Thomas Smyth.

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

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judgment day must be nearer to us by at least two thousand
years. 4. But this is not all, for Enoch the seventh from Adam



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400 THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT.

(see Judc, verse fourteen,) based his prophetic preaching of
the gospel upon the certainty of this last advent of our Saviour,
saying, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his
saints, to execute judgment upon all." Such language was,
therefore, practically appropriate, even six thousand years ago.
6. The apostle Paul, to whom, by inspiration and special
visions, the whole future of the Church was clearly known,
and who wrote his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians to cor-
rect the opinion they had taken up of an immediate advent of
Christ, by foretelling future epochs ; and the apostle Peter, who
wrote his Second Epistle with the same object in view, and
who meets this precise difficulty by declaring that, although
Christ had not yet come, he would certainly appear at the
appointed time, and that with the Lord a thousand years were
as one day; and the apostle John, (after all the other apostles
were dead, say A. D. 90,) who has given in Revelation a chart
of the whole lengthened future course of the Church militant ;
— used frequently and closed the inspired record with the start-
ling announcement, "Behold, I come quickly." 6. The same
form of urgent warning and appeal has been employed by the
Church universal from the very beginning under "the sons of
God," who were the sons of Adam, during all the period of the
ante-christian era, and since Christ's incarnation until now. 7.
Bishop Horsley, so eminent for his biblical, critical, and his-
torical knowledge, gives it as his opinion, after full examina-
tion, that the "coming of our Lord, always refers to his final
advent." (See Sermons 1, 2, 3, and 12). 8. The rule for
interpreting the order of events in the vast scheme of redemp-
tion is given by the apostle Peter, "The Lord is not slack con-
cerning his promise, as some men (premillenarians) count
slackness. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and
a thousand years as one day." "Soon and late are words,"
says Bishop Horsley, "whereby a comparison is intended of the
mutual proportions of different intervals of time, rather than
of the magnitude of any one by itself defined. . . . Thus,
although the day of judgment was removed undoubtedly by an
interval of many ages from the age of the apostles, yet it might
in their day be said to be at hand, if its distance from them was
but a small part of its original distance from the Creator of the

world There is, again, another use of the words soon

and late, whereby any one portion of time, taken singly, is
understood to be compared, not with any other, but with the
number of events that are to come to pass in it in natural con-



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THE SCRIPTURAI, DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT. 401

sequence and succession. If the events are few in proportion
to the time, the succession must be slow, and the time may be
called long. If they are many, the succession must be quick,
and the time may be called sbort, in respect to the number of
events, whatever may be the absolute extent of it In this last
sense, the expressions denoting speediness of event are applied
by the sacred writers to our Lord's coming. ... In the inter-
val between our Lord's ascension and his coming again to
judgment, the world was to be gradually prepared and ripened
for its end. . . . And when the apostles speaik of that ev^it as
at hand, which is to close this great scheme of providence — a
scheme in its parts so extensive and so various— they mean to
intimate how busily the great work is going on, and with what
confidence, from what they saw accomplished in their own
days, the first christians might expect in due time the promised

consummation And thus I have shown that our Lord's

coming, whenever it is mentioned by the apostles in their epis-
tles as a motive to a holy Hfe, is always to be taken literally
for his personal comii^^ at the last day." (See Dis. pp. 8-10.)
9. Let it be further borne in mind that the great scheme of
redemption or salvation — which in the abstract mean the same
thing — is ONE, of which redemption or salvation through the
coming of Christ as Jesus — that is, Jehovah the Saviour — to
save the lost, is the beginning, middle, and the end. God gave
Christ and Christ gave himself in the covenant of grace to be
the Saviour of the world. As such, Christ was promised and
prefigured, until, by the incarnation, he finished the work of
atonement and ascended to heaven to perfect personal salvatic»i
in every believer, and will come the second time for the full
and final salvation of all his completed Church. This second
coming is, therefore, the next event to all Kving, so that no
other coming or dispensation can intervene or obstruct our
view in looking for it. 10. This leads to the remark that in
God's view — ^to whom there is no past, present, or future, but
one eternal now — the second coming of Christ stands in imme-
diate and inseparable relation to his first. 11. In like manner
to the enwrapt vision of the prophets, tfiis entire scheme
appeared before them in its unity and continuity, so that their
spiritually enlightened eye looked at once from its beginning in
grace to its consummation in glory. 12. Such also is the aspect
in which this scheme of redemption presents itself to the eye
of enlightened faith, hope, and expectant, jubilant anticipation,
and longing desire. 13. And let it not be forgotten by any that

jO—Vol. IX.



