THE SUBSTANCE OF WHICH WAS DELIVERED,
ON SEPTEMBER 13th, 1814,
BEFORE THE COMMITTEE AND MEMBERS
Wishawtown District of the Bible Association,
IN THE PARISH OF CAMBUSNETHAN,
AND PUBLISHED AT THEIR DESIRE.
MINISTER OF THE CONGREGATION OF OLD DISSENTERS AT WISHAWTOWN.
“A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
Luke ii. 52.
Printed by Jack & Gallie,
FOR M. OGLE, 8, WILSON-STREET; JOHN OGLE, OLIPHAWT, WAUGH AND INNES. EDINBURGH; OGLES, DUNCAN, AND COCHRANE, LONDON;
O. CUTHBERTSON, PAISLEY; W. SCOTT, GREENOCK;
AND R. MATHIE, KILMARNOCK.
A MINUTE OF COMMITTEE.
The Members of the Sub-committee, of Cambusnethan Bible Association, appointed for Wishawtown District, feel grateful to their Preses, the Rev. Archibald Mason, for the interesting and appropriate Sermon delivered by him, on the evening of the 13th September, at their desire; and cordially join with the Audience of that night, in requesting him to allow the Sermon to be printed, for the promotion of the cause in which we are engaged.
ARCHIBALD MORTON, Sec.
27th Sept. 1814
A SERMON, &c.
Isaiah xxx. 26.
“Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven fold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.”
An exceeding great and precious promise of God to the children of men, and a description of the time when he will accomplish it to them, are contained in this text.
The promise is recorded in the beginning of the verse. “The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days.” These words may be considered either as a promise or a prediction. As a divine promise, they exhibit to us an unspeakable blessing, which the Lord has graciously engaged to bestow on the nations, at the appointed season. As a divine prediction, they foretell a glorious change, which the LORD shall produce among men, at the latter day. These expressions are metaphorical. As spiritual blessings are often represented, in Scripture, by the light of the sun, and the moon; so the natural light of this world is employed in the text, to represent the spiritual light of the gospel, which brings salvation to men. This light is promised, not to the Jews only, but to the Gentiles also. When this promise shall be accomplished, Jesus will be a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as he will be the glory of his people Israel. This promise has a peculiar respect to the Gentiles. As the sun and the moon are the ordinance of God, for enlightening the whole world; so when Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shall arise on men, in the glory of his gospel and grace, he will diffuse his radiant beams, over all the nations of the Gentiles. These nations are divided into two classes—the nations who are destitute of the word and gospel of Christ, and are in gross darkness; and the nations that are in possession of those precious blessings. Both of these are the objects of this promise. On the former, this light shall be bestowed, and to the latter, it shall be greatly increased. The meaning of the promise, or prediction, appears to be this. When this promise is fulfilled, there shall be as great a change produced on the religious and moral world, as there would be in the natural world, were the moon, in the season of the night, to blaze like the meridian sun, and the sun, during the day, to shine with seven- fold brightness, concentrating, into one day, the light and splendour of seven.
The time when this promise shall be fulfilled, is described in the end of the verse. “In the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.” The people whose breach the LORD binds up, and the stroke of whose wound he heals, are the people of the God of Abraham, the posterity of Jacob, who were formerly his peculiar people. This title, his people, generally signifies, in the Old Testament Scriptures, the chosen nation of Israel, in opposition to all the other nations of the world, which are usually called, the people, the nations, the Gentiles. For the happy time in which those things shall be fulfilled, we are not to look, either to the day when the army of Sennacherib, in the reign of Hezekiah, was, by the power of God, miraculously destroyed; or to the day when the captives of Judah were delivered from their bondage in Babylon. The expressions in the text are too grand and sublime, to have their accomplishment in these events, or in their consequences. We cannot look for the accomplishment of this prediction, even to the days of the apostles. After the resurrection of our Redeemer, who is over all God blessed for ever, such a change indeed was effected in the church, that the light of the moon was as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun was sevenfold, as the light of seven days. The gospel was preached to the Gentile nations, and multitudes embraced the faith of Jesus. The people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and to them who dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, did light spring up. At this most eventful day, however, the LORD did not bind up the breach of his people, nor heal the stroke of their wound. It was rather the day, when the Jewish nation, for their iniquity, was broken with this dreadful breach, and received the stroke which produced that wound, under which they have languished for near eighteen hundred years. We are, therefore, constrained, for the complete fulfilment of these things, to look forward to those blessed days which are promised to the church, when, to use the words of the apostle, the natural branches shall be grafted into their own olive; when, through the mercy of the Gentiles, the Jews shall obtain mercy, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, and when all Israel shall be saved. The day, in which the LORD shall bind up this breach, and heal the wound of his ancient people, shall be the time, when the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, to the Gentile nations.
