« PreviousContinue »
OLD TESTAMENT EVIDENCE
TO A FUTURE GLORIOUS STATE OF THE CHURCH ON EARTH.
There are two duties incumbent on a sufficiently gifted minister, according to Christ's dispensation in these times of imperfection : viz. preaching, according to that description in 2 Tim. iii, 16; and prophesying, agreeably to 1 Cor. xiv, 29, &c. by which latter I mean the explaining of prophecies, either by comparing New with Old Testament prophecies, or fulfilled with unfulfilled. Answerably with these things are two duties incumbent on the hearers. The first is edification in the faith, in this world ; which is the intent of preaching. The second is expectation of hope of the blissful fruit of the world to come, at the next appearing of Christ and perfection of his kingdom ; and this is the genuine event of proper prophesying. Thus both duties lie upon both parties by a reciprocal relation ;—both must be held forth by the faithful minister, and both must be attended to and received by faithful people.
* The advantage of prophetical discussion may be judged from this circumstance ; that, when Dr. Homes wrote, many of the principal writers whom he had to refute contended, that the thousand years were past; having commenced from the ascension of Christ, the destruction of Jerusalem, or the conversion of Constantine. His argument therefore is mainly directed to prove, that there is to be a future glorious state of the church on earth ; a point which is not now disputed by any writer of note : and so far therefore the subject has evidently made way.
the Reader must not suppose that this Treatise is therefore now superseded : he will on the contrary find the great questions now controverted (viz. whether the saints who sleep in Jesus are to have a part in that glorious state, and whether the Lord Jesus shall personally appear) ably discussed in every section of the work ; and great light thrown upon the state and condition itself. Ed.
Having premised this, the drift, scope and sinews of all which I have to say in the present and two following chapters falls into the following syllogism :
Maj. Those things which are prophesied in the Word of God, and are not yet come to pass, must be fulfilled :
Min. The great sensible and visible happiness of the church on earth before the ultimate day of judgment, is prophesied in the Word of God:
Con. Therefore it must be fulfilled, that such a state be extant upon earth before the ultimate day of judgment. The major is granted by all who believe the Word of God : the minor I shall endeavour to prove by texts and arguments drawn from Scripture, both from the Old and New Testaments in order; noting what harmony they make as an anthem, or prelude, before that glorious scene begins. The Old Testament laid down the ground of our hope: the New Testament, written so long after Christ's coming in the flesh, carries on our ex. pectation.
And there is great reason to take the Old Testament; because the New Testament, in speaking of this visible glorious kingdom of Christ to be on earth, refers us to the Old: as Peter, e. g. when he says, “We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness,” g refers to Isaiah lxv. And here by the way mention is made of heavens in the plural. The one empyrean heaven is unchangeable ; and it is impertinent to tell "?, that there shall dwell righteousness, where, we well know, was never any the least unrighteousness. We expect, and must expect by all circumstances upon that place, such a fulfilling of that promise as shall create or make new heavens on earth, wherein dwells righteousness here below, where formerly hath been unrighteousness.
In like manner the same Peter, speaking of Christ's kingdom, refers us to the Old Testament: We have a more sure word “ of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a
light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the “ day-star arise in your hearts ;"h which is taken out of Numbers xxiv, 17 : There shall come a star out of Jacob”
& 2 Ep. iii, 13.
h Ibid. i, 19.
“out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion,” &c. Of this star, which is Christ, I shall treat hereafter ; only premising here, that it were strange to suppose, that Christ should call the Jews, and come to the last judgment, at the same instant: so that the black cloud of the day of doom should cover the world, and the day-star should arise on Israel, scattered among
all nations, at the same moment. In Acts i also we are referred to the prophets, from the time when the world began to know and hope for the visible kingdom of Christ on earth, of which we speak. One of these prophets is Enoch, to whom Jude also refers, j and quotes his words to supply the loss of his book. “Enoch the seventh from Adam pro
phesied saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of “ his saints, to execute judgment, and to convince all that are un
godly of all their ungodly deeds, and of all their hard speeches.” Perhaps there is a meaning in the circumstance, that he is numbered a seventh from Adam; he inay be a type, that Christ should come in the seventh millennary, or thousand, of the whole age of the world. Now Jude allegeth Enoch, that the Lord shall come, after Christ's ascension : he doth nočiay that he shall go away to heaven, but that he shall come from heaven: and how ?-as a judge, to convince and punish all that have persisted to utter hard speeches against Christ, viz. against Christ himself, or against him in his saints. And this must be before the ultimate day of judgment; or what privilege is it to the saints, and how is Christ's power vindicated before he lays down his power?
