Before this Kingdom can be given to this elect people, they must first be gathered out.
PROPOSITION 65. Before this Kingdom can be given to this elect people, they must first be gathered out.
The nature of the Kingdom as covenanted, and the rejection of the Kingdom by the chosen nation (making such a gathering requisite), requires such an arrangement. The introduction of the faith principle, by which Abraham was justified before circumcision took place, to raise up children to Abraham, merely produces “the heirs,” who inherit the Kingdom. The elect are “the guests,” who are first all invited and furnished before the marriage feast takes place. The Kingdom is not given—in the sense of being actually realized—to them one by one as gathered, but when all are gathered.
Obs. 1. This final gathering of all the elect “from one end of heaven to the other,” at the period of inheriting the Kingdom, is mentioned, e.g. Matt. 24:31; Mark 13:27; 2 Thess. 2:1, etc.[*]
Note. It is a query, whether in such passages as Matt. 24:31 there is not a reference to the Jewish nation. The elect nation, after a time of punishment, is also to be gathered out of all nations. Jesus was speaking to Jews who believed their nation to be the chosen, elect one, and His language would necessarily lead them to apply it to the gathering of the nation as predicted by the prophets. The special point made by the Saviour is, that such a gathering can only take place after the period of tribulation has run its allotted course (comp. Props. 111–114). This includes, however, as other passages teach, the gathering out of those also who are incorporated—who are deemed worthy of a Theocratic position in the Kingdom.Bonet, in his address, Christianity and the Gospel, before the Evang. Alliance for 1873, defines even the word “saint” to mean “set apart.”
Obs. 2. This Kingdom is promised to the direct faithful seed of Abraham, and it is incorporated with the Jewish nation through the adopted and amalgamated Theocratic-Davidic throne and Kingdom. It is likewise promised to the engrafted seed, but necessarily subject to the same incorporation. Hence, until this seed is openly manifested in its nationally engrafted character with the Jewish elect nation (a restoration of the nation being imperative to fulfil covenants), the Kingdom as promised and predicted cannot be established.[*]
Note. Therefore, in view of this, a petition occurring in the Burial Service of the Church of England has often arrested the attention of the writer, viz.: “That it may please Thee, of Thy gracious goodness, shortly to accomplish the number of Thine Elect, and to hasten Thy Kingdom.” Not keeping in view the design for which the election is made, viz.: to qualify men for the future divine administration of the restored Theocratic Kingdom, Fairbairn (On Proph, p. 263) applies things to the restored Jewish nation in its un-theocratic form (i.e. without the Davidic covenant literally realized in a personal reign of the Messiah, David’s Son), which only refer to the elect saints, viz.: that portion accounted worthy to rule in the Theocratic Kingdom when the restoration is effected. The Jewish nation in the flesh is subordinate to these firstborn glorified rulers, and while the latter come in the elect covenanted line, yet they are superior to the former in honor, station, and privileges. The reader’s indulgence is asked, for it is yet too early in our argument to give more than these hints. Compare Props. 118, 153, and 154.
Obs. 3. In view of the Kingdom being thus future, it is reasonable to expect such futurity to be specified in connection with the election. This is done in various places, as e.g. 2 Pet. 1:10, 11, the election is stated and faithfulness enjoined that an entrance may be secured hereafter into the Kingdom. In 1 Pet. 1:2–13, the elect are mentioned, and they are pointed to the future, even to the revelation of Christ, for their inheritance. So in Eph. 1:4, these chosen ones are directed to the future gathering for their inheritance. The Word does not contradict itself. Therefore this futurity of the Kingdom is the basis of the numerous exhortations to obtain it, to walk worthily of it, to look, seek, and pray for it.
Obs. 4. God for a time leaving the nation first bidden, and treating the Jews as individuals (i.e. not in their national relationship), now invites both Jews and Gentiles to become this people of faith, and through Peter, to whom this knowledge was imparted, the relation of these elect to the Kingdom, in the age to come, is fully and explicitly stated. There is a fitness in this, that the apostle selected to indicate this election should also refer the Kingdom to the future for manifestation and realization. In addition to the passages quoted from him, the reader may turn to his sermon, Acts 3:19–26, where the eye of faith is directed to the coming again of Jesus and the accompanying “restitution of all things.” In no place is it asserted, that the promised covenanted Kingdom was already in possession of the elect, for such a statement would be palpably contradictory to the most sacred portions of Holy Writ, viz.: to the covenants.
