« FöregåendeFortsätt »
but as the first fruits of the intended harvest,both with regard to Jews and Gentiles, and to look on the ingathering of those first fruits as a sign that all the remainder both of Jews and Gentiles should in due time be gathered in ; ver. 16. “ For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches." And in that context, the apostle speaks of the fullness of both Jews and Gentiles, as what shall hereafter be brought in, as distinct froin that ingathering from among both, that was in those primitive ages of Christianity : In ver. 12, we read of the fulness of the Jews, and in the 25th of the fulness of the Gentiles : And there in ver. 30, 31, 32, the apostle teaches us to look upon that infidelity and darkness, that first prevailed over all Gentile nations, before Christ came, and then over the Jews after Christ came, as what was wisely permitted of God, as a preparation for the manifestation of the glory of God's mercy, in due time, on the whole world, constituted of Jews and Gentiles. God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. These things plainly shew, that the time is coming when the whole world of mankind shall be brought into the church of Christ; and not only a part of the Jews, and a part of the Gentile world, as the first fruits, as it was in the first ages of the Christian church ; but the fullness of both, the whole lump, all the nation of the Jews, and all the world of Gentiles.
In the last great conflict between the church of Christ and her enemies, before the commencement of the glorious time of the church's peace and rest, The kings of the earth, and the whole world, are represented as gathered ingether, Rev. xvi. 14, and then the “ seventh angel pours out his vial into the air," which limits that kingdom that Satan has, as god of this world, in its utmost extent ; and that kingdom is represented as utterly overthrown, ver. 17, &c. And in another description of that great battle, chap. xix. Christ is represented as riding forth, having on his head many crowns, and on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Which we may well suppose signifies, that he is now going to that conquest, whereby he shall set up a kingdom, in which he shall be King of Kings, in a far more extensive manner than either the Babylonish, Persian, Grecian, or Roman mon. archs were. And in ver. 17, and following, “an angel appeals standing in the sun, that overlooks the whole world, callink on all ihe fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, to come and eat the flesh of kings," &c. And in consequence of the greai viciory Christ gains at that time, an angel comes down from heaven, ha ing the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand, and lays hold on the devil, and binds him, and casts him into the boitomless pit, and shuts hin up, and sets a seal uron him, that he should deceive the nations no more. Satan, being dispossessed of that highest monarchy on earth, the Roman empire, and cast out in the time of Constantine, is represented chap. xij. by his being cast down from heaven to the earth : But now there is something far beyond that ; he is cast out of the earth, and is shut up in hell, and confined to that alone, so that he has no place left himn in this world of mankind, high nor low.
Now will any be so unreasonable as to say, that all these things do not signify more than that one third part of the world should be brought into the church of Christ ; beyond which it cannot be pretended that the Christian religion has ever yet reached, in its greatest extent ? Those countries, which belonged to the Roman empire, that were brought to the profession of Christianity, after the reign of Constantine, are but a small part of what the habitable world now is ; as to extent of ground, they all together bear, I suppose, no greater proportion to it, than the land of Canaan did to the Roman empire. And our Redeemer in his kingdom of grace has hitherto possessed but a little part of the world, in its most flourishing state, since arts are risen to their greatest height; and a very great part of the world is but lately discovered, and much remains undiscovered to this day.
These things make it very evident, that the main fulfilment of those prophecies, that speak of the glorious advancement of Christ's kingdom on earth, is still to come.
And as there has been nothing as yet, with regard to the flourishing of religion, and the advancement of Christ's kingdom, of such extent as to answer the prophecies, so neither has there been any thing of that duration, that is foretold.... The prophecies speak of Jerusalem's being made the joy of of the whole earth, and also the joy of many generations (Psal. xlviii. 2, Isa. 1x. 15.) That God's people should long enjoy the suork of their hande, (Isa. lxv. 22.) That they should reign with Christ a thousand years (Rev. xx.) by which we must at least understand a very long time. But it would be endless to mention all the places, which signify that the time of the church's great peace and prosperity should be of long continuance : Almost all the prophecies that speak of her latter day glory, imply it; and it is implied in very many of them, that when once this day of the church's advancement and peace is begun, it shall never end, till the world ends ; or, at least, that there shall be no more a return of her troubles and adversity for any considerable continuance; that then the days of her mourning shall be ended ; that her tribulations should then be as the waters of Noah unto God, that as he has sworn that the waters of Noah should no more pass over the earth, so he will swear that he will no more be wroth with his people, or rebuke them ; that God's people should no more walk after the imagination of their evil heart ; that God would hide himself no more from the house of Israel, because he has poured out his Spirit upon them; that their sun should no more go down, nor the moon withdraw itself; that the light should not be clear and dark (i. e. there should be no more an interchange of light and darkness, as used to be) but that it should be all one continued day ; not day and night (for so the words are in the original in Zech, xiv. 7) alternately, but it shall come to past, that at evening time (i. e. at the time that night and darkness used to be) it shall be light ; and that the nations should beat heir swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and that nation shall not lift up sqvord against nation, nor learn war any more; but that there should be abundance of peace 80 long as the moon endureth. And innumerable things of this nature are declared.
