As I continued to watch: Thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat. His clothing was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.
One higher than they watched the moral chaos from his supernal throne, and, out of the tangled mass of conflicting ambitions and passions, brought a condition of permanent prosperity and peace.
I. OBSERVE THE DESCRIPTION OF HIS PERSON. He has the appearance of venerable age - "the Ancient of days." These inhuman monsters were "but of yesterday;" and, knowing that their time was short, were eager to make for themselves a name, be the methods what they may. But the Ruler of the nations is "from everlasting." His years outnumber all the generations of men. Human tribes come and go; dynasties rise and fall; to him they are like the meteorological changes on an April day. He sits unmoved, the calm Monarch of the universe. His clothing, "white as snow," betokens the immaculate righteousness of his administration. No intelligent being has ever detected the slightest blemish in his just and impartial sway. It is not consistent with his supreme dignity to give an account of his doings to human creatures, but to the extent that our moral judgments can comprehend his acts, we can join with the seraphim in the acclamation, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty;" "Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." He is not an indifferent spectator of human affairs. He may be slow to anger, yet is he the more sure to punish. "His throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire." Sin, lust, crime, of every sort, shall be swept from his domains with a fiery besom; yea, all creatures who identify themselves with wickedness. Every force and element in nature is his servant, and a stream of fire issues from his feet. The earth, long stained with shameful crime, shall be purified, and the saints shall emerge from the trial "as gold that has been purified." Though long delayed, complete retribution shall in due time come, and the oppressed among the sons of men shall be publicly vindicated and honoured.
II. HIS SPLENDID RETINUE. His army is not reckoned by thousands, but by myriads, The largest number known to the ancients is put for an indefinite number. Everything that lives and breathes minister unto him. The orders and ranks of unfallen angels are his lieutenants. At a single glance of his eye they fly on fleetest wing to fulfil his Divine behests. One angel, with his invisible sword, scattered and decimated the proud army of Sennacherib. An east wind discomfited Pharaoh's host. A few flakes of snow annihilated the regiments of Napoleon. More than once a thunderstorm has defeated the most valiant troops of warriors. The locust, one feeble branch of God's military retinue, has chased a whole nation from the field. "To whom, then, shall we liken God?" And is not he a prodigious fool who challenges God to a contest? "Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth; but woe to the man who strives with his Maker!" Filled with Divine courage, "one man shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight."
III. HIS JUDICIAL. OCCUPATION. "The judgment was set." This language does not refer exclusively to the final and general judgment of mankind. It refers especially to a present judgment, and a special adjudication touching the ambitious kings. The activity of God's mental judgment is never in suspense. Judicial acts are always proceeding. "For judgment," said Christ, "I am come into the world." Still, it is permitted us to think of state occasions, when public investigations are made, clear proofs of human guilt are adduced, and world-wide approval is given of Divine verdicts. "The books were opened," viz. the volume of Divine Law, clearly read by men; the book of history; the book of memory; the book of conscience. The decision shall not be reached with unseemly haste. The investigation shall proceed under the superintendence of Wisdom herself, and her calm decisions can never be called in question.
IV. HIS ROYAL AWARDS. The act of Divine judgment, which was present to the view of Daniel, was an act concerning the "great beast." He had been seized by God's detectives, and arraigned before the bar of heavenly justice. His last daring act of rebellion was that of speaking proud and defiant words against God. Thus the haughty oppressors of nations boast, "Our wills are our own: who is Lord over us?" But their discomfiture will be complete and overwhelming. The beast was slain. Life was withdrawn. Nor this only. His body was destroyed. As he had consumed others, so, by a righteous retribution, he shall be consumed in the burning flame. Lesser penalties are imposed on the other beasts. Further opportunity of amendment is given to some. Dominion is forfeited, but life for a brief season is prolonged. Yet, in this heavenly assize, there are not only wrongs punished; rights are vindicated. Obedience, excellence, merit, axe commended, are exalted to the highest place. The human monarchs, who abused their sovereign trust, shall be dethroned - yea, destroyed; but in their place another shall arise - a King of righteousness, a pattern Prince. Instead of savage beasts, there shall be, as King of nations, a Son of man - a man fresh from the hands of God. His innate glory shall be partly veiled, "He came in the clouds of heaven." His is no usurped authority. He does not take this honour of himself. He professes allegiance to the world's Ruler and Judge, and receives the kingdom at the hands of God. "Angels and principalities and powers" delight to do him honour; "they brought him near" the everlasting Father. The Son of man does not disdain to receive the kingdom from the Creator and Originator of all things. Because of his meekness and righteousness (not because of muscular power and violence) the Son of man receives investiture of universal sovereignty. Others, like Alexander and Timour, had aspired to this, but they were not worthy. Real merit shall at length rise to the surface, and reach the topmost place. Before him "every knee shall bow," either attracted by his grace or awed by his power. To him shall appertain, not a kingdom only, but transcendent glory, and dominion born of love. All nations and languages shall ultimately serve him, and his kingdom shall be durable as eternity. Universality and permanency are the indelible marks of Messiah's empire. - D.
Grotius remarks that the ancient thrones and curule chairs had wheels. Those in the text being like burning fire." Dr. Cox observes: "Prognosticate"; "at once the majesty of the Judge, piercing, penetrating, awful, and the rapid progress of those providential visitations which would bespeak the indignation of a sin-avenging Deity." "The fire-scattering wheels," says Keil, "show the omnipotence of the Divine throne of judgment — the going of the judgment of God the whole earth." He further observes: "Fire, and the shining of fire, are the constant phenomena of the manifestation of God in the world. The fire which engirds His throne with flame pours itself forth as a stream from God into the world, consuming all that is sinful and hostile to Him, and rendering His people and kingdom glorious."
