« הקודםהמשך »
says the prophet, “they shall all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent :” there shall no longer be idolaters; there shall no longer be worshippers of the sun and of the moon, and of the stars ; but all the inhabitants of the globe, being instructed in the religion of Jesus, shall willingly and profitably embrace it, and shall walk in the paths which it points out ;-they shall become meek, devout, holy : they shall look to the Redeemer as the author of salvation, and they shall zealously abide in faith, and supplication, and well doing!
It requires but little either of learning or of industry, to note the passages “in the Psalms and in the prophets," which have a distinct reference to this great era ;-they are so clear and so numerous as to present themselves to the understanding of the most cursory reader;—"the fools cannot err therein :" and they describe the blessings which shall result from the final establishment of the Gospel so fully and so feelingly, that it is impossible to rise from the perusal of them, without finding the heart warmed by the same spirit of Divine love and zeal, by which those holy men who wrote them were animated. It is, however, as I before observed, in the book of Isaiah, that the intimations of this glorious event are most frequent and most luminous. He appears to have been the instrument pre-eminently chosen by the Spirit to reveal to mankind the glories of Messiah's kingdom, and to declare the joy which the beams of the “Sun of Righteousness” should diffuse over the world. And of all these promises, which are thus scattered through the Old Testament, it may be observed, that they are most fully recognized and confirmed by our Lord himself, when, having foretold the approaching desolations of Jerusalem, he declares that “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled;" until the season of their ignorance shall have passed away, and, in the language of St. Paul, “ the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” Here, then, we have our Saviour's express declaration, that the holy city shall continue in the power of the heathens, until the period spoken of by the prophets (to whom he evidently refers) shall have arrived; when the Jews shall be converted, and restored to the land of their forefathers, and, incorporated with the Gentiles, shall form one Church, and one body of believers, under one head, even Christ.
It appears to me, moreover, that whoever diligently examines the prophecies of which I am speaking, will find occasion to observe, that the language in which they are expressed leads us to expect something more than a merely nominal We may collect from them, I think, that in the glorious period to which they direct our eyes, it shall not only come to pass, that “ Kings shall be the nursing-fathers, and Queens the nursing mothers” of the Gospel, and that, under their influence, there will result an universal national profession of the faith : I trace in these promises something far more exalted :—I see in them a pledge that the outpouring of the Spirit shall, in those days, be so large and so longcontinued, that men shall savingly and vitally feel in their hearts those precious truths to which their understandings shall assent;—that all they that shall hear of the bleeding Lamb shall mourn for Him, whom their sins have pierced ;—that the faith which shall prevail shall be uniformly a “faith which worketh by love," a faith, which, being implanted by the Spirit, shall be prolific of the fruit of good works ;—that there shall be none of those false professors, who worship God “ with their lips, whilst their heart is far from him ;" but, that all who worship him “ shall worship him in spirit and in truth ;”-that all, who are “ hearers of the word;" shall be “ doers of it" also, that all the families of the earth, having been admitted into the visible Church, shall be blessed with “ an unction from the Holy One, and shall know all things.” Hear Jeremiah --“ They shall no more teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord,--for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord :”—and Isaiah still more strongly-" The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.' Now these passages, and many others, of a similar import, which might be adduced, appear to me utterly incompatible with the notion, that, under the final establishment of the Gospel, there shall continue the same difference between nominal and real godliness which we now lament in the visible Church; on the contrary, I think, they warrant us in maintaining the belief, that in those glorious days, all the nations naming the name of Christ shall depart from iniquity,”—and shall be justified by “ the righteousness which is by faith.”
If it be asked, by what means these mighty effects shall be brought about ?–1 answer, that the word of God lends us not sufficient light to give a full answer to this inquiry. There will undoubtedly be a special and extraordinary outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Ghost; by the efficacy of which the law of God will be written indelibly, and the love of Christ will be shed abroad abundantly, in the hearts of men. But I do not see that we are led to suppose, that what we usually call a miraculous interposition will be employed. The influences and operations of the Spirit will differ not so much, it may be, in their nature as in their degree ; and we have reason to believe that the conversion of the heathens, and the purification of the whole body of the Church upon earth, will be visibly effected by what are commonly termed the ordinary means of grace ;—by the sending forth of missionaries—by the preaching of the Gospel-by the distribution, far and wide, of the sacred volume; that even these means—fostered by the blessing of God's Spirit (without which, whoever he be that plants, and whoever he be that waters, there can be no increase,) I say that even these means will bring together the stray sheep to the bosom of Jesus, and unite them in one fold and under one shepherd. The ordinary dealings of God through all the ages of the Gospel-and the commission and promise of our Saviour to his disciples, when he bids them go throughout the earth, and “preach the Gospel to every creature," and assures them that he will be with them “ alway unto the end” of the world-all these things concur in convincing us, that, whatever other means it may please the Lord to call in at the last days for the conversion of the world, he will also largely employ and prosper those methods by which the progress of the Gospel has been hitherto effected.