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forth be ever with the Lord,' ergo, they should from thenceforth be in heaven; for no heaven is here mentioned. If they must needs be with Christ, there where they are to meet him, it would rather follow, they should be ever with him in the air, than in heaven ; which, I suppose, none will admit. And, otherwise, the text will afford no more for heaven, than it will for earth ; nay, the words, 'He shall bring them with him,' make most for the latter. What if it be, that they may be preserved during the conflagration of the earth, and the works thereof, that as Noah and his family were preserved from the deluge, by being lift up above the waters in the ark, so should the saints, at the conflagration, be lift up in the clouds, unto their ark, Christ, to be preserved there from the deluge of fire, wherein the wicked shall be consumed !” *
We subjoin an extract from Abdiel's Essays: “The word used in the original is atavinois,—not the verb, but a noun; and literally is 'caught up into the air to the meeting of the Lord.' The word anaytnous occurs in three other places in the New Testament, and invariably signifies a meeting for the purpose of receiving and welcoming the individual, and to escort him back. Thus it is in Matt. XXV., where the ten virgins are first said to go forth and meet the bridegroom, (ver. 1,) and then are surprised in their slumber by the cry : 'Go ye out to meet him,' (ver. 6.) curs the third time in Acts XXVIII. 15: · And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us (ELS anavteduv nur) as far as Appii Forum and the three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God and took courage. And when we came to Rome,' &c. It is evident
* Dr. Joseph Mede.
here, that they met Paul, not to stay with him at the three taverns, but to continue with him by going back with him. And the whole context in Thessalonians seems to require, that we explain it of the saints going out to welcome the Lord in the air: not to continue in the air with him ; but to accompany him on his visit here, and therefore to return with him. For unless the saints return with Christ, the wicked must also be caught up for that judgment, which the anti-Millennarians always suppose happens at the same time with this event. I may add here, in defence of this view of anaytnous, that on referring to Schleusner, I find he interprets it; 'Cum quis alteri obviam procedit (vel, rapitur) ad eum excipiendum.'”
How calculated to fill our souls with joy, that our Lord and his apostles should have so clearly revealed the sudden transition of his children from frail mortality to immortal life! The apostle Peter describes their entrance into the “glorious presence" of their Lord as accompanied “ with exceeding joy." This prospect is farther enlivened by a conviction that the period is near when it will be realized by all who love him, and wait his coming ?"
THE NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH.
35. Heaven and earth shall pass away. 1 Corinthians vii. 31. The fashion of this world passeth away.
Rev. xxi. 5. “Behold I create all things new." This was the express declaration of Him that sat upon the throne: and no just reason can be advanced for supposing that it does not embrace the inanimate as well as animate creation,
The souls of the righteous, as we have seen, are translated to paradise at death,--to a new and disembodied, but therefore, as yet, imperfect state. At the first resurrection a total renovation of created existence, material and spiritual, consisting of the world and its inhabitants, would appear to be that which is signified by “new heavens and a new earth," or, " the restitution of all things,” not only to their primeval state, but probably to one of a much superior condition. It may be imagined by some that a new eartlı signifies simply a new and improved condition of the inhabitants of earth, and new heavens the glorified saints ; but after a diligent and extensive comparison of various passages of Scripture we find it much more accordant with
*" To oxnua, the form,' or
appearance.' Grotius remarks that the apostle's expression is borrowed from the theatre where to oxnua ons oknuns tapayal means that the scene changes, and presents an appearance entirely new.”
probability that there will indeed be a full and complete renovation or restitution of all things.
The earth, antecedent to the deluge, was the identical earth which we now inhabit; yet such a mighty change was produced in its surface and atmosphere as greatly to abbreviate the life of man. There will, doubtless be a change also at the Lord's Advent, and we think, still more mighty, in proportion to the change required for the personal enjoyment and longevity, which are so unambiguously predicted; farther, in proportion as the effects produced by elementary fire are more powerful than those effected by water. This word“ new," says Campbell, is here used in some such way as when a converted man is called a new creature. I am the same person as I was before conversion, yet am I a new man.
God pronounced his creation,-"yea, every thing that he had made,"—to be “very good," but sin converted the earth into a curse. Why then should we wonder that God should again effect such changes as can best, if not alone, consist with the happiness and length of days of his regenerated people? Why, instead of such a change of the earth's surface should we conceive its utter annihilation to be necessary, and that before it has blessed mankind to such an extent as would alone seem worthy the design for which it was created? There is nothing debasing nor contracted in the supposition,-nothing carnal, as some have imagined. How inexpressibly happy may God render us in this new creation, without translating us to the heaven of heavens ! How happy the moments which it has pleased God to bestow on some spiritually minded individuals, even as things are now constituted, so as nearly to exclude the idea of a more exalted bliss! Yet, alas, we know how rare and shortlived such periods are, from present temptation, and from the many infirmities of our nature! And when it is considered how few are the portions of our globe which conduce to health, comfort, and pleasurable existence, compared with the baneful effects of its soil and atmosphere generally, we perceive its utter unfitness to procure the enjoyments and benefits so largely and explicitly foretold. Why, then does it appear strange or improbable that God should restore and constitute it more perfect for a limited period; -one also which must be better introductory than the present to a heaven of endless duration ? or, as though a suoceeding eternity of bliss were not sufficient to satisfy our expectations ? There can be no satisfactory reason suggested for protesting against a future residence on earth. It will not then be deemed a vile and unsuitable habitation. It can no more be deemed vile than will those personal changes which the righteous shall simultaneously experience.* All things were created by and for Christ, both “ visible and invisible." At the creation, the sons of God shouted for joy. We are equally assured, that “ all things in heaven" (Gr. in the heavens) "and on the earth shall be" finally “gathered together in one in Christ, in whom also the saints have an inheritance." Were the earth, therefore, to be utterly destroyed at the coming of our Lord, these assurances must remain unfulfilled, and the triumph of Satan, whose temptations produced the curse, would be then complete. But he shall be dethroned, his power destroyed, 66 and there shall be no more curse." Christ has purchased
• "The Jews still express world by saying "heaven and earth ;" wherefore when the apostle would express this world, he calleth it heaven and earth, meaning the world that now is; but, saith he, "we look for new heavens and a new earth," that is a world to come. Now the words which in Heb. ii. 5, the apostle useth to denote this world to come, are "wherein dwelleth righteousness."- Dr. T. Goodwin.