Herbert H. (Herbert Henry) Gowen.

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NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES



3 3433 06825091 3




H-H-GGWEN



.









THE DAY OF HIS COMING



The Day of His Coming



THOUGHTS FOR THE
SEASON OF ADVENT



By

HERBERT H. GOWEN

Rector of Trinity Parish, Seattle



NEW YORK
THOMAS WHITTAKER (Inc.)

2 AND 3 BIBLE HOUSE



N EW YORK!

[C LIBRARY

40 5 (VI 2

ASTOR, LENOX AND

TlLO£ N \ •sfATinma,
1908



Copyright, 1907,
By THOMAS WHITTAKER (Inc.)



CONTENTS

I. "The Day of His Coming 7

II. Waiting for the Consolation of Israel - 21

III. The Preaching of the Kingdom - - 37

IV. The Untoward Generation - - -51
V. The Coming of the Kingdom - - - 63



I

"THE DAY OF HIS COMING"



" Bring me my bow of burning gold,
Bring me my arrows of desire,
Bring me my spear : O clouds, unfold,
Bring me my chariot of fire.

" I will not cease from mental fight,

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem

(Within this) green and pleasant land."

—Blake.



"THE DAY OF HIS COMING"— (Malachi 3 : 2)

THE Calendar of the Church year, it has been
decided, begins with the season of Advent.
This is obviously because it has been felt
that the whole structure of Christian doctrine and of
Christian life is built upon the revelation of God's re-
lation to the world, His coming to Humanity in the
Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

The Christmas thought, — " Emanuel, God with us " —
needs for its apprehension a period of preparation and
the Church has wisely chosen these four weeks at the
very beginning of its Calendar that Christian people
may learn to understand what the Coming means and
what consequence it draws with it in its train.

Nevertheless, misunderstandings persist, misunder-
standings which would not be serious were they simply
intellectual errors, but are seen to be moral hindrances
when we perceive how they lessen the sense of awe
which the thought of each approaching Christmas
should bring and, thereby, lessen inevitably the joy
and the power and the richness of our present
Christian life.

Hence the attempt to set forth as simply and
explicitly as possible something of the meaning of this
solemn season.

u What is the ultimate design of the world ? " This
is the question which starts the mind in pursuit of a

9



10 ffbe Bag of Ibfg Coming

Philosophy of History. As soon as we believe in the
oneness of the Universe we set to work seeking for
unity of rational process. We have learned to
recognize the fact that physical Nature is interpene-
trated by the sense of law, that in every molecule, it
goes on its way obedient to the Will " that moves the
sun in heaven and all the stars."

If, therefore, Law, or in still truer language, the
living will of God, works in Nature, why not also in
History ? Are the interferences with the Highest Will,
for which our lower wills are responsible, too consider-
able to allow the carrying out of a Divine plan, or are
they, in their total result no more considerable than
the resistance of inertia in the lower parts of Nature,
or than the irregularities of mountain and valley in
their relation to the general curvature of the earth's
surface ?

Hegel puts the matter thus : " It was for a while the
fashion to profess admiration for the wisdom of God
as displayed in animals, plants, and isolated occur-
rences. But, if it be allowed that Providence manifests
itself in such objects and forms of existence, why not
also in universal history ? This is deemed too great a
matter to be thus regarded. But Divine Wisdom, i. e.,
Reason, is one and the same in the great as in the lit-
tle ; and we must not imagine God to be too weak to
exercise His Wisdom on the grand scale. But intelli-
gent striving aims at realizing the conviction that what
was intended by eternal Wisdom is actually accom-
plished in the domain of active, existent spirit as well
as in that of mere nature." " It is only an inference,"
he adds, " from the history of the world that its devel-
opment has been a rational process." Now the Jew,



Gbe 2>as of Ibis Coming 11

as the first consistent monotheist, was the first to have
a consistent philosophy of history. However deficient
in other respects intellectually, he had a grasp of the
essential meaning of history such as supported him
through all the bitter fortunes of his much enduring
race and made him the minister of the higher hope to
all mankind. " The Jewish thinkers," says Renan,
" were the first who sought to discover a general
theory of the progress of our species."

