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VIII.] and coming in His Kingdom. 253 tion of
power, the pledge and foretaste of that which was to come. " For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom ”—or, as it is in St. Luke,“ till they see the kingdom of God ,” or, in St. Mark,“ till they see the kingdom of God come with power 5.” And it came, in very deed, visibly with power, from the time when, amid the wrath which was poured on His enemies, the elder dispensation was brought to its end, and the everlasting kingdom, the “kingdom which cannot be moved,” was set up in the midst of the earth—the kingdom of Him whom Daniel “saw in the night visions,” and He “came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him; and there was given him 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 6."
3 Matt. xvi. 26–28.
3 Mark ix. 1.
Rev. viii. 5, 6.
“ And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the
altar, and cast it into the earth : and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”
We considered, in the last Lecture, the imagery of the sixth seal, and the description following upon it, which occupies the seventh chapter of the book of the Revelation. We saw that in the “great earthquake” described under that seal, with the fearful signs attending it,—the darkening of the sun and moon, the falling of the stars of heaven, the distress and terror of the inhabitants of the earth,-comparing the language there employed with other passages of prophetic Scripture, and, in particular, with our Blessed Lord's prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, we might recognize a vivid representation of that great crisis in the history of God's dispensations, when, by the overthrow of the Jewish economy, in awful judgment, He gave visible signs of the bringing in of that new kingdom which was henceforth to be the scene of His Providential The Christian Church gathered.
1 Preached Feb. 4, 1844.
agency, His works of power and grace. moval of that elder system, when now it had subserved its temporary purpose, and did but stand in the
way of that which was ready to be revealed in its more abiding form and its surpassing glory, was but the prelude of a general overthrow which was to involve in it all earthly power. But while yet those ministers of vengeance were withheld “to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,” a remnant was sealed of all the tribes of Israel, and a great multitude gathered, “of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues," to swell the song of praise continually offered in the spiritual, the heavenly temple. The great congregation of Christian worshippers being thus gathered together, there followed, in the seventh seal, what seemed a description of the holy worship of the Christian sanctuary, represented under imagery borrowed from the Jewish temple.
But first, on the opening of that seventh seal, there was a solemn pause." When he had opened
“ the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour ?." There is a reference here, perhaps, as some commentators have supposed, to the silence in the temple worship, when the priest went in to burn incense in the temple of the Lord, and meanwhile “the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense 3.” Or, perhaps,--since, in the vision before us, the description of the offering of the incense follows after “, -we are to understand this interval of silence as marking rather the entrance on a new scene in the unfolding
? Rev. viii. 1.
* Luke i. 9, 10. Vid. Hammond, Sir Isaac Newton, Low
4 Vv. 3, 4. Annot.
First days of the Church. [LECT. revelation of the Church's bistory; containing, at the same time, the promise of a short period to be granted her of peaceful enjoyment of her heavenly privileges, before her warfare was to begin'. “I saw,” says St. John, “the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth : and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound 6.”
If now we turn to the early records of the Christian Church, in the first days of her earthly history, we find a remarkable space, from the destruction of Jerusalem to the beginning of the second century, an interval of thirty years, in which the historian can scarcely find an event to record. A late learned writer on the early history of the Church has noticed it as a singular circumstance? And when we con
5 Or perhaps, with Bp. New- St. Peter and St. Paul ; and if ton, we may combine these in- we look from the date of their terpretations in one. See Dr. martyrdom (A.D. 67 or 68] to Todd's " Discourses on the the end of the century, we Apocalypse,” p. 129, note. have a period of at least thirty Vv. 2–6.
years, which must have been ? Burton's " Lectures on the eventful in the infancy of the Ecclesiastical History of the Church, but which in the pages First Century," p. 335. "There of ecclesiastical history is little
reasons for thinking that more than a blank.” Comp. few of the Apostles survived
ix.] Interval of peace and purity.
257 sider what are the things which, for the most partsuch is the nature of man-make the page of the Church's history most eventful, we shall see in this absence of material for the historian a proof of the purity and blessedness which then prevailed. The period in question coincides with that of the continuance on earth of the beloved disciple, the last of the Apostolic company, when his brethren, martyrs in “the great tribulation,” had now been taken to their rest: and it is the same period which the early ecclesiastical historians have marked as that during which the Church, as they tell us, retained her virgin purity, while St. John, and they who had learnt of him, still presided over the Churches, even to the days of Trajan 8. And the description given in the vision before us of the solemn offering of united prayer, “the prayers of all saints,” upon the golden altar from the angel's hand, seems to correspond with that picture of the Christian Church, and of the unity of its holy worship, which is given us in the epistles of Ignatius, who was bishop of the Church at Antioch for nearly forty years, including this precise period, namely, from the destruction of Jerusalem to the reign of the Emperor Trajan. Throughout his epistles we find him holding up to the disciples the pattern of Christian unity and perfection to be exhibited in each Church, under its chief minister,--its “angel,” in the language of St. John's vision”,—while the congregation of the faithful were found joining in one chorus of praise, “ with one mind and one mouth,” and sending up, from the Church's altar, to the throne of God
Hegesippus, ap. Euseb. H. E. iv. 22; ii. 32. Burton, Lectures, sup. cit. p. 383.
Comp. Rev. i. 20; i. 1. 8. 12, &c.