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Remarks on some Passages in the First, Second, and Third
Chapters of the Acts of the Apostles."
We are told, in the Acts of the Holy Apostles, that our blessed Lord, during the “ forty days” between his Fesurrection and ascension, when he occasionally appeared to his disciples, “ spake of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” We may, however, fairly conclude, that nothing had transpired in these his last instructions, to alter, in the minds of his followers, those views of the final establishment of the kingdom of Messiah -- to reign at Jerusalem and unto the end of the earth - which, with all the Jews, they had received from the perusal of the Old Testament: for “ when they were come together," to witness his ascension,
“ They asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou, at this time, restore the kingdom unto Israel ?"
This question takes for granted that such an event was to happen. They question their divine Master, not as to the fact, but as to the time. His answer, too, admits the justness of their expectations, but checks their inquiries as to the period :
“ It is not for you to know the times and seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”
The appointment of the kingdom to our Lord and Saviour is ever considered as the gift of the Father, to
reward the merits of his only begotten Son, become the Son of Man, and destined to share the glory thus acquired with all his brethren, “ the children whom God hath given him.” He, therefore, represents himself as waiting, at the head of his adopted family, the Father's pleasure concerning the kingdom, while, as their great Mediator, he offers up the prayers of his people for its coming.
It belongs to our subject, also, to notice the declaration of the angels, at the time of the Redeemer's ascension :
“ While they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight: and while they looked steadfastly towards heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, – which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
These celestial visitants evidently speak to the disciples as representatives of the church of God upon earth. They themselves, as individuals in the flesh, would not see him come again on the earth, -- they would “ die, not having received the promise;" but the church is still to keep up the expectation of her Redeemer's coming — of his personal appearance in the clouds of heaven, as the ancient prophets and himself had said.
Compare with this St. Peter's address to the Jews after the day of Pentecost:
“ Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be b!otted out when the times of refreshing shall come," —
Lord, in the days of his flesh, spake of being with his disciples in his Father's kingdom.
It is the Father's kingdom with respect to glorified saints; it is “ the kingdom of his Christ” with respect to the world below; where He, having “ put down all rule, and all authority, and power,” receives, as the Son of Man, “ dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him : his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
27. “ For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that He is excepted that did put all things under him: and when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also be subject unto Him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
apostle here quotes from the eighth Psalm, and comments
it: “ Thou hast placed all things under his feet.” The subject of that psalm is certainly the exaltation of the manhood, first in the person of the Lord, and then in the persons of all his redeemed, to the head of all created nature.
When I behold the heavens, the work of thy fingers,
It appears, from another comment upon this psalm, in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, “ that the Holy Ghost is not speaking of the station which the first man, Adam, was made to assume, at his creation, over the inferior animals; but that he is speaking of the second man, the Lord from heaven - of his taking our nature upon him, and so becoming inferior for a short time, as to that nature, to “ the thrones, and principalities, and powers,” whom his own hand had made, and whom guilty men were worshipping as gods. Lower than the angels was he, as man : lower than the good angels, for they were employed to protect his feeble humanity, and appeared to strengthen him; lower than the bad angels, for they continually harassed him in his path, and, in their permitted hour, were suffered to triumph in his death. In
consequence, however, of his meritorious obedience,
the Son of Man,” he was in that nature to be exalted far above all intellectual beings; and, in his rise, was to exalt to the same eminence the humble objects of his redemption : "For unto the angels," says the apostle, “ he hath not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak: but one, in a certain place, testifieth, saying, What is man,” &c. &c. After quoting the passage, he continues : “For in that he put all in subjection under him; he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him: but we see Jesus, who was made, for a little while, lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that he, by the grace of God, should taste of death for everyone.' For it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation
others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
As surely as Christ has died, and is risen again, that he might be the Lord both of the quick and of the dead, so surely, shall God bring with him — with the great Redeemer when he returns again on the earth, those that sleep in him : the believing dead, who - as to their bodies, sleep in the dust of the earth - as to their spirits, rest in Paradise, waiting, in incipient happiness and undisturbed repose, the coming of the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
“ For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, That we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep."
The apostle says this by express revelation and command of Christ. We notice in this place, again, the peculiar style which the Scripture very generally uses concerning the second advent. It views the church as one and the same waiting family, commanded to watch in constant expectation of its Master's return. Many members of this family, it is true, will die, and be numbered with those that sleep in Jesus, ere the coming of the Lord draws near; but they are equally interested in the approach of that day with the living members of the church that shall then exist on earth : nay, those that are alive and remain to the coming of our Lord will not “ prevent," " anticipate,” or “ be beforehand with,” those that are asleep — God will bring them with Christ. It even appears, from what follows, that they anticipate rather, in the glorious resurrection, those that are on earth :