And this theory had the good fortune to look for-
ward, not backward. It had been the perdition of
many nations to be attempting to live on their past,
to be ever looking backward to some Golden Age, in
whose pale reflection they found their present glory,
to be forever imagining themselves the degenerate de-
scendants of the gods, the children of the moon, or the
sun, or the giants and demi-gods of an heroic age, long
passed away. The Jew had little sympathy, except
in the days of his decadence, with this spirit. When
he ceased to be the lord of the future, even amid his
bondage and woe, the mission of his race passes away
from him forever. The Jew was essentially, by the
Divine vocation, a seer and a prophet. Back indeed,
with the rest of the world, he looked to discern the
fact that man's first attempt to conform his life to the
Highest will had been failure and tragedy, yet that
very failure started man on the first steps of that long
heroic march " on to the bounds of the waste, on to
the City of God."

The thought was with him in the iron furnace of
Egypt, in the weary wilderness wanderings, in the
anarchy of the times of the Judges, amid the ceaseless
wars of the Monarchy, in the protracted misery of the



12 Zbe 2>ag of tbts Coming

Babylonian captivity, amid all the experiences of
Greek and Syrian and Roman tyranny. It even
waxed stronger and brighter in times of adversity, so
that it was during the exile that there was founded the
religion of faith and hope, and it was when Ezekiel
received the news of the destruction of Jerusalem that
he broke forth into his glowing description of the
ideal Jerusalem, the City of God.

Thus, although both Jews and Gentiles appeared in
history as those who,

" Rowing hard against the stream
Saw distant gates of Eden gleam,
And did not deem it was a dream,"

yet the Gentile set his idealization of humanity's hope
far back out of history, while the Jew saw it as a
tangible, literal promise, a " divine event " not perhaps
" far off" but so near that every woman in her birth-
pangs throbbed with the hope of being the Mother of
Him who should make the vision true.

What was the essence of this expectation which
marked off the Jew from the rest of the world ? We
have seen that he believed that once, in the thought
of God, there had been unity between God and His
work. Envisaged in eternity, Creation reflected the
Creator. We have seen also that in the Creation proc-
ess time entered as an element and therefore stages
of imperfection. Therefore in all the stages of creation
there was necessarily a gulf between the thought of
God and the actual work visible in the studio. This
was sufficient to try faith, to perplex the mind, to vex
the heart. It forced the confession —



Gbe ©a£ of Ibis Coming 13

" The world hath something harsh and strange,
Something is wrong, there needeth a change."

But the Jew believed that all this was but the
incident of the Creation process, not its fundamental
character. The final result was not to be the spectacle
of one great tide of purpose foiled by multitudes of
diverse wills dribbling out their rebellious force and
making anarchy of the universe. The result of all
would be Unity between God and Man, the full mani-
festation of a completed World before the eyes of God,
the full revelation of a wise, purposeful, almighty and
loving God to the mind and heart of man, satisfied at
last.

This expectation is known as that of a Theophany
or manifestation of God.

There are two forms under which such an expecta-
tion may present itself.

First, the method which is natural to our western
habits of thought, as the Ascent of Man, the progress
of civilization, the development of Creation towards
its goal, the manifestation of the perfect realization of
the Creator's thought in the creature.

Secondly, the method which was natural to the Jew,
and indeed to most Oriental minds, the gradual Rev-
elation of God, God breaking through all obstacles
interposed between Himself and the universe, con-
quering the blindness and rebellion of human hearts
and minds, traveling in the greatness of His strength.

Nozu both these forms are different aspects of one and
the same fact, viz. : — the establishment of the ideal
Unity which is between God and the World. The
Coming of Man to God and the Coming of God to
man are but different ways of regarding the same



14 Gbe 2>a£ ot Ibis Coming

great process. But the Jewish way, although open
to the possible error of making God in His working
altogether external to the human spirit was the pro-
founder and the more religious, as recognizing the
force of the Divine initiative and the eternity of the
Divine purpose.

Hence the great epoch to which the Jew looked
forward, as fulfilling his expectation was spoken of as
"Jehovatis Day," " The Day of the Lord" the Day when
His purpose should be manifested and His authority re-
garded as the law of life.

Such expectations as this had, of course, many half-
way fulfilments. There were many events in Jewish
history which were regarded as " The Day of the Lord."
Every crisis, whether a physical chastisement or a
great moral movement, was a Day of Jehovah, inas-
much as it brought with it some deepened sense of
God's presence, some finer conception of His char-
acter. In almost every prophet we find deliverances
and judgments which were rightly called by this name.