The text, therefore, unfolds to our view this interesting truth,—All the nations of the Gentiles shall be spiritually enlightened, at the conversion of the Jews.
In discussing this subject, it is proposed, I. To illustrate the nature of the spiritual change, which shall be produced on the nations, as it is represented by the metaphor that is used in the text; II. To mention some of the blessings that are contained in this promise; III. To describe the manner in which it shall be accomplished; and IV. To explain the character of that day, when this promise or prediction shall be fulfilled, in the day when the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.
I. It is proposed to illustrate the nature of the spiritual change which shall be produced on the Gentile nations, when the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days.
1st, This metaphor represents the spiritual change, that is signified by it, to be new and unprecedented. The moon’s shining as the sun, and the sun’s shining with sevenfold more brightness than ordinary, would produce phenomena in nature, which would be altogether singular and extraordinary. The blessed change, in like manner, which the church shall then experience, will be unexampled, and without a parallel. The singularity of the case does not consist in the shining of the sun and the moon; for they have shone on the earth from the beginning; but it consists in the extraordinary degree of their shining. So this extraordinary change does not consist in the shining of spiritual light upon men, for this has at all times been the church’s enjoyment, but it consists in the peculiar degree of spiritual light, which shall then break forth on the nations. When the blessing signified by this metaphor, shall be conferred on men, the LORD will create a new thing in the earth. The glory of that light shall transcend all former examples. As far as the light of the moon, when shining like the sun, would exceed the light she has always reflected on the earth; so far will the light of the church, at that time, excel any of her enjoyments of this kind, in former ages. As far as the light of seven days combined into one, would excel the light of an ordinary day; so far must the spiritual light of that season exceed the light of any of the past ages of the church. If it is not a change that is without a parallel in past times, there is neither propriety nor truth in the metaphor. Though the LORD will never produce such a change in the world of nature, as that which is mentioned in the text; he will certainly accomplish that alteration in the world of grace, of which he has made that natural change the similitude; and when it takes place, it will introduce the church into a situation, which shall be entirely new and extraordinary.
2d, This metaphor represents the change that is signified by it, to be productive of peculiar emotions in the minds of men. Were the moon to shine as the sun, and the sun with the light of seven days, men would be filled with fear, surprise, wonder, and astonishment. This spiritual change, which shall be produced upon the nations, will also fill the minds of christians with very extraordinary emotions, and lead them to special exercises of soul. This change will fill their hearts with holy fear and reverence. This they will express in their song of adoration, “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name, for thou only art holy,” Rev. xv. 4. It will fill them with surprise and astonishment; they shall then cry out, “When the LORD turned again the captivity of Sion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.” Psa. cxxvi. 1, 2. It will produce in them holy admiration, and cause them exclaim, “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” Exod. xv. 11. On this extraordinary occasion, they will abound with the high praise of the Lord, This is ascribed to them, Rev. vii. 10, “And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God, who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb.” O how vehemently will they utter such praise as that, Psa. cxxxvi. 4. “To him who alone doeth great wonders; for his mercy endureth for ever.” They shall also be employed in giving thanks to God for his wonderful works. In the summary account of this change on the nations, which is contained in the eleventh chapter of the Revelations, this part of the church’s employment is mentioned in verse 17th; “We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.” They will then be constrained to say, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.” Luke i. 68, The christians of those times will also overflow with joy and gladness. To this they are called. Rev. xviii. 20. “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” To this exercise they will invite one another. Rev. xix. 7. “Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honour to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” Nor will these spiritual emotions, though carried to their highest pitch, be found existing in the souls of believers, without a sufficient cause. This change, when it shall be accomplished, will be so glorious in itself, so beneficial to men, and so conspicuous to all, that it will prove an abundant reason for the most enlarged exercises of this kind, in the members of the church. If it is a divine rule in the duty of christians, to render to the LORD, according to the benefit done unto them, and nothing can be more reasonable, the church, in those days, receiving from her God such special mercies, will be laid under obligations peculiarly strong, to bring the sacrifice of praise, and of every other religious duty, into the house of the LORD. For these exercises, the Members of the church, in her enlarged state, will be perfectly qualified; for the external change which shall be produced in the church, at the accomplishment of this promise, will be accompanied with a proportionate alteration in the inward spiritual condition of the saints, which will make them all fire, zeal, and life, in the service of the sanctuary.
