Imagens da página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

of England. Indeed he sometimes seems to go beyond the strongest of their statements. In the following, he seems to teach that the resur. rection, of which St. Paul speaks in 1 Cor. xv., takes place during the state of death. Speaking of the dead, he says:

Subject then to no decay,

Heavenly bodies they put on,
Swifter than the lightning's ray,

And brighter than the sun.”—No. 721.
And of the glory of death, he thus speaks in another of his hymns :

Our friend is restored
To the joy of his Lord,

With triumph departs,
But speaks by his death to our echoing hearts :

Follow after, he cries,
As he mounts to the skies,

Follow after your friend, To the blissful enjoyments that never shall end."—No. 732. The Apocryphal “ Acts of Philip," speaks in exact conformity with these hymns. After describing the death of the apostle, it tells us that, “ There was straightway a voice out of the heavens : Philip the apostle has been crowned with an incorruptible crown by Jesus Christ, the Judge of the contest."

We have thus seen, both from the natural force of the expression “to be with Christ," and from the general consent of our opponents, that the idea that the departed “are with the Lord ” in the intermediate state signifies that they then see God and His Son, and are with the angels in heaven, and are possessed of an amount of knowledge altogether beyond what they were possessed of here, and have received the reward of their faith and obedience in the earthly life, and are crowned with the crown of life, and are placed in the state of glory; let us now proceed as briefly as we can to see whether such a description of believers in the intermediate state is at all compatible with what Scripture teaches ; not in one or two passages, but in numerous passages everywhere found throughout its pages.

And here perhaps it will be well to note, before our examination of Scripture, that this glorious view of the believer in the intermediate state which we have spoken of, and which must needs be true if, in that state, they are “with Christ,” is utterly rejected as unscriptural and untrue by very many writers of the highest character, and who do not by any means agree with us in our view of the unconscious state of the dead. Many of those who are commonly called “orthodox" reject, just as much as we, the idea of the dead conveyed by the expression “ being with Christ.” While they hold that the departed are in a con. dition of life, they reject the idea of the glory of that condition.

It is quite plain that at the very basis of this view of the condition of the departed must lie the belief that they are with Christ where He now is, i.e., in heaven. Without now examining into the opinions of modern divines, many of whom, possessed of the highest authority, we could quote as of our opinion, let us see what view was taken generally in the early Church of the opinion that the departed were, during the intermediate state, in a glorious condition and in heaven.

HENRY CONSTABLE. (To be continued.)

219

[ocr errors]

I .

WHO ARE "THE SEALED" ONES? HAVE been much paired by Mr. N. Starkey's paper in the February

issue of the RAINBOW on the sealing of the 144,000 (Rev. vii., xiv). I have followed him with interest and profit in his different papers, and feel thankful for the measure of truth which he has been enabled to give us through your paper. “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good,” is the advice (not to say command) which I endeavour to follow, weighing each doubtful sentence in the balance of the sanctuary, and accepting or rejecting accordingly.

That glorious Book of Revelation has been a study of mine for nearly thirty years, and during that time I have gone through a good deal of the literature of the different schools on its teachings. I have also been privileged for some twenty years to speak frequently in public on its precious themes.

In the first place, I am surprised that Mr. Starkey contradicts himself. In the January number he says, in proof that he is a Futurist, “I contend that the vision shown to John in Patmos, as recorded in Rev. iv. and v., has not yet been fulfilled, that the tenth verse of chapter V. shows it to be post-resurrection and pre-millennial; that the elders are seen sitting clothed and crowned, but have not yet begun their reign on earth. Therefore, the book is still untaken, and hence not one of its seals yet broken." Now to all this I say, as a Futurist, Amen! (though allowing the Preterist view may be so far a correct one, when used typically.)

But in the paper of February, after quoting three or four passages from Paul's Epistles to the Churches, he says, “Only in the light of these Scriptures ( and such as these I take him to mean) can we understand who are the tribes of the children of Israel in Rev. vii. 4." Here our difference of thought commences. To a Futurist what possible connection can these quotations from the Epistles have with chaps. iv. v. or vii. of Revelation ? I can see how they suit the Preterist when so used, but Mr. S. has puzzled me much by so using them as a Futurist. I had always thought that those to and of whom the apostle wrote in the passages quoted, would be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, as Jesus promised in Luke xxi. 36 (at least all found watching unto prayer, and, therefore, worthy), before the facts of the seventh chapter of Revelation come into view at all, or even the matters of the fourth and fifth chapters; and I shall fall back upon our brother's own quotations from these chapters in proof of it. I think, as believers in conditional immortality, we are shut up to the conclusion that the Church and body of Christ are still upon the earth, or under it; part awake, part asleep, but all waiting till He shall fulfil to us His exceeding great and precious promise, “I will come again and receive you unto myself.” And 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17, gives us the details of this removal and reception. But after this, where is she to whom the promise was made ? Yes, where but with Him who said, “That where I am there ye may be also ;” or, as in John xvii

. 24, where the same yearning over us, as the objects of His love, is expressed to the Father Himself: " Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Mo be with me where I am, that they may behold My glory."

evermore.

ber song.

