« PreviousContinue »
ed for, when, as our High Priest, he offered up strong crying and tears, with his blood, Heb. v, 6, 7. The same that he shed his blood for, he also shed lears for, and poured out
But the time that we have been speaking of, is the chief time of the bestowment of this blessing ; the main season of the success of all that Christ did and suffered in the work of our redemption. Before this the Spirit of God is given but very sparingly, and but few are saved ; but then it will be far otherwise ; wickedness shall be rare then, as virtue and piety had been before : And undoubtedly, by far the greatest number of them that ever receive the benefits of Christ's redemption, from the beginning of the world to the end of it, will receive it in that time. The number of the inhabitants of the earth will doubtless then be vastly multiplied ; and the num, ber of redeemed ones much more.
If we should suppose that glorious day to last no more than (literally) a thousand years, and that at the beginning of that thousand years the world of mankind should be but just as numerous as it is now, and that the number should be doubled, during that time of great health and peace and the universal blessing of heaven, once only in an hundred years, the numiber at the end of a thousand years would be more than a thousand times greater than it is now ; and if it should be doubled once in fifty years (which probably the number of the inhabitants of Newengland has ordinarily been, in about half that time) then, at the end of the thousand years, there would be more than a million inhabitants on the face of the earth where there is one now. And there is reason to think that through the greater part of this period at least, the number of saints will, in their increase, bear a proportion to the increase of the number of inhabitants. And it must be considered, that if the number of mankind at the beginning of this period be no more than equal to the present number, yet we may doubtless conclude, that the number of true saints will be immensely greater; when instead of the few true and thorough Christians now in some few countries, every nation on the face of the whole earth shall be converted to Christianity, and every country shall be full of true Christians ; so that the successive multiplication of true saints through the thousand years, wil begin with that vast advantage, beyond the multiplication of mankind; where the latter is begun from units, the other doubtless will begin with hundreds, if not thousands. How much greater then will be the number of true converts, that will be brought to a participation of the benefits of Christ's redemption, during that period, than in all other times put together? I think the foregoing things considered, we shall be very moderate in our conjectures, if we say, it is probable that there will be an hundred thousand times more, that will actually be redeemed to God by Christ's blood, during that period of the church's prosperity that we have been speaking of, than ever had been before, from the beginning of the world to that time.
That time is represented in scripture, as the proper appointed season of Christ's salvation ; eminently the elect season, the accepted time, and day of salvation (Isai. xlix. 8, and so on to ver. 23, and chap. Ixi. 2, taken with the context, in that and the preceding and following chapters.) The year of Christ's redeemed, Isa. Ixiii. 4. This period is spoken of as the proper time of the dominion of the Redeemer, and reign of his redeeming love, in the 2d and 7th Chapters of Daniel, and many other places; the proper time of his harvest, or ingathering of his fruits from this fallen world ; the appointed day of his triumph over Satan, the great destroyer ; and the appointed day of his marriage with his elect spouse ; Rev. xix. 7. The time given to the Sun of righteousness to rule, as the day is the time God has appointed for the natural Sun to bear rule. Therefore the bringing on of this time is called Christ's coming in his kingdom ; wherein he will rent the heavens and come down, and the Sun of righteousness shall arise. Mal. iv. 2, and Isa. Ix. 1.
The comparatively little saving good there is in the world, as the fruit of Christ's redemption, before that time, is, as it were, granted by way of anticipation ; as we anticipate some. thing of the sun's light by reflection before the daytime, the proper time of the sun's rule ; and as the first fruits are gathered before the harvest. Then more especially will be the fulfilment of those great promises, made by God the father to the son, for his pouring out his soul unto death, Isa. liii. 10, 11, 12 ; then “ shall he see his seed, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand ; then shall he see of the trayó ail of his soul, and be satisfied, and shall justify many by his knowledge ; then will God divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong ;" then shall Christ in an eminent manner obtain his chosen spouse, that “ he loved and died for, that he might sanctify and cleanse her, with the washing of water, by the word, and present her to himself a glorious church." He will obtain “ the joy that was set before him, for which he endured the cross, and despised the shame," chiefly in the events and consequences of that day : That day as was observed before, is often represented as eminently the time of the rejoicing of the bridegroom. The foreknowledge and consideration of it was what supported him, and that which his soul exulted in, at a time when his soul had been iroubled at the view of his approaching sufferings ; as may be seen in John xii. 23, 24, 27, 31, 32.