3d, This metaphor represents the spiritual change that is signified by it, to be a glorious manifestation of God, as he is the God of grace. The change in nature, mentioned in the text, would brightly display God’s glory, as he is the God of providence. He is the Creator of the sun and moon. “And God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.” Gen. i. 16. “He giveth the sun,” saith the prophet Jeremiah, “for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night.” Whatever these great lights are in themselves, whatever are their motions and revolutions, whatever beneficial effects they produce on the face of the earth, and whatever services they do to the creatures below, all these things are of Him who hath appointed the moon for seasons, and from whom the sun knoweth his going down. Were these great lights to shine as it is expressed in this metaphor, the glory of their Creator and Preserver would be brightly displayed. It must necessarily follow, therefore, that when this great spiritual change shall be accomplished on the church of Christ, which this metaphor represents, the glory of the God of grace and salvation will be manifested abundantly. At that desirable period, these words of Isaiah, xlv. 5, shall be fulfilled, “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” The revelation of the divine glory, consists in the display which Jehovah will make of himself and of his attributes, by his operations of grace among men; and all flesh seeing it together, signifies the church's perception and acknowledgment of this glory both the one and the other shall, at that time, prevail in the world; for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. How will he display the glory of his sovereignty, in fixing the time of this happy state of the church, and in choosing the persons who shall enjoy it! How will the glory of his wisdom be seen in ordering the means, and bringing forward the instruments, of introducing and maintaining it! How brightly will divine power appear, in overcoming opposition, and in raising his church to the height of her prosperity and glory! How will the faithfulness of God shine forth, in fulfilling his promises to his people, in executing his threatenings on his enemies, and, in both, doing as he has said! And how will the divine love, grace, and mercy, be illustrated, in bestowing on the church and her members, in an extraordinary degree, and freely, for Christ’s sake, all spiritual blessings in heavenly places! The glory of each divine person shall then conspicuously appear. At that time, all shall be convinced, that “grace and peace,” in whatever degree they may be enjoyed, “come from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful Witness, the first-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.” Rev. i. 4, 5. As this glory shall be revealed, so also shall it be discerned and acknowledged; for of them it is said, “And they sung the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”
4th, This metaphor represents the spiritual change which is signified by it, to be a peculiar display of Christ's glory, and a great increase of beauty and lustre to his church. Were the sun and the moon to shine as it is stated in the text, a glory would be drawn around the sun, and a lustre would be added to the moon, far superior to any thing that has been seen about them, since the beginning of the creation of God. In the Holy Scriptures, Christ is compared to the sun. “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise, with healing in his wings.” Mal. iv. 2. The church of Christ is also compared to the moon. “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon?” Song vi. 10. By this metaphor, therefore, the enlarged manifestation of Christ’s glory, and the increased lustre of his church, may be represented. At this season, his glory will be brightly displayed to the nations. If he manifested forth his glory, at the beginning of his miracles, in Cana of Galilee; will he not also display his glory, when all dominions shall serve and obey him? If he received from God the Father, honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him “from the excellent glory, This is my beloved son, hear ye him;” shall he not also receive from him honour and glory, when he shall give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost ends of the earth for his possession? The brightness of his glory will then appear to the nations, by means of his word and ordinances, rendered effectual through the operation of the Holy Spirit, for regenerating, justifying, and sanctifying all them who are saved. Christ will then appear in the glory of his divine person, and in the glory of his divine and human natures in his one person, as our Mediator. Opposition to this great