« הקודםהמשך »
kings, queens, and great men of the world may bow down, court, and idolize her, and may descend to lick the dust from her feet, yet it is only to flatter and to betray; for their “ faces” are not Zion-ward, but to the “ earth.” Their motives are earthly, devilish. It is a serpent still ; they feed on the food of serpents, the dust of your feet. “ They eat the sins of my people as they eat bread." Some suppose it will be a goodly time, when kings and queens will be fathers and mothers in Zion. But no, my brethren; the true church have but one father, which is God; and but one mother, which is not of this world, but she is the New Jerusalem, the mother of us all, which cometh down from above. Christ himself says, “ The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me;" as much as if he had said, By and by the kings and princes of this world will come and court you ; they will pretend to great friendship for you; they will offer to nurse, feed, and clothe you; but remember they have nothing in me. You must, if you wish to win the crown of glory,“ contend against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places; for he hath nothing in me.” Again, Daniel says, ii. 43, “ They (the people of God) shall mingle themselves with the seed of men, (kings and queens, for fathers and mothers,) but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” Let this suffice to show that it is the duty of the church of Christ to keep themselves unspotted from the world; to be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. What is the unclean thing? I answer, It is the policy of worldly governments; in one word, it is a political spirit; that spirit which is not peaceable, pure, easy to be entreated. Who, I ask, ever saw a political partisan have these fruits while prompted by that spirit?
“ First pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated." A political man, if he had any conscience, would blush with shame to claim these appellations. And where, in all the history of the church, from the days of the apostles until now, have kings, queens, or rulers of this world undertaken to nurse the church, and lord it over God's heritage, but that they have proved, in the end, a curse in
stead of a blessing? I am bold to say, Nowhere! And one thing more I am bold to say - That kind of morality which requires the aid of the political world to enforce it, is a harlot in disguise, and her path is the way to death ; in her secret chambers you will find war, rapine, and murder, and in her train will be seen revenge, hatred, envy, and division. These are the temptations of the church when in the city of the nations.
2dly. What has been her character when in the city? Answer: When the Jews left the wilderness, and entered into Canaan, their manna, with which they had been fed while travelling in the wilderness, ceased, and they fed on the old corn of the land. This manna was a type of the spiritual food given by God to his children, while under his immediate control and care. See Rev. ii. 17. Old corn is a fit resemblance of the worldly rights, privileges, and possessions among the nations of the earth. The Jews, almost immediately after they took possession of the land of Canaan, began to mix themselves with the inhabitants around them, and became men pleasers, and a nation of idolaters; and the very things which Moses charged them against, became the common occurrences of the day; and on account of which God suffered their enemies to bring them into bondage, and, from a powerful people, that had made kings tremble even upon the report of them while in the wilderness, now became a weak and degraded people, a tributary nation, a band of slaves to their enemies; and the prophecy of Moses, Deuteronomy xxxii. 15—20, was literally accomplished in about twenty years after they took possession of their goodly land. “But Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers (while in the wilderness) feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” The word
tells us, Judges ii. 11, 12, “ The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim; and forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger.” They dwelt among the Canaanites, and, as it is said, Judges iii. 6; “ they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
This was the character and practice of the Jews, God's ancient covenant people. They ate, they drank, and rose up to play. They were proud, rebellious, and ungodly. They obeyed not the commands of God, and heeded not the warning voice of the Almighty. They regarded not the teaching of the true prophets, but followed in the train of the popular prophets of Baal. They persecuted and drove into the wilderness the true servants of Jehovah, while they fed, clothed, and schooled hundreds of the servants of Baalim. They became a stiff-necked and hard-hearted people to their own God, and bowed their necks, and were subservient to the nations and their gods around them. They forsook or demolished the altars erected for the worship of the true God, and erected under every green tree altars to Baalim and Ashtaroth. They waxed rich in corn, wine, and oil,
yet were poor and scanty in their first fruits to God. They multiplied in cattle, silver, and gold, and forgot that it was God who gave them power to get wealth.
This, we must acknowledge, is the character of the Jews, as given unto us by the sacred historians. These were the people whom God had chosen out of all the nations of the earth, to be his peculiar people - a people who had seen and experienced the salvation of God in a most miraculous manner; from Egyptian bondage, from drought and famine in the wilderness, and from the power of the nations who sought to impede their progress, or hinder their -possessing the promised land. They had enjoyed the visible presence of the angel of the covenant forty years in the wilderness. They had heard the audible voice of Jehovah on the mountain; they saw his pow.
er and glory on Sinai. Yet the next generation after Joshua, had become so deeply corrupted, by unbelief, in gratitude, and rebellion, that they gave all the glory to works of their own hands, and worshipped idols of stocks and stones.
This, you say, is a dark picture of man, and could not have applied to any other people but the Jews. I will agree that no other nation were, at that time, placed in like circumstances with them. But dark as the picture, and hideous as the detail, it is but a shadow of our day, a type of the Christian church in the times in which we live.
“ Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved ?” The text does not tell us she is out of the wilderness, but coming out; as though in the wil. derness, and while she is coming out, she leans upon her lord. Her affections were not yet contaminated by a love for the world, nor her faith weakened by her vanity and self-esteem. Thus was it with the Jews; and so has it been with the church in ages past. Then let me,
III. Make an application of our subject, by showing what may be considered the present state of the gospel church.
I believe all writers and commentators on the Apocalypse agree that the church of Christ has been in the wilderness more than twelve centuries past. Some have fixed the time of the church entering into her wilderness state as early as A. D. 534, when the great controversy between the orthodox and Arians, which, in the days of Justinian, shook the religious world into two great divisions, like the two “ wings of an eagle,” from the convulsions of which many of the true servants of God, or all of them, disgusted with the spirit shown by both of the contending parties, who both claimed and used the civil authority to exterminate or conquer their heterodox brethren, fled into the north-east part of Europe, away « from the face of the serpent,”. the emperors of the east, and the more powerful bishops of Rome — where for numbers of centuries they lived unknowing and unknown.
Other writers say that it was as late as A. D. 606, when the Pope, by the concessions of Phocas, obtained civil
and ecclesiastical power, and that he came out publicly wearing two swords. Between these two points I believe all writers fix the time of the church entering into her wilderness state, “ a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there 1260 days ;” or, “to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent," Rev. xii. 6th and 14th verses ; 1260 days being the same as time, times and a halfthree years and a half, or 1260 prophetic days — which, according to my former proof, must mean 1260 years.
The question now remains to be settled, Where and when this wilderness state began, in order for us to understand the present state of the church.
And first, let us inquire, What are the Scripture marks of the beginning of this period? I answer, in the Apocalypse, xi. 2, “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not, for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty-two months." This is the same time, three years and a half, or 1260 days, as before. Again, Rey. xiii. 4, 5, “And they worshipped the dragon, which gave power unto the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given him to continue forty and two months” — the very same time mentioned again. And we learn, by this passage, that this beast, which would persecute and drive into the wilderness the church, would receive his power from the dragon, the same as in Rev. xii. 4, "stood before the woman, which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born,” — and must, of necessity, be the Roman power. See Rev. xvii. 12, 13. “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power, as kings, one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast." This text plainly proves that the kings of the Roman power gave their power and authority to