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I have repeatedly expressed my belief, that many prophecies, respecting the spread and glory of the kingdom of MESSIAH upon earth, have not yet received their full accomplishment, and that a time is coming, when many, (perhaps the greater part of mankind) of all nations, and people, and languages, shall know the joyful sound of the gospel, and walk in the light of the Redeemer's countenance. At present, I would confine myself to consider, what ground the scripture affords us to hope, that there are many of every nation, people and tongue, even now, singing this song before his throne.
The Revelations vouchfafed to the beloved difciple in Patmos exhibit a fucceffion of great events, extending (I suppose) from the apostles days, to the end of time. But while only the learned can so much as attempt to ascertain, from history, the dates and facts, to which the prophecies already fulfilled refer ; or to offer probable conjectures concerning
judicious commentators are far from being agreed) there are passages, interspersed, which seem designed to administer consolation to plain believers, by representations suited to
their thoughts, to the state of the church nphant. Though they are unable to exin the particulars of what they read, there - glory resulting from the whole, which
nates their hope and awakens their joy. - this kind I think is that vision *, in ich, the apostle saw the servants of God,
o were sealed in their foreheads, in num- a hundred and forty-four thousand ; and - ides these, a great multitude which no - in could number, of all nations, and kin--eds, and people, and tongues, stood before
e throne, and before the Lamb, clothed
ith white robes, and palms in their hands, - id cried with a loud voice, saying, Salva
-on to our God, which fitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, &c. I confess myself un
ble to expound this sublime passage, and to zive the full, or even the principal, sense of - allt, with certainty. But that it has some re
3 and ference to what is now passing, within the -- fulfillivail, which, hides the unseen world from our Fures con view, I cannot doubt. I propose my thoughts
which t upon it with caution and diffidence. I dare far from not speak with that certainty, which I feel =rspersed, myself warranted to use, when I set before # Rey, vii. 9, ad finem.
confolati cions lui
you, from scripture, the great truths which are essential to a life of faith in the Son of God. Yet, I hope to advance nothing that is contrary to fcripture, or, to any deductions fairly and justly, drawn from it.
Having premised this acknowledgment of my incompetence to decide positively, I venture to say, that by the hundred and fortyfour thousand sealed in their foreheads (a definite for an indefinite number, which is frequent in scripture language) I understand, those, who, living to mature age and where the gospel is afforded, are enabled to make a public and visible profession of religion, and are marked, as it were, in their foreheads, and known to whom they belong, by their open and habitual separation, from the spirit and customs, of the world which lieth in wickedness. And the exceeding great multitude, contradistinguished from these, I conceive to be those, who are, elsewhere, styled the Lord's hidden ones; and that these, are a great multitude indeed, gathered by him, who knows tliem that are his, out of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples and tongues. I may distribute them into the following claffes.
1. Infants. I think it, at least, highly - probable, that when our Lord says, Suffer : little children to come unto me, and forbid
them not, for of such is the kingdom of hea.
ven *, he does not only intimate the necessity s of our becoming like little children, in fimpli
city, as a qualification without which (as he exprefly declares in other places) we cannot enter into his kingdom, but informs us of a fact; that the number of infants, who are effectually redeemed to God by his blood, so greatly exceeds the aggregate of adult believers, that, comparatively speaking, his kingdom may be said to consist of little children. The apostle speaks of them as not having finned after the fimilitude of Adam's transgreffion t, that is, with the consent of their understanding and will. And when he says, We must all appear before the judgment-feat of Chrijl, he adds, that every man may give an account of what he has done in the body, whether it be good or bad I. But children who die in their infancy have not done any thing in the body, either good or bad. It is true, they are by nature evil, and must, if saved, be the subjects of a supernatural * Matt. xix. 14. + Rom. v. 14. I 2 Cor. v. 10.
change. And though we cannot conceive how this change is to be wrought, yet, I. suppose, few are so rash as to imagine itimpoffible that any infants can be saved. The same power that produces this change in fome, can produce it in all. And therefore I am willing to believe, till the scripture forbids me, that infants, of all nations and kindreds, without exception, who die before they are capable of sinning after the fimilitude of Adam's transgression, who have done nothing in the body of which they can give an account, are included in the election of grace. They are born for a better world than this. They just enter this state of tribulation, they quickly pass through it, their robes are washed white in the blood of the Lamb, and they are admitted, for his fake, before the throne. Should I be asked to draw the line, to assign the age, at which, children begin to be accountable for actual fin, it would give me no pain to confess my ignorance. The Lord knoweth.
2. A people hidden among the most degenerate communities, civil or ecclesiastical, that bear the name of Christian ; where ignorance and superstition, or errors, which, though