mystery of godliness shall then be silenced. He will appear in the glory of his eternal engagements, to be the head and surety of the covenant of grace, and the Redeemer and Saviour of his people. He will be manifested in the glory of his offices, with which, by his Father’s appointment, he is invested. He will then be universally known and acknowledged in his glory, as the great Prophet of the church, as the great High Priest of the christian profession, and as the alone King and Head of his church. The glory of Jesus in his mediatorial righteousness, for the justification of the ungodly—in his communicated fulness, for the supply of his people’s wants—and in his everlasting salvation, which he bestows on his people on earth and in heaven, shall then be exceeding bright, and extensively known. The church shall then be enabled to utter these words, in a very peculiar manner, “We beheld his glory, as the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” In consequence of these discoveries of his glory, they will be constrained to say, with singular impressions on their spirits, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” At the accomplishment of this promise, the church also, who is bright and glorious by the light of the Sun of Righteousness shining on her, and is comely through his comeliness put upon her, will appear with a lustre and beauty to which she has never formerly attained. In the purity of her doctrine, the spiritual simplicity of her ordinances, the scriptural form of her government and censures, the number of her members, the zeal and spirituality of her ministers, the holiness of her saints, and the feigned submission of her enemies, the church shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of her God.
II. Head of this Discourse, was to mention some of the blessings that are contained in this promise or prediction—“The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days.”
1st, This promise contains the blessing of a greater degree of knowledge in divine things. This is the plain import of the metaphorical language of the text. The increase of light is the metaphor, an increase of knowledge is the blessing signified by it. Though all true believers, in every age, have had a sufficient and saving knowledge of divine truths; yet there must have been a great difference in the degree of that knowledge, of which, in these different periods, the members of the church were possessed. In the days of the patriarchs, and under the Mosaic dispensation, the knowledge of divine mysteries, concerning our salvation by Jesus Christ, was comparatively small. As that dispensation advanced, and the church enjoyed the ministry of the prophets, the light of the knowledge of the way of salvation would gradually increase. When the Son of God had appeared in our world, and had finished the work which the Father had given him to do, the gospel of the kingdom was preached, the former darkness was dissipated, the Jewish ceremonies were set aside, the spiritual ordinances of the gospel were brought into operation; and he who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shined into the hearts of many, to give them the light of the knowledge of his glory, in the face of Jesus Christ. As spiritual light increased, under the former dispensation; so we have reason to believe in its increase, during the evangelic economy. The path of the church, as well as that of every believer, shall be as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The people who shall live in the church, when this prediction shall be fulfilled, will enjoy, in a very high degree, the knowledge of divine truths. They will clearly understand the prophecies of Scripture, by having the accomplishment of them before their eyes. Their knowledge of these things will greatly increase their acquaintance with both the doctrinal and practical truths of the gospel. Great activity will be exerted to propagate among men this divine knowledge; for Daniel was informed, that, “at the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Dan. xii. 4. The elaborate researches and discoveries of gospel doctrine, in former generations—the number of those who shall then be employed in biblical studies—and the happy unanimity in the faith of Jesus, which will prevail in those days—shall greatly accelerate their progress in the knowledge of divine truths. The wonderful works of grace and providence, performed by the LORD, for introducing and establishing this happy state of the church, being deeply impressed on their mind, will excite them to accomplish a diligent search into the words of eternal life, which, by the blessing of God and the working of his Spirit, will cause them attain extraordinary degrees of knowledge in the mysteries of God.
