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angels, are the following: the general assembly the church of the first-born, and the spirits of just men made perfect.

It would seem that the term first born, is intended to mark all those who had departed in the faith, previous to the crucifixion of Messiah. They are termed first born, as being brought unto God in the first ages of the world, and not in that æra which commencing from Messiah's resurrection, is termed “ the latter days.”

The first class (panegyris) general assembly, is of a more comprehending nature than the second, and appears framed to take in all those of the different families and nations throughout the earth, which were not of Israel. On the other hand, the term ecclesia, or congregation, points to such as were saved of the nation of Israel. Kahal being the denomination given them in the wilderness. Such precisely is the description which St. John gives in the book of Revelation, of those souls which he beheld before the throne. There were of the different tribes of Israel, one hundred and forty and four thousand; this is the church

or congregation. Then he saw a great multitude Rox.7.4 which no man could number, of all nations, and

kindreds, and people, and tongues. This is the general assembly. The term first born is equally applicable to both, and stands in contradistinction to all those who were saved after Messiah's blood was shed.

The

The third class is the spirits of just men made perfect. This distinction embraces all such characters as were in their day eminent for holiness and patriarchal simplicity of life. Such men, like stars of a superior magnitude, shone as lights in the world. They were highly favoured of God, and had privileges granted them, not conferred on the general body of men. They walked with God, and enjoyed peculiar intimacy with him. Their prayers were said to have before God a peculiar energy, as we see exemplified in the case of Job and Elias. The Deity himself particularly honours their characters, when he says, “ though Ez a 1,20 these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their own righteousness ;” and in another passage,

though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people.”Jer. 15.1

It is said that they were made perfect, which act of perfecting, St. Paul tells us took place, not when they departed out of life, but only at Messiah's death. By this one offering he hath for Heb.10.16 ever perfected them who are sanctified.During the

ages that preceded, the price of their redemption was not paid, and their sins still remained unattoned for. This the apostle asserts when he says, that the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sin. The blood of these, however, on account of what it represented, had a tempoIi2

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rary credit given it, so as to suspend the effects of sin ; but still the period was to be waited for, when Messiah should bear the sins of his people in his own body upon the tree.

Their non-perfection lay in this, that Messiah was not yet exhibited: they had not a full view of that race that is stretched out in prospect before

But now the Word, the Mimra of former ages had become flesh, and was “ cut off, but not for himself,” and thereby finished transgression, and made an end of sin. He anointed the Holy of Holies; that is, gave to it its finishing touch of perfection. In consequence of all this, new light must have been shed on that invisible world, and a degree of nearness unto God through the human nature of Christ vouchsafed, such as they had never before cxperienced.*

The second passage is in the book of RevelaAll4ition, where we behold the Lamb standing on

Mount Sion, and with him an hundred and forty

* Ex quo Christus venit in mundum vicitque mortem, solatio & felicitati mortuorum in Christo, aliquod augmentum accessisse nihil dubito. Burnet de Statu Mort. & Resurg.

Post Christi mortem, piis animis multum bom accessisse, & recte & pie creditur. Grotius.

It was to be expected that by the death of Christ, a degree of nearness unto God was conferred on the fathers of old, who had at their death gone into a place of refreshment, under the favour of God. Dr. Ozen.

and

and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. In this latter phrase there is considerable information conveyed. Here is a secret intimation inclosed, that such were now out of the world, and become priests unto God. The light afforded here, and indeed the key, is the Levitical reflection of this image in Aaron, in whose forehead his Father's name was written, to denote the especial propriety Jehovah had in him. Kedosh-Le-hovah, not holiness, but sacred Ex.28.36 to, or set apart for Jehovah ; and that the resem

Zech./h.20,21 blance might approach as near as possible to the image reflected, it was ordained that the priests were to have no portion in Israel. The reason given is, that Jehovah himself is their portion. Leaving then the Mosaic shadow, we now ascend to the body it reflected, and behold in these one hundred and forty and four thousand, so many Aarons in the most sublime sense of the words, who are done with time and matter, and deriving their sole enjoyment from Jehovah, who himself is their assigned portion.

That this is the Sion of which that on earth was a type, there can be no question. It then remains to be inquired, whether this is the same with that intermediate abode assigned to souls during their separation from the body.

It appears that they who in this place are with the Lamb, are the same with those who in the

seventh

seventh chapter had been sealed. Sealing them, is taking them off by death, and placing them in Paradise. They are gathered to their fathers, and leave the tribulations of life behind. Their character is sealed for eternity, it being now impossible that any change can take place, .“ being righteous, they will be righteous still.” St. Paul, indeed, marks this sealing as commencing in the work of conversion, and extends it through the

intermediate period to the time of the resurrection, Eph. 1:30 which he terms the day of redemption. This is the

very language of his education as a Jew. « The perfectly just,” says Rabbi Simeon, “ are sealed, and in the moment of death are conveyed to Paradise, which is the life of the future age.” They appear in the revelation, clad in white robes, the sacerdotal habit, and expressive of the service in which they are now engaged.

This Zion is not to be viewed as disjoined from the church, which is yet in the wilderness. This latter is that part of the brethren, not yet out of their probationary state. From the former place, the influences of the Lamb descend on this lower world, to prepare them for leaving it, in order to place them in that country where “ Jeh

Jehovah hath commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." Is. 48.17

This is the very office of Kedosh Israel; i. e. Separator of Israel. He takes out from among the nations a people, he gives them his name as a me

2.6.39.7

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