The Second Coming of Christ

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THIS evening I am going to speak of the coming of Christ. Many questions link themselves with this great one, as for instance, the reign of Antichrist. But I shall limit myself this evening to the event itself-namely, the coming of the Lord.
I began by reading Acts 1 because the promise of the Lord's return is there set forth as the alone hope of the church, as the first object which would of necessity fix the attention of the disciples, when they were vainly following with their eyes the ascending Savior, who was going to be hidden in God. In this chapter, just as the Lord was about to leave them, three remarkable features appear. The first is, that the disciples desired to know when and how God would restore the kingdom of Israel. Now Jesus did not say that this was never to happen; He only said, that the time of this restoration is not revealed. It belonged to times and seasons which the Father has put in His own power. The second is, that the Holy Ghost was about to come; and the third, that during the time the disciples were looking towards heaven, two angels said to them, " Why stand ye here 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."
They were, then, to expect the return of Christ.
If we study the history of the church, we shall find it to have declined in spirituality exactly in proportion as this doctrine of the expectation of the Savior's return had been lost sight of. In forgetting this truth it has become weak and worldly. Not, however, wishing to quit the sphere of the word, let us see therein how the feeling of the return of Christ ruled the intelligence, sustained the hope, inspired the conduct, of the apostles. We have only to this end to look through a few passages of the New Testament.
Acts 3:19-2119Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19‑21). Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come [or " so that the times of refreshing may come 1 from the presence of the Lord...." The Holy Spirit is come; He has remained with the church; but the times of refreshing will come " from the presence of the Lord when he shall send Jesus." It is impossible to apply this passage to the Holy Ghost, because He was already, at that time, come down, and had said by the mouth of the apostle, " Whom the heaven must receive till the times of restitution of all things." And, in truth, the Holy Spirit has not restored all things. He who is to come, according to this passage, is not to come to judge the dead, nor that the world may be burnt up and destroyed; but it is specially for the restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets."
I cite these passages to make you comprehend what I understand by the coming of the Savior. It is not the judgment of the dead; it is not the great white throne; but it is the return of Jesus Christ in Person, when He shall be sent from heaven. If you compare these verses with what is written in Rev. 20 you will see that the coming of Jesus Christ, and the judgment of the dead, are two distinct events; that when the judgment of the dead takes place, there is not a word about Christ returning from heaven upon the earth; for it is said, " From whose face the earth and the heavens fled away," v. II.
The Lord will return to the earth.
Let us now see how Himself first, then the Holy Ghost by the apostles, have constantly directed our attention to His personal return.
Matt. 24:27-3327For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. 29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (Matthew 24:27‑33). " Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory." Certainly the expedition of Titus against Jerusalem was not the coming of the Savior in the clouds of heaven. Neither is this a description of the judgment of the dead before the tribunal of the great white throne. At that time the earth is no more, whilst in the passage just cited the nations of the earth are brought before us, and it is a question of an event in which the earth is concerned. " Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn." It is not a millennium brought about by the exercise of the power of the Holy Ghost. The world has never seen the Holy Ghost. We are told that the tribes of the earth shall lament when they see the Lord Jesus (v. 33). " So likewise ye, when ye see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."
Verses 42-51. The faithfulness of the church is made to hinge on its watchfulness as regards this truth of the return of Christ. From the moment that it was said, " My lord delayeth his coming," " then the servant began to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken." " Therefore be ye also ready," said Jesus, " for the Son of man [not death] cometh."
Matt. 25:1-131Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 25:1‑13). The expectation of the return of Christ is the exact measure (the thermometer, so to speak) of the life of the church. As the servant became unfaithful the moment he had said, " My lord delayeth his coming," so it was with the ten virgins, for it is said, they all slept. It was not death, nor the Holy Spirit, that the ten virgins were told to expect; for neither death nor the Holy Spirit is the Bridegroom. All the virgins were found in the same state; the wise ones (the true saints) as well as the foolish ones, who wanted the oil of the Holy Spirit, slept and forgot the immediate return of Christ, as, on the other hand, what wakes them up is the midnight cry that He is coming.