2d, This promise contains the blessing of a more extensive communication of the light of the gospel to the nations of the world. This blessed light shall be confined no more to a few of the gentile nations; but it shall spread comparatively over all the earth. The prophet Isaiah proclaims this truth, chap, xi 9. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” The prophet Habakkuk confirms this, chap. ii. 14. “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah also foretells the willing subjection of all the nations of the earth to the sceptre of Christ; chap. ii. 2. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” The same thing was represented to John, Rev. xi. 15. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.” If the knowledge of the LORD, and of the glory of the LORD, shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea; if all nations shall flow to Christ; and if the kingdoms of this world shall become his kingdoms, a great extension must certainly be given to the gospel of divine grace among the nations, when “the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days.” Nations the most ignorant and barbarous—nations the most remote,—and nations the most hostile to Christianity, shall then yield subjection to the Redeemer, and shall wait for his law. If barbarians and Scythians were found among the subjects of Christ’s kingdom, in the apostolic age, persons and nations of that description will certainly be ranked among his followers, when this promise shall be accomplished. The great multitude which no man could number, and which were clothed in white robes, and palms in their hands. Rev. vii. 9. represented the members of the millennial church, as the sealed company symbolized professing Christians, while the church abode in the wilderness. If this great multitude comprehended persons of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, then nations the most remote, and the most hostile, will receive the gospel of Christ, stretch out their hands unto God, and stand before the throne and before the Lamb.
3d, This promise contains the blessing of a more powerful efficacy of the gospel on the souls of men. If the moon should shine as the sun, and the sun emit sevenfold more light and heat than usual, their influence on the inhabitants and pro- ductions of the earth would be greatly increased. When the religious and spiritual state of things shall be introduced which is signified by those metaphors, the efficacy of the gospel on mankind must be inconceivably enlarged. The rod of the Redeemer’s strength shall then be sent out of Sion, and will make many willing to submit to him in this day of his power. The weapons of the gospel warfare, which are not carnal but spiritual, shall then, in a most wonderful degree, be mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. The work of convincing sinners of their guilt and misery, by the precepts and threatenings of God’s holy law, shall then be general and powerful among the inhabitants of the earth. The glorious work of converting sinners to Christ, shall then prevail wonderfully among men. Multitudes, in many nations, shall be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them who are sanctified, by faith that is in Christ. In that day, the work of building up christians in their most holy faith shall so prosper in the church, that they shall be enabled to keep themselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. When all nations shall flow unto the mountain of the LORD’s house, in the last days, the Prophet represents the language they shall utter, Isaiah xi. 3. “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” No such causes shall then exist, as now are, and have been, for the ambassadors of peace to weep bitterly, and to say, “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” for then, the power of the LORD being present to heal, the earth shall bring forth in one day, and nations shall be born at once.
4th, A greater degree of fruitfulness among the members of the church, is another blessing which this promise contains. Were the sun and the moon to shine in the way stated in the text, accompanied with a proportionable quantity of rain, the fertility of the earth would probably be increased. Whatever may be in this, we are assured, that, when this prediction shall be fulfilled, christians shall attain extraordinary fruitfulness in every good work, and unexampled increase in the knowledge of God. The fruitfulness of believers consists in their holiness and comfort. In the former part of the 19th chapter of the Revelation, which describes the condition and employment of the church at this blessed day, their fruitfulness in these things is clearly stated. At the beginning of the chapter, John heard “a great voice of much people in heaven, saying. Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God.” After describing the causes of their joy, in their deliverance from their anti-christian enemies, it is said, verse, 4th, “The four and twenty elders, and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God, that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.” In the 5th verse, a voice comes out of the throne, calling them to the exercise of praise. In the 6th verse we find them saying, “Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” In the 7th verse, they encourage one another in this delightful work; “Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”
All this indicates a most joyful and comforted state of the church. In the 8th verse, the perfection of her justifying robe, and the purity of her garments of sanctification are described; “and to her was granted that she shall be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” The 9th verse, which concludes this part of the chapter, declares the felicity of those who shall enjoy such attainments in holiness and comfort. “And he saith unto me, write, Blessed are they who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” The fruitfulness of the church, at this season, is described also in the Old Testament predictions. Respecting this day, Isaiah, chap. lx. verse 21st, declares, “Thy people shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” In these words, extraordinary degrees of sanctification, great spiritual privileges, and much holy joy and enjoyment are foretold of the church. The same happy condition is predicted, Isaiah xxxv. 1, 2. “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing.” When this season shall commence, the darkened nations, which were a wilderness, a solitary place, and a desert, being fertilized by the word, the Spirit, and the grace of God, shall bring forth fruit as Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon; “and they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.” The christians of those ages shall be fruitful in their profession, and in their practice—in their profession, for Christ’s Father’s name shall be written on their foreheads—and in their practice, because they shall follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. As the church and her true members will still be in a state of imperfection, even under all these enjoyments, it is vain to suppose that the former will be freed from nominal professors and hypocrites, or that the latter shall be delivered from the operations of indwelling sin, or from those trials and sorrows which are incident to them who are yet in the body.