But the inevitable disappointments which the Jewish
people suffered at every one of these particular epochs
did but strengthen the belief that the real Day of
Jehovah, to which all history seemed to be leading up
was as yet far in the future. Then mercy and truth
should meet together, Righteousness and peace should
kiss one another, God should perfectly manifest Him-
self in Man and Man should reach his predestined end
in the likeness of God.

This expectation it was which crystallized itself
into what is called the Messianic hope, an expression
exactly equivalent to the longing for the Day of
Jehovah.



Gbe 5>ag of Ibis Comino 15

Of the development of the Messianic idea there is
no need to speak at length, especially as it is the tie
which binds together all the books of the Old Testa-
ment. This one thought gives a unity to all the
scattered documents of Jewish literature, making their
witness at once clear, orderly and progressive to the
work of the Holy Spirit in history.

We are able to see, as in the studio of a sculptor,
the great design gradually taking shape. Out of the
formless and speechless stone lineaments are gradually
discerned. The " seed of the woman " becomes the
line of Seth, the family of Abraham, the royal
house of David, the royal line of David, at last the
royal and suffering Servant (of the second Isaiah)
Prophet, Priest, King, Deliverer through the Service
of Suffering. And as we discern more and more
clearly the attributes and the personality of that chosen
instrument through whom God's face is to shine upon
the world, so we discern more clearly what His Work
is to be.

To this there are two sides.

First, naturally, He is the Deliverer, the Saviour.
First of all, the deliverance was thought of only as
national and as temporal. But, as time went on, it
was seen that the individual needed deliverance as
well as the nation and that there were perils from
which men needed salvation greater than the perils
which beset the body and the physical life. So the
idea of deliverance enlarged itself, becoming more and
more spiritual and at the same time more and more
universal. Secondly, as God, through His Messiah,
was regarded as Deliverer, it became more and more
obvious that in order to deliver He must Judge. At



16 Gbe 2>as of 1bte Coming

first His Judgment was regarded only as directed
against the heathen nations who had trampled on
God's heritage of Israel. He was their national
champion and vindicator. So the Day of the Lord
shone luridly as a day of wrath, and of flaming anger
against the Gentile world. But as the idea of the
Deliverance spiritualized itself, so the idea of Judg-
ment extended and deepened itself. Their own lives
lay also under the scrutiny of God ; their own wills
opposed themselves to God's law ; their own hearts
resisted the manifestation of His face. Consequently,
the Judgment must begin at the House of God and
must extend, through the very fact of God's appear-
ing and through the very necessities of deliverance, to
the thoughts and intents of the individual heart.

Hence, the Messiah would be both the Saviour and
the Judge, the Judge because the Saviour and the
Saviour because the Judge. Judgment (not in the
sense of a school examination, with fearful penalties
for those who are " plucked," but) as the manifestation
of the presence of an all holy God, because an essential
part of the Messiah's work. "Judgment," says Prof.
A. B. Davidson, " is that pervading of life by the
principles of equity and humanity which is the im-
mediate effect of the true religion of Jehovah." To
set Judgment in the Earth " is the raison d'etre of the
Theophany. As the rising of the sun upon the
darkened earth, so is the appearing of God, in its
nature and effects, upon the world of sinful men.
Thus every messianic prophecy contained implicitly
the thought of Judgment. Even when seen in low-
liest guise, as in the Servant passages of Isaiah, Christ
puts not off the robe of the Judge. " This is the



Gbe 2>ag of Dis Coming n

burden of the Servant's work," says Prof. G. A. Smith,
" to pervade and instruct every nation's life on earth with
the righteousness and piety which are ordained of
God." " He shall not flag nor break till He hath set
Law in the earth." This is the end of civilization and
of religion itself, to enable man to keep the law, not
the law of the jungle or the law of his members, but
the law which comes to him in whispers from God
Himself even under the Old Testament, and clearly
and outspokenly in the life and character of Jesus
Christ; — to keep it not by instinct merely, nor by
compulsion, but by the free will which recognizes,
with Dante,

" to mightier force,
To better nature subject, ye abide free."

