Thomas Smyth.

Complete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D online

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our Saviour's declaration in the very institution and commis-
sion of the Church, (Matt, xxvii. 18-20,) "Go ye therefore, and
teach all nations, baptizing them, etc., .... and, lo, I am with
you alway, even to the end of the world ;" and of the declara-
tion of the apostle, (Eph. iv. 8-14,) "When he, that is Christ,
ascended up on high ... far above all heavens, that he mi^t
fill all things, he gave apostles, and prophets, and evangelists,
and pastors, and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for
the work of the ministry, for edifying of the body of Christ,
till we all come in the unity of faith unto the measure of the
stature of the fulness of Christ." See also Eph. i. 22, 23. As
to the Bible, our Saviour declares, in Matt. v. 17, 18, "Think
not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets ....
for verily, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or
one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled."
The apostle Peter also declares that all men shall die and pass
away, "but the word of the law endureth for ever. And this is
the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." As to the
sacraments^ the words of Christ's institution require the admin-
istration of baptism with preaching, to "the end of the world."
And as to the Lord's Supper, it is positively declared that "as
often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the
Lord's death till he come." And as our Saviour declared to his
disciples that he would not again in the flesh personally partake
with them of the bread and wine till he "ate with them in his
Father's kingdom," he teaches us that he will not come again
until he shall have delivered up his present mediatorial kingdom
unto the Father at the last day in heaven, after which event
the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be celebrated.* As to
the ministry, it is imnecessary to add anything to the passages
already quoted. See Matt. xvi. 18, 19, and xiii. 19-30, and 38-
42, where Christ declares as the result of the work of the min-
istry, that at the end of the world the tares and the wheat shall
both be gathered together and the tares burned in the fire.
"So shall it be at the end of the world." So also in Matt. xxv.
41, our Saviour describes himself as pronouncing final sentence
upon the wicked as well as the righteous. Thus again it is
*See Conf. of Faith on the Sacraments.



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374 THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT.

demonstrated that the Church and its present dispensation are
to abide until the end of the world and the day of universal and
general judgment.

But this conclusion, although indubitable, will be made more
incontrovertibly clear by some passages which in this contro-
versy have been strangely overlooked. In John xiv. 18-20, our
Saviour, in his consolatory address to his disciples, after having
declared to them that in his Father's house there were many
mansions, that he was going to prepare a place for them, and
that he would come again to receive them unto himself, that
where he is, there they might be also, in these verses adds this
declaration, "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to
you ; yet a little while and the world seeth me no more, but ye
see me ; because I live ye shall live also." Now, it is perfectly
clear that if Christ were personally to come again and dwell on
the earth, then "the world" would see him again, and our Lord
could not have said, as he does say, that the world would see
him no more, that is, in other words, that he would not again
personally dwell on the earth. But he told them further, that
while the world, which, because of its carnal blindness that
cannot discern spiritual things, would not see him in his spirit-
ual comings or manifestations to believing hearts, on the con-
trary his believing disciples in all ages of the Church, in an
evangelical, real, and spiritual presence — the dwelling in their
hearts by faith, and being seen, felt, and enjoyed in sacrament,
prayer, and worship — would see him. Christ therefore wished
his disciples to understand that there would be no necessity for
his personal presence, since his spiritual presence would be
immeasurably more to their benefit and comfort. But as this
perpetual presence of Christ spiritually, implies necessarily
Christ's personal and real presence perpetually in heaven, in his
capacity of High Priest, Mediator, Intercessor, and King, the
premillennial theory, which implies that at any moment Christ
may cease his celestial mediation and rule, abdicate the seat of
his intercession and the throne of his power, and personally
absent himself from heaven for a thousand years, is in manifest
contradiction to Christ's own most comfortable declaration.
See also vs. 26-30, where Christ enlarges this thought as a
ground of unspeakable benefit and consolation to them, inas-
much as while he returned to the Father to carry on the work
of their salvation in heaven, the Comforter, which is the Holy
Ghost, would supply his place, teach them all things, and fill
their hearts with divine peace.



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THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT. 375