III. Head was to describe the way in which this promise or prediction shall be fulfilled.
1st, It shall be fulfilled by the grace and power of God the Father. Every spiritual blessing, that is enjoyed by the church, or by any believer, is bestowed by the grace and power of God. This great blessedness, therefore, which the church and her members shall then enjoy, must flow from the same fountain. All those who come to Christ, must be drawn by the Father, and must hear and learn of him. Those who are the children of the church are all taught of God. These operations of grace and power must be performed by the Father, on the nations, when they submit to the sceptre of the Redeemer, and on the numerous individuals in them, who believe in him to the salvation of their souls. The cause of all spiritual good to men is unchangeably the same in God, who is the Father of lights, the Author of every good gift, and every perfect gift, and with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. The displays of the grace and power of God are great, in proportion to the magnitude and number of their effects. These perfections of God are manifested in every situation of the church; but when this prediction is fulfilled, they will be more brightly displayed; for when the LORD shall build up Sion, he will appear in his glory. The grace of God freely provides the blessings which he hath in store for his church; and his power, at the appointed season, effectually bestows them on her. It is by grace that the church, at that time, shall be saved. This wonderful deliverance shall not be bestowed on them, by works of righteousness that they have done; but it shall be according to his mercy that they shall be saved. The accomplishment of this promise to the nations shall be such a display of the riches, sovereignty, and freedom of divine grace, that, when the headstone of this building of mercy for the church shall be brought forth, it shall be with shoutings, crying, Grace, Grace unto it! In the accomplishment of this prediction, the power of God will also be manifested; for at that time, “the LORD shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Is. lii. 10. The obstructions to this change are so great and many, that nothing but divine power can remove them; and the blessings to be conferred are so numerous and important, that divine power alone can bestow them. As this perfection of the divine nature was exercised at the church’s deliverance out of Egypt, so it shall be illustriously exerted when the prediction of the text shall be accomplished. Respecting the enemies of Israel, the LORD said, “And in very deed, for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.” Concerning Israel themselves, it is declared, Nevertheless, he saved them for his name’s sake, that “he might make his mighty power to be known.” Ex. ix. 16. Psal. cvi. 8. When the LORD shall deliver his people from spiritual Sodom and Egypt, from Babylon the Great, and from all her other enemies, and when he shall advance his church to the enjoyment of her promised prosperity and glory, his power will be signally displayed; for at the time of executing this purpose, the millennial church, will peculiarly celebrate his praise, as “the Lord God omnipotent, who reigneth.” Rev. xix. 6. Whatever mountains of opposition, therefore, may seem to obstruct the performance of this glorious work, the faith of the saints is warranted to answer every doubt that may arise in their mind about it, as Christ replied to the Sadducees’ objections to the resurrection of the dead, “Ye do greatly err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” Matth. xxii. 29.