I think, then that we shall now be able to under-
stand something of that mingling of azvc and joy with
which the Jew looked forward to the Coming of Mes-
siah. The joy of it is brought out notably in the
Psalms. Although, as Dr. Cheyne says, the function
of the temple poets was to brighten the present rather
than to paint the future, yet the Messianic Judgment
is more and more brought into view as Israel's contact
with the surrounding nations increases. The Theodicy,
or Divine Judgment, grew to be a necessary element
in the Jewish conception of Providence. " Must,"
says Dr. Cheyne, " the loving kindness of the Good
Shepherd always take the same form? Will the
Divine education of Israel never be complete? Must
there be a perpetual alternation of sinning and repent-
ing, of wandering and returning? And this deep
sighing of the poor and this straining look for the



18 XLbc 2>aE of 1btg Coming

morning, must the one always be met by a call to
patience, and the other by the watchman's neutral
report, ' The morning cometh and also the night ' ?
Oh, no ; the Hebrew not less than the Iranian hymns,
are the bearers of good tidings. The day is at hand
which shall close the school time of God's people, a
day of burning anger and burning love, anger against
all, whether within or without Israel, who oppose
God's gracious purpose and of a love which reacheth
unto the heavens to the upright and pure of heart."

With what joy the Jew could look forward to such
a day as this ! Even the Gentiles, they thought, might
join in the song of praise which proclaimed that God
should "judge the folk righteously and govern the
nations upon earth."

" Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice ;
Let the sea roar and the fulness thereof;
Let the field exult and all that is therein ;
Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy;
Before the Lord for He cometh ;
For He cometh to judge the earth :
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the people with His truth."

Nevertheless, we can discern the presence of the
awe and deep religious fear beneath the exultant
strains of the Psalm. " God is not the feeble, good-
natured God of languid or frivolous profligacy," nor is
His world a place of irresponsible dalliance ! When
God appears " Who shall abide the day of His com-
ing ? " He comes to discriminate and separate the bad
from the good in every individual, to pass every man
through the purifying fire. As the refiner of silver sits
patiently over his molten metal, purifying it again and



Zbc Bag of Ibte Coming 19

again till he can discern his own face in the caldron's
contents, so does the Judge judge us until He can dis-
cern in us the image of Himself.

To bring us to that point, is the first object of the
Advent season.

To experience the joy of Christmas we must have
been able to put ourselves under the dividing sword
of the Divine Judge.

If Christ become to us the manifestation of the Face
of God, He must show both the Divine love for the
sinner and the Divine wrath against sin.

Thus redemption becomes possible for the human
soul and, in the hope of redemption, through the mani-
festation of the face of God, life explains itself.

It is our part to cooperate with God in this plan of
salvation. Therefore we are to let Him redeem us
with judgment. We are to let the glorious yet search-
ing light of His presence enfold us round till our dark
consciences are enlightened and our stubborn wills
melted by the glow.

May the divine manifestation speak to all the good
in us to cast away all the bad from us. Then, if like
the guilty queen in the great tragedy, we have wrung
from us the cry of a stricken conscience —

" Thou hast cleft my heart in twain,"

the answer will come back from a greater and purer
judge than Hamlet,

" O throw away the worscr part of it,
And live the purer with the other half."



II



" WAITING FOR THE CONSOLATION
OF ISRAEL"



" They all were looking for a King,

To slay their foes and lift them high :
Thou cam'st a little baby thing,
That made a woman cry.

*' O Son of Man, to right my lot

Nought but Thy presence can avail :
Yet on the road Thy wheels are not,
Nor on the sea Thy sail.

" My how or why Thou wilt not heed,

But come down Thine own secret stair,
That Thou may'st answer all my need,
Yea, every bygone prayer."

— George Mac Donald.



