He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
(1) that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years; or
(2) that there are many advents of Christ besides that last glorious one of which the New Testament says so much.
In support of this it is to be noted that the prophecies of this book, as other prophecies, refer to classes of events, and not exclusively to any one event. Hence, wherever there is like conduct, whether good or evil, there will be like recompense. Persecuting governments, and religions upholding them, will bring down on themselves Divine judgments. Such conditions of things were present when St. John wrote, and the punishment of them was speeding on to its fulfilment. So we prefer to understand the words of our text. Now, of the comings of Christ there are four, though not to all of them can the "quickly" of the text be applied, except on the principle first named above, and which St. Peter teaches us.
I. TO PUNISH NOTORIOUS WRONG. The destruction of Jerusalem was then, when St. John wrote, nigh at hand. The overthrow of the persecuting, pagan Roman empire was not far off; and, again and again, in the judgments that have befallen nations and wicked rulers and Churches, of which the records of history tell so much, may be seen fulfilments of this word. And without any vindictive spirit, from pure love of truth and righteousness, and from concern for human well being, the faithful Church has responded, and will respond, to the announcement of Christ's advent for this end: "Amen. Even so," etc. What a solemn reminder does this give to those who, in daring, presumptuous way, sin against God! In the midst of their proud defiance of the Lord, he may - it is likely that he will - come and judge them for their sins.
II. TO REIGN ON EARTH. That he will thus come the Scripture statements plainly declare. And these statements are very numerous. This coming of the Lord is perpetually referred to in the New Testament, and is predicted likewise in the Old Testament. No doubt the apostles believed it would be in their time. The Lord had not said it would not, and hoping that it might - their wish becoming father to their thought - they spoke and wrote as if it would. We are distinctly forbidden to look to them for information as to the date of this advent, for the Lord said to them, "It is not for you to know." Therefore any words of theirs that seem to imply, as they do, the speedy coming of Christ, are to be read with this remembrance, that it was not given to them to speak authoritatively on this matter. And in the later Epistles it is evident that their earlier thoughts had become modified, and they had learnt to contemplate as probable the fact that the Lord's advent would not be in their time; and hence they give directions for the ordering of the Church after they are gone (cf. Second Epistle to Timothy, etc.). And the declarations concerning our Lord's advent to reign on earth are to be understood literally. Many, no doubt, affirm that they are to be all interpreted of a spiritual reign, and to be explained as figures, metaphors, and the like. But we have a principle of interpretation laid down for us in the predictions concerning our Lord's first advent. What was there said of him literally came to pass. A large part of the gospel history may be compiled from those ancient prophecies which told of what literally came true in the life and death of our Lord. The Scriptures were fulfilled in him in no figurative, but in a literal sense. So was it, and, therefore, we believe, so will it be. And when we think of what is involved in the coming of our Lord to reign - of glory to God, of good to man - how can the Church do otherwise than say, "Amen. Even so," etc.?
III. TO RECEIVE US UNTO HIMSELF. For death is for us practically a coming of the Lord. We go to be with him; he comes to receive us. And this, at the furthest, will be "quickly." "Brief life is here our portion." Few and evil are the days of our pilgrimage. And to this coming the believer assents. Not from any fretful longing to have done with this life - such longing is always more or less morbid, though explicable and excusable under the distressing circumstances in which it is felt and uttered - but to Christians, as to others, life is and should be sweet, precious, clung to. But his "Amen" here is that of submission, of cheerful assent and acquiescence to the Lord's will. For him death has no terrors, but is the entrance on eternal joy. Nevertheless, the ties of earth, the claims and needs of those we love, are many and strong, and therefore for their sake life is precious. Otherwise death has no sting.
IV. TO JUDGE THE WORLD. This is not the same as his coming to reign. Then he shall come for his saints, but in this last advent he shall come with them. Then shall the great white throne be set up, then shall be gathered all nations, and then the final judgment take place. And this, too, for each one of us, comes "quickly." For after death it virtually takes place. We each go to our "own place." But can we each one say concerning this coming of the Lord, "Amen. Even so," etc.? - S.C.
He which testifieth these things, saith, surely I come quickly.I. SOME OF THE GREAT EVENTS WHICH WILL MOST UNQUESTIONABLY TAKE PLACE AT OUR SAVIOUR'S SECOND APPEARANCE.
