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The Text opened, and an Account given of the Affair
proposed in the Memorial from Scotland.
ZECH. viii. 20, 21, 22.
THUS SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS, IT SHALL YET COME TO
PASS, THAT THERE SHALL COME PEOPLE, AND THE IN. HABITANTS OF MANY CITIES ; AND THE INHABITANTS OF ONE CITY SHALL GO TO ANOTHER, SAYING, LET US GO SPEEDILY TO PRAY BEFORE THE LORD, AND TO SEEK THE LORD OF HOSTS: I WILL GO ALSO. YEA, MANY PEOPLE AND STRONG NATIONS SHALL COME TO SEEK THE LORD OF HOSTS IN JERUSALEM, AND TO PRAY, BEFORE THE LORD.
In this chapter we have a prophecy of a future glorious advancement of the church of God; wherein it is evident, something further is intended than ever was fulfilled to the nation of the Jews under the Old Testament. For here are plain prophecies of such things as never were fulfilled before the coming of the Messiah : Particularly what is said in the two last verses in the chapter, of many people and strong nations worshipping and seeking the true God, and of so great an accession of Gentile nations to the church of God, that by far the greater part of the visible worshippers of God should consist of this new accession, so that they should be to the other as ten to one ; a certain number for an uncertain. There never happened any thing, from the time of the Proph. et Zechariah to the coming of Christ, to answer this prophecy: And it can have no fulfilment but either in the calling of the Gentiles, in and after the days of the apostles, or in the future glorious enlargement of the church of God in the latter ages of the world, so often foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament, and by the Prophet Zechariah in particular, in the latter part of this prophecy. It is most probable, that what the Spirit of God has chief respect to, is that last and greatest enlargement and most glorious advancement of the church of God on earth ; in the benefits of which especially, the Jew. ish nation were to have a share, and a very eminent and distinguishing share. There is a great agreement between what is here said, and other prophecies, that must manifestly have respect to the church's latter day glory: As that in Isa. Ix. 2, 3, 4. “ The Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee : And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see; all they gather themselves together, they come to thee." That whole chapter, beyond all dispute, has respect to the most glorious state of the church of God on earth. So chap. Ixvi. 8. “Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Shall a nation be born at once ?" Ver. 10. “ Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye
that love her." Ver. 12. “ I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” Micah. iv. at the beginning, “ But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mouptain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and people shall flow unto it; and many nations shall come and say, come, and let us go up unto the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off ; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks ; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” See also, Isa. ii. at the beginning..... There has been nothing yet brought to pass, in any measure to answer these prophecies. And as the prophecy in my text and the following verse does agree with them, so there is reason to think it has a respect to the same times. Ang åndeed there is a remarkable agreement in the description give en throughout the chapter, with the representations made of those times elsewhere in the prophets; as may be seen by comparing ver. 3, with Isa. Ix. 14. Ver. 4, with Isa. Ixv. 20, 22, and xxxii. 24. Ver. 6, 7, 8, with Ezek. xxxvii. 2, 11, 12, 21. Ver. 7, with Isa. xliii. 5, 6, and xlix. 12, and lix. 19. Ver. 12, 13, with Hos. ii. 21, 22, and Ezek. xxxiv. 22. ....9. Ver. 8, 12, 13, with Ezek. xxxvi. 28,....30. Ver. 13, with Zeph. iii. 20, and Isa. xix. 24. Ver. 19, with Isa. Ixi. 3, and Jer. xxxi. 12, 13, 14.
So that however the prophet, in some things that are said in this chapter, may have respect to future smiles of Heaven on the nation of the Jews, lately returned from the Babylonish captivity, and resettled in the land of Canaan, in a great increase of their numbers and wealth, and the return of more captives from Chaldea and other countries, &c. yet the Spirit of God has doubtless respect to things far greater than these, and of which these were but faint resemblances. We find ir common in the prophecies of the Old Testament, that when the prophets are speaking of the favors and blessings of God on the Jews, attending or following their return from the Babylonish captivity, the Spirit of God takes occasion from thence to speak of the incomparably greater blessings on the church, that shall attend and follow her deliverance from the spiritual or mystical Babylon, of which those were a type ; and is, as it were, led away to speak almost wholly of these latter, and vastly greater things, so as to seem to forget the former.
And whereas the prophet in this chapter, speaks of God's bringing his people again from the east and west to Jerusalem (ver. 7, 8.) And multitudes of all nations taking hold of the skirts of the Jews ; so far as we may suppose that this means literally that nation of the posterity of Jacob, it cannot have chief respect to any return of the Jews from Babylon and other countries, in those ancient times before Christ ; for no such things as are here spoken of, attended any such return : But it must have respect to the great calling and gathering of the Jews into the fold of Christ, and their being received to the bless.
ings of his kingdom, after the fall of Antichrist, or the des. traction of mystical Babylon.
In the text we have an account how this future glorious ad. vancement of the church of God should be brought on, or in, troduced ; viz. By great multitudes in different towns and countries taking up a joint resolution, and coming into an express and visible agreement, that they will, by united and extraordinary prayer, seek to God that he would come and manifest himself, and grant the tokens and fruits of his gracious presence.
Particularly we may observe,
1. The duty, with the attendance on which the glorious event foretold shall be brought on ; viz. The duty of prayer. Prayer, some suppose, is here to be taken synechdochically, for the whole of the worship of God; prayer being a princi, pal part of the worship of the church of God, in the days of the gospel, when sacrifices are abolished : And so that this is to be understood only as a prophecy of a great revival of re. ligion, and of the true worship of God among his visible peo. ple, the accession of others to the church, and turning of multitudes from idolatry to the worship of the true God. But it appears to me reasonable to suppose, that something more special is intended, with regard to the duty of prayer ; considering that prayer is here expressly and repeatedly mentioned ; and also considering how parallel this place is with many other prophecies, that speak of an extraordinary spirit of prayer, as preceding and introducing that glorious day of revival of religion, and advancement of the church's peace and prosperity, so often foretold (which I shall have occasion to mention hereafter) and particularly the agreeableness of what is here said, with what is said afterwards by the same prophet, of the pouring out of a spirit of grace and supplications, as that with which this great revival of religion shall begin, ch. xii. 10.
2. The good, that shall be sought by prayer; which is God himself. It is said once and again, They shall go to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of Hosts. This is the good they ask for and seek by prayer, the Lord of hosts himsclf. To seek God, as the expression may perhaps be some.