« PreviousContinue »
do, they shall serve God, and praises shall be sung every where to the Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed Saviour of the world. So we may expect it will be in that great and populous part of the world, the East Indies, which are now mostly inhabited by the worshippers of the devil. Then the kingdom of Christ will be established in those continents which have been more lately discovered towards the north and south poles, where men differ very little from the wild beasts, except in impiety. The same will be the case with respect to those countries which have never yet been discovered. Thus will be gloriously fulfilled, Isa. xxxv. 1. “ The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them: and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” (See also verse 6, 7.)
2. Having thus shown wherein this overthrow of Satan's kingdom will consist, I come now to observe its universal extent. The visible kingdom of Satan shall be overthrown, and the kingdom of Christ set up on the ruins of it, every where throughout the whole habitable globe. Now shall the promise made to Abraham be fulfilled, That in him and in his seed "all the families of the earth shall be blessed;" and Christ now shall become “ the desire of all nations," agreeable to Haggai ii. 7.-Now the kingdom of Christ shall in the most strict and literal sense be extended to all nations, and the whole earth. There are many passages of scripture that can be understood in no other sense. What can be more universal than Isa. xi. 9. “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” As much as to say, As there is no part of the channel or cavity of the sea, but what is covered with water; so there shall be no part of the world of mankind but what shall be covered with the knowledge of God. So it is foretold in Isa. Ixv. 22, that " all the ends of the earth” shall look to Christ and be saved. And to show that the words are to be understood in the most universal sense, it is said in the next verse, “ I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. So the most universal expression is used, Dan. vii. 27. “ And 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 God."
When the devil was cast out of the Roman empire, because that was the highest and principal part of the world, and the other nations that were left were low and mean in comparison, it was represented as Satan's being cast out of heaven to the earth, Rev. xii. 9; but it is represented that he shall be cast out of the earth too, and shut up in hell, Rev. xx. 1, 2, 3. This is the greatest revolution by far that ever came to pass : therefore it is said in Rev. xvi. 17, 18, That on the pouring VOL. II.
out of the seventh vial, there was “a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great." And this is the third great dispensation of providence, which is in scripture compared to Christ's coming to judgment, Rev. xvi. 15. There, after the sixth vial, and after the devil's armies were gathered together to their great battle, and just before Christ's glorious victory over them, it is said, “ Behold, I come quickly; blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments." So it is called Christ's coming, 2 Thess. ü. 8. Speaking of Antichrist it is said, “ And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." See also Dan. vii. 13, 14, where Christ's coming to set up his kingdom on earth, and to destroy Antichrist, is called coming with clouds of heaven. And this is more like Christ's last coming to judgment, than any of the preceding dispensations which are so called. The dispensation is so much greater and more universal, and so more like the day of judgment, which respects the whole world. The great spiritual resurrection of the church of God accompanying it, resembles the general resurrection at the end of the world more than any other. (See Rev. xx, 4.)
Terrible judgments and fearful destruction shall now be executed on God's enemies. There will doubtless at the introducing of this dispensation be a visible and awful hand of God against blasphemers, deists, obstinate heretics, and other enemies of Christ, terribly destroying them, with remarkable tokens of wrath and vengeance. More especially will this dispensation be attended with terrible judgments on Antichrist; the cruel persecutors who belong to the church of Rome, shall in a most awful manner be destroyed; which is compared to a casting of Antichrist into the burning flame, Dan. vii. 11, and to casting him alive into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, Rev. xix. 20.
Then shall this cruel persecuting church suffer those judg. ments from God, which shall be far more dreadful than her persecutions of the saints, agreeable to Rev. xviii. 6,7,
—The judgments which God shall execute on the enemies of the church, are so great, that they are compared to God's sending great hail-stones from heaven upon them, every one of the weight of a talent, as it is said on the pouring out of the seventh vial. Rev. xvi. 21. “ And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God, because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." And now shall be that treading of the wine-press spoken of, Rev. xiv. 19, 20.
This shall put an end to the church's suffering state, and shall be attended with their glorious and joyful praises. The church's afflicted state has been continued, excepting some short intermissions, from the resurrection of Christ to this time but now shall a final end be put to her suffering state. Indeed after this, near the end of the world, the church shall be greatly threatened; but it is said, it shall be but for a little season, Rev. xx. 3: for as the times of the church's rest have been but short, before the long day of her afflictions are at an end; so whatever affliction she may suffer after this, will be very short. In every other respect, the day of the church's afflictions and persecution shall now come to a final end. The scriptures, in many places, speak of this time as the end of the suffering state of the church. So Isa, li. 22. 66 Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury, thou shalt no more drink it again. Then shall be proclaimed to the church, Isa. xl. 1, 2, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned : for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins." Also Isa. liv. 8, 9, and lx. 20, belong to this time. “The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.” And so Zeph. iii. 15. “ The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy; the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.”