In Mark 13 we get nearly the same thing. Verse 26 forbids us to apply the passage to the invasion of the Romans;1 and when it is said (v. 22), " It is nigh, even at the doors," there is no thought about the judgment of the dead, nor of the great white throne. At that day, the day of the judgment before the great white throne, there will be no question either of house or household.
Four passages only are to be found in the New Testament which speak of the joy of the departed soul. The first occasion is when the thief said to the Lord (Luke 23:42, 4342And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:42‑43)), " Remember me when thou comest into [in] thy kingdom." It was about the coming of Jesus in glory that his thoughts were occupied-a truth which was familiar to the Jews. The Lord replied to him, " To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." The second case is that of Stephen, who said (Acts 7:5959And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. (Acts 7:59)), " Lord Jesus, receive my spirit "; the third, when Paul said, " To be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord " (2 Cor. 5:88We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)); the fourth, " For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better," Phil. 1:22, 2322But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: (Philippians 1:22‑23). In truth, it is far better to expect the glory, present with Christ, than to remain here below: not that we go to glory when we depart, but we are quit of sin, out of the reach of it, and we enjoy the Lord apart from it. Yes, it is a state far better, but it is also one of expectation, like that in which Christ is Himself placed, sitting at the right hand of the Father, expecting that which is to come.
Luke 12:3232Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32). " Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning." Here we find again (circumstantially different) the parable of the unfaithful servant; only the Lord adds, " That servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself [what a picture of Christendom!] shall be beaten with many stripes; but he who knew not [the pagans],... shall be beaten with few stripes." All shall be judged; but Christendom is in a state worse than that of the Jews or pagans, inasmuch as it has had more advantages.
Luke 17:3030Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (Luke 17:30). " Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed."
Luke 21:2727And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. (Luke 21:27). " Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." The fig-tree of which the Savior speaks on this occasion, is especially the symbol of the Jewish nation. " Watch therefore," He adds, " that ye may stand before the Son of man." These two chapters, namely, Luke 17 and 21, as well as Matt. 24 and Mark 13, relate to the coming of the Lord connected with the Jews- its earthly bearing. To these may be added Luke 19, where the servants who are called, and the enemies who rejected the nobleman, clearly mark the servants of Christ, and the Jewish nation. See particularly verses 12, 13, 27.
John 14:22In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2). " In my Father's house are many mansions.... And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself." The Lord Himself will come for His church, in order that the church may be there, where He is.
Acts 1: II. " This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner."
Acts 3. This is the preaching of the apostle to the Jews: Repent, and Jesus will return. You have killed the Prince of life; you have denied the Holy One and the Just; God has raised Him from the dead. Repent, be converted, and He will return. But they would not repent. During three years He had vainly sought fruit from His fig-tree. The husbandmen, on the contrary, killed the Son of Him who had placed them in His vineyard. The Son of God, Jesus, asked pardon for them on the cross, whence His voice is all-powerful, in saying, " Forgive them, for they know not what they do." The Holy Ghost, by the mouth of the apostle, answers to the intercession of Jesus, " I wot that through ignorance ye did it.... Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." But we know they continued to resist the Holy Ghost; Acts 7:5151Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (Acts 7:51).
Acts 3: zo, 21. " And he shall send Jesus Christ... whom the heavens must receive until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."
This is the great end of all the counsels of God. As we have before seen'the secret of His will, that God would gather together all things in Christ, we find here what He has spoken of by the mouth of all His holy prophets: that is, the earthly part. How are all these things to be accomplished? Is it by the operation of the Holy Spirit? No, for it is said that " he shall send Jesus." It is, doubtless, true that the Holy Ghost will be shed abroad, and He will be so specially upon the Jews; but in the passage quoted the event is to take place by the presence of Jesus. There cannot be a revelation more explicit, than that it is by the sending of Jesus, that the things spoken of by the prophets will receive their accomplishment. How can the force and simplicity of this declaration be evaded?