1. He will come again with inexpressible dignity and grandeur.
2. The resurrection of the dead is another glorious result of our Saviour's second appearance.
3. The dissolution of this globe will be the awful consequence, also, of our Saviour's reappearance.
II. FOR WHAT PURPOSE THESE GREAT EVENTS WILL TAKE PLACE ON OUR SAVIOUR'S REAPPEARANCE.
1. Jesus will come again to vindicate the honour of the Divine administration, and to evince the admirable wisdom and justice with which it has been administered.
2. The eternal separation of the virtuous from the wicked.
3. The equitable and unerring distribution of eternal rewards and punishments which will then take place.Lessons:
1. The consideration of our Saviour's second coming to reward every one according to his works, should have a permanent influence on our present temper and conduct.
2. The appointment of our Saviour to be our Judge is a merciful condescension to the weakness and imperfection of our natures, which would be overwhelmed by the infinite splendour of that Almighty Being, in whose presence the angels cover their faces with their wings, which would be otherwise dazzled with such immensity of glory.
(A. Stirling, LL. D.)
Even so come, Lord Jesus
Homilist.There are four states of mind amongst men in relation to the last day. Some are indifferent to it, as were the antediluvians in relation to the Deluge; some scornfully deny it, as did the infidels in the days of Peter; some are horror-stricken at it, as were the demoniacs in the time of Christ; and some welcome it, as John did now. Three things are implied in this last state of mind —
I. A CONVICTION THAT SUCH A DAY WILL DAWN.
II. A CONVICTION OF PREPAREDNESS TO ENTER ON THE TRIAL.
III. A CONVICTION THAT THE RESULTS OF THAT DAY WILL BE FRAUGHT WITH PERSONAL GOOD.
I. THE EFFACING OF OUR SOULS FOR THE FULNESS OF FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST. The life we live is a longing. There is discord which only Jesus can resolve. There is possibility which in the light of His presence will see this out into fact. Gloom, in which we wait with our eyes towards the east, waiting for the sun-rising. We are children crying for the Comforter.
II. THE PURPOSE OF OUR HEARTS TO BE PREPARED FOR THE HIGHER SERVICE. Come and give us our place in Thy kingdom. Come and take up the fruits of our life into Thy garner, and make them the seed-corn of the everlasting future. The response of the lips will be the key-note; the fullest most varied existence will never lose it; on that the music will rest and melt into the praise of Heaven.
(R. Redford, LL. B.)
1. He comes for the recognition of character in His beloved. For this, in part, His approach and death are made.
2. He comes also for the consummation of character in the disciple; not only to recognise it, but to bring it to its completeness. Every Christian grace has its vital root in faith, that is, in loyal and undoubting confidence toward the Son of God. And precisely as this faith becomes clear and firm, in that proportion the graces which spring from it are multiplied and enriched, are raised to a sweeter and mightier supremacy. When, then, at last faith culminates in vision, and we see the Lord — not merely in the evangelical records, not merely in the worship of the Church, or its manifesting sacraments, but "face to face" — then every grace which has been within us, in element and germ, shall rise to sudden superlative completeness, and to the fulness of perfect exhibition.
3. He comes, too, for the coronation of character, as well as for its recognition and its supreme consummation. Character, rooted in faith towards Himself, is the one thing precious on earth to Christ. The production of it in the human soul was the very purpose of His coming in the incarnation. His whole life on earth bore evidently upon this result. Every miracle said, "Believe in Me." Every gracious word of promise attracted to such belief in Him. And when this faith is ready to be transferred to the skies, Christ comes at death to consummate and to crown it. That is the fulfilment of His purpose in Redemption. He must crown the spirit which He seeks and loves. Therefore it was that John could say, "Amen. Even so, Lord, come quickly." And so we need not, either of us, fear, if we are in the faith and fellowship of John, to take upon our lips the same sublime and solemn words.
4. I think that here is suggested a fair preliminary test of experience in us. Suppose that Christ were to come to us at this moment, that for us the earth swung suddenly away into darkness and silence, that unto us the heavens were opened" would He find in us that which He at this instant would accept and approve? Should we be able to welcome Him now at that swift coming?
5. If we can meet this test we need no more to be afraid of sudden death. Within ourselves is that which Christ Himself hath wrought, in which He has gladness. Then we shall share, when we die, in the glory of the transfigured Lord; not seeing it merely, as silently and suddenly it came to the Apostles, but ourselves being participants in it. And that will be all that death is to the disciple.
(R. S. Storrs, D. D.)
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