Now therefore, if it be so, that this is what Jesus Christ, our great Redeemer and the head of the church, did so much desire, and set his heart upon, from all eternity, and which he did and suffered so much for, offering up strong crying and tears, and his precious blood to obtain it ; surely his disci. ples and members should also earnestly seek it, and be much and earnest in prayer for it.
Let it be considered, 4. The whole creation is, as it were, earnestly waiting for that day, and constantly groaning and travailing in pain to bring forth the felicity and glory of it. For that day is above all other times, excepting the day of judgment, the day of the manifestation of the Sons of God, and of their glorious liberty : And therefore that elegant representation the apostle makes of the earnest expectation and travail of the creation, in Rom. viii. 19......22, is applicable to the glorious events of this day : “ The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God. For the creature
was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” This visible world has now for many ages been subjected to sin, and made as it were a servant to it, through the abusive improvement that man, who has the dominion over the creatures, puts the creatures to. Thus the sun is a sort of servant to all manner of wickedness, as its light and other beneficial influences are abused by men, and made subservient to their lusts and sinful purposes. So of the rain, and fruits of the earth, and the brute animals, and all other parts of the visible creation ; they all serye men's corruption, and obey their sinful will ; and God doth in a sort subject them to it ; for he continues his influence and power to make them to be obedient, according to the same law of nalure whereby they yield to men's command when used to good purposes. It is by the immediate influence of God upon things, acting upon them, according to those constant methods that we call the laws of nature, that they are ever obedient to man's will, or that we can use them at all. This influence of God continues, to make them obedient to men's will, though wicked. Which is a sure sign that the present state of things is not lasting : It is confusion ; and God would not suffer it to be, but that he designs in a little time to put an end to it, when it shall no more be só. Seeing it is to be but a little while, God chooses rather to subject the creature to man's wickedness, than to disturb and interrupt the course of nature according to its stated laws : But it is, as it were, a force upon the creature ; for the creature is abused in it, perverted to far meaner purposes than those for which the author of its nature made it, and to which he adapted it. The creature therefore is as it were unwillingly subject ; and would not be subject, but that it is but for a short time ; and it, as it were, hopes for an alteration. It is a bondage the creature is subject to, from which it was partly delivered when Christ came, and the gospel was promulgated in the world;
and will be more fully delivered at the commencement of the glorious day we are speaking of; and perfectly at the day of judgment. This agrees with the context ; for the apostle was speaking of the present suffering state of the church. The l'eason why the church in this world is in a suffering state, is that the world is subjected to the sin and corruption of mankind. By vanity, in scripture, is very commonly meant sin and wickedness ; and also by corruption, as might be shewn in very many places, would my intended brevity allow.
Though the creature is thus subject to vanity, yet it does not rest in this subjection, but is constantly acting and exerting itself, in order to that glorious liberty that God has appointed at the time we are speaking of, and as it were reaching forth towards it. All the changes that are brought to pass in the world, from age to age, are ordered in infinite wisdom in one respect or other to prepare the way for that glorious issue of things, that shall be when truth and righteousness shall finally prevail, and he, whose right it is, shall take the kingdom. . All the creatures, in all their operations and motions continuaHy tend to this. As in a clock, all the motions of the whole system of wheels and movements, tend 10 the striking of the hammar at the appointed time. All the revolutions and restless motions of the sun and other heavenly bodies, from day to day, from year to year, and from age to age, are continually tendig hither; as all the many turnings of the wheels of a chariot, in a journey, tend to the appointed journey's end. The mighty struggles and conflicts of nations, and shakings of kingdoms, and those vast successive changes that are brought to pass, in the kingdoms and empires of the world, from one age to another, are as it were travail pangs of the creation, in order to bring forth this glorious event. And the scriptures represent the last struggles and changes that shall immediately precede this event, as being the greatest of all; as the last pangs of a woman in travail are the most violent.
The creature thus earnestly expecting this glorious manifestation and liberty of the children of God, and travailing in pain in order to it, therefore the scriptures, by a like figure, Vol. III.