And now in Rev. iv., what is the first thing introduced to us, after the Lord and His glorious throne ? Is it not the Church ? Earth's lost ones, but God's gathered out ones; now gathered up also into His own presence, and glorified with the Promiser seated on thrones wearing crowns. And in v. 9, 10, chanting the praises of Him who brought them there, and yet expecting more; for they say, “ We shall reign on the earth.' Pre-millennial this must be; post-resurrection it also must be; because only through resurrection, or its equivalent and promised) change, could they have come there. For they were all mortal. But, " Because I live ye shall live also,” has been verified to them, and now, Rev. iv. 4, is reached. Behold He, the Promiser, and they to whom the promise and for whom the prayer were made, have received the former, and the Father's full answer to the latter, and are with Him, alive for

Oh, what an ecstatic moment ! How will it cause us to forget all the sorrows of the way through which it has been reached !

Mr. Starkey says : “ The book of chapter v. has not been taken, and hence not one of its seals yet broken.” True, brother; for when that is done, you and I must be there to seo it, and to rejoice over its being done (if found worthy) (Luke xxi. 36). Why, it is the taking of the book, seen by the assembled and glorified Church, which gives rise to

For she sings, “ Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; and then assigns the reason, “For Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood, out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.” Yes, His loved ones must be there, and share with Him His glory, when He opens the title-deeds and claims the inheritance.

But where in any of his Epistles does Paul, or indeed any of the apostles, speak of the present gathering, Church, or body of Christ as being tribal in form, character, or manifestation ? I know of no such passages, and Mr. Starkey's quotations, upon which he makes so much to depend, saying, Only in the light of these New Testament Scriptures can we understand who are the tribes of the children of Israel in Rev. vii. 4" (the italics are mine) prove to me the very opposite, viz., that they who previously had a tribal character and position, lose it at once by receiving and putting on Christ. For " There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus ” (Gal. iii. 28). To my mind this passage is fatal to our brother's theory. But he quotes another passage which I think is equally so; it is Acts xv. 14-16. “How God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His Name; and, “ After this” (more literally, these things) “ I will return and build again the tabernacle of David.” Mr. Starkey says after this age. True, it will be after this age, but is that the point referred to in the context ? Surely not; but has more direct reference to God's work during the age than to the age itself, and tells us emphatically why He has visited the Gentiles; even to take out of them a people for His Name; not to the exclusion of the Jew individually, certainly; but the moment the Jew, as such, comes on to the foundation, Christ (as Mr. Starkey very truly, but inconsistently with his other arguments, says) he loses his former relationship and becomes a Christian.

As the past was emphatically the Jewish age, notwithstanding a few

[ocr errors]

proselytes from the Gentiles, so is the present as emphatically the Gentile age, notwithstanding the few thousands of Jews connected with them. And, therefore, we read, “To take out of them " (the Gentiles) “ a people for His Name.” Now the people so taken out are also to bé taken up before the fearful ordeal of judgment break upon the world.

The beginning of these things they may, nay, they will see. This I am led to be sure of from our Lord's words, as in Luke xxi. 28, where He says, “ When yo see all these things begin to come to pass.” (What things, if not those just narrated by Him in verses 25-27 ?) " Then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh,” and in inmediate connection shows who shall be so delivered (See verse 86).

But to see the beginning, and the beginning only, of these terrible things will be the portion of those counted worthy to escape, who follow His counsel, and are found watching unto prayer in the midst of a worldly Church, and a distracted world, calmly and patiently looking for their blessed hope (Titus ii. 13). And how very near may this be ? Do we not see these very words of Jesus : “ Distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear ? " Do we not see Paul's prophecy before our eyes (2 Tim. iii. 1-5; iv. 3.4) as to the present position and character of the Church? Do we not seo her Laodicean state as depicted in Rev. iii. 14-17? Who will say in the face of these Scriptures and our present surroundings, “ The Lord delayeth His coming.” The escaping of the faithful will also be the rejection of all else for the time being.

