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Gentiles. And in ver. 30-32, the apostle teaches us to look upon that infidelity and darkness, which first prevailed over all Gentile nations before Christ came, and afterwards over the Jews, as what was wisely permitted for the manifestation of the glory of God's mercy, in due time, on the whole world, constituted of Jews and Gentiles. God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. These things plainly shew that the time is coming when the whole world of mankind shall be brought into the church of Christ; the fulness of both, the whole lump, all the nation of the Jews, and all the world of Gentiles.
In the last great conflict between the church of Christ and her enemies, before the commencement of the glorious time. of the church's peace and rest, the kings of the earth, and the WHOLE WORLD, are represented as gathered together, Rev. xvi. 14. And then the seventh angel pours out his vial into the air, which limits the kingdom of Satan, as god of this world; and that kingdom is represented as utterly overthrown, ver. 17. &c. In another description of that great battle, (chap. xix.) Christ is represented as riding forth, having n his head many crowns, and on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Which we may well suppose signifies, that he is now going to that conquest, whereby he shall set up a kingdom in which he shall be King of kings, in a far more extensive manner than either Babylonish, Persian, Grecian, or Roman monarchs were. And in ver. 17, and following, an angel appears standing in the sun, that overlooks the whole world, calling on "all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, to come and eat the flesh of kings," &c. And in consequence of the great victory Christ gains at that time, "an angel comes down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand, and lays hold on the devil, and binds him, and casts him into the bottomless pit, and shuts him up, and sets a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more." Satan being dispossessed of that highest monarchy on earth, the Roman empire, and cast out in the time of Constantine, is represented, (chap. xii.) by his being cast down from heaven to the earth: but now there is something far beyond that; he is cast out of the earth, and is shut up in hell, and confined to that alone so that he has no place left him in this world of mankind, high or low.
Now will any be so unreasonable as to say, that all these things do not signify more than that one third part of the world should be brought into the church of Christ: beyond which it cannot be pretended that the christian religion has ever yet reached, in its greatest extent? Those countries which belonged to the Roman empire, that were brought to the profession of christianity after the reign of Constantine, 59
are but a small part of what the habitable world now is. As to extent of ground they all together bear, I suppose, no greater proportion to it than the land of Canaan did to the Roman empire. And our Redeemer in his kingdom of grace has hitherto possessed but a little part of the world, in its most flourishing state, since arts are arisen to their greatest height; and a very great part of the world is but lately discovered, and much remains undiscovered to this day. These things make it very evident, that the main fulfilment of those prophecies that speak of the glorious advancement of Christ's kingdom on earth, is still to come.
And as there has been nothing as yet, with regard to the flourishing of religion and the advancement of Christ's kingdom, of such extent as to answer the prophecies, so neither has there been any thing of that duration that is foretold. The prophecies speak of Jerusalem being made the joy of the whole earth, and also the joy of many generations (Psal. xlviii. 2. Isai. Ix. 15.) That "God's people should long enjoy the work of their hands," (Isa. lxv. 22.) That they should "reign with Christ a thousand years," (Rev. xx.) by which we must at least understand a very long time. But it would be endless to mention all the places which signify that the time of the church's great peace and prosperity should be of long continuance. Almost all the prophecies that speak of her latter-day glory, imply it; and it is implied in very many of them, that when once this day of the church's advancement and peace is begun, it shall never end till the world ends; or at least, that there shall be no more a return of her troubles and adversity for any considerable continuance. Then "the days of her mourning shall be ended;" her tribulations "be as the waters of Noah unto God, that as he has sworn that the waters of Noah should no more pass over the earth, so he will swear that he will no more be wroth with his people, or rebuke them." It is implied that "God's people should no more walk after the imagination of their evil hearts; that God would hide himself no more from the house of Israel; because he has poured out his spirit upon them; that their sun should no more go down, nor the moon withdraw itself; that the light should not be clear and dark," (i. e. there should be no more an interchange of light and darkness, as used to be) but that it should be all one continued day; not day and night (for so the words are in the original in Zech. xiv. 7.) alternately, "but it shall come to pass, that at evening time (i. e. at the time that night and darkness used to be) it shall be light; and that the nations should beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, and that nation should not lift up sword against nation, nor learn war any more; but that there should be abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth."
But the church of Christ has never yet enjoyed a state of peace and prosperity for any long time; on the contrary, the time for her rest, and of the flourishing state of religion, have ever been very short. Hitherto the church may say (as in Isai. lxiii. 17,18.) "Return for thy servants' sake the tribes of thine inheritance; the people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while." The quietness that the church of God enjoyed after the beginning of Constantine's reign, was very short. The peace the empire enjoyed in freedom from war, was not more than twenty years; no longer nor greater than it had enjoyed under some of the heathen emperors. After this the empire. was rent in pieces by intestine wars, and wasted almost every where by the invasions and incursions of barbarous nations; and the christian world soon after was all in contention and confusion, by heresies and divisions in matters of religion. And the church of Christ has never as yet been, for any long time, free from persecution; especially when truth has prevailed and true religion flourished. It is manifest, that hitherto the people of God have been kept under, and Zion has been in a low afflicted state, and her enemies have had the chief sway.