Obs. 5. This Kingdom is to be given to all of the elected nation, both believing Jews of natural descent and engrafted Gentiles, to all believers, therefore, that have ever lived; and it will be bestowed upon both at the same time, including the Patriarchs, ancient worthies, faithful Jews, and believing adopted Gentiles. One portion of the elect cannot inherit before the other portion; both stand precisely upon the same footing and obtain through the identical election and covenants the same inheritance. (The rejection by the nation of the tender, does not change the nature of it, other guests are invited and participate instead of those previously urged, and now under a cloud for their refusal.) In reference to one portion of these elect, Paul informs us (Heb. 11:39, 40), after enumerating a long list of worthies, “these all received not the promise” “that they without us should not be made perfect.” None of the present saints, (viz.: of this dispensation,) have inherited the Kingdom, for the inheriting is placed in the future, as e.g. Matt. 25:34. The Kingdom is promised to both, forming the one elect body, but those things which belong to the actual realization of the Kingdom, such as inheriting, receiving the crown, reigning, etc., are all, as the reader will find by a comparison of passages, related to the future. The saints, the elect of this and previous dispensations, are represented as waiting for the Kingdom (comp. Rev. 6:9–11; Luke 18:7, 8; 2 Thess. 1:5–10; Rom. 8:23, etc.).[*]
Note. Whatever the intermediate state may be, whether in Hades simply (as some assert), or in Paradise in Hades (as others claim), or in the third heaven (as some announce), etc., one thing is clearly demonstrable, viz.: that the inheriting of the Kingdom, the receiving of the crown, the obtaining of the distinctive reward as allied with covenanted promises, are all still future, always linked with the future resurrection of the just or allied with the Sec. Advent of Jesus Christ. The Bible is explicit on this point, and the covenants absolutely require this to preserve the requisite unity. Let the reader compare what is said on the intermediate state, Prop. 136.
Obs. 6. This Kingdom is to be given at a specified appointed time known to God. Without now discussing the predictions, we only refer to the fact that before “the Kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High” (Dan. 7), a certain period of time must first elapse, certain events must first transpire, and then the Kingdom is bestowed. It is given to this people at a particular time or era. The parable of the talents (“after a long time,” etc.), and of the tares and wheat, the delineation of 2 Thess. 2, and of other passages, illustrate this same truth.
Obs. 7. In comparing Scripture, it will be found that this period of time is stated to be at the era of the Sec. Advent, when this Kingdom will be bestowed upon the elect, Matt. 25:34; Luke 12:32; 2 Thess. 1:5–10, etc. Hence the elect are represented as “called” (1 Thess. 2:12) to this Kingdom, to “a patient waiting for Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5), and “His appearing and Kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:1) are united;—they are exhorted to endure trials that (2 Thess. 1:5) “ye may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God.” To these might be added numerous passages, which will appear as we proceed; in the meantime, the reader is reminded that this accurately corresponds with what has preceded and what follows in our argument.[*]
Note. We only remind the reader, as an indication of a Divine Purpose and Providence, that as the larger number of the elect, the great mass, are taken out of the Gentiles, the time chosen for this call of the Gentiles was signally opportune. Thus e.g. the change from the Hebrew to the Hellenistic language was one of the providential movements preparatory to this calling, and facilitated the same. The time specified in the Obs. and the delay of the Kingdom, until the number of the elect is completed, has been noticed by many able writers. Thus e.g. Olshausen (Com. Acts 1:6–8), remarks, in connection with referring “the times of refreshing and restitution” to the personal Sec. Advent of Jesus: “The conversion of men, therefore, and the diffusion of faith in Christ, are the conditions of the speedy approach of that blessed time—a thought which occurs again in 2 Pet. 3:9.”