The time before this had been the church's sowing-time, wherein she sowed in tears and in blood; but now is her harvest, wherein she will come again rejoicing, bringing her sheaves with her. Now the time of travail of the woman clothed with the sun is at an end ; now she hath brought forth her son: for this glorious setting up of the kingdom of Christ through the world, is what the church had been in travail for, with such terrible pangs, for so many ages : Isa. xxvi. 17.“ Like as a woman with child that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord.” (See Isa. Ix. 20, and lxi. 10, 11.) And now the church shall forget her sorrow, since a man-child is born into the world: now succeed her joyful praise and triumph. Her praises shall then go up to God from all parts of the earth, (as Isa. xlii. 10–12:) and praise shall not only fill the earth, but also heaven. The church on earth, and the church in heaven, shall both gloriously rejoice and praise God, as with one heart, on that occasion. Without doubt it will be a time of very distinguished joy and praise among the holy prophets and apostles, and the other saints in heaven: Rev. xviii. 20. “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her." See how universal these praises will be in Isa. xliv. 23. “Sing, Oye heavens, for the Lord hath done it : shout, ye lower parts of the earth : break forth into singing, ye mountains, 0 forest, and every tree therein : for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.” See what joyful praises are sung to God on this occasion by the universal church in heaven and earth, in the beginning of the 19th chapter of Revelation.
This dispensation is above all preceding ones like Christ's coming to judgment, in that it so puts an end to the former state of the world, and introduces the everlasting kingdom of Christ. Now Satan's visible kingdom shall be overthrown, after it had stood ever since the building of Babel; the old heavens and the old earth shall in a greater measure pass away, and the new heavens and new earth be set up in a far more glorious manner, than ever before.-_Thus I have shown how the success of Christ's purchase has been carried on through the times of the afflicted state of the Christian church, from Christ's resurrection, till Antichrist is fallen, and Satan's visible kingdom on earth is overthrown.
The Success of Redemption through that space wherein the
Christian church shall, for the most part, be in a state of
In order to describe this part, I would speak, first, of the prosperous state of the church through the greatest part of this period; and, secondly, of the great apostacy there shall be towards the close of it.
I. I would speak of the prosperous state of the church through the greater part of this period. And in the general, I would observe two things :
1. That this is most properly the time of the kingdom of heaven upon earth. Though the kingdom of heaven was in a degree set up soon after Christ's resurrection, and in a further degree in the time of Constantine; and though the Christian church in all ages of it is called the kingdom of heaven; yet this is the principal time of the kingdom of heaven upon earth, the time principally intended by the prophecies of Daniel, whence the Jews took the name of the kingdom of heaven.
2. Now is the principal fulfilment of all the prophecies of the Old Testament which speak of the glorious times of the
gospel in the latter days. Though there has been a glorious fulfilment of those prophecies already, in the times of the apostles, and of Constantine ; yet the expressions are too high to suit any other time entirely, but that which is to succeed the fall of Antichrist. This is most properly the glorious day of the gospel. Other times are only forerunners and preparatory to this : those were the seed-time, but this is the harvest. But more particularly,
(1.) It will be a time of great light and knowledge. The present are days of darkness, in comparison of those days.The light of that glorious time shall be so great, that it is represented as though there should then be no night, but only day; no evening nor darkness. So Zech. xiv. 6, 7.
6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark. But it shall be one day, which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening-time it shall be light." -It is further represented, as though God would then give such light to his church, that it should so much exceed the glory of the light of the sun and moon, that they should be ashamed : Isa. xxiv, 23. “Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.”
There is a kind of vail now cast over the greater part of the world, which keeps them in darkness : but then this vail shall be destroyed : Isa. xxv. 7. “ And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.” Then all countries and nations, even those which are now most ignorant, shall be full of light and knowledge. Great knowledge shall prevail every where. It may be hoped, that then many of the Negroes and Indians will be divines, and that excellent books will be published in Africa, in Ethiopia, in Tartary, and other now the most barbarous countries; and not only learned men, but others of more ordinary education, shall then be very knowing in religion : Isa. xxxii. 3, 4. "The eyes of them that see, shall not be dim; and the ears of them that hear, shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge." Knowledge then shall be very universal among all sorts of persons ; Jer. xxxi. 34. " And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord ; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them."
There shall then be a wonderful unravelling of the diffi culties in the doctrines of religion, and clearing up of seeming inconsistencies : “So crooked things shall be made straight, and rough places shall be made plain, and darkness shali become light before God's people." Difficulties in scripture