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402 THE SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT.

this Lord and Saviour, for whose glorious appearing we now
joyfully look, though now we see him not bodily — as he him-
self forewarned us, and as the apostle Paul rejoicingly declares,
it was "needful" and "better" for us, and alone consistent with
his necessary presence and mediation, that we should not — ^yct
believing in and realizing his assured, actual, and spiritual pres-
ence with us, both personally, in his ubiquitous manifestation,
and by his Spirit, we rejoice in him with a joy unspeakable and
full of his anticipated glory. This faith and hope constitute
the very essence of our Saviour's farewell comforting discourse
with his disciples, and, through them, with his people always,
in which he now says, as it were, "I have now finished the work
of salvation so far as it can be done upon earth, and now,
therefore, I go to my Father's house in heaven, there to con-
tinue and perfect it by my mediatorial and intercessory work,
so that ye shall see me no more in the flesh, until I appear the
second time unto all that look for me, to consummate the great
work of salvation in your heavenly and everlasting glory.
Nevertheless, I shall be always with you to the end of the
world, in my spiritual presence and by my Holy Spirit to
inspire your hearts, indite your prayers, exalt your praises, fill
you with peace and joy in believing, and with all the fulness of
the blessings of the gospel of Christ." O, that christians would
mediate more on the priestly office and intercession of our
exalted Lord and Saviour, in his glorious character of High
Priest of our profession, so as to be more identified with him,
in all our reflections and in all our reading and meditations, and
especially in our prayers, whether in the closet, in the family,
or in the house of God ; so that, on these solemn and interesting
occasions, filled with all the fulness of his gracious presence,
we might be able to approach the throne of grace, not only
with more pious confidence and boldness, but with more fer-
vent, tender, and aflFectionate sympathy and confidence. 14.
Finally, let us triumphantly say that our divine Lord — our life,
our love, besides whom there is none in heaven and none upon
earth that we desire — comes virtually with that glorious grace
with which he shall appear the second time unto salvation, to
every believer at the hour of his departure. The unmistakable
promise, so miserably perverted by the fictitious and unwar-
ranted expectation of a mere Jewish, earthly, typical, and pre-
paratory kingdom here upon the earth, has been hitherto, is
now, and shall be fulfilled, in all its comforting and happy
experience to every true believing heart. "I am with you to



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THE SCRIPTURAI, DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT. 403

the end — this day shall thou be with me in Paradise — I will
guide thee by my counsel and afterwards receive thee into
glory — I have prepared a place for you, and at the hour of
death I will open for you the kingdom of heaven, and will
receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.
And when thou passest through the valley of the shadow of
death, thou shalt fear no evil, for I am with thee, and my rod
and staff they comfort thee. To depart is to be with Christ."
(See James v. 7, 8; Heb. ix. 24, 26-28; x. 36, 37; Rev. ii. and
iii. ; 2 Cor. v. 8-10 ; Acts vii. 56-60 ; Luke xvi. 22, 23 ; Ps. xxiii.
46.) And as it regards the unhappy, miserable, infatuated,
and ever to be lamented man, who dies in his sins, impardoned
and unrenewed, let it be solemnly remembered, that Christ will
in the hour of death virtually come to him as the great and
terrible judge — "Behold, the judge standeth at the door —
behold, I come quickly — ^and the door was shut — ^and he stood
speechless — for after death is the judgment, when we must all
stand before the judgment-seat of Christ to receive according
to our deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil."
And so short will the time intervening between the sinner's
death and the sinner's final actual judgment and destruction
appear, that when that last day, the day of wrath, shall come,
as Luther says, "Every one will say, 'Lo, I have but just now
died.' " O yes, it will be as the interval between conviction
and sentence and execution to the guilty culprit, — ^while to the
righteous it will be like the seven years of Jacob's loving and
hopeful toil for Rachel. "Father, I will that they also whom
thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may
behold my glory which thou hast given me."