In the continuation of this parting discourse, in chap. xvi.
6-16, our blessed Lord and Saviour, with a heart overflowing
with infinite and pitiful compassion, recapitulates with pointed
emphasis these pregnant thoughts. Referring to the coming of
the Comforter, whom he said he would send unto them, he
declares, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of
sin, of righteouness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they
believe not on me, (that is, will not see me.) Of righteousness
— mark these two reasons which Christ gives — ^because (1) I
go to my Father, and because (2) ye see me no more." Christ
here most authoritatively teaches that while the propitiatory
part of his mediatorial work would be finished upon earth by
his sufferings, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, that
mediatorial work would be resumed and continued perpetually
in heaven ; that as on earth he had provided a way of justifying,
or constituting righteous in the sight of his Father, all those
who truly believe in his name, the remaining part of the work
of righteousness, our Lord was to perform in heaven in the
execution of his intercessory office as our Mediator and High
Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, by incessantly presenting the
merits of his all-sufficient sacrifice, and to bestow upon his peo-
ple, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, all necessary sup-
plies of spiritual life, health, and succor; and by supporting,
governing, and superintending all their interests, and defending
them against all his and their enemies, in his character of King
of Zion. Christ's exaltation and investment with his sacredotal
and regal authority as Mediator, and the perpetual continuance
of his real presence, so that it would be impossible that he
should absent himself from heaven and any more dwell cor-
poreally upon earth, are here made by Christ the very founda-
tion upon which the salvation, hope, and glory of the Church
rest. It thus appears that it is absolutely necessary for the full
and perfect accomplishment of the work of righteousness that
the heavens should retain Christ personally until the day of final
judgment, and that until that solemn period, the consummation
of all things, the Church on earth should see him no more.

It will also be particularly observed on this testimony of
Christ, that because he himself was about to return to heaven,
the Holy Spirit would be sent in his stead to instruct, etc. Had
it been his design, Christ would have said, "As I go to my
Father and the world seeth me no more, I will send the Holy
Spirit that he may convince the world of sin, of righteousness,
and of judgment." But this our Lord has not said. Each of



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376 THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT.

the three subjects to which our Lord distinctly adverts has its
own separate exposition anne!xed to it, and the words, "ye see
me no more," must have a meaning peculiar to the particular
subject which they explain, and a meaning not appropriate to
the other subjects. These words therefore are most definite
and unassailable proof that his disciples should not see him
again, in the flesh, till he comes to judge the world, and that he
could not by possibility be absent till then from his great media-
torial work in heaven. It cannot be thought that Christ can
come to judge the world or to raise the dead before the millen-
nium and the last day, because the perpetuity of Christ's medi-
atorial work, which is emphatically the work of righteousness,
is repeatedly and absolutely asserted in the Scriptures. The
meaning of our Lord's words is therefore most distinct and
unpervertible — like something fixed by a wedge, immovable and
bidding defiance to all efforts of criticism to take it away. And
the argument from this passage is just as strong against the
premillennial advent now, as it was against such a Jewishly
believed advent as addressed to his disciples.

In corroboration, however, of this argument, it is declared by
the apostle Peter in Acts iii. 21, "whom, L e., Jesus Christ, the
heavens must receive until the times of the restitution of all
things, etc." "Therefore (ii. 33,) being by the right hand of
God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of
the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and
hear." (See also ch. v. 31.)

Nothing can be made more plain by Scripture than its decla-
rations concerning our Lord's sacerdotal office in relation to the
appointed place of its execution, its immutability, its continuity,
its perpetuity, and as to its nature and design. As to the place
appointed to our Lord's execution of his office as High Priest,
it is, among other passages, declared that Christ "is even at the
right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." "We
have such an High Priest who is set on the right hand of the
throne of the majesty in the heavens." "Christ is not entered
into the holy place made with hands, etc., but into heaven itself,
now to appear in the presence of God for us." Christ, there-
fore, can never exercise his intercessory work in a kingdom
upon the earth; "for if he were on earth, he would not be a
priest," (Heb. viii. 4,) and "no man hath ascended up to heaven
but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man
which is in heaven." As to the immutability of our Lord's
office of High Priest, it is declared, "But this man, because he



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THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT. 377

continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood." As to the
continuity of our Lord's office of High Priest, we have the
declaration of the last verse quoted, and these following:
"Wherefore he is able to save to the uttermost, etc., seeing he
ever liveth to make intercession for them.'* "But this man,
after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on
the right hand of God ; from henceforth expecting till his ene-
mies be made his footstool." And Melchisedec is said typically
to resemble Christ, because he, the Son of God, "abideth a
priest continually." As to the perpetuity of our Lord's high
priesthood, it is written, "Jesus is made a high priest forever
after the order of Melchisedec ;" "but this man because he con-
tinueth forever ;" "but this man forever sat down at the right
hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be
made his footstool." Heb. x. 13. As to the general nature
and design of our Lord's sacerdotal office, the Scriptures deline-
ate its mediatorial and antitypical character : "Seeing we have a
great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son
of God, let us hold fast, etc." "We have not a High Priest
who cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, but one,
etc." See also Heb. vii. 26; ii. 17, and vi. 20, from which
passages we are taught that it was by the blood of his atone-
ment Christ entered into the true tabernacle for us, where alone
he can efficaciously plead the expiatory virtue of that blood;
that there access by prayer with holy boldness to the throne of
grace is only in the name of Christ as interceding for them at
his Father's right hand; that his intercession therefore is an
essential part of his work of salvation, and a fixed and indis-
pensable ordinance of the mediatorial economy, requiring
Christ's perpetual presence in the heavenly sanctuary; that if
Christ were personally to quit that sanctuary to dwell on the
earth, no covenant blessing could thenceforth be imparted to
the Church ; that it is indispensable therefore that Christ should
conform and adhere to this appointed place and order of his
intercessory work; and that it is absolutely necessary for
believers that they should have a high priest at the right hand
of God, constituted after the power of an endless life and made
higher than the heavens. Finally, as to the antit)rpical char-
acter of our Lord's high priesthood, there is according to the
previous and other passages a plain contrast pointed out
between the typical and antitypical priesthood, as pertaining to
the conscience, and it is made therefore utterly inconceivable
that an economy thus comparatively defective, after having



