Page images

stricken follower, but a glorious Church — without wrinkle, or blemish, or any such thing - a bride ready in her bridal and coronation robes, glorious and spotless, bright as the sun, fair as the moon, and majestic as an army with banners. The Church, the bride, shall be complete in her character, complete in her constituent numbers-a perfect Church, the bride of the great Bridegroom.

At that day the Jews will be restored, and reinstated in their lost privileges. It is impossible to read Isaiah without seeing that while many of the prophecies—and those by no means obscure onesdescribe the future glory of the Gentile Church, the very choicest and most brilliant of them all are descriptive of the future glory of the Jewish Church. The Jews had the pre-eminence at first, and we gather from all ancient prophecies that they will have the pre-eminence again. The dry bones, scattered over all the valleys of the earth (exceeding many and exceeding dry), the types and symbols of the children of Israel, shall hear the sound of the resurrection trumpet, and shall come, bone to bone, and sinew to sinew, and shall be clothed with resurrection flesh; and rise up, a glorious army, a mighty host, singing and shouting in undying strains, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord !” And of that very Jewish Church it is said: “The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and

they shall call thee the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” We gather, from all these predictions, that the Jews will occupy a very prominent place in the age to come. The words in the Hebrew, called “the world to come,” ought to be translated, “the dispensation to come;" in which they that have suffered so long - most deservedly suffered—will be more than compensated; so that they may sing now, with an emphasis with which the Gentile cannot say it, “Our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed.”

At that day, the promises of the new heaven and the new earth, as these are enunciated in the Epistle of Peter, shall be all realized. “The day of the Lord will come,” he says, “as 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.” What promise is this? That promise which Peter recognised, which is still unspent, but which Peter believed to be reserved for the future, is contained in the 65th chapter of Isaiah, at the 17th verse, where we have the promise given in full, graphic, eloquent, and expressive terms: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem”-in that new heaven and new earth — “a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days : for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner, being an hundred years old, shall be accursed.” Whether that relates to the Millennial state, prior to this continuity of it, which is to last for ever, it is difficult to say; or whether it is to be translated figuratively, meaning that in this future state there shall be no death at all. Some have supposed that in the Millennial state, the first thousand years of it, there will be deaths. I cannot see how this is possible among the people of God: they are in their resurrection bodies. If death takes place, it must be among those who are spoken of as at the four corners of the globe, unconverted and unsanctified, called Gog and Magog, who rise up at the end, in rebellion against the saints and the people of the Most High. But I incline to take the language as figurative in this part: “They shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat.” It is said, in the 24th verse: “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock, and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.” Nobody can assert that this has been fulfilled. No era that has occurred from the day when Isaiah uttered this — that is, 700 years before the death of Christ to the present moment can be said with any propriety to have been even an approximation to this glowing prophecy — no such era has ever yet taken place; and we are sure it had not taken place before Peter's days, for he says, “We, according to his promise" — the promise we have just seen — “look for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." That promise, therefore, relates to a future in which everything shall be actually fulfilled. That there are difficulties connected with every view of unfulfilled prophecy it is perfectly reasonable to suppose; so there are in every other interpretation. The question is, in which view is the greatest amount of difficulty ? On the side of those who believe the Millennium is to be a mere improvement and expansion of the existing age, to be followed by the last judgment, it does look as if the difficulties were insurmountable; on the side of those who believe that the advent of Christ is to be pre-Millennial, there are difficulties, no doubt, but these are few in comparison with those that cling to the other view. If all the future were as luminous as the present, man would cease to be responsible; but we can see only gleams and glimpses of the future by the light that God has given, and we must not expect to penetrate futurity - even where God has revealed it and find a transparency and clearness that are the attributes of the present only. But is it impossible to conclude that the lion will eat straw like the ox? — that literally the lamb and the lion shall feed together, and dust be the serpent's meat? These animals, at present in an abnormal and unnatural state, were not meant to be voracious and to devour in their original condition. True, the physiologist and the naturalist will appeal to their internal visceral structure, and to the organization of their teeth, and will assert that they were made to live upon other animals. God made them clearly in anticipation of what afterward took place; for we cannot suppose that a Being who saw what would be, would fail to make pre-arrangements for the new and unnatural phasis that was to come upon the earth. It is not at all probable that after the Fall the lion ceased to have graminivorous teeth, or exchanged them for carnivorous : we have no evidence of such a transformation. The lion was made with his carnivorous teeth before the Fall, but in anticipation of a new state of things. The Fall did not come upon God unexpectedly; he knew and embraced it as a fact, in all his pre

« PreviousContinue »