« PreviousContinue »
éhurch, as Joshua said to the children of Israel, Josh. xxii. 14. " That not one thing hath' failed of all that the Lord our God hath spoken concerning his church ;" but all things are hitherto come to pass agreeably to the divine prediction. This should strengthen our faith in those promises, and encourage us, and stir us up to earnest prayer to God for the accomplishment of the great and glorious things which yet remain to be fulfilled.
It has already been shown how the success of Christ's redemption was carried on through various periods down to the present time.
4thly. I come now to show how the success of Christ's redemption will be carried on from the present time, till Antichrist is fallen, and Satan's visible kingdom on earth is destroyed......And with respect to this space of time, we have nothing to guide us but the prophecies of scripture. Through most of the time from the fall of man to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, we had scripture history to guide us ; and from thence to the present time we had prophecy, together with the accomplishment of it in providence, as reJated in human histories. But henceforward we have only prophecy to guide us. And here I would pass by those things that are only conjectural, or that are surmised by some from those prophecies which are doubtful in their interpretation, and shall insist only on those things which are more clear and evident.
We know not what particular events are to come to pass before that glorious work of God's Spirit begins, by which Satan's kingdom is to be overthrown. By the consent of most divines, there are but few things, if any at all, that are foretold to be accomplished before the beginning of that glorious work of God. Some think the slaying of the witnesses, Rev. xi. 7, 8, is not yet accomplished. So divines differ with respect to the pouring out of the seven vials; of which we have an account, Rev. xvi. how many are already poured outy: or how many remain to be poured out ; though a late expositor, whom I have before mentioned to you, seems to make it
very plain and evident, that all are already poured out but two, viz. the sixth on the river Euphrates, and the seventh into the air. But I will not now stand to inquire what is intended by the pouring out of the sixth vial on the river Euphrates, that the way of the kings of the east may be prepared ; but only would say, that it seems to be something immediately preparing the way for the destruction of the spiritual Babylon, as the drying up of the river Euphrates, which ran through the midst of old Babylon, was what prepared the way of the kings of the Medies and Persians, the kings of the east, to come in under the walls, and destroy that city.
But whatever this be, it does not appear that it is any thing which shall be accomplished before that work of God's Spirit is begun, by which, as it goes on, Satan's visible kingdom on earth shall be utterly overthrown. And therefore I would proceed directly to consider what the scripture reveals concerning the work of God itself, by which he will bring about this great event, as being the next thing which is to be accomplished that we are certain of from the prophecies of scripture.
And, first, I would observe two things in general concern
1. We have all reason to conclude from the scriptures, that just before this work of God begins, it will be a very dark time with respect to the interests of religion in the world. It has been so before those glorious revivals of religion that have been hitherto. It was so when Christ came ; it was an exceeding degenerate time among the Jews : And so it was a very dark time before the Reformation. And not only so, but it seems to be foretold in scripture, that it shall be a time of but little religion, when Christ shall come to set up his kingdom in the world. Thus when Christ spake of his coming, to encourage his elect, who cry to him day and night, in Luke xviii. 8, he adds this, “ Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?” Which seems to denote a great prevalency of infidelity just before Christ's coming to avenge his suffering church. Though Christ's coming at the last judgment is not here to be excluded, yet VOL. II.
there seems to be a special respect to his coming to deliver his church from their long continued, suffering, persecuted state, which is accomplished only at his coming at the destruction of Antichrist. That time that the elect cry to God, as in Rev. vi. 10. « How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth ?” And the time spoken of in Rev. xviii. 20. “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles, and propbets, for God hath avenged you on her," will then be accomplished.
