment God will assume some special sternness, or lay aside something of his essential grace. God never changes. Men will be judged by the same God who has created them, governed them, and sought to save them; for he is always the same, and Christ is the true expression of his eternal character. It is often represented that grace is now supreme, but justice alone will be supreme in judgment; but in fact men have as much to fear from God's justice now as they will have in the day of their judgment, and will find in their judge that very grace in which they may trust to-day. God's judgment is an inexpressibly solemn reality, but not because of any special qualities in God peculiar to that day. It is the Father who will righteously place his children in the other world. Judgment is solemn because life is serious and its moral issues are immeasurably important

As to the time of the coming judgment: It is certain that one judgment, as now defined, must occur for every human being in the passage from this life to another. " It is appointed to men once to die, but after this, judgment" (Heb. ix. 27), and this is no arbitrary appointment. If God assigns to a man his due position and portion in another life, he must do it by such a judgment as has now been described. The act may be public or private, vocal or silent, explicit or implied, but judgment is passed and executed in the very act of conveying a man to his proper lot and place in another world. No one can question this who believes in the continuous life of the human spirit. No one can doubt that in this judgment at death the immediate and principal end in view in judgment is accomplished.

It is commonly held by Christians that another judgment will occur at the end of the earthly career of the human race; that all who have ever lived will then be assembled, that the entire life of each with all its secrets will be made known to all, and that each will then receive the final sentence, which the revelations of that day will justify- in the eyes of all as perfectly righteous. To all but the latest generation this will of course be virtually a repetition of the divine judgment by which destiny was assigned at death; but it will be followed by the completing of the destiny of good or evil that was then entered upon. The special end in view in this universal and simultaneous judgment is held to be the exhibition of God's righteousness, and the vindication of his government as just God's providential government has been mysterious to men,—visible justice has not always been done, and the natural questions of men have been left unanswered; but now at the end God will assemble all his human creatures, and exhibit to them the grounds of all his judgments, in order to vindicate himself as the righteous Lord.

No Scripture is quoted in support of this view of the purpose of final judgment. The coming judgment that is known to Scripture is intended for the assignment of destiny to men; there is no hint that it is intended for vindication of God. It is true that Paul, in I Cor. iv. 3-5, appeals to God's judgment as the occasion at which the rectitude of his motives will be made apparent; but Paul, not God, is to be vindicated by the manifestation. It is true that Paul, at Rom. ii. 5, mentions " the day of revelation of the righteous judgment of God;" but this language is explained by the next words, " who will render to every man according to his works," — the righteous judgment is to be revealed in the result, each man receiving his own. It is true that God's judgments concerning men are expected to show that he is righteous; but this they will do by what they are in themselves, without the aid of explanations. God's ordinary method is to allow his action to vindicate its own Tightness, and meanwhile to expect his creatures to trust him. This method of faith is the spiritual method, and is morally superior to the method of sight, or definite explanation. Universal disclosure of all that has led to his action, even if it were possible, would be a departure from the way that he has established, and a descent to a lower method of seeking human confidence. But we have no reason to suppose that vindication of God by disclosure of his reasons to men is possible. No man ever lived who could comprehend a perfect vindication of God if it were offered. Life is too vast and complicated for that. Even a single life is too great. Nor is it any man's concern to know all the details of God's justice in dealing with other men. No man needs to know the secrets of his neighbor, and be able to trace the justice of God through the mysteries of his neighbor's life, and no man who respects the sacredness of individuality will desire it. Neither revelation of his own secrets nor knowledge of another's seems a good thing to a self-respecting soul. Moreover, the ordinary conception of the general judgment as a vindication of God reverses the relations of the parties concerned. God is the judge of men ; but this idea makes man the judge of God, to whom God explains his course that man may approve his righteousness. Such an inversion of relations is not to be expected. Men will meet God in judgment, but God will be the judge.

All these reasons dissuade us from expecting that God will provide an occasion for the public vindication of his righteousness. But it is easy to see how this idea of the judgment arose. It was assumed that there was to be a simultaneous judgment of the whole human race, in connection with the visible coming of Christ and the simultaneous resurrection of the dead; but the question what it was intended to accomplish had then to be answered. Certainly it could not be for genuine assignment of men's destiny in the other world, for this had been done at each man's death. It would plainly be needless to call men back from destiny that they had entered ages ago in order to adjudge them to it. There is nothing for a universal assemblage and judgment to mean, unless it be an opportunity for God to manifest the righteousness of his acts and his decisions.

If the coming of Christ is regarded as an invisible spiritual process, instead of a visible event, and each man's resurrection as his rising to life beyond the event of death, we shall naturally regard the judgment that inevitably occurs at death as the only judgment that is to be expected. It is difficult to see what more is needed, for this judgment does justice to the life, and righteously opens the next stage of existence. As to the vindication of God, we may safely think of it as left to be made by the outcome of his doings.

The value of the expectation of a coming judgment of God upon our lives does not reside in any conception that we may form of the time, the scene, or the manner of that judgment. It resides in our sense of the certainty and moral necessity of the coming judgment, and in the intelli- gibleness of its significance. The view that is here presented makes judgment to be a righteous and solemn act of God, shows it to be absolutely inevitable and certain, gives it a moral significance that every soul can under

stand, and, instead of leaving it indeterminate and perhaps distant in point of time, brings judgment as near as death, and warns us that our life will be judged as soon as it is finished. It makes less appeal to the imagination than the doctrine of a simultaneous assembling and judgment of mankind, but not less to the reason, the conscience, or the heart.

 

WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID

 

Lewis Sperry Chafer (1947)
"This work of fiction which does not even draw its material from the Bible -- though for remote identification it must introduce Christ and His disciples - is one mass of impossible error in doctrine from its beginning to its end ; yet this work on theology has had acceptance with, and commendation from, an unusually large company of ministers and professors of note.  Its fallacies should be noted briefly: (a) The entire assumption that Christ's coming is fulfilled by a "spiritual and invisible" program ignores every event connected with His return.  (b) The writer confuses Christ's personal coming with His omnipresence.  He is in the midst when two or three are gathered unto Him, but that fact does not imply that His promise to come as Bridegroom and Judge has been, or is now, being fulfilled. - The Second Advent of Christ Incarnate (1947)

 

 

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