Page images
PDF
EPUB

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.” You see the expression includes all under the whole heaven. 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 of those of that empire, 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 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. So it is in 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 in 2 Thess. ii. 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 on these accounts. .

(1) That the dispensation is so much greater and more universal, and so more like the day of judgment, which respects the whole world. (2) On account of the great spiritual resurrection there will be of the church of God accompanying it, more resembling the general resurrection, at the end of the world than any other. This spiritual resurrection, is the resurrection spoken of as attended with judgment, Rev. xx. 4. (3) Because of the terrible judgments and fearful destruction which 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, and obstinate heretics, and other enemies of Christ, terribly destroying them, with remarkable tokens of wrath and vengeance; and especially will this dispensation be attended with terrible judgments on Antichrist; and 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 judgments from God, which shall be far more dreadful than her cruelest 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 hailstones 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. (4) 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 is long, being 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 are but short, before the long day of her afflictions are at an end; so whatever affliction she may suffer after this, it will be very short; but otherwise the day of the church's affliction 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. ii. 22. God says to his church with respect to this time, “Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup ef my fury, thou shalt no more drink it again.” Then shall that 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 that in Isa. liv. 8, 9, belongs to this time. And so that in Isa. lx. 20. “ 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 which had been 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 the 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. lx. 20, and lxi. 10, 11. And now the church shall forget her sorrows, 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, 11, Vol. II. 2 U.

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. xhiv. 23. “Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: Shout ye lower parts of the earth: Break forth into singing, ye mountains, O 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.

(5) 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; and the old heavens and the old earth shall in a greater measure be passed away then than before, and the new heavens and new earth 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 Antiehrist is fallen, and Satan's visible kingdom on earth is overthrown. Therefore I come now,

SEcond LY, To show how the success of redemption will be carried on through that space wherein the Christian church shall for the most part be in a state of peace and prosperity. And in order to this, I would,

1. Speak of the prosperous state of the church through the greater part of this period.

2. Of the great apostacy there shall be towards the close of it: How greatly then the church shall be threatened by her enemies for a short time. H. I would speak of the prosperous state of the charch through the greater part of this period. And in doing this, I would, 1. Describe this prosperous state of the church; 2. Say something of its duration. 1st. I would describe the prosperous state the church shall be in. 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 time that we are upon, is the principal time of the kingdom of heaven upon earth, the time principally intended by the prophecies of Daniel, which speak of the kingdom of heaven, 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 which shall be 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 preparatories to this : Other times 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 days 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 then should be no night, but only day; no evening nor darkness. So Zech. xiv. 6,7. “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

« PreviousContinue »