We see the fall, the ruin, of man; we see even all creation subjected to corruption. The bride desires that the Bridegroom may appear. It is not the Holy Spirit who will re-establish the creation, and who is the inheritor of all things; it is Jesus. When Jesus appears in His glory, the world will behold Him, whilst it cannot see the Holy Ghost.
" At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow." The work of the Holy Spirit is not to re-establish all things here below, but to announce Jesus who will return. Again, it is the Holy Spirit who was in Peter, when he said, " Whom the heavens must receive till the time of the restitution." Receive whom? Not the Holy Ghost (He was descended from heaven already), but Jesus; and all we have to do is to believe.
Let us now turn to the epistles, in order to be shown that the coming of the Lord is the constant and living expectation of the church. We see, on referring to Rom. 8:19-2219For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (Romans 8:19‑22), all creation in suspense until the moment of His appearing. Compare John 14: i, 3; Col. 3:1-41If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1‑4). Again (1 Cor. 1:77So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: (1 Corinthians 1:7)), " Ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ "; and Eph. 1:1010That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 1:10), on which we have already spoken. Since at the last judgment the earth and the heavens will have passed away, it is before this time that God will gather together in one all things in Christ.
Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4). " When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."
The two epistles to the Thessalonians turn entirely on this subject. Everything in the first epistle has reference to the coming of Christ; all that Paul says of his work, or of his joy, belongs to it.
First of all, conversion itself is made to bear upon it (chap.
: o). The faithful of Thessalonica, who had served as models to those of Macedonia and Achaia, and whose faith was so spread abroad that the apostle had no need to say anything, " had turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." It is remarkable that this church, one of the most flourishing of those to which the apostles have written, should be precisely that one to which the Lord has chosen to reveal, with most detail, the circumstances of His coming. " The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him."
Such was the faith of the Thessalonians, that it was spoken of in all the world. What was it? That they expected the Lord from heaven. And it is for us to have this same faith which the Thessalonians had. We ought, like them, to be expecting the Lord before the thousand years. They were certainly not saying there must be a period of a thousand years ere the Savior comes (chap. 2: 19). " For what is our hope? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?"
Chapter 3: 13. " To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." It is evidently the ruling idea influencing the mind of the apostle.
Chapter 4: 13-18. It is remarkable that the consolation which he gives to those who surrounded the death-bed of a Christian, is their friend's return with Jesus, and their mutual meeting. It is customary to say, " Be content: he is gone to glory." This was not the way with the apostle. The comfort which he proposes to those who are mourning the death of a believer is, " Be content: God will bring them back." What a change must not the habitual feelings of Christians have undergone, since the consolation given by an apostle is counted in this day as foolishness! The believers in Thessalonica were penetrated to such a degree with the hope of the return of Christ, that they did not think of dying before that event; and when one of them departed, his friends were afflicted with the fear that he would not be present at that happy moment. Paul reassures them by asserting that " those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." We can understand by this example to what a degree the church has put away the hope which occupied the souls of the first converts; how far distant we are from the apostolic views, which we have replaced by the idea of an intermediate state of happiness (the soul separated from the body),-a condition true, indeed, and by much superior to ours on the earth, but vague, and which at best is a state of waiting. Jesus Himself waits, and the dead saints wait.
I by no means desire to weaken the truth of this intermediate state of happiness. Thus the apostle speaks of it in 2 Cor. 5, " For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not that for we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life...." After declaring that his hope was in the power of the life of Christ, and that mortality should be swallowed up by it, he adds, " Therefore we are always confident; knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord," etc. That is, if this mortal body is not absorbed in life (is not changed without seeing death), the confidence which I have is not interrupted at death; I have already received the life of Christ in my soul-that cannot fail. It may be that I shall depart, but the life in my soul will not be affected. I have already the life of Christ: if I depart, I shall be with Him.