Note. — Since closing the article, we haye met with a beautiful confir-
mation of the closing point, in Stier's Words of Jesus, vol. ix. pages 447-8,
on the Epistle of James, ▼. 7-0: "St. James could in his day predict the
coming of the Lord as at Hand, and his word was soon confirmed. But
after this first typical coming of the Lord to judgment upon Israel, the
faithful always regarded the resenred and proper day of judgment and
redemption, the last coming of their Lord, as near. When he shall come
the second time. (See page 448.) . . . It is the will of God that there
should be a reality in the continual presentation of the coming of the Lord
as near. Every generation should wait for his day, for to every generation
and to every mortal, the Lord already comes in death. . . • Because,
for wise reasons, the interval between death and the last day is concealed
from U8> and the day of our death is dark. The Scripture sets before us
instead, the day of Christ's revelation as the bright goal of our expecta-
tions, and believers are generally, in the New Testament, (since the Lord's
Parables,) those who wait for the Lord."



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On the Fellowship and Communion

of Believers with the Father,

Son and Holy Ghost



BY THB

Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D.



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ON THE FELLOWSHIP AND COMMUN-
ION OF BELIEVERS.



In this discussion we have assumed that the Scriptures are
the inspired word of God. By this we understand that the
Scriptures were so far forth the words of "Holy men of God
who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" as to con-
vey with infallible accuracy what God would have us to know
concerning Him, ourselves and everlasting things. This is the
essential truth included under the terms verbal or plenary
inspiration — the doctrine in regard to Scripture which was
universal amongst the Jews — ^and general amongst the primi-
tive christians and early fathers^ and of the church generally.

From this doctrine it follows that the Scriptures being "writ-
ten for our instruction, reproof^ correction and wisdom unto
salvation," its statements, and especially in reference to God,
will be given forth carefully, deliberately, with a foreknowl-
edge of and adaptation to all future time adapted to the com-
prehension and use of mankind generally, to be understood
therefore according to the meaning which these words and
phrases usually bear — and when so understood to be the final
and authoritative standard of what is to be believed and
obeyed.

It will also follow from this view of Scripture that it will
be found consistent in all its statements and that any system
of Doctrine which does not harmonize all the teaching of Scrip-
ture, however apparently contradictory, but requires the sup-
pression or perversion of its contents cannot be Scripture.

It IS on these principles the doctrine of the Trinity is received
as the simple expression of the unsophisticated teaching of
Holy Scripture without any attempt being made to lessen or
to explain its mysterj-. "How can this be," asks the objector
now just as he did in the time of Athanasius, "according to*
custom," says that Father; "as if that could not be, which they
cannot understand." This doctrine is without controversy a
mystery, "the mystery of the gospel ;" — t"the mystery of God,
and of the Father, and of Christ : or, of God even the Father,

tSec Hag^bach's Hist, of Doctr., S 32, vol. 1, p. 74.
♦Calamy, p. 374.
tDo., p. 102.



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408 FELLOWSHIP AND COMMUNION OF BELIEVERS.

and of Christ His Son. So that God's being a Father, and
having Christ for His Son ; the mutual relation which there is
in this respect between the Two ; the Foundation of this Rela-
tion, the purposes thereby served, and the several parts of the
economy of our Redemption which depends upon it, have so
much of a mystery in them, notwithstanding all that is revealed
concerning them, that we must not pretend to be free of diffi-
culty about them, or able fully to accoimt for them."

But this doctrine is not a mere barren, speculative mystery.
In it ***are hid all the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge,"
and to understand it is to have become possessed off **the
riches of a full assurance of understanding of the mystery of
the gospel."

As the Bible was only "given for our instruction," and all its
"truth is in order to goodness," this doctrine was revealed not
as an abstract or transcendental dogma but on account of its
relation to our practical belief and duty. It makes no pre-
tension to speculative significance, but is imparted only so far
as it bears upon the economy of the divine nature in its rela-
tions to our world, our race and our sinful and ruined condi-
tion.

