Page images
PDF
EPUB

is that everlasting punishment? It is “from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” The real misery of the lost will be removal from God, or distance from God : the deeper the distance, the greater the punitive influence of that removal ; while the opposite is, they that are Christ's increase in happiness the nearer they approach to Him. Hence, heaven is defined by the Saviour, “ Come unto me;" come under an attraction that brings you nearer me. Hell is defined by the Saviour, “ Depart from me;" go under an attraction that carries you away from me. In heaven there is a centripetal attraction, carrying the saint nearer to the infinitely distant centre; and the nearer he approaches, the happier he feels. In hell there is a centrifugal force, carrying off from that centre; and the farther he is removed, the deeper is the misery into which he plunges.

But I need not dwell upon that; I rather turn to the obverse of the picture : “When He shall come”— that is, personally come—“to be glorified in his saints.” How shall He be glorified in them? Whatever reflects Christ's character gives Him glory: we glorify Him by making Him known. Just as the dew-drops, to which the risen crowds at the resurrection are likened in the 110th Psalm, reflect in the morning the beams of the new-risen sun, so will Christians at that day reflect the pure splendour of that Sun of Righteousness, who comes with healing under his wings. And not only will they reflect his glory, or glorify him, but he will “be admired in all them that believe.” They will admire his beauty, the chief of ten thousand ; they will admire his love, they will admire his faithfulness; and what they will admire most will be, that so wrecked

and ruined creatures as men made themselves are lifted at that day to such a pitch of glory; and that, in order to glorify these shattered wrecks of a gigantic ruin, Jesus shed his precious blood, and redeemed them by that great price ; and hence their admiring songs throughout all eternity will be, “ Worthy is the Lamb to receive honour, and blessing, and glory, and thanksgiving, and power; for thou hast redeemed us by thy blood, and made us kings and priests unto God; and we shall reign with thee upon the earth.” Amen.

CHAPTER II.

MISAPPREHENSIONS CORRECTED THE APOSTASY-ITS BRANDS-ITS

SURE DESTRUCTION.

In the previous epistle, Paul had spoken to his Thessalonian Christian converts of the coming and presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; telling them that when the world should be crying, “Peace and safety," he should come upon them like a thief in the night; but that they, the children of light, were not in darkness, that that day should overtake them as a thief. Now, it appears that these Thessalonian Christians had misapprehended what the apostle had taught, and that they believed that the day of Christ, that he spoke of as soon to come, was really already come ; and that, somewhere in the midst of them and in the visible church, our blessed Lord had come down from heaven, and was visibly present. You will see that this is correct, from the way in which he begins this chapter. He beseeches them, by that blessed hope that he had taught them to cherish, that they should not be shaken in mind, or troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter, as that the day of Christ is at hand. The Greek word there is not the usual one translated “at hand;" where James' says, for instance, “ The coming of the Lord draweth nigh,” his words are, Ý Tapovola cylke ; but the Greek word used by Paul here is eveomyKEV vjuepa, which means, “ to be already realised, actually present, and standing in the midst of you.” This justifies the explanation I have given—that the Thessalonians thought that Christ's day, the Millennial day, was actually come, and Christ, the Sun of that Millennium, was actually present in the midst of them ; they were disturbed, all their ordinary avocations were interrupted, and they got into a state of excitement, neither expedient nor proper.

"As there is not any error vented, the maintainers whereof will not have somewhat to say in its defence, so the taking force of all they say for that end consisteth not in the solidity and truth of what they affirm, but in multitude of words, variety of seeming reasons, a fair flourish of specious pretexts, and in impudent, bold, and strong assertions, thereby holding up their reputation among their devoted followers (Acts viii. 9, 10), and ensnaring the simple, who hardly can put a difference betwixt pretext and reality, confident assertions and solid proofs (Rom. xvi. 18); for the maintainers of this error did boldly allege no fewer than three heads of most specious reasons, none whereof did prove the truth of their opinion, and therefore he forbids them to be shaken or troubled with any of them, ' neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as from us.'

“Perverse and obstinate seducers do often prove, in the end, blasphemous, and very atheists, in so far as (against the light of conscience) to dare to father their groundless untruths upon an immediate revelation from the God of truth; for those seducers pretended to immediate revelations from the Spirit to confirm their

error, wherein they could not but know themselves to be liars. Neither by spirit, saith he.

“As heretical spirits do usually prove most malapert and impudent in opposing themselves to most convincing evidences, if it were to outface an immediately inspired apostle ; so they are most untender of, and labour to trample upon, the reputation of all who do oppose them, though they be deservedly eminent for their graces, gifts, and station ; for those seducers do not only oppose themselves to Paul, an apostle, but also, because of his opposition to them, labour to disgrace him, while they allege he did contradict himself, and that they had a word spoken by him asserting that opinion for truth which he did now condemn, which is implied while he saith, “Be not troubled by word, as from us.'

“Heretical spirits and seducers do also often prove most irreligious, as choosing to shake the foundation of all religion, the authority of Scripture, by making one part thereof contradict another, rather than they should have nothing to say for their own credit and to defend their error; for it is implied that in this debate they opposed letter to letter, and scripture to scripture : "Nor by letter, as from us,' saith he.

“Satan's malice and man's impudence did come to that height as to endeavour the corrupting of Scripture, by wresting some parts of it from its genuine sense and meaning, and by forging false scriptures and giving them out for true, even while the apostles themselves were alive to contradict them. Which serveth to commend the watchful providence of God over Scripture, and his mercy toward us, in so far as all the attempts of Satan for that end have been hitherto

« PreviousContinue »