The age is closed when the Church is gone. We next see her in Rev. iv. in the heavenlies. How Mr. Starkey sees the 144,000 of chap. vii. to have any part in the immediate glory of the Church I cannot conceive. He takes a preterist view of the chapter, and spiritualises or explains away the whole matter. This certainly is what he has done. Why do we require passages from Paul's epistles to throw light on the tribes of the children of Israel mentioned in Rev. vii. 4 ? If the Word is only allowed to mean what it says, and to say what it means, Israel is Israel, and the tribes the distinctive tribes thereof, and never should be mixed up with the present gathering of the body and Church of Christ. Our brother seems to feel a difficulty here, when he asks objectors, “ Where? when? how ? as to time, space, or place, could such a work of evangelisation take place among literal Jews as to convert 144,000, and especially twelve thousand of each tribe ? ” That unhappy word could is clearly indicative of difficulty, and the words “ especially twelve thousand of each tribe " also present evident thoughts of difficulty. But why should perplexity arise ? Is the definiteness of number not a sufficient guide to show us it cannot be the Church in symbol, but must be the literal Jew ? Taken to mean what it says, viz., that God will literally seal 144,000 of the twelve tribes of Israel preparatory to judgment about to be displayed around them, and for their preservation therefrom. There appears no difficulty, and a reference to Num. xxiii. 19, Isaiah xlvi. 11, or our Lord's own word in Mark x. 27, will help to strengthen us on this point.

Our brother may object to my use of the word literal, and say it is not in the passage. I admit it, but these words are in verse 4, “ of all the tribes of the children of Israel," and I challenge proof where such

a

language is once used as applicable to the present gathering or Church of Christ. I think these difficulties yanish at once if we allow Rev. vii. to stand as to time and place, where the author of the Word has put it. As one of the opening scenes of the coming age, a number of reasons, and, I think, incontrovertible ones, can be assigned in proof of this. First, the sealing in the forehead, taken as a literal fact, is seen in chap. ix. 4 to preserve certain persons from the judgments surrounding them, and which fall by special command upon those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads, A different kind of sealing altogether, in my judgment, from the sealing of the Church in the present age, and one which ought never to be confounded with it. (See 2 Cor. i. 22, and Eph. i. 13.)

Again, our brother's ventured suggestion that the 144,000 of Rev. vii. 4 are not identical with the same number in Rev. xiv. 1, the former representing the bride on earth, militant, and incomplete; the latter, the bride triumphant, complete, and in heaven, with his added suggestion that the latter number may mean not thousand, but thousand thousands. The whole of these ventured suggestions I feel called upon to challenge as not being in harmony with the context, and to say I am sorry, for the truth's sake, they should have been ventured, feeling at the same time that our brother has done so with the best intention; but to alter the Word, or suggest an alteration without very sound reasons, is a very serious matter. I see the theory requires it, or something of the kind; but this only proves that the theory is wrong. Let the word be its own interpreter, and all is clear, plain, simple, and easily understood. The 144,000 are evidently the Jewish first fruit of the new age, which period is not entered upon till the removal of the Church, and, therefore, cannot be the Church or Body of Christ as Mr. Starkey thinks. The Psalmist even seems to have seen this prophetically (1. 3-6). First, the gathering of the Lord's saints to Himself, and then the age of judgment and righteousness. In the past age it was Jew and Gentile; but since the day of Pentecost it has been Jew, Gentile, and Church of God. The removal of the latter closes this Gentile age, and leaves again Jew and Gentile only, and the thread of Jewish history is united where it was broken, and by Him who broke it (Acts xv. 14-18; Rom. xi. 25-29). If our friend has still a difficulty as to the gathering out, 80 early, of so large a number of literal Israel to the Lord's side, I would remind him of the prophet who exclaimed, “I only am left;" but to whom the Lord replied, “ I have 7,000 men you know nothing about," and, indeed, Paul's quotation of this in Rom. xi. seems almost to point to this very Scripture (Rev. vii. 4) when he speaks of an election of grace, especially verse 7. Out of the ten or twelve millions of Jews now existing, is it difficult to think of 144,000 being honest, God-serving, God-fearing persons, so far as they have attained

to know, or been taught His will, not knowing or believing what we do, and therefore not of the Church, yet, like Cornelius, serving God according to their know. ledge, and therefore at that time accepted and acknowledged of Him. The stiff, proud Jewish mind of Peter learned much that day he went down to the house of Cornelius (Acts x. 34, 35), where he exclaims, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of

« AnteriorContinuar »