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but is not God able to send them? Cannot he raise them up, as it were, out of the stones? And can he ever want means of sending them ? No: were there no other means, he can “ take them by his Spirit” (as he did Ezekiel, chap. iii. 12,) or by his angel, as he did Philip, (Acts viii.) and set them down wheresoever it pleaseth him. Yea, he can find out a thousand ways, to foolish man unknown. And he surely will : for heaven and earth may pass away; but his Word shall not pass away. He will give his Son the uttermost part of the earth for his possession."
25. And so all Israel too shall be saved. Forblindness has happened to Israel,” (as the great Apostle observes, Rom. xi. 25, &c.) till the fulness of the “Gentiles be come in.” Then 6 the Deliverer that cometh out of Sion, shall turn away iniquity from Jacob.” 66 God hath cluded them all in unbelief, that he may have mercy upon all.” Yea, and he will so have mercy upon all Israel, as to give them all temporal, with all spiritual blessings. For this is the promise, “ For the Lord thy God will gather thee from all nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,” Deut. xxx. 3. Again, “ I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them : and I will bring them again to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for
I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. And I will plant them in this land assuredly, with all my heart and with all my soul,” Jeremiah xxxii. 37, &c. .
Yet again : “ I will take you from among the heathen; and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean : from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. And ye shall dwell
in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God,” Ezekiel xxxvi. 24, &c.
26. At that time will be accomplished all those glorious promises made to the Christian Church, which will not then be confined to this or that nation, but will includeall the iñhabitants of the earth. “ They shall not hurt, nor destroy in all my holy mountain,” Isaiah xi. 9. Violence shall nê more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates, praise." Thou shalt be encompassed on every side with salvation; and all that go through thy gates shall praise God. + The sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee, but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” The light of the sun and moon shall be swallowed up in the light of his countenance shining upon thee. “Thy people also shall be righteous, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations,” Isaiah lx. 14, &c. and Ixi. 11.
27. This I apprehend to be the answer, yea, the only full and satisfactory answer that can be given, to the objection against the wisdom and goodness of God, taken from the present state of the world. It will not always be thus : these things are only permitted for a season, by the great Governor of the world, that he may draw immense, eternal good out of this temporary evil. This is the very key which the Apostle himself gives us in the words above recited, “ God hath concluded them all under sin, that he might have mercy upon all!” In view of this glorious event, how well may we cry out, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” Although for a season“ his judgments were unsearchable, and his ways past finding out,” Rom. xi. 32, 33. It is enough, that we are assured of this one point, that all these transient evils will issue well; will have a happy conclusion, and that “Mercy
first and last will reign." All unprejudiced persons may see with their eyes, that he is already renewing the face of the earth. And we have strong reason to hope, that the work he hath begun, he will carry on unto the day of the Lord Jesus: that he will never intermit this blessed work of his Spirit, until he has fulfilled all his promises: until he hath put a period to sin, and misery, and infirmity, and death; and re-established universal holiness and happiness, and caused all the inhabitants of the earth to sing together, Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth! Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and honour, and power, and might be unto our God for ever and ever!” Rev. vij. Į2.
THE NEW CREATION.
REVELATION xxi. 5.
“ Behold, I make all things new."
1. WHAT a strange scene is here opened to our view! How remote from all our natural apprehensions! Not a glimpse of what is here revealed was ever seen in the heathen world. Not only the modern, barbarous, uncivilized heathens have not the least conception of it; but it was equally unknown to the refined polished heathens of ancient Greece, and Rome. And it is almost as little thought of or understood by the generality of Christians : I mean, not barely those that are nominally such, that have the form of godliness without the power; but even those that in a measure fear God and study to work righteousness.
2. It must be allowed, that, after all the researches we can make, still our knowledge of the great truth, which is delivered to us in these words, is exceedingly short and imperfect. As this is a point of mere revelation, beyond the reach of all our natural faculties, we cannot penetrate far into it, nor form any adequate conception of it. But it may be an encouragement to those who have, in any degree, tasted of the powers of the world to come, to go as
far as they can go, interpreting scripture by scripture, according to the analogy of faith.
3. The Apostle, caught up in the visions of God, tells us in the first verse of the chapter, “ I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” And adds, ver. 5, “He that sat upon the throne said,” (I believe the only words which he is said to utter throughout the whole book,)“ Behold, I make all things new."
4. Very many commentators entertain a strange opinion, that this relates only to the present state of things, and gravely tell us, that the words are to be referred to the flourishing state of the church, which commenced after the heathen persecutions. Nay, some of them have discovered, that all which the Apostle speaks concerning the “new heaven and the new earth," was fulfilled when Constantine 'the Great poured in riches and honours upon the Christians. What a miserable way is this of making void the whole counsel of God, with regard to all that grand chain of events, in reference to his church, yea, and to all mankind, from the time that John was in Patmos, unto the end of the world! Nay, the line of this prophecy reaches farther still.' It does not end with the present world, but shews us the things that will come to pass, when this world is no more. For,
5. Thus saith the Creator and Governor of the universe, “ Behold, I make all things new:” all which are included in that expression of the Apostle, “ A new heaven and a new earth.” A new heaven. The original word in Genesis (chap. i.) is in the plural number: and indeed this is the constant language of Scripture; not heaven, but heavens. Accordingly, the ancient Jewish writers are accustomed to reckon three heavens. In conformity to which, the Apostle Paul speaks of his being “ caught up into the third heaven.” It is this, the third heaven, which is usually supposed to be the more immediate residence of God. So far as any residence can be ascribed to his omnipresent Spirit, who pervades and fills the whole universe. It is here, (if we speak after the manner of men) that the Lord sitteth