« PreviousContinue »
belief of it least of all, with a desire to raise any controversy about it. But, as the question is naturally connected with the present occasion, I could not have done justice to the subject, without touching on that string: and I have endeavoured to touch it as concisely, as tenderly, and as inoffensively, as I was able. If I have erred, I hope I shall not displease: for which, I throw myself on the public candour."
Jan. 1, 1775.
NEW YEAR'S DAY:
SUGGESTED BY SOME REMARKABLE PASSAGES IN THE XXIst CHAPTER OF REVELATION; PARTICULARLY BY THAT WHICH IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWS:
He that sat upon the throne, said, Behold, I make all things new.
GREAT, unspeakably great, are the Mediator's power and glory. He will eminently display them both, at that blessed, that most desirable period, when he shall be manifested, a second time, at the end of the world; and appear, not as at first, to suffer and die, but to reign on earth, with his saints, prelusive to their final glorification in heaven.
Every thing below, is changeable. The expiration of one year, and the birth of another; the successions of the several seasons, and the regular vicissitudes of day and night; all conspire to remind us, how transitory, how various, and how uncertain, our time is; and unite, in calling upon us to look beyond the present valley, through which we travel, to the mount of God, the habitation of angels, and the saints' eternal home.
As the things of this world are thus liable to perpetual mutation, so are its best blessings mingled, even for the time being, with their respective inconveniences. Imperfection is written, not only on all we are, and on all we do; but, likewise, on all we enjoy. This has been invariably the case, ever
since man fell in paradise. With perfect innocence, perfect happiness took her flight: nor will either of them be seen on earth again, until that distinguished time arrive, when he that sitteth upon the throne, shall say, Behold, I make all things new.
The whole frame, even of material nature, deviated into disorder, from the moment Adam sinned. The elements acquired a propensity to hurt, unknown before. The earth teemed with thorns, and refused to supply its fallen master with food convenient for him, but on condition of labour and toil. Water and fire, though, in themselves, two of the most important sublunary gifts received, nevertheless, a power to injure and destroy. The very air we breathe is frequently the region of disease, and the vehicle of death.
If such be the present state of the material world, how much less pleasing is the visible state of the moral world! But I willingly draw the curtain, before a scene, which, on a superficial view of things, seems rather calculated to excite our concern, than joy. Both scripture, philosophy, and reason, concur in assuring us, that the all-wise God, by whose permission every event comes to pass, must have the justest causes, both for the good he does, and for the evil he permits.
It is enough for us to know, that a day will dawn, when a period shall be put to every disorder, under which nature, at present labours; and that the earth will become just what it was (perhaps considerably better than it was) ere sin destroyed the harmony, and broke the balance of the well-according system. The stupendous accomplishment of this predestined (a) restoration is largely and explicitly
(a) For farther satisfaction on this subject, if the reader is disposed to consider it, he may consult the 3d vol. of the present bishop of Bristol's Dissertation on the Prophecies: wherein the scripture doctrine of the Millennium is judiciously cleared, rationally stated, solidly proved, and ably vindicated.
foretold, Rev. xx. where we read, that the apostate angels shall be restrained by the coercive power of God, and confined to their own place, for 1000 years. That those of mankind, who belong to Christ; and especially such of them as have been, or are yet to be, slain for his name's sake, shall reign with him upon earth, during that given period. And that the bodies of the reprobate dead shall not be raised, until that period is fully expired.
The next chapter opens with acquainting us, that, prior to the actual commencement of the millennium, a new heaven, i. e. a new body of surrounding air, and a new earth, shall be prepared for the residence of Christ and the elect. I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. Intimating, that this terraqueous globe, and its circumambient atmosphere, will be so purified by the preceding general conflagration, as to be totally changed in their qualities, and entirely divested of every thing noxious, or that can cause disgust and pain. And I John saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God, out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. By the holy city, I understand, the departed souls of the elect; which had all been received into glory, from the moment of their dismission from the body. These are termed holy, because of their separation unto God, by the decree of election; and because of their complete sanctification by the Spirit of grace. They are a city, because of their multitude, dignity, splendor, and unity with each other. These, when Christ appears, shall come down with him, from God out of heaven; in order to be reunited to their respective bodies, which will then be raised by the voice of the archangel, and by the trump of God. Their beatified souls, thus descending, will be prepared as a bride adorned for her husband: clothed with perfection of grace, and ra
diant in the robes of immortality and glory; suitable to the state of those, who are to reign with Christ, as kings and priests to the Father. Those of the elect, who shall be found alive on earth at Christ's appearing, will be changed in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. xv.); i. e. their souls will be instantaneously perfected in grace, and their bodies immortalized; and thus will they render the church of the first-born complete, and be caught up to meet the Lord, and their glorified brethren, in the air (1 Thess. iv.)
And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. Thus will angels and saints shout in concert. And let me observe by the way, that it is impossible for the utmost power of language to express the Deity of Christ, in terms more strong, explicit, and decisive. The tabernacle of God is with men, and God himself [i. e. Christ, in his own proper and individual person] shall be with them, and be their God. With what eyes does an Arian, or a Socinian, read the scriptures?
The felicity of the millenniary state is next described: 1. God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. The world, as it now is, is a valley of tears; and even God's own people have their weeping days below. But, in the renewed world, wherein righteousness shall dwell (2 Pet. iii.), no sigh shall heave the breast, no pang shall rend the heart, no tear shall stain the cheek.-2. And there shall be no more death. Each saint will possess personal immortality. We shall never die, ourselves; nor be robbed by death, of our Christian friends. 3. Neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain of body or mind.-For, 4. the former things are passed away: all possible occasions of distress and uneasiness being for ever, and totally removed; the