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378 THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT.

answered its typical and temporary purpose, should again be
revived, as the premillennial theory asserts it will, especially
when it is considered that that economy possessed no value or
efficacy in itself, but derived all its importance from that
superior and final economy which it merely typified, and by
which it was ultimately superseded as a "shadow" of the good
things to come. (See Heb. vii. 11, 18, and ix. 23.)

This teaching of Scripture as to the impossibility of Christ
again personally appearing on earth previous to the final con-
summation of his mediatorial economy, when he shall deliver
up that kingdom to the Father, receives striking confirmation
from those declarations of the apostles, in which, as in 2 G)r. v.
16, it is said, "Yea, though we have known Christ after the
flesh, yet now know we him no more." And still further, the
apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. ix. 26-28,
appears to us to state the whole doctrine of the second advent
in terms so clear and positive that it can admit of no question
among those who are willing to abide by the testimony of the
Holy Ghost as given to the holy* men inspired by him. The
apostle declares in verse twenty- fourth that Christ as our High
Priest has entered "into heaven itself, now to appear in the
presence of God for us," "not that he should offer himself oft,
etc., . . . but now, once in the end of the world," that is, as
Doddridge and other critics think to be the best interpretation
that can be given, "now in this the last dispensation which God
will ever give to man'' — "hath he appeared to put away sin by
the sacrifice of himself." Here it is positively said that Christ
made his first advent under the last dispensation which God
will ever give to men, and consequently he cannot make a sec-
ond advent under the same dispensation. It is to be observed
also, that the term translated "world" is in the original, "ages,"
in the plural, and not as in Matt. xvi. 28, where it is in the
singular, in which form it is employed to denote literally the
end or last of this mundane system. So much for the first
advent as here revealed. And now as to the second advent of
Christ, the apostle goes on in verses 27 and 28 to say, "And
as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judg-
ment ; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many ; and
unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time
without sin (i. e., not as a sin offering) unto salvation." Now
here we have asserted, 1. The universal law of mortality as the
penal curse of God's violated covenant — "it is appointed unto
men (that is the whole race of men, good and bad,) once to



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THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT. 379

die." 2. Here is the universal judgment of the same entire
race of men after death — "the judgment of all men," that is, of
course, of all who shall have become subject to the universal
law, which consequently implies the previous universal resur-
rection of the dead. 3. We have here the judge whose advent
is afterwards foretold — "Christ was once offered, etc., and unto
them that look for him, shall he appear the second time, etc."
4. This appearance is explicitly declared to be the second per-
sonal advent of Christ. And thus as Christ's first advent is
already past and there cannot possibly be an intermediate
advent, it inevitably follows that the premillenary hypothesis is
not true. That these words refer to the universal judgment,
comprehending both the righteous and the wicked, will be still
further evident in the contrast implied in the words "them who
look for him" with those who do not look for him.

The argument of the apostle is this : the future judgment will
be universal, and there cannot, therefore, so far as the human
race only is concerned, be more than one day of judgment.
The resurrection which must precede this judgment will be
universal, and there cannot, therefore, be more than one resur-
rection. And as both the universal resurrection and the univer-
sal judgment will, as we have seen, take place at the last day,
our Lord will not make his second personal advent to the earth
till he comes to raise the dead and judge the world at the last
day. And therefore, since Christ will not make his second
personal advent to the earth until he comes to the universal
resurrection and judgment at the last day, he cannot, as this
hypothesis demands, make his second personal advent at any
intermediate period. Observe well the apostle's analogical rea-
soning: 1. As the race of man dies once and only once as the
penal curse for sin, so Christ could only die once to bear that
penal curse. 2. That which awakes each man of the whole
race of men after death is judicari — the judgment, the one and
only judgment of the quick and the dead, good and evil, at the
last day, which is the final fulfillment. So Christ's second
coming is judicare, not to bear or atone for sin, but to judge sin
and sinners, and pronounce on all the sentence of salvation or
of perdition. 3. This death and judgment are by the appoint-
ment of God, his constitution or covenant or law, and are penal
and final in their nature, and as such everlasting, and actually
everlasting to all who die impenitent, "the wrath of God abid-
ing on them." Christ's second coming, therefore, will be to
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380 THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT.