The ancient of days did sit.
1. He should be a King.
2. A Judge.These claims rested on the unity of nature — the "ancient of days " being "brought near " and taking "hold of, the Son of man; thus making both One and this One offering a propitiation — being "out off," but not from Himself. The first claim has been met; Christ is the King! He shall be the Judge Kingship becomes the guarantee of Judgeship. We proceed to proclaim a coming judgment.
I. IT IS THE UNIVERSAL EXPRESSION OF OUR RACE.
1. By personal conscience.
2. By relative necessity.
3. By ideal anticipation.
II. IT IS THE UNIFORM TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURE. The Bible teaches throughout that "the judgment " will take place. In this testimony we find three grand facts.
1. All the dead are reserved to judgment.
2. All the living are going to judgment
3. All conditions of life will be known at the judgment.
(1) (2) (3) III. IT IS THE INVOLVED CULMINATION OF REDEMPTION. 1. It will exhibit the personal glory of our Redeemer's character. 2. It will vindicate the supreme importance of our Redeemer's mission. 3. It will display the impartiality of our Redeemer's administration. 4. It will declare the immunities of our Redeemer's followers. (Joseph Odell.)
(2) (3) III. IT IS THE INVOLVED CULMINATION OF REDEMPTION. 1. It will exhibit the personal glory of our Redeemer's character. 2. It will vindicate the supreme importance of our Redeemer's mission. 3. It will display the impartiality of our Redeemer's administration. 4. It will declare the immunities of our Redeemer's followers. (Joseph Odell.)
(3) III. IT IS THE INVOLVED CULMINATION OF REDEMPTION. 1. It will exhibit the personal glory of our Redeemer's character. 2. It will vindicate the supreme importance of our Redeemer's mission. 3. It will display the impartiality of our Redeemer's administration. 4. It will declare the immunities of our Redeemer's followers. (Joseph Odell.)
III. IT IS THE INVOLVED CULMINATION OF REDEMPTION.
1. It will exhibit the personal glory of our Redeemer's character.
2. It will vindicate the supreme importance of our Redeemer's mission.
3. It will display the impartiality of our Redeemer's administration.
4. It will declare the immunities of our Redeemer's followers.
I. THE GLORIOUS APPEARANCE OF OUR SAVIOUR.
1. That Christ will re-visit this earth is a fact stated in many passages of Scripture. What shall be the nature of the grandeur and glory of His final appearing, or how it will be displayed, none can tell.
II. ITS ATTENDANT CIRCUMSTANCES. More particularly as to ourselves and mankind at large. Mark how diverse the characters of those around the throne! What an affecting contrast is presented to our minds!
(Edward Pizey, B. A.)
Thousand thousands ministered unto Him
(Serrmons by Authors "Tracts for the Times.")
I. THE PECULIAR NATURE OF THE HEAVENLY SERVICE.
1. It will be suited to a state of final reward. There will be nothing that will imply a state of probation or trial. When we reach Heaven, all service which had the nature of a means to attaining the end of moral perfection will pass away.
2. It will include all essential duties that are due from the creature to the Creator. Many of the duties of revealed religion will cease in Heaven, because they are designed to effect a temporary purpose only. Through eternity, angels and redeemed will be dependent upon God, and receive all good from Him. Love, and the manifestation of love, will be one portion of this exalted service. A holy fear of, and respect to, the majesty of God is due from the creature to the Creator, and the manifestation of this will be one part of the service of Heaven. A voluntary dependence on God; an absolute and unlimited subjection to His supreme authority; a continued aim at His glory — enter into the duty of the creature towards the Creator.
3. The Heavenly service will be the united service of angels and men. The assembly of Heaven is one, the worship or service is one, the temple is one, the song is one.
4. The Heavenly service will consist in immediate attendance upon God. Here ours is the service of trading for our great Master while He is in a far country. But in Heaven we shall serve in His presence; we shall be His personal attendants.
5. It will be a service of subordinate dominion. The Scriptures assure us that the saints are to be rulers and governors in the world to come. What an honour and satisfaction it will be to serve the King of kings and Lord of lords, as kings and rulers under Him, and this honour shall all the saints have.
6. The Heavenly service will be a sabbath service. The earthly sabbath is a type of Heaven, and it shadows forth the state and employments of the saints there. It is a rest from worldly toil and labour, but not a cessation of all activity and service.
7. The service of Heaven is temple service. The ancient temple was a type of Heaven.
8. The service of Heaven will be a service of praise. To think of God, to admire Him, to behold His glory and rejoice in it, to love and praise Him, will be the sweet employment of Heaven. The Heavenly service is the engagement of spirits freed from sin; pervaded with light, fired with love, enraptured with delight, and bound by sweet and immortal bonds to God and to each other for ever.
II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS SERVICE WILL BE RENDERED,
1. Without the least reluctance. The service of God will be voluntarily rendered, deeply loved, and highly enjoyed.
2. Without weakness.
3. Without weariness.
4. Without distraction.
5. Without intermission.
6. Without defect.
7. Without end.If this service will be our happiness and honour in Heaven, let us take care that we deem it our happiness and honour on earth. None who refuse to serve God on earth shall serve Him in Heaven.
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