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from an invisible world to elevate the whole human race, and restore them to communion with God. Your Messiah is expected to triumph, as a Cæsar or Napoleon, over the bodies of the slaughtered, amid the groans of the dying, and the tears of the widow and the orphan; ours shall mount to universal dominion by subduing the heart, and by changing the sword into the ploughshare, and banishing tears and grief for ever. Which is most glorious? Yours is compatible with all the lion passions of the heart; ours is only compatible with the conquest of self, with pure motives, and a holy life. Which is most Which is most worthy of an immortal-which yields most praise to God ?"*
It is not my present purpose to inquire how far this is an accurate representation of the opinions of such Jews (if there be any such) as believe Moses and the prophets. I quote the passage because I apprehend that it expresses the difference which is very generally supposed to exist between two classes of Christian interpreters the spiritual and the literal. In reference to the first Advent of the Messiah, there is no difference among Christian interpreters in this respect. All understand the prophecies literally. But in reference to His second Advent, those who advocate a similarly
* Townsend's Arrangement of the New Testament. Edit. 3. Introduction-pp. lxxviii. and lxxiv.
literal interpretation, are too often spoken and written against as if they anticipated a being fit for this earth alone in its present fallen state; a mere mortal conqueror like Cæsar or Napoleon, whose character is compatible with the indulgence of all the lion passions of the heart.
Nothing, however, can be more remote from our anticipations. We do, indeed, expect a Messiah fit for earth; but it shall be that new earth which God hath promised, and “wherein dwelleth righteousness. And we do believe that the new earth so promised, and so described, is not some other region in space, or some other planet created for the purpose, but this planet renewed; that is, restored from all the accursed consequences of the sin of the first Adam, and made the everlasting abode of that most glorious manifestation of God which is given in the human nature of the second Adam, Jesus Christ our Lord, and in the members of His mystical body raised and transformed into His perfect likeness, both body and soul. We do, indeed, expect a conquering Messiah; and as the result of His conquests, we anticipate the fulfilment of that glorious prediction, "The kingdoms of this world" (for His kingdom will then be on earth) "are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his anointed; and he shall reign for ever and ever."*
* Rev. xi. 15.
"To maintain the contrary supposition is surely to destroy the consistency of the scheme of revelation, and to render void the most solemn declarations of Jehovah. If, according to the prevalent opinion, this material world be doomed to destruction and not to renovation; if Christ shall come only as a mighty judge, to hold a last assize, to separate the righteous from the wicked, and then to annihilate the globe on which the career of guilt has been achieved, will not the bright promises of creative power to man be blighted and defaced? Will not a boast of dreadful blasphemy console the host of hell? And when they mark the EARTH, encircled by the burning flame which now blazons forth its doom of death to higher abodes; and when they shall contrast the fearful scene with that quiet home of heavenly eulogy, in which the morning stars sang together, and the sons of GOD shouted for joy,' will they not rejoice in the strength of their misrule, and find a recompense for rebellion in the successful wreck of a fair and beauteous world? ...
"It may confirm the view here given of the future, to inquire into the nature of that felicity which our Lord himself has taught us to expect. It would be natural to suppose, that in the selection of blessings, which He condescended to make the subject of our prayers to God, the consummation of
His own work of mercy would find a marked place. The supposition is consistent with the fact. He has concentrated a prayer for the completion of His own work in the two remarkable expressions, 'Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on EARTH as in heaven.' If we lay aside the prepossessions of education, shall we refuse to admit that our Lord here bounds our view to this scene of earth? In heaven, that is, in the other regions of the universe of God, His will is already done: but here we are surrounded with a scene of rebellion, anarchy, and sorrow. Does He then teach us to pray for a translation from this unquiet land to another and distant orb? He puts no such request within our lips He directs us to pray for the establishment of His kingdom, and this kingdom appears to belong exclusively to this material earth. Thy will be done in earth, as in heaven.' Is not the inference twofold, first, that the earth is the theatre of His kingdom; and, secondly, that conformity to His will is the absolute enjoyment of heaven? and that no loftier supplication can be associated with our thoughts than that the hallowed sceptre should be replaced in human hands, even in the hand of the mighty Antitype,' the second Adam, the Lord from heaven.'
"I ask, then, the Christian reader, if it be not our duty to call away our minds from human opinions;
from the influence even of great names; from popular belief, however ancient; from theories, however venerable; from the prescriptive applause of centuries; from the vague and indistinct ritual of education; and to take our firm, courageous, and patient stand upon the plain, grammatical, unwarped text of Scripture, the clear and lucid decisions of Eternal Wisdom and Truth.
"That wondrous volume, the charter of human hope, the anchor of human faith, affords instruction definite, and expectations precise. Jesus Christ is linked to our world by ties less fragile than those which human theology has framed. Surely He will COME AGAIN, and exhibit those ties in all their beauty and in all their strength.”*
IV. The Jewish nation occupies a very distinguished feature in the history of the world; and it is no slight argument in favour of the literal interpretation of unfulfilled prophecy, that while that nation presents an unmanageable difficulty to others, it forms one of our strongholds. Some interpreters seem scarcely aware of the inconsistency they incur, by allowing a literal interpretation of the prophecies respecting the dispersion of the Jews, while they refuse to admit a similarly literal interpretation of the prophecies respecting the re
* Prospects of the Christian Church, by the Hon. and Rev. G. T. Noel, pp. 24-27.