Obs. 8. It may be added, that this future Kingdom covenanted to the elect nation, and which the elect, including the promised Seed, are to inherit, is explicitly called Christ’s Kingdom. This ought to be so, if our position is correct, and has already been foreshown under Prop. 45, etc. The Kingdom at the Sec. Advent is distinctively called “His Kingdom,” as e.g. 2 Tim. 4:1; Matt. 13:41; Luke 22:30; 2 Pet. 1:11, etc. We are gravely told (comp. Prop. 159) by a multitude that Christ at the end of this dispensation at His Sec. Advent, will deliver up “His Kingdom,” so that, if we are to receive their theory, no such distinctive Kingdom is to exist after the Advent for the elect to inherit. But this notion is to be rejected as utterly untenable and contradictory to the entire tenor of the Word, which locates the Messianic Kingdom at the Sec. Advent (comp. Prop. 159).
Obs. 9. In studying the subject of the Kingdom, we must not be misled by a striking peculiarity of Scripture, viz.: that things still future, owing to their certainty, are spoken of as present. The style of prediction and promise, dealing largely of objects of faith and hope, contains this feature as has been noticed by many writers. Thus the Kingdom of God, the great object of faith and hope, being sure, founded on the Word and oath of the Almighty, is in view of its certainty spoken of as present, being received, etc. (comp. Prop. 109), as e.g. in Heb. 12:22–28; Rom. 8:30; Rev. 1:6, 9, etc. To take such passages, given through the intensity of faith and hope, and make them contradictory and inconsistent with the general analogy of the Word, is certainly both unwise and unnecessary.[*]
Note. The illustrations given by Macnight in his Prelim. Essays on the Epistles (Essay 4, s. 12, from the Greek, Matt. 3:10; Mark 9:31; 1 Cor. 15:2, 12; James 5:3; 2 Pet. 3:11, 12), prove that, as he says, “the present tense is often put for the future, to show that the thing spoken of shall as certainly happen as if it were already present.” He (as well as many commentators) overlooks this feature in his exegetical comments on various passages. The illustrations can be greatly increased indicative of the sentiment of Rom. 4:17, He “calleth those things which be not as though they were,” as in Rom. 8:30 “them He also glorified,” in 1 Pet. 1:9 (see connection), Luke 1:51–53; Isa. 9:6, many of the Psls., etc. Justin Martyr, long ago, in his First Apology, assigns the reason for this mode of expression, “The things which He absolutely knows will take place, He predicts as if already they had taken place.” This feature heightens the Divine in the Word, making it to speak in the largeness and fulness of the Spirit, as e.g. in that Divine Purpose portrayed in the declaration that Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). So also Neander in several places shows how the apostles spoke of the future as present, although he forgets his own admissions in commenting on several passages. Thus e.g. speaking of the author of Hebrews (His. Plant. Ch. Ch., vol. 2, p. 5), he instances ch. 10:22, ch. 12:23, and ch. 12:28, as evidence that “to Christians the future is by faith already become a present.” And (p. 13), “by means of faith a vital connection is formed between the Present and the Future. By means of faith, according to the doctrine of this epistle, the Future becomes in some measure a Present to the mind, although this Present has a necessary bearing to a more perfect development, a consummation in the Future.”
Obs. 10. The reader need scarcely be reminded, that in all the elect ones, both ancient and modern, who are to enjoy the Kingdom of God, certain moral qualifications are necessary as a prerequisite. The natural and engrafted seed of Abraham must all be of faith and obedience. The decisive argument in Romans and Hebrews evinces this; for while the seed of Abraham is chosen, not every individual is thus favored; while the nation is elected to a Theocratic position, not every member of it will be saved; it is only the faithful portion of Abraham’s seed that is commended and that will be exalted. This has been so ably represented by various writers (as Noel, McNeill, Bickersteth, Bonar, etc.), that it only requires brief mention.[*]
Note. It may be added: this requires more than mere knowledge, viz.: the practical reception of the truth and a heartfelt obedience to the same, lest we fall into the “delusion” specified by Dorner (His. Prot. Theol., vol. 1, p. 19), of receiving the truth merely by the mind and not by the mind and heart—the latter alone leading to a personal appropriation of Christ, influencing heart and life In the Obs. ancient and modern saints are purposely placed in the same position, for there is much written at the present day respecting the inferiority of Old Test. saints, grounded on their being justified by works, the law, etc. This is certainly a misapprehension, seeing that the apostles hold up the believers of former dispensations as pre-eminent patterns of faith (their works being the result of faith) and that their lives evinced, in obedience to God’s requirements, the strongest faith. They were justified by faith, and not by the law, and not by their works, however, the law might drive to faith, and the works might evidence the purity and strength of faith. Hence, as faith introduces the blessing of Redemption through Abraham, and all his seed are of faith, we cannot receive the disparaging remarks of eminent writers in this direction. Thus, to illustrate, Reuss (His. Ch. Theol., p. 290), says, alluding to conversion and its moral results: “The new relation of which we have spoken was evidently an individual relation between the believing man and his God. Now we must remember that such a relation had no existence in the religious sphere of Judaism, which was a purely and essentially national institution, the members of which had rights and duties only as belonging to the great whole.” This is simply overlooking the distinctive Theocratic element connected with this nationality, which bound the individual member to his Sovereign Ruler. The tendency, indeed, constantly was to ignore this Theocratic feature, but God insisted upon its retention as alone honorable to Himself as the Theocratic King.