and perdition of the impenitent* 4. The next event in the
great scheme of man's redemption, — ^next to death, there being
no intermediate dispensation admitting of a possible change
after death — is the judgment and the second coming of Christ
as judge; and since Scripture no where makes mention of any
third personal coming of Christ, the millenary hypothesis must
be untrue. Let it be added and duly considered that in the
above interpretation of passage, there is, as far as our exami-
nation of commentators has gone, a universal concurrence, the
word "salvation" being substituted for the word "judgment,"
as the analogy would require, because, as elsewhere, the apos-
tles, when speaking of the judgment in relation to believers,
speak of it as it really shall be, and as the song of the redeemed
(see Rev. v., vii.,) declares it shall be — ^their consummated sal-
vation. We shall only give the opinion of the great Dr. Owen
on this passage : "Any other ccwning, Scripture knows not, and
this place expressly excludes any imagination of it. His first
appearing is past, and appear the second time he will not until
the judgment comes and the salvation of the Church be com-
pleted." There are several other passages which, correctly inter-
preted, must confirm the conclusions to which we have arrived.
Let us, however, only advert to two, one from the apostle
Paul, and the other from the apostle John. In Col. iii. 4, the
apostle Paul gives us his testimony positively: "When Christ
who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with
him in glory." Here the second advent or appearance of Christ
is of necessity to be interpreted in accordance with the explicit
statement commented upon in Heb. ix. 26-28, at the time of the
general and universal judgment; and the place is also deter-
mined by the established use of the term glory as applied to
heaven and the ultimate consummated blessedness of the right-
eous. The apostle John in like manner gives us a negative testi-
mony (which is the more important as this whole theory in its
traditional form is traced up to him) in John iii. 1, 2, in which
there is an evident allusion to what he had recorded in his
Gospel (see John xiv. 16, and above). "Beloved," says John,
"now we are the sons of God, (that is the loftiest earthly con-
dition possible for us,) 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," that is, in heaven. Here

♦In proof of the use of the term salvation, here employed, see Is. xxy.
28, 29; Rom. viii. 23; 1 Cor. xv. 51; Phil. iii. 22, 23; 2 Th. i. 7-10;
Rev. vii. 10.



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THE SCRIPTURAI, DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT. 381

the apostle declares, first, that he had no knowledge of this
premillennial earthly glorious advent; secondly, that he did
know that at Christ's second advent — (as in the same passages
referred to he had taught in his Gospel, and also in Christ's
intercessory prayer recorded in c. xvii., where Christ says, "I
will that these may also be with me," — that is, with the Father
in heaven where he was going — "that they may behold the glory
which thou hast given me") — Christ's glory and kingdom
would be in heaven as taught by the apostles.

III. The doctrine of Scripture on the second advent may be
determined by asking, Does the Scripture teach that the king-
dom of Christ — as foretold in some hundred passages, many of
them literal and some symbolical, prophetical, and figurative,
under analogies drawn from the kingdom of David, the taber-
nacle, the temple, and the Jewish ritual — has actually come?
For if they do, then we have a divinely authorized rule of inter-
pretation by which all the other prophecies relating to that
kingdom are to be understood. The apostle James, in the
council held at Jerusalem, after hearing the declaration of the
apostle Peter, "how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to
take out of them a people for his name," immediately after-
wards recites a passage from the prophet Amos which is
entirely subsersive of the millenary theory. "Simeon," said
James, "hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gen-
tiles to take out of them a people for his name; and to this
agree the words of the prophet ; as it is written, After this I
will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which
is fallen down ; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I
will set it up, that the residue of men might seek after the
Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith
the Lord, who doeth all these things." The preaching of the
gospel is here represented by the building again the tabernacle
of David and teaches that it was not to be restricted, but was
designed for all nations without exception. We have here,
therefore, the apostolic and inspired rule for explaining the
rest of the typical and figurative predictions of the prophets,
relative to the gospel dispensation, in which they use s3mibolic
language drawn from the ancient history and institutions of
the Jewish people. And as the tabernacle was employed by the
prophet Amos to represent the Gospel Church in its migratory
and unsettled state in the wilderness of this world, so the tem-
ple is employed by Ezekiel to prefigure that same Church in its
most enlarged and exalted state, to signify its greatest external



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382 THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT.

Stability, grace, sanctity, and glory. Such is the character of
the only temple which Christianity recognizes and to which
alone it directs attention — a spiritual, not a temporal, an eternal,
and not a perishable edifice, a temple ''built upon the foundation



Online LibraryThomas SmythComplete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D → online text (page 37 of 68)