Page images
PDF
EPUB

manner in which the Apostle PETER speaks of it. He represents the new heavens and the new earth as immediately succeeding the dissolution of those that now exist. Observe his words : “ But the day of the Lord will come az a thief in the night ; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (2 Pet. iii. 10–13.) And besides this, in the new heavens and the new earth righteousness alone shall dwell ;- ;-a thing not to be expected in any stage of the existence of the present heavens and earth. If, in addition to the foregoing arguments in support of a literal interpretation of this prophecy, we consult the Revelation to Jonn, we shall find several other circumstances connected with the “new heavens and earth," which never can be predicated of the present system of things. “I saw” (says Joux) “a new heaven and a new earth : for the first heaven and first earth were passed away ; and there was no more sea. And I Joux saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain : for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. xxi. 1—4.) In the “new heavens and earth" of John, then, there will neither be tears, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, nor death, nor, consequently, any more sin. And hence we say, that such a state of things cannot synchronize with the present heavens and earth, and therefore cannot be figuratively understood. For these reasons we look for the literal accomplishment of Peter's promise, and expect that the system which we now inhabit will be raised to a much better condition than that which it had even in the state of innocence. We cannot think that the paradisiacal earth had any parts which were uninhabitable by man through excessive heat and cold. Nor can we think that it had any parts in which man could not travel either for want of accommodation or security. Nor can we think that there were other parts prepared to open and ingulf him.

Least of all can we suppose that there were any such things in that happy state as pestilential vapours and blighting ele

And if these things had no being in paradise, certainly they Vol. I. Third Series. DECEMBER, 1822.

4 F

will have none in the “new heavens and the new earth.” In this blessed state there will be nothing to waste or impair the human constitution, but every thing to invigorate and perfect it ;-nothing to injure or offend the senses, but every thing to help and gratify them ;-nothing to allure and draw away the creature from God, but every thing to conduct him to creation’s LORD and Exd. In short, creation, in this renovated state, shall be one vast mirror, present to every man, in which he shall behold the glory of the LORD, and, as he gazes, shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. Should any ask how these things are to be effected, we readily and candidly reply, “We cannot tell." It is quite enough for us to know, that to our LORD belongs that power by which he is able to subdue all things unto himself, and that his are the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. We add, in the

6th and last place, That to him is reserved the Glory of closing the grand drama that has been acting on the theatre of the world for nearly six thousand years, and of conducting all the affairs of Creation, Providence, and Redemption to the holiest, the happiest, and the most triumphant termination. For he must reign until all rule, authority, and power, shall have been put down, and until all enemies have been put under his feet. All this the Spirit of CARIST set forth by the ancient Prophets. David said, “ The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Ps. cx. 1.) And that they shall be made his footstool is fully determined. By Isaian he has said, “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength : even to him shall men come, and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.” (Isai. xlv. 23—25.) But this (as we are informed) will not take place until the day of judgment. For then “shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. xiv. 10–12.) This judicial process will be immediately preceded by the fulfilment of that prophetic saying, “He will swallow up death in victory, and the LORD God will wipe away tears from off all faces, and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth, for the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isai. xxviii. 8.) And it will be as closely followed by the performance of DANIEL's prediction, “And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the bright

[ocr errors]

ness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan. xii. 1-3.) The achievement of these stupendous works will bring the Son of God a second time from heaven. Hence we are told that “ the heavens must receive him until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy Prophets since the world began;" (Acts iii. 21 ;)---intimating that, at that period, they must restore him. Accordingly it is said, “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.” (Heb. ix. 28.) His second appearing, however, will not be confined to them who look for it, or, like his first, to one nation ; for every eye shall see him coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, that is, in great personal splendour, and attended by the most illustrious retinue, even all the holy angels. And then shall all the ungodly on earth, (significantly called all the tribes of the earth, because of their multitude,) mourn at the sight of him, particularly they that pierced him. For“ he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matt. xxiv. 31.) And when this is done, then all that remain, being incurably infected with moral evil, shall be cast into an immense and fathomless furnace of fire, where their worm shall never die, and where their fire shall never be quenched. There

“ Enclos'd with horrors, and transfix'd with pain,

Rolling in vengeance, struggling with their chain,
Talking to fiery tempests, they implore
The raging flame to give its burning o'er ;
They toss, they writhe, they pant beneath the load,

And bear the wrath of an offended God."
But while these unhappy beings will be eternally confined in that

..... black and hollow vault,
Where day is never seen, where shines no sun,
But flaming horror of consuming fires,
A lightless sulphur, check'd with smoky fogs