Obs. 11. The Kingdom thus given to these elect ones does not remove the election of the Jewish nation as a nation. This, aside from the covenants and the Theocratic ordering allied with the nation, is seen from the fact, that this seed gathered out is virtually regarded as part and parcel of the nation (is a continuation of the election, Prop. 63), and when the nation is nationally restored will be so recognized in the inheriting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Again, let any one compare Deut. ch. 32, Rom. ch. 11, together with various predictions relating to this elect Jewish nation, and he will find the following succinctly stated: (1) The Jews an elect nation (Prop. 24); (2) this nation can render itself unworthy of the Kingdom by disobedience; (3) by its own conduct it will bring upon itself terrible evils and a temporary rejection as a nation; (4) the Theocratic rulership will be, for a time, withdrawn; (5) during such a period of rejection, God still continues His work of gathering out of it, and out of the Gentiles, the elect; (6) but the nation itself, for a time under the most severe tribulations, will, owing to this very election (being “beloved for the Father’s sakes”), again—as the covenant to be fulfilled demands—be restored to the favor of God. This nation, therefore, now under trial, is still the chosen nation, and this will be manifested in due time (see Props. 111 to 114). Hence the preference (Luke 24:47; Rom. 1:16; Acts 3:25, 26; Rom. 2:10; Acts 13:46, and 19:21), showed to this nation even after the day of Pentecost in preaching the Gospel—a preference based only upon this election, the Jews being, by virtue of their relationship to Abraham, “the children of the Kingdom,” and the descendants of those who once enjoyed this Kingdom in its initiatory, incipient form. The natural seed must not, therefore, be ignored; and only upon their refusal to accept of the proffered gospel of the Kingdom were the apostles, and even Paul, authorized to seek after the engrafted ones. One of the darkest pages in the history of Christianity is that which records the tendering of insult, wrong, and death instead of the precious message of hope and peace to this covenant favored people.[*]
Note. This already gives us the clue to the literal fulfilment of the covenant promises, confirmed as they are by the oath of God, and therefore unconditional. Thus e.g. the promise of making Abraham’s seed a mighty nation (which has specially excited the ridicule of infidels in comparing the feeble Kingdom of Israel with the mighty empires of the earth) will be realized when this elect nation will all be gathered and stand associated with the restored Theocratic Kingdom. It does not require much reason to see, that when God’s Plan is carried out and openly manifested, it will exceed the highest eulogies that the Prophets have given, and most amply vindicate God’s Word. Let all the seed of Abraham be brought together at the appointed time, and language fails to express the might and grandeur of the nation. The world will be astonished at the sublime manifestation.
Waldegrave (New Test. Millenarianism, Lect. 3) entirely misapprehends this election of the Jewish nation, holding that the continuance of the election by the engrafting of the Gentiles forbids any future special manifestation of God’s favor to the Jewish nation, as e.g. to bestow upon it pre-eminence over Gentile nations. Much that Waldegrave says we can cordially adopt, excepting his extreme in this direction, seeing that he does not discriminate between the pre-eminence of those who inherit the Kingdom (i.e. the saints as rulers) and that of the nation restored among and over the nations by virtue of its covenanted position and relationship with these glorified saints, the seed of Abraham. This engrafting process, we also hold, gives “a perfect equality between Jew and Gentile,” and it is likewise correct to assert, as he does, that “the believing Gentile, though uncircumcised, is much more really a child of Abraham than the circumcised Jew who does not believe.” The reason for this has been fully assigned in previous Props., but this does not, by any means, necessitate his hasty and inconclusive deductions, which make the Davidic covenant and numerous prophecies inoperative and unfulfilled.