As affecting the object of our faith — ^the nature of divine
worship — the ground of faith and hope for pardon, purifica-
tion, acceptance, confidence and peace towards God — this
doctrine is the foundation of all religion, of all faith and of all
hope for salvation and eternal life. The source as well as
every blessing of the gospel is derived from the trinity in the
Godheatl.

The foundation of the scheme of salvation is his equally in
the nature of man and in the nature of that God of whose
moral government man is a subject, man is conscious of intel-
ligence, — of capacities to know the true, to choose the right,
to approve and enjoy the good, — of acting freely, voluntarily,
—of passing unavoidable judgment upon himself and his own
free acts — and of a desire to obtain happiness and escape mis-
ery. In the exercise of these faculties every man is now con-
scious of evil in his disposition, thoughts, feelings and actions.
He passes a similar judgment upon every one of his fellow
men, spiritual religion; and the love and service of God are
distasteful to him. He prefers the material to the immaterial,
the carnal to the spiritual, the present to the future, the specu-

♦Calamy, p. 108.
tDo., p. 102.



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F£Ij:X)WSHIP AND COMMUNION OF BELIEVERS. 409

lative to the practical, the sentimental to the divine, the honor
that cometh from man to the honor that cometh from God.
This character of man must arise from his own inward and
spontaneous predisposition to choose and to do what is evil
Such is man's present character and condition. But such was
not man's original condition. God made man upright. He
enjoyed the blessing of God. He was holy, harmless and unde-
filed. Peace reigned in his own heart and the peace of God
which passeth all understanding was shed abroad abtmdantly
upon him. The same triune God who brought him into exist-
ence saying, "let us make man," now irradiated him with some
beams of their incomprehensible light and joy and social society
which the Father, Son and Holy Ghost had from all eternity
enjoyed among themselves in the unity of the Godhead. The
Father revealed to him his infinite love, complacency and
delight. The Son as Jehovah visible and preincamate, accom-
panied, talked, and conununed with him, and the ever blessed
spirit moved upon the heaving sea of his unquiet heart saying
"peace be still."

But man disobeyed his merciful God and Saviour and
grieved the Holy Spirit. He continued not in honor but made
shipwreck of faith and fell into the condemnation of the Devil.
The way of the tree of life was guarded against his approach.
Arraigned before God, he was adjudged to be guilty, con-
demned and sentenced. The favor of God was changed into a
frown and His smile into angry displeasure. Sin like a vene-
mous disease spread itself over all the powers both of soul and
body and into all the branches of his numerous posterity.

Hence that present character of man, of whose sad and sor-
rowful and sinful condition the Scriptures are so full.

But God so loved the world as not to be willing that they
should perish. Though he spared not the angels, who of their
own accord sinned against Him and then maliciously drew
man into their guilt and condemnation, God shewed favor to
Adam and his posterity. A fresh council of the Triune
Jehovah was held. "And the Lord God, that is God the Elohim,
said, behold the man is become as one of us.'^ (See Gen. 3,
22-24.) Then was commenced the practical manifestation of
that scheme of salvation, the mystery hid for ages, which was
ordained before the foimdations of the world in the councils
of eternity. No wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel could
prevail against Him, but His own counsel did stand for ever
and the thoughts of his heart throughout all ages. Then hav-



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410 FttLOWSHIP AND COMMUNION OF BELIEVERS.

ing asked who will go for us and the covenant of grace having
been entered into between the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the
decree was fixed though not declared that apostate men lying
in their own blood polluted should live and that He would
redeem them from the power of the grave and deliver them
from death.

♦"This grace was the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hid-
den wisdom which God had fore determined before the world,
unto our glory ; but it was hid from the eyes of all the living,
and hid from the fowls of the heaven. None of the princes of
this world knew it. No eye had seen it, nor ear heard it,
neither came it tmto man's heart. Only God understood the
way thereof, and from the beginning of the world it was kept
secret and hid in Him, and still He hideth it from the wise, and
men of understanding. Neither can natural man perceive it,
until He revealeth it unto them by His Spirit, which Spirit
searcheth all things, even the deep things of God."

