"When he shall appear."

Little can the heart love Christ that does not long to see Him. And thus we find that He counts all throughout upon that which is the legitimate effect of love to His person. Because He expects us to wait for Him, He exhorts us to be like unto men that do; because He expects us to watch for Him, He pronounces a blessing upon those who watch. That He also exhorts us to watch for Him I admit; but this is not because we have not the hope of His coming, but because we have. We are to watch because we "know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." The fact of His coming is assumed, and assumed to be the hope of the heart; but there is danger, because of the fulfilment being deferred, that we should cast off the outward character of men who wait for their Lord. Characteristic of that Christianity which is worthy of the name that we have gone out to meet the Bridegroom, alas it is still more characteristic of its failure that all the virgins - not only the wise who had the oil, but the foolish who had not - alike slumbered and slept. The arousing cry broke their slumbers, "Behold the Bridegroom!" and the hearts of many leaped up, only, alas! in some cases, to fall back into a deeper sleep. The foolish had lamps no less than the wise; and had, as they, gone out to meet the Bridegroom, teaching us that, as a matter of, profession, a matter of doctrine, the unconverted may be holding it as correctly as others. But by the Spirit of God alone, as the holy anointing oil, can the Lord's coming assume its true character in our hearts and to the heart of Christ, in testimony to Him.

Scripture then makes no attempt, as we sometimes do, to prove that He will come. The Lord announces it, and that is enough as to fact. He promises it, and that is enough as to its character. Henceforth it is assumed as a real desire of the heart, "that blessed hope" in which we are privileged to indulge, rejoicing therein "with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." Let me remark here that there never has been, nor ever can be, any uncertainty whatever as to the Lord's coming. It is either a lamentable mistake of ours, or a gigantic lie of Satan's, that there is a particle of uncertainty about it. Nothing from everlasting to everlasting was ever more certain - as certain - as that God's character must be vindicated, and the Son of His love be glorified, before all worlds. The day and the hour are concealed from us, and even from Christ as man, but the certainty thereof stands unimpaired. They are known to God, and from all eternity, without mutability and without uncertainty; and when the stars in their courses, "for ever singing as they shine," have meted out to man the appointed duration of his day of grace, the word of the Father to the Son will bring Him on love's delightful errand to receive His bride in His own likeness, to Himself for ever. Can you, my reader, estimate the untold joy that will then flood His blessed heart? or how much even now He is cheered by its bright anticipation? How blessedly then, if we are to share that joy, ought our hearts to be anticipating the blissful moment when He shall appear, and by His appearing shall swallow up death in victory, and shall close our path of tears and toil and testimony, that He may present us before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy!

In two foregoing papers we looked a little at the fact, that "as He is so are we in this world," and "where I am there shall also my servant be." The first is our divine standing, the second our heavenly place and portion. We now glance at that incomparable event which shall bring into full display the two former things, to the deep delight of our hearts, and, above all, to the immeasurable glory and joy of our beloved Lord. In Col. 3 is a scripture which appears to bring before us all three of these. "If ye then be risen with Christ" (our standing), "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (our heavenly place and portion). "When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (the consummation which we await). Observe how in each of these what gives character to the thing is, with Christ. (1) He is risen, and we are risen with Him. (2) He has gone above, and our portion is where He is; our life is hid with Christ in God.(3) He is going to be manifested in glory, and we are going to be manifested with Him. How it enhances all our blessing that we enter upon it with Him, and shall enjoy it with Him, and shall be manifested in it with Him. Thus what we are, and have, and shall be, are all closely and indissolubly associated with Christ; and no heart that values Him but will acknowledge how it adds thereto a spiritual zest that nothing else could impart.

He who appeared once here below, manifested on the earth, and in whom God was manifest in the flesh, has now gone to appear before the face of God for us; and yet again will He appear or be manifested to them who look for Him. (Heb. 9:24-28.) How characteristically does the apostle here speak of believers as "them that look for Him." He accounts it to be the moral mark of a Christian that he looks for Christ, as in Thessalonica the young believers to whom he wrote were marked by waiting for God's Son from heaven. But we have also a more striking word in Paul's memorable valediction to his dear son in the faith (2 Tim. 4:8), "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." This surely goes beyond the waiting, and the watching, and the looking for Him; it appeals more closely to the feelings. If I love His appearing, it is evident that my heart is set upon it, my affections are engaged by it. It is that deep desire of love which is expressed in that divine unity in which "the Spirit and the bride say, Come." Let us challenge our hearts, dear reader. Do we indeed "love His appearing"? Is it really a matter of heart exercise with us, a desire far deeper than any words can express? The bride in the Canticles (chap. 2:17) gives us the expression of her desire, saying, "Be thou like to a roe, or a young hart, on the mountains of Bether" (division or separation); i.e. passing over all that divides or separates from her the object of her longing heart. Peter commends His appearing to the elders of the flock as the consummation to be looked for: "When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." And, lastly, John, in his first epistle, exhorts the children to abide in Him, "that when He shall appear we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming." Again he says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God; 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." Our being with Him, our being like Him, and our being an adequate testimony of the magnificence of His grace, all wait for that day of glory so soon to break upon us, "when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." May He so powerfully captivate our hearts and occupy our affections that, having so blessed a hope in Him, we may purify ourselves, even as He is pure, looking for that crown of righteousness which He will surely give to all them that love His appearing. Because He lives we live also; as He is, so are we in this world; where He is, there we shall be also; and when He shall appear we shall be like Him, and appear with Him in glory! What can we say to such a magnificent chain of associated blessedness, but anticipate the language we shall adopt when all this is accomplished, falling down at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and worshipping Him who sits upon the throne, saying, "Amen, Alleluia"? (Rev. 19:4.) W. R.