2d, This prediction shall be fulfilled by the mediatorial agency of Christ, It is he who gathers his sheep out of every fold, and draws men to himself. “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice.” John x. 16. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John xii. 32, To John in the visions that he saw, the mediatorial agency of Christ, in this great work, was frequently represented. This was pointed out to him in the very first vision he had of Christ, when he saw him walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, and holding in his hand the seven stars. Rev. i. 13, 16. This was unfolded to him also at the opening of the first seal, chapter vi. 2. “And I saw, and behold a white horse, and he that sat on him had a bow, and a crown was given to him ; and he went forth conquering and to conquer.” This was likewise set before his view in the vision of the harvest of the earth, which may be the symbol of the church’s deliverance, as that of the vintage is, of her enemies destruction. This is recorded, chapter xiv. In the 14th verse, the Redeemer is described: “And I looked, and, behold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat, like unto the Son of Man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.” His agency is represented in verse 16. “And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the harvest of the earth was reaped.” His agency in these things is also mentioned in the victory he obtains over his enemies, when this prediction is accomplished, Rev. xvii. 14. “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” We have another most magnificent exhibition of his mediatorial agency, in fulfilling the predictions which introduce and establish the church’s deliverance and prosperity, in chapter xix, from the beginning of the 11th verse to the end of the chapter; which deserves the careful consideration of every Christian. To the ancient prophets also, this agency of Christ was revealed. Isaiah, when speaking of him as the Father’s Servant in the work of our redemption, who shall be exalted, and extolled, and be very high, and whose visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men, says, “So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him, for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” To the prophet Zechariah, his agency in these mighty and merciful works of God was declared, chapter vi. 12, 13. “Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” In the execution of his offices, the divine Mediator, as glorified at his Father’s right hand, will exercise this agency; and those who interfere with the prerogatives of his offices shall be broken in pieces, while those who yield themselves to him shall be saved. He will at that day so manifest his glory, by his operations among the nations, as will determine them to believe his gospel and submit to his law. Since Jesus has purchased all blessings for his church and children, it must be a display of God’s wisdom and righteousness, when he commits all judgement to the Son, lays the government on his shoulders, and gives him power over all flesh, that he may give eternal life to as many as he hath given him. As our Mediator is the Sun of Righteousness, the Light of the world, and the Bright and the Morning Star; it must be necessary, as well as suitable, that he have a special agency in fulfilling, to his church, such a promise as this, “The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days.”
3d, This prediction shall be fulfilled by the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit. It is by his personal influence, that the whole scheme of grace, in the application of eternal life to them who are saved, is carried on and perfected. At this blessed day, the Spirit shall be poured on men from on high, and the wilderness shall become a fruitful field. As a more abundant communication of the Spirit to the church is one of the peculiar characters of gospel times, so at this brightest period of that dispensation, the Spirit shall be poured out in a most extraordinary manner, and the effects produced by his influence, shall be most beneficial and extensive. The prophecy of Joel, which was so remarkably accomplished in the days of the apostles, Acts ii. 16, shall also have at this time, an eminent fulfilment. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy; your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants, and upon the handmaids, in those days, will I pour out my Spirit.” Joel ii. 28, 29. The great gift of God to men is his Holy Spirit, which he will communicate to them. The subjects of this gift are all flesh, persons of all nations. These subjects are more particularly described,—sons, daughters, old men, young men, servants, and handmaids; including persons of every age, sex, rank, and relation among men. The effects which this gift of the Spirit shall produce on them are also stated—prophesying, dreaming dreams, and seeing visions. These expressions are taken from the scriptural accounts of the way in which the Spirit formerly influenced and guided the holy men of God, who spake as they were moved by him; and they signify the Spirit’s work on the souls of men, by which he will bestow on multitudes spiritual knowledge, saving grace, gospel holiness, and ministerial and christian gifts, for glorifying God and edifying the church. The personal agency of the Spirit of God in fulfilling this prediction, is also declared in the Revelation of John. In chap. 1, verse 4th, He is called “the seven Spirits, which are before his throne.” In chap. iv. verse 5. it is said “and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” In chap. v. verse 6, when speaking of the seven eyes of the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, they are said to be “the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth.” The Holy Spirit, who is one in his person and office, receives the name of the seven Spirits of God, that the perfection and variety of so his relations to believers, and of his influences on them, might be made known to the church. From these representations of the office and work of the Holy Spirit, we may be assured, that his operations are connected with Jehovah’s throne of grace; that he acts on the souls of men like fire, purifying, enlightening, and warming their hearts; that he is intimately connected with the Mediator and his kingdom in all his work; and that he is sent to the church to take the things of Christ, and to show them to the children of men. As he came unto the apostles like a mighty rushing wind, in communicating to them extraordinary gifts, and, on various occasions, and in different nations, fell on all them that heard the word, that the gospel kingdom might be established in the earth; so he will exert a peculiar and powerful agency upon the children of men throughout the world, that the promise in the text may be fulfilled, and that these wonderful changes, in the moral and religious state of the nations, may be accomplished. If any should ask, how these grand changes shall be produced? The answer may be given in the words of Jehovah himself: “Not by might; nor by power; but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” Zech. iv. 6.