II

"WAITING FOR THE CONSOLATION OF

ISRAEL."— (#. Luke 2 : 25)

WE have seen the results of the evolution of
the Messianic hope compressed into the
final verses of the Old Testament prophe-
cies. The hope had not been fulfilled as many had
expected, in the return from Babylon. Like the star
which led the Magi, it still moved and went before the
people. It was the mission of prophets like Haggai and
Zechariah to lift up the eyes of the nations towards this
guiding star, but it is in the closing book of the Canon,
the prophecy of Malachi that we see the double sig-
nificance of the Day most clearly defined. On the
one hand it is a day " which shall burn as a furnace
and all the proud and all that work wickedness shall
be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them
up, said the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them
neither root nor branch." And on the other hand
there is the brightness and the hope — " Unto you that
fear My Name shall the Sun of righteousness arise
with healing in His wings, and ye shall go forth and
gambol as calves of the stall." The prophet, Elijah,
moreover, is promised as the immediate forerunner of
the Day, to turn, if possible, the nation to repentance
and to avert the curse which the Presence of God
must bring to the ungodly.

When the voice of Old Testament prophecy ceased,
23



24 Zhe Bag of 1bte Coming

a thick darkness seemed to close around the heart of
Israel. Many felt that Jehovah had forsaken the peo-
ple of His choice and that inspiration was a thing of the
past. The times were sordid and disillusioning. The
Temple seemed small and mean to the imaginations
of those who reflected upon the glories of the Temple
of Solomon ; the men who were raised up as leaders
were second-rate men, they had neither the heroic pro-
portions nor the sense of mission which had characterized
the leaders of old ; the sacrificial system seemed less
and less in itself to correspond to more spiritual con-
ceptions of worship. Altogether it was a time when
the preparation for the coming of Messiah seemed at a
standstill.

Yet, as with us when experience seems halting and
there is no open vision, the presence of God was never
more real. Little as they could see it themselves, we
who look at this particular period from the perspective
of history can feel that there was never a time when the
leading hand of God was more conspicuously present
in the Jewish nation. The old tendency to idolatry
had been completely eradicated through the sojourn in
Babylon. It was impossible for faith in idols to sur-
vive the scorn of the unknown prophet of the second
part of Isaiah, especially as that scorn was itself the
expression of the nation's own consciousness. But
there were two other results to be attained ere the
Messiah could come to His own. One was the evolu-
tion of that capacity for martyrdom which enabled the
world to perceive for the first time the supreme serv-
iceableness of suffering when that suffering is the con-
sequence of love and devotion to duty. The other
was the freeing of Jewish religion from the materialism



Maitino for tbe Coneolatfon of flsrael 25

which had been a necessary and inevitable part of its
religious system hitherto.

Both these lines of development we may see pro-
ceeding in what is called the Maccabean age.

The terrible persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes
came as in itself a Day of Judgment. It tested the na-
tion, drove men into the categories to which fundamen-
tally they belonged. No doubt, when the temple was
polluted, swine's flesh offered on the altar and the daily
sacrifice suppressed, there were some who were secretly
relieved. Even as to-day there are some who are not
sorry when circumstances interfere with the fulfilment
of religious obligations, so it was then. A story tells
of the woman who smote the altar with her shoe and
railed on it, as she gazed upon its cold and blackened
stones, as the insatiate wolf which had devoured the
wealth of Israel.

But there were others whom the crisis tested and
revealed as heroes and martyrs. So one part of the
nation went to the left, to sink to the level of the sur-
rounding paganism, to lose forever the opportunity
of being " The Servant of Jehovah." And the other
part gifted with the spirit of martyrdom, stood waiting
the higher call, dowered with a power to serve such as
no warrior or sage had ever known. It began to be
seen that when the glory of God should be revealed it
would be through the love which could be obedient
unto death.

The second line of development was equally impor-
tant. The old spirit of idolatry had been exorcised,
but the religion of Judaism required to be purged from
the spiritual pride which is the danger and temptation
of the strong, and from the materialism which threat-



26 Gbe 2>a£ of Ibis Coming

ened to blind them to the glory which was to be re-
vealed.

So the nation needed to be sifted to discover that
spiritual kernel which was to be the seed of a future
world-wide kingdom.

The piety of the Chasidim hardened into bigotry,
and under the name of Pharisaism gave trouble to
Jonathan Maccabeus and John Hyrcanus, long before
we see it as an opposing influence in the Gospels.

The patriotism of the warriors who drove out the
Syrians became secular and fanatical in the Zealots
who tried to expel the Romans.

The conservatism of the Sadducees and their unwill-
ingness to add to the teaching of the Pentateuch be-
came unbelief when they were brought face to face
with new vistas of faith, as in the doctrine of the Res-


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