Of an infected darkness,”the favoured faithful shall dwell in endless and unutterable bliss. For then will the REDEEMER turn aside the veil which has concealed the ineffable glories of the eternal Gop from the impertinent gaze of man from the beginning of the world, and shall let out the full blaze of his transforming and beautifying splendours on the innumerable millions of the redeemed. And then will they attain to the end of their creation and redemption, in the nearest possible approach of their nature to the likeness of the Deity, and in the communication of all the joy and felicity that their capacity will admit. Then, all the good they ever hoped for, all the blessedness of which they ever had any conception, all the riches of mercy

ever promised to them, all the treasures of salvation ever purchased for them, and all the glory which the triune God can possibly confer on them, will be ensured to them for ever, even for ever and ever. And

" Then shall the saints in glorious triumph move

To take possession of their thrones above;
Satan's accurs'd desertion to supply,
And 6ll the vacant stations of the sky;
Again to kindle long extinguish'd rays,
And with new lights dilate the heavenly blaze;
To crop the roses of immortal youth,
And drink the fountain-head of sacred truth ;
To swim in seas of bliss ; to strike the string,
And lift the voice to their almighty King ;
To lose eternity io grateful lays,

And fill heaven's wide circumference with praise.” And when all things in the universe shall have been thus restored to their proper places, and all the ways of God shall have been conducted to this glorious consummation, “then shall the kingdom be delivered up unto the Father, and God shall be all in all."

To improve the subject, it may be observed,

1. Since the Sufferings of Christ were so circumstantially and so long foretold, and the numerous predictions on this subject have been 90 exactly verified ; and since it was so expressly foretold that his sufferings would not be endured on his own account but for others, and for us ;-ought not a consideration of these things to awaken our attention to our circumstances as sinners, to excite us to humiliation before God on account of our awful state, which made this process necessary to our salvation, and to call forth our gratitude to him for having mercifully appointed it? And ought we not, for the same reasons, earnestly to seek a personal and perfect interest in his sufferings ? For let it be well observed, that it is not the appointment of a Saviour for us, nor yet the circumstance of his having actually been in the world and suffered for us, that will save us. No; nor will even scriptural views of the sufferings of CHRIST, and a persuasion that they were intended for our benefit, necessarily lead us to a saving interest in them. And without such an interest in them, what advantage will they ultimately yield us? Think you that he suffered merely to afford us matter for speculation, or admiration, or conversation, or disputation, or encouragement to presumption and daring in our sinful courses ? Surely the blood of Jesus was shed for a nobler purpose! And wherefore was it shed, but to demonstrate to us the exceeding sinfulness and ruinous tendency of sin, to wean us from the love and practice of it, to encourage us to seek the pardon of it, and to make the exercise of mercy to us honourable to the character of Jehovah as our moral Governor, and suitable to the great ends of his government? Was it not, in short, to oblige us to consecrate ourselves to his service on earth, and to furnish us, as his servants, with a title to eternal life? If so, then no farther than as we are made partakers of this experience are we genuine Christians, or meet for heaven, with whatever community of professing Christians we may be connected. May God write these truths deeply on our hearts; and if we are yet destitute of this personal salvation, may we never rest until it is bestowed! And should we, on examining ourselves, find, that as face answereth to face in a glass, so our experience answereth to this statement, yet even then ought we not to rest in present attainments, but should be “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before," and so “pressing to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Nothing should be allowed to detain or stop us short of the highest measure of that good which has been purchased for us by Jesus Christ. O that we may give all diligence to obtain “a full reward."

2. Seeing that the Spirit of Christ foretold the Glory as well as the Sufferings of our Lord, and that these prophecies have, in so great a measure, been fulfilled ; ought not these things to fill the disciples of Jesus with joy, and with the liveliest expectations of the perfect accomplishment of all that was foretold ? Nay, ought not a consideration of these things to lead the followers of Christ most earnestly and constantly to pray that all the glory covenanted to him may speedily be given him, and to aspire to the honour of being Jenovan's instruments in advancing the glory of his only-begotten and well-beloved Son ? And let it not be forgotten, that every Christian has it in his power, either in a greater or in a less degree, to further the cause of the REDEEMER in the world, and is therefore under an obligation to a faithful use of his ability. By personal efforts you may contribute to the spread of religious knowledge, and to the conversion of sinners. And by pecuniary aid, you may minister to the support of those funds which are to defray the expense incurred in employing others to do the same thing, beyond your line of operation. Nor can you reasonably expect to hear Jesus Christ say unto you in the last day, “Well done, good and faithful servants," unless you shall have been found through the day of your probation, at least through that portion of it lying between your conversion and your death, faithfully to have employed all your means for the furtherance and consummation of his glory in the salvation of the world. God grant, that in that day we may find acceptance with him as his servants, and be permitted to enter into the joy of our Lord!

« PreviousContinue »