So that you may perceive, that this matter in hand is an ancient tenet, no new thing, as many, ignorant of the prophets, make it. But we in obedience to Christ, do search into the prophets, and as we are enlightened, and led, as overcome with the truth, so we follow.
There is another reason, leading us into the inquiry of the prophets, viz.—that thereby we may search out the grounds upon which the Jews build their expectation of the coming of the Messiah, and in what manner they expect his coming ; that so we may join issue with them in knowledge, hope, and prayer, or otherwise. We all, both Jews and Gentiles, that have been candid inquirers into the Scriptures, have from the beginning looked for his further coming. “ By faith they saw the promises afar off, and saluted it ;" (so the Greek ;) and "by faith they saw him that was invisible,” &c. k When he came in the flesh, the generality of the Jews saw him corporally, but not spiritually; viz. as a man, not as the Messiah : but the generality of the believing Gentiles saw him spiritually, not corporally. The Jews therefore still expect his coming, that they may see him both corporally and spiritually; and it will be no grief for the Gentiles, that have seen him spiritually, to see him also corporally.
i Chap. iii, 20, 21. j vv. 14, 15.
But this is not all: there is a further reason why we should look into the prophets of the Old Testament ; viz. because many of the types and visions, &c. used in the Book of Revelation, are thence derived. I will at present give but one instance, (but a most apt one to our business in hand,) out of Revelation
4. " And I saw thrones, and they that sat upon them, and “ judgment was given to them, &c. and they lived and reigned “ with Christ, &c.” which clearly is taken out of Dan. vii, 9, &c. “ I beheld till the thrones were set (so it should be translated) and “ the ancient of days did sit, and I saw, and behold one like the “ Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the “ ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And " there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, &c. “ And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the king
dom under the whole heaven was given to the saints of the “ Most High, &c.”
THE BOOK OF REVELATION,
I. So considerable do I deem this twentieth chapter of the Revelation, that, before we take the choice places of the whole Scriptures in order, I shall pitch the foot of my compass and draw a right and clear circle upon it; it being the manner and method of the Holy Spirit to declare things gradually, as the
k Heb. xi.
church is ready to hear, or its state requires, and the time of fulfilment draws near; and thus he speaks most and plainest at last. These advantages falling to the share of this chapter, which touches the design, result, and catastrophe of all that God hath spoken before in the Old and New Testaments to the point in hand; it becomes no less than a golden key to unlock the Bible, especially the Old Testament.
1. At the first verse it is said, “ And I saw an angel come down,” &c. which word ' and imports, that John saw something immediately before, in order to this : what that was our lately invented distinction of chapters and verses puts in chap.xix, 19–21, “ I saw (saith John) the beast, and the kings of the earth, and “ their armies, gathered together to make war against him that
sat on the horse and against his army [namely, against Christ
and his saints, vv. 11-14]. And the beast was taken, and “ with him the false prophet (that is the Antichrist, either under " the notion of human imperialty, or of ecclesiastical prophecy
or teaching] were cast alive into the lake, &c. And the “ remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the " horse." And (or then, after this] I saw an angel come down · from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great "chain in his hand, and he laid hold on the dragon, that old
serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thou“ sand years,” &c. This can mean no other thing, but the conquest of Christ and his saints over the beast, and the false prophet, and their armies on earth ; notwithstanding all the power and policy of their seducing generalissimo, the devil. Here then is Christ and his army, and Antichrist and his army, conflicting ; and they conflict with the sword, and Antichrist's army is slain with the sword, and so slain with it, that the fowls were filled with their flesh.
Now it is strange if these things are to be done only spiritually, or in the world to come! There proceeded indeed the sword ' out of his mouth;' (that is, Christ bid his saints to slay them, as the context explains;) but they were materially or corporally slain, as the time, weapon, and their burial in the bowels of birds imply; yea the ruin of the armies is put in opposition to the ruin of their chieftains, whose destruction was, to be cast alive into the lake.' Nor can this destruction be at the ultimate day of