Another thing which makes it exceedingly manifest that the day of the church's greatest advancement on earth, which is foretold in scripture, has never yet come, is, that it is so plainly and expressly revealed, this day shall succeed the last of the four monarchies, even the Roman, in its last state, wherein it is divided into ten kingdoms, and after the destruction of Antichrist, signified by the little horn, whose reign is contemporary with the reign of the ten kings. These things are very plain in the iid and viith chapters of Daniel, and also in the revelation of St. John. And it is also plain by the ixth chapter of Romans, that it sh 11 be after the national conversion of the Jews, which shall be as life from the dead to the Gentiles and the fulness of both Jews and Gentiles shall be come in, all the nation of the Jews, and all other nations, shall obtain mercy, and there shall be that general ingathering of the harvest of the whole earth, of which all that had been converted before, either of Jews or Gentiles, were but the first fruits.
Thus it is meet that the last kingdom which shall take place on earth, should be the kingdom of God's own son and heir, whose right it is to rule and reign; and that whatever revolutions and confusions there may be in the world, for a long time, the cause of truth, the righteous cause, shall finally prevail, and God's holy people should at last inherit the earth, and reign on earth; and that the world should continue in tumults and great revolutions, following one another from age to age, the world being as it were in travail, till truth and holiness are brought forth. It is meet that all things should be shaken.
till that comes which is true and right, and agreeable to the mind of God, which cannot be shaken; and that the wisdom of the ruler of the world should be manifested in bringing all things ultimately to so good an issue. The world is made for the Son of God; his kingdom is the end of all changes that come to pass in the state of the world. All are only to prepare the way for this; it is fit, therefore, that the last kingdom on earth should be his. It is wisely and mercifully ordered of God that it should be so, on this account, as well as many others, viz. That the church of God, under all preceding changes, should have this consideration to encourage her and maintain her hope, and animate her faith and prayers, from generation to generation, that God has promised her cause should finally be maintained and prevail in the world.
The latter-day glory unspeakably great.
The future promised advancement of the kingdom of Christ is an event unspeakably happy and glorious. The scriptures speak of it as a time wherein God and his Son Jesus Christ will be most eminently glorified on earth; a time wherein God, who till then had dwelt between the cherubims-and concealed himself in the holy of holies, in the secret of his tabernacle, behind the veil, in the thick darkness-should openly "shine forth, and all flesh should see his glory," and God's people in general have as great a privilege as the High Priest alone had once a year, or as Moses had in the Mount. A time this, wherein the "temple of God in heaven should be opened, and there should be seen the ark of his testament;" (Rev. xi. 19.) a time wherein both God will be greatly glorified, and his saints made unspeakably happy in the view of his glory; a time wherein God's people should not only once see the light of God's glory, as Moses, or see it once a year with the High Priest, but should dwell and walk continually in it, and it should be their constant daily light, instead of the light of the sun (Isai. ii. 5. Psal. lxxxix. 15. Isai. lx. 19.) which light should be so much more glorious than the light of the sun or moon, that "the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts should reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, before his antients gloriously;" Isai. xxiv. 23.
It is represented as a time of vast increase of knowledge and understanding, especially in divine things; a time wherein God would "destroy the face of the covering cast over all people and the veil spread over all nations ;" (Isai. xxv. 7.) wherein "the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the
light of the sun seven-fold," (Isai. xxx. 26.) " And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the heart of the rash shall understand knowledge," (Isai. xxxii. 3, 4.) "And they shall no more teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord, because they shall all know him from the least to the greatest," (Jer. xxxi. 24.) It is declared to be a time of general holiness, (Isai. Ix. 30.) "Thy people shall be all righteous." A time of prevailing eminent holiness, when little children shall in spiritual attainments, be as though they were a hundred years old, (Isai. ixv. 20.) wherein "he that is feeble among God's people shall be as David," (Zech. xii. 8.) A time wherein holiness should be as it were inscribed on every thing, on all men's common business and employments, and the common utensils of life, all shall be dedicated to God, and improved to holy purposes. (Isai. xxiii. 18.) "Her merchandise and hire shall be holiness to the Lord." (Zech. xiv. 20, 21.) "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, holiness unto the Lord; and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar; yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts."
A time shall come wherein religion and true christianity shall in every respect be uppermost in the world; wherein God will cause his church to "arise and shake herself from the dust, and put on her beautiful garments, and sit down on a throne; and the poor shall be raised from the dust, and the beggar from the dunghill, and shall be set among princes, and made to inherit the throne of God's glory ;"— a time wherein vital piety shall take possession of thrones and palaces, and those that are in most exalted stations shall be eminent in holiness, (Isai. xlix. 23.)" And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers." (Chap. Ix. 16.) "Thou shalt suck the breasts of kings." (Isai. xlv. 12.) "The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift, the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour." A time of wonderful union, and the most universal peace, love, and sweet harmony; wherein the nations shall "beat their swords into plow-shares," &c. and God will "cause wars to cease to the ends of the earth, and break the bow, and cut the spear in sunder, and burn the chariot in the fire; and the mountains shall bring forth peace to God's people, and the little hills by righteousness;" wherein "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb," &c. and wherein "God's people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and quiet resting places;" (Isai. xxxii. 17, 18. and xxxiii. 20, 21.)
A time shall come wherein all heresies, and false doctrines shall be exploded, and the church of God shall not be rent with a variety of jarring opinions, (Zech. xiv. 9.) "The Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one." All superstitious ways of worship shall