« PreviousContinue »
habitable world, should embrace the true religion, and be brought into the church of God. It was often promised to the Patriarchs, that in their seed all the nations, or (as it is sometimes expressed) all the families of the earth should be blessed. (See Gen. xii. 3.....xvii. 18.....xxii. 18.....xxvi. 4, and xxviii. 14.) Agreeably to this, it is said of the Messiah Psal. lxxii. 11. That “all nations shall serve him ; and in Ver. 17, men shall be blessed in him, and all nations shall call him blessed.” And in Isa. ii. 2, it is said, that « all na. tions shall flow unto the mountain of the house of the Lord." And Jer. iii. 17. That all nations shall be gathered unto the name of the Lord to Jerusalem, and shall walk no more after the imagination of their evil heart.” So it is said, That all flesh shall come and worship before the Lord, Isa. Ixvi, 23. And that all flesh should see the glory of God together, Isa. xl 5. And that all fesh should come to him that hears prayer, Psal. Ixv. 2. Christ compares the kingdom of Heaven in this world to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened, Mat. xii. 33. It is natural and reasonable to suppose, that the whole world should finally be given to Christ, as one whose right it is to reign, as the proper heir of him, who is originally the king of all nations, and the possessor of heaven and earth : And the scripture teaches us, that God the father hath constituted his son, as Godman, and in his kingdom of grace, or mediatorial kingdom, to be the heir of the world, that he might in this kingdom have the heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost ends of the earth for his possession ; Heb. i. 2, and ii, 8. Psal. ii. 6, 7, 8. Thus A. brabam is said to be the heir of the world, not in himself, but in "his seed, which is Christ ; Rom. iv. 13. And how was this to be fulfilled to Abraham, but by God's fulfilling that great promise, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed ? For that promise is what the apostle is speaking of ; which shews, that God has appointed Christ to be the heir of the world in his kingdom of grace, and to possess and reign over all nations, through the propagation of his gospel, and the power of his spirit communicating the blessings of it. God hath appointed him to this universal dominion by a most golemn oath ; Isa. xlv. 23. “ 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.” Compared with Phil. ii. 10, 11. Though this solemn oath of God the father is to be undersood in so comprehensive a sense, as to extend to what shall be accomplished at the day of judgment, yet it is evident by the foregoing and following verses, that the thing most directly intended, is what shall be fulfilled by the spreading of the gospel of his salvation, and power of the spirit of grace, bringing all the ends of the earth to look to him that they may be saved, and come to him for righteousness and strength, that in him they might be justified, and might glory." God has suffered many earthly princes to extend their conquests over a great part of the face of the earth, and to possess a dominion of vast extent, and one monarchy to conquer and succeed another, the latter being still the greater : It is reasonable to suppose that a much greater glory in this respect should be reserved for Christ, God's own son and rightful heir, who has purchased the dominion by so great and hard a service : It is reasonable to suppose, that his dominion should be far the largest, and his conquests vastly the greatest and most extensive. And thus the scriptures represent the matter, in Nebuchadnezzar's vision, and the prophet's interpretation, Dan. ii.« There the four great monarchies of the earth, one succeeding another, are represented by the great image of gold, silver, brass, iron and clay ; but at last a stone cut of the mountain without hands, smites the image upon his feet, which breaks the iron, clay, brass, silver and gold in pieces, that all becomes as the chaff of the summer threshing floors, and the wind carries them away, that no place is found for them ; but the stone waxes great, becoms a great mountain, and fills the whole earth ; signifying the kingdom which the Lord God of heaven should set up in the world, last of all, which should break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms.” Surely this representation leads us to suppose, that this last kingdom shall be of vastly greater extent than any of the preceding. The like representation is made in the 7th chap. of Daniel ; there the four monarchies are represented by four great beasts that arose successively one conquering and subduing another ; the fourth and last of these is said to be dreadful, and terrible and strong exceedingly, and to have great iron teeth, and to devour and break in piecesy and stamp the residue with his feet ; yea it is said, ver. 23, that the kingdom represented by this beast shall devour the whole earth ; but last of all one like the Son of Man appears, coming to the ancient of days, and being brought near before him, and receiving of him a dominion, and glory, and a kingdom that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. This last circumstance, of the vast extent and universality of his dominion, is manifestly spoken of as one thing greatly distinguishing his holy kingdom from all the preceding monarchies : Although of one of the former it was said, that it should devour the whole earth, yet we are naturally led, both by the much greater emphasis and strength of the expres. sions, as well as by the whole connexion and tenor of the prophecy, to understand the universality here expressed in a much more extensive and absolute sense : And the terms used in the interpretation of this vision are such, that scarcely any can be devised more strong, to signify an absolute uni. versality of dominion over the inhabitants of the face of the carth ; ver. 27. “ And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the most high God. Agreeably to this the gospel is represented as preached unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and tongue, and kindred, and ficople, Rev. xiv. 6. The universality of the prevalence of true religion in the latter days, is sometimes expressed by its reaching to“ the utmost ends of the earth,” Psal. ii. 8.