One more remark on 1 Thess. 4:15, 1715For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:15)
17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
: " We which are alive [those who shall be alive on the earth at the coming of the Lord] shall not prevent them which are asleep." " For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive (those who remain) shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
If the apostle had expected a millennium of the Holy Spirit before the coming of Jesus, how could he ever have said, " We who remain until the coming of Christ "? There was, then, in his soul, a continual expectation of the coming of Christ, of which he knew not the moment, but which he had a right to expect. Was he deceived in that? No, not at all: he was always expecting; his business was to do so; and waiting had this of good in it, that it kept him completely detached from the world. If we were expecting from day to day the coming of the Lord, where would all those plans be as to family, house, etc., to flatter the pride of life and to get rich? It is the nature of the hope which we have that forms our character; and when the Lord comes, Paul will enjoy the fruits of his waiting. The hope which animated him produced its good fruits; it was in the spirit of this hope that he exclaimed, " And I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Thess. 5:2323And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
i Thessalonians 5: 2-4. Mark well that this day ought not to overtake the followers of Christ as a thief.
2 Thess. 1:9, 10; 2:3-129Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2 Thessalonians 1:9‑10)
3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:3‑12)
. Instead of a world blessed with a millennium without the presence of Jesus, behold the man of sin growing worse, until he is destroyed by the glorious appearing of Christ-evidence to us that a mere spiritual millennium alone is untrue. For the mystery of iniquity, which was already working in the time of Paul, was to go on until the man of sin was manifested, who will be destroyed by the glorious appearing of Christ Himself, with the Spirit of His mouth. Now, in such a state of things where is the place for such a millennium?2
1 Tim. 6:14-1614That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:14‑16). " Keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen."
2 Tim. 4:13 “I charge thee, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, at his appearing and his kingdom."
2 Peter 1:16-2116For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:16‑21). " For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty; for he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came to him such a voice from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; and this voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation; for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
The transfiguration was, then, a specimen-a kind of pattern -of the coming of the Lord in glory.
1 John 3:2, 32Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:2‑3). " But we know that when he [the Son of God] shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." We shall only be like Him when He appears, not before. " And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." He whose heart is full of this hope conducts himself accordingly-he purifies himself. Knowing that when Jesus shall appear, I shall be like Him, I ought to be as much as possible, even now, such as Jesus. How powerful and efficacious is this truth of the return of Christ, and what practical effect flows out of its expectation! This hope is the measure of holiness to us, as it is the motive.4
Those also who are in heaven (Rev. 5: to) say in their songs, " We shall reign on the earth." This is the language of the saints who are already on high, surrounding the throne. Their language is, " We shall reign," and not " we reign." They are themselves in a state of expectation, like the Lord Jesus Himself, awaiting that which is to happen; namely, that His enemies be made the footstool for His feet.5
Study also (Matt. 13:24-4324Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. 31Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. 33Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. 34All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. 36Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:24‑43)) the parable of the tares and the wheat. The tares-namely, the evil which Satan has done where the good grain has been sown-are to increase until the harvest, which is the end of this dispensation or age. The evil which he has caused by heresies, false doctrines, false religions, all this evil will continue, increase, and ripen: these tares, we say, will increase in the Lord's field, until the harvest. Here, then, is a positive revelation, which gives a formal contradiction to the idea of the millennium by the Holy Spirit, apart from the return of the Lord.
We have now seen that the coming of Christ allies itself to all the thoughts, to all the motives of consolation and joy, and to the holiness of the church, yea, even to the dying bed; and that Christ will bring back with Him those who have previously quitted the body. We have also seen, on the one hand, that it is the coming of the Savior which will be the means of the restitution of all things; and on the other, that evil is to increase in the Lord's field until the harvest.
May the Lord apply these truths to our hearts, dear friends, on one side, to detach us from the things of the world, and, on the other, to attach us to His coming-to Himself in Person; and we shall purify ourselves even as He is pure. There is nothing more practical, nothing more powerful to disentangle us from a world which is to be judged, and at the same time to knit us to Him who will come to judge it. Certainly, there is nothing that can better serve to show us wherein ought to be our purification; nothing which can so console us, invigorate us, and identify us with Him who has suffered for us, in order that we who suffer might reign with Him, co-heirs in glory. Assuredly, if we were expecting the Lord from day to day, there would be seen in us a self-renunciation which is rarely seen among the Christians of the present age. May none of us be found saying, " My Lord delayeth his coming! "