The religion of God, that is the religion of the Bible, is
foimded on the doctrine of the Trinity, which we find inter-
woven with every part of the system and becoming more and
more apparent as that system is more and more fully developed.
God's nature involves social relations within itself — ^and thus
implies the necessity of perfect holiness, justice, truth and love
in order to comply with His own ineffable and eternal blessed-
ness. Hence the origin of law, moral obligations, moral gov-
ernment and the immutable sanctions of law, all found in the
very nature of Deity. And hence also as it regards man, as the
law or covenant he had broken was the law of the triune
Jehovah, any plan of deliverance, could be effected only by the
concurrence, co-operation and vindicated glory of the Father,
Son and Holy Ghost, since the obligation to maintain the
honour and vindicate the sanction of the divine law was as
immutable as the divine existence itself. It pleased the Father
therefore of His own grace and incomprehensible love before
the foundation of this world to save a people from their sins
and deliver them from the wrath to come, and thus to recon-
cile all things to Himself — ^both the things in heaven, and the
things on earth by the mediation of the Son and the sanctifica-
tion of the Holy Spirit.

And as this work of redemption could only be accomplished
in a way which does no violence to man's free and active nature
— ^to man's personal accountability and sense of guilt, and to the

♦Ainsworth, p. 36.



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FttLOWSHIP AND CX)MMUNION OF BELIEVERS. 411

relations in which he stands to God's moral government — ^it is
evident that nothing short of divine wisdom could devise, and
divine omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence execute the
wondrous plan. And here we are brought to the manifest
proof that the salvation revealed in the glorious gospel of the
blessed God could only have originated and been achieved by
the triune persons of the Godhead. It is therefore every where
represented in Scripture, that our redemption was contrived by
the Father, purchased by the Son, and is applied by the Spirit,
through whose assistance, in the name of Christ, we are to
make our approaches to the Father. Hence it appears that
correspondent regards are due to each, which are accordingly
required in many passages of Scripture. John v. 23 ; 1 Cor, v.
16, 22 ; Eph. 4, 30.

♦"The grace then by which the christian is consoled, or the
salvation in which he rejoices, is not derived simply from God
or the Father ; but, first, simply from the Lord, as for example
at the commencement of all the Pauline Epistles and lastly and
thirdly, in a threefold divine manner, and this in such a way,
that in the last case the Spirit is added to the Lord and Father,
or to God and the Lord as for example, 2 Cor. 13, 14."

We are thus led to perceive the wise and merciful purpose of
God in revealing to us this mystery of godliness. The truth of
a divine trinity in Unity, is eminently disclosed to human faith
in order to goodness. It is good every way. To it we owe
our highest conceptions both of the nature and coimsels of God,
both of the law, and the gospel.

By it we attain to a correct knowledge of God Himself .f '*It
is the doctrine of the Trinty alone," says Nitzsch, "that affords
a perfect protection against atheism, polytheism, pantheism, or
dualism. For the absolute distinction between the Divine
essence and the world is more securely and firmly maintained
by those who worship the Trinity, than by those who do not
reverence the same. It is precisely these systems of monothe-
ism, which have, in the highest degree, excluded the doctrine of
the Trinity, and have prided themselves on that very account,
the Jewish and Mahometan for example, that have led, on
account of their barrenness and vacuity, to the grossest panthe-
ism. With the doctrine that the Word, which was God,

♦See also 1 Cor. 12. 4-6 ; 1 Pet. 1, 2 ; 1 Cor. 12, 4-6 ; Eph. 4, 6. Nitzsch's
System of Christian Doctrine, p. 177.
tNetrch., p. 181.



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4113 FEUOWSHIP AND COMMUNION OF BEUEVEXS.

became flesh, there arises, likewise, the same necessity of con-
ceiving God as personally united to man without sin, as there
is a necessity for absolutely distinguishing between the Divine
essence and htmian nature. Faith in everlasting holy love,
which is God, can only be theoretically and practical^ realized
through the cognition of Him who is the perfect and eternal
object of divine self-knowledge and love; that is to say, by
conceiving the love of the Father to the only-begotten Son,



Online LibraryThomas SmythComplete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D → online text (page 40 of 68)