« To all the ends of the earth, and of the world,” Psal. xxii. 27..... Ixvii. 7....xcviij. 3. Isa. xlv. 22. “ All the ends of the earth, with those that are far off upon the sea," Psal. Ixv. 5. “ From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same," Psal. cxiii. 3. Mal. i. 11. “The outgoings of the morning and of the evening," Psal. Ixv. 8. It seeins that all the most strong expressions, that were in use among the Jews to signify ths habitable world in its utmost extent, are made use of to sige the extent of the church of God in the latter days : And in many places, a variety of these expressions is used, and there is an accumulation of them, expressed with great force.
It would be unreasonable to say, these are only bold figures, used after the manner of the eastern nations, to express the great extent of the Christian church, at and after the days of Constantine : To say so would be in effect to say, that it would have been impossible for God, if he had desired it, plainly to have foretold any thing that should absolutely have extended to all nations of the earth. I question whether it be possibie to find out a more strong expression, to signify an absolute universality of the knowledge of the true religion through the habitable world, than that in Isa. xi. 9.« The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas." Which is as much as to say, As there is no place in the past ocean where there is not water, so there shall be no part of the world of mankind where there is not the knowledge of the Lord ; as there is no part of the wide bed or cavity possessed by the sea, but what is covered with water, so there shall be no part of the habitable world that shall not be covered with the light of the gospel, and possessed by the true religion. Waters are often in prophecy put for nations and multitudes of people : So the waters of the main ocean seem sometimes to be put for the inhabitants of the earth in general ; as in Ezekiel's vision of waters of the sanctuary (Ezek. xlvii.) which flowed from the sanctuary, and ran east, until they came to the ocean, and were at first a small stream, but continually increased until they became a great river ; and when they came to the sea, the water even of the vast ocean was healed (ver. 8.) representing the con: version of the world to the true religion in the latter days. It seems evident, that the time will come, when there will not be one nation remaining in the world, which shall not embrace the true religion, in that God has expressiy revealed, that no one such nation shall be left standing on the earth ; Isai. Ix. 12, « The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shal be utterly wasted.” God has declared that heathen idolatry and all the worship of false
VOL. III., 2Z
gods shall be wholly abolished, in the most universal manner, so that it shall be continued in no place under the heavens, or upon the face of the earth ; Jer. x. 11.“ The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens." Ver. 15. “ They are vanity, and the work of errors, in the time of their visitation they shall perish.” This must be understood as what shall be brought to pass while this earth and these heavens remain, i. e. before the end of the world. Agreeable to this is that, Isa. liv. 1, 2. “ Sing, O barren, and thou that didst not bear ; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord ; enlarge the place of thy tent, and let thein stretch forth the curtains of thy habitation ; spare not ; lengthen thy cords, strengthen thy stakes."
Ver. 5.“ For thy Maker is thy husband ; the Lord of Hosts is his name ; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel ; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.”
The prophecies of the New Testament do no less evidently shew, that a time will come when the gospel shalt universally prevail, and the kingdom of Christ be extended over the whole habitable carth, in the most proper sense. Christ says, John xii. 32.“ } if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." It is fit, that when the son of God becomes man, he should have dominion over all mankind : It is fit that since he became an inhabitant of the earth, and shed his blood on the earth, he should possess the whole earth : It is fit, seeing here he became a servant, and was subject to men, and was arraigned before them, and judged, condemned: and executed by them, and suffered ignominy and death in a most public manner, before Jews and Gentiles, being lifted up to view on the cross upon an hill, near that populous city Jerusalem, at a most public time, when there were many hundred thousand spectators, from all parts, that he should be rewarded with an universal dominion over mankind; and it is here declared he shall be. The apostle, in the 11th of Romans, teaches us to look to that great outpouring of the Spirit, and ingathering of souls into Christ's kingdom, that was in those days, first of the Jews, and then of the Gentiles, to be