But the church of Christ has never yet enjoyed a state of peace and prosperity for any long time, on the contrary, the times of her rest, and of the flourishing state of religion, have ever been very short. Hitherto the church may say as in Isa. Ixiji. 17, 18. « Return, for thy servants sake, the tribes of thine inheritance ; the people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while.” The quietness that the church of God enjoyed after the beginning of Constantine's reign, was very short ; the peace the empire enjoyed, in freedom from war, was not more than twenty years ; no longer vor greater than it had enjoyed under some of the heathen emperors. After this the empire was rent in pieces by intestine wars, and wasted almost every where by the invasions and incursions of barbarous nations, and the Christian world was soon all in contention and confusion, by heresies and divisions in matters of religion. And the church of Christ has never as yet been for any long time, free from persecution ;, especially when truth has prevailed, and true religion flourished. It is manifest, that hitherto the people of God have been kept under, and Zion has been in a low afflicted state, and her enemies have had the
And another thing, that makes it exceeding manifest that that day of the church's greatest advancement on earth, which is foretold in scripture, has never yet come, is, that it is so plainly and expressly revealed that this day should succeed the last of the four monarchies, even the Roman, in its last state, wherein it is divided into ten kingdoms, and after the destruction of Antichrist, signified by the little horn, whose reign is contemporary with the reign of the ten kings. These things are very plain in the 2d and 7th chapters of Daniel, and also in the Revelation of St. John. And it is also plain by the 11th chapter of Romans, that it shall be after the national conversion of the Jews, which shall be as life from the dead to the Gentiles, and the fulness of both Jews and Gentiles should be come in, and all the nation of the Jews and all other nations shall obtain mercy, and there shall be that general ingathering of the harvest of the whole earth, of which all that had been converted before, either of Jews or Gentiles, were but the first fruits. And many other evidences of this point might be mentioned, which for brevity's sake I omit.
And thus it is meet, that the last kingdom which shall take place on earth, should be the kingdom of God's own Son and
heir, whose right it is to rule and reign ; and that whatever revolutions and confusions there may be in the world, for a long time, the cause of truth, the righteous cause, should finally prevail, and God's holy people should at last inherit the earth, and reign on earth; and that the world should conunue in tumults and great revolutions, following one another, from age to age, the world being as it were in travail, until truth and holiness are brought forth ; that all things should be shaken, until that comes which is true and right, and agreeable to the mind of God, which cannot be shaken ; and that the wisdom of the Ruler of the world should be manifested in the bringing all things ultimately to so good an issue. The world is made for the Son of God; his kingdom is the end of all changes, that come to pass in the state of the world of mankind; all are only to prepare the way for this; it is fit therefore that the last kingdom on earth should be his. It is wisely and mercifully ordered of God that it should be so, on this account, as well as many others, viz. that the church of God, under all preceding changes, should have this consideration to encourage her, and maintain her hope, and animate her faith and prayers, from generation to generation, that God has promised, her cause should finally be maintained and prevail in this world.
Let it now be considered, 2. The future promised advancement of the kingdom of Christ is an event unspeakably happy and glorious. The scriptures speak of that time, as a time wherein God and His Son Jesus Christ will be most eminently glorified on earth ; a time, wherein God, who until then had dwelt between the cherubims, and concealed himself in the holy of holies, in the secret of his tabernacle, behind the vail, in the thick darkness, should openly shine forth, and all flesh should see his glory, ard God's people in general have as great a privilege as the high priest alone had once a year, or as Moses had in the mount ; a time, wherein the temple of God in heaven should be spened, and there should be seen the ark of llis testament ;(Rev. xi. 19) a time, wherein both God will be greatly glorified, and