It is now a very dark time with respect to the interests of religion, and such a time as this prophesied of in this place ; wherein there is but a little faith, and a great prevailing of infidelity on the earth. There is now a remarkable fulfilment of that in 2 Pet. iii. 3. “Knowing this, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.” And so Jude, 17, 18. “But beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts." Whether the times shall be any darker still, or how much darker, before the beginning of this glorious work of God, we cannot tell. 2. There is no reason from the word of God to think
any other, than that this great work of God will be wroughty though very swiftly, yet gradually. As the children of Israel were gradually brought out of the Babylonish captivity, first one company, and then another, and gradually rebuilt their city and temple ; and as the Heathen Roman empire was destroyed by a gradual, though a very swift prevalency of the gospel ; so, though there are many things which seem to hold forth as though the work of God would be exceeding swift, and many great and wonderful events should very suddenly be brought to pass, and some great parts of Satan's visible kingdom should have a very sudden fall, yet all will not be accomplished at once, as by some great miracle, as the resurrection of the dead at the end of the world will be all at once ; but this is å work which will be accomplished by means, by the preaching of the gospel, and the use of the or
dinary means of grace, and so shall be gradually brought to pass. Some shall be converted, and be the means of others conversion. God's Spirit shall be poured out first to raise up instruments, and then those instruments shall be used and succeeded. And doubtless one nation shall be enlightened and converted after another, one false religion and false way of worship exploded after another. By the representation in Dan. ii. 3, 4, the stone cut out of the mountain without hands gradually grows. So Christ teaches us, that the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, Matth. xiii. 31, 32, and like leaven hid in three measures of meal, verse 33. The same representation we have in Mark iv. 26, 27, 28, and in the vision of the waters of the sanctuary, Ezek. xlvii...... The scriptures hold forth as though there should be several successive great and glorious events by which this glorious works shall be accomplished. The angel, speaking to the prophet Daniel of those glorious times, mentions two glorious periods, at the end of which glorious things should be accomplished : Dan, xii. 11. “ And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” But then he adds in the next verse, “Blessed. is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days;" intimating, that something very glorious should be accomplished at the end of the former period, but something much more glorious at the end of the latter.
But I now proceed to show how this glorious work shall be accomplished.
1. The Spirit of God shall be gloriously poured out for the wonderful revival and propagation of religion. work shall be accomplished, not by the authority of princes, nor by the wisdom of learned men, but by God's Holy Spirit : Zech. iv. 6,7. “ Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain ? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain, and he shall bring forth the head stone thereof with shoutings, crying Grace, grace unto it.” So the prophet Ezekiel, speaking of this great work of God, says, chap. xxxix. 29. “Neither will,
I hide my face any more from them ; for I have poured out my Spirit on the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” We know not where this pouring out of the Spirit shall begin, or whether in many places at once, or whether, what hath already been, be not some forerunner and beginning of it.
This pouring out of the Spirit of God, when it is begun, shall soon bring great multitudes to forsake that vice and wickedness which now so generally prevails, and shall cause that vital religion which is now so despised and laughed at in the world, to revive. The work of conversion shall break forth and go on in such a manner as never has been hitherto; agreeable to that in Isa. xliv. 3, 4, 5 .....God, by pouring out his Holy Spirit, will furnish men to be glorious instruments of carrying on this work ; will fill them with knowledge and wisdom, and fervent zeal for the promoting the kingdom of Christ, and the salvation of souls, and propagating the gospel in the world. So that the gospel shall bëgin to be preached with abundantly greater clearness and power than had heretofore been : For this great work of God shall be brought to pass by the preaching of the gospel, as is represented in Rev. xiv. 6, 7, 8. That before Babylon falls, the gospel shall be powerfully preached and propagated in the world.
This was typified of old by the sounding of the silver trumpets in Israel in the beginning of their jubilee : Lev. xxv. 9. “ Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month ; on the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.” The glorious times which are approaching, are as it were the church's jubilee, which shall be introduced by the sounding of the silver trumpet of the gospel, as is foretold in Isa. xxvii. 13. “ And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts of the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” And there shall be a glorious pouring out of the Spirit with this clear and powerful preaching of the gospel, to make it successful for reviving those holy doctrines of religion which are now chiefly ridiculed in the world, and