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hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.”
Whatever be the allowable accommodation of this parable to the examination of individual character, its primary intent is to illustrate the proceedings of the King Messiah, with respect to his professing people, when he shall appear upon earth. One great business of the second advent, as we have learnt from former prophecies, is Christ's judgment of his people. This he executes, not only by vindicating them in their destined and promised rights, but in separating from among them all the wicked and unsound members. This has been represented already by various images. “He shall be as a refiner's fire, and as fuller's soap, and he shall sit as a refiner of silver,” &c. “His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor; his wheat will be gathered into his garner, but his chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Compare also the close of the parable of “ the tares,” and of that of " the great net cast into the sea.” This refers not to the general judgment, when ALL the dead shall stand before the tribunal of Christ. It is intended to represent what will take place at the appearing of the Son of Man, “ when he shall sit upon the throne of his kingdom.” The general judgment could not be represented as forming its decision on one trait of
himself out of mankind; not with respect to the whole race of Adam, which he will either visit with vengeance or restore. But “ the church of the first-born that are written in heaven," being now " made one" with God in Christ, * with respect to them the mediatorial charge and dominion ceases ; for “a mediator is not of one.” This mediatorial kingdom the Redeemer now possesses, seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Virtually, we doubt not, before all time began, he stood before God in the character of Mediator of his people: but we are referred, by the language of Scripture, to a period after his actual assumption of humanity, after his resurrection and ascension, when he is solemnly manifested in this high character, and “ all power in heaven and earth is given into his hand,” that he may save to the utmost them that come to God by him, being invited by God " to sit at his right hand till he should make his enemies his footstool.” And to this agree the words of the twentyfifth verse in the passage before us: for he must reign till he, God, hath put all things under his feet: both passages referring to the one hundred and tenth Psalm:
Thus spake Jehovah to my Lord,
Compare also the second Psalm and the parallel passages.
The “putting down of all rule, and all authority, and power," I refer, accordingly, to the destruction of all the tyrants and oppressors of the church, and of all the
* John, xvii.
power of the prince of darkness : according to the usual tenor of prophecy -" the visiting of the host of high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth on the earth;" or in the language of the Psalm just quoted :
After the order of Melchizedec
In short, it is still the destruction of Antichrist, that emphatical enemy, whom we have seen all along to be the object of the great Redeemer's vengeance when he shall appear. At that time, too, as we have ever been told, “ the last enemy, death, is to be destroyed,” “put down,” as the same word is rendered above, or more strictly, be so debilitated or restrained in its powers, that it can no longer injure as an enemy.
Observe, it is not the subduing of death, as holding the wicked in subjection, which is here contemplated ; but the victory over death, as having power to seize and to hold in subjection the people of God; that is to say, their bodies. In this sense, death is their last enemy, the last enemy that could ever touch them in the least degree; and in this sense death is destroyed, when, at Christ's second coming, the dead rise in their glorified bodies, or when the living saints experience such a change that death hath no more dominion over their animal frame.
The “ kingdom," therefore, in this passage, I understand, not of the personal reign of Christ upon earth, commencing from his second advent, but of his reign now, as seated at the right hand of power,-- as seated,
Remarks on Matt. xxvi. 29; Luke, xx. 28; Matt. xxvi. 64.
In addition to these direct and more copious prophecies respecting the coming of Christ in his kingdom, I cannot but call the reader to remark the language of our blessed Master, when he had instituted his sacramental supper:
Matt. xxvi. 29. “ But I say to you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine," — Mark, “ I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine,"_" until the day when I drink it new with you in iny Father's kingdom,”— Mark, “ till I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
I conceive Christ, after his resurrection, could not be said to partake with his people in their spiritual enjoyments, which they tasted through the Spirit. This, therefore, I conclude, must refer to the unknown and altogether new enjoyments of God's good creatures, which glorified spirits will have in the world to come, when they drink of the river of pleasures that is at God's right hand for ever. 1
Irenæus plainly refers the fulfilment of this text to the time of the resurrection of the just “ quando regnabunt justi surgentes a mortuis,"— and he quotes, as parallel with it, Psalm civ. 30, “ Thou renewest the face of the earth ;" the promise, Luke xiv. 12, 13, “ Thou shalt be rewarded at
the resurrection of the just;" the hundred fold reward, Mark, v. 5; and even the blessing which Isaac gives to Jacob, Gen. xxvii.; and he states this as the interpretation given by certain presbyters who had seen John, the disciple of our Lord, and affirmed they had heard it from him. He refers also to
presented by its Maker, as the finished workmanship of his hands.
The only begotten, that is in the bosom of the Father, the everlasting Son of God, who also becomes in time the first-born of every creature, who is God with God, and a creature with his creatures, He created it. He let the devil mar it in his hands, and is now fashioning it into another vessel, “ as it seemed good to the potter to make it.” But the accomplishment of these new ends, if it were lawful so to speak of the everlasting counsels of God, whose will none hath resisted ; to accomplish these new ends, He that was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, divests himself of his glory, and assumes the form of one of his creatures : hence the wonderful mystery of the incarnation; the obedience of him that was God, as a servant and a man; his passion; his death - the death of the Lord of glory, giving himself for his church: hence the high exaltation of him who bad made himself so low: hence the enriching again of him who, by identifying himself with a portion of his fallen creatures, suffered himself to be impoverished to the utmost. Though clothed with humanity, he “ ascends where he was before ;" God, even the Father, hath exalted him to his own right hand in glory, and hath given him “ power over all flesh”-“ all power in heaven and earth."
The ALMIGHTY Father, if we may so represent it, sustaining the absolute perfections of the Deity – the triune Jehovah — has retired into the inaccessible light – the screen spread before the recesses of his royal throne. But the Son of Man is visibly seated thereon, and sways the sceptre of Deity; angels and principalities being made