Obs. 12. These elect, now gathered out, are in the various denominations of Christians. The diversity, even of doctrine and practice, does not interfere with the possession of the living engrafting principle of faith. The former arises incidentally from the liberty allowed to humanity, which, through infirmity, results in doubt and even error being, more or less, mixed with apprehensions of the truth; the latter, however, in the eyes of a just and merciful God, compensates, if followed by corresponding fruit in evidence of its sincerity, for the weakness exhibited in the former. The one could not have been obviated without largely infringing man’s moral agency; the other cannot be negatived without interfering with the Divine Will itself.[*]
Note. The reader is reminded that while many professors are rejected and few are chosen, it is also true that out of those saved some are but barely saved, as by fire, and cannot expect to enjoy that honor of position that others realize in the coming Kingdom (comp. Prop. 135). Prosperity, too, is no sign of God’s special favor, for Heb. 12:5–12; James 1:12; Rev. 3:19, etc., clearly teach that trial, adversity, etc., are often but tokens of God’s love toward His elect. With Paul (Col. 1:24), they fill up the measure of Christ’s sufferings, for being designed as co-heirs, co-rulers with Christ, it is essential that they become in all things Christ-like, imitating Him and cultivating His spirit, which can only be done by being tested and tried, as Jesus Himself was afflicted, so that they may partake of His glory. Enduring temptation and trial is indicative of a proper apprehension of Christ, of the Spirit and truth abiding with us, of our being truly the children of God, of our being the elect. But while enduring, under trial, fighting the good fight of faith, it is not for us to sit in judgment over others who may be struggling and tried as we are; it is sufficient to realize in our own experience God’s leadings and to enjoy the sweet consciousness of His favor in the fulfilment of promises pertaining to the present life.
Obs. 13. This elect people are charged with folly by others, because they trust in covenanted promises, and in the Seed by whom they shall be fulfilled. This was predicted many centuries ago, Deut. 32:21, and is pointedly referred to in 1 Cor. 1:25–28.
Obs. 14. Many claim, some arrogantly, that they alone are these elected ones and all others, outside of their organization or doctrinal position, are excluded. This is simply presumption; for it ever remains true what is stated in Matt. 7:21–23, etc. Profession is not God’s judgment; and these elect will be made manifest when the Judge cometh.[*]
Note. Julius Müller (quoted by Dr. Sprecher in The Luth. Evangelist, 1877) forcibly observes: “As an inalienable acquisition—derived by the Protestant Church out of the sad decay of its orthodox theology, especially in the latter part of the seventeenth century and after, out of the Pietistic and Moravian reactions, and out of the revival of living faith in the present century—we must regard the conviction that the faith which saves does not consist in the adoption of a series of articuli fundamentales primarii, but in an absolute and truthful surrender of one’s self to the personal Saviour; a surrender of which the simplest child is capable. Although this conviction may in the next few years have to sustain violent attacks and be branded as heresy—the attacks have, indeed, already begun—yet it is so deeply rooted in the Divine Word and in the fundamental religious sentiment of the Reformers, that we cannot but have confidence in its final triumph.”
Obs. 15. The Kingdom with its attendant blessings, being the same tendered to both Jew and Gentile believer, at once removes the objection urged against the Bible in the following extract. One of the advocates of “the Absolute Religion” (quoted by Birks, p. 413 in The Bible and Mod. Thought). speaking of the Old and New Tests., says: “One offers only an earthly recompense, the other makes immortality a motive to the Divine life.” “If Christianity and Judaism be not the same thing, there must be hostility between the Old and the New Testaments, for the Jewish form claims to be eternal. To an unprejudiced man, this hostility is very obvious. It may indeed be said, Christianity came not to destroy the Law and the Prophets but to fulfil them; and the answer is plain, their fulfilment was their destruction.” Our line of argument clearly shows a fundamental union and vital connection between the two: it also proves the perpetual election of a seed and the ultimate fulfilment in that Abrahamic seed of all that has been covenanted, promised, and predicted in the Old and New Tests. The prevailing view, which introduces the antagonism and hostility alluded to by its transmutations of covenant and promise, is alone chargeable with suggesting the objection.