4th, This prediction shall be accomplished, by the instrumentality of the word and ordinances of God. No spiritual or saving blessing will be conferred on any person or people, without the use of those means. When the Lord shall heal the nations, he will send his word and heal them. When he brings sinners to the Saviour, he magnifies his word above all his name, and gives testimony to the word of his grace, by making it effectual for turning the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. When the LORD gives spiritual reviving to his people, it is by his word that he quickens them. For their spiritual illumination, the word of God must enter the nations, and either go before or accompany the preaching of the gospel. Inspired men, as in the days of the apostles, might be instrumental, before the canon of Scripture was completed, in preaching the gospel, in converting sinners, in edifying believers, and in planting churches, before the written word was put into the hands of the members of the church. But, after the canon of Scripture is finished, and useful inventions are discovered, under the direction of divine providence, facilitating greatly the communication of the words of eternal life to the nations; it seems necessary, that the preaching of uninspired men, as in our own times, should either be preceded by the word of God, or accompanied with it, that their labour may not be in vain in the LORD. The written word, the preaching of the gospel, religious conference, prayers and praises, are the principal means by which the nations of the earth shall be constrained to bow to the Redeemer’s sceptre of grace. These are the weapons of the gospel warfare, which shall be mighty, through God, for making the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. These constitute the rod of his strength, which shall be employed, when he accomplishes his promise to Christ, in the last days,—“I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth, for thy possession.” When Isaiah predicts, in lofty strains, the flowing of all nations, in the last days, into the kingdom of Christ, he states the means by which this great work will be accomplished; chap. ii. 3. “For out of Sion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Whatever has been done already, in any part of the world, or in any age of the church, for propagating the religion of Jesus in a land, and for maintaining its existence in it, has been accomplished by these, and the like means. When “the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven-fold, as the light of seven days,” the word and ordinances of God shall be the means of producing it. When this happy time arrives, the LORD will furnish the nations with his word, and send his commissioned ambassadors to preach it to them; for this blessed promise shall be accomplished by the written word, and by the preaching of the gospel, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.
IV. The last branch of this subject was to explain the character of that day, mentioned in the text, when all these things shall be fulfilled—“In the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.”
1st, The LORD will accomplish this prediction to the nations, in the day that he bindeth up the breach that subsists between himself and his ancient people. For the space of almost eighteen hundred years, a great breach has subsisted between God and the Jewish nation. The ground of the controversy that God has with them, is their great sin in despising Christ while he dwelt among them, in crucifying the Lord of glory, in rejecting the gospel when the apostles preached it to them, in persecuting the ambassadors of Christ and the professors of his name, and in their aggravated immoralities. With these acts of wickedness they were chargeable, both in their national and personal capacities. By this conduct, the Jewish nation committed great trespasses against the LORD, contracted much guilt in his sight, and subjected themselves to grievous punishment. For these causes, the holy and righteous Judge, according to Christ’s prediction, “brought great distress into that land, and wrath upon that people; so that they fell by the edge of the sword, were led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem was trodden down of the Gentiles.” This breach between God and the Jews is so exceeding great, that all the breaches between him and them, while they dwelt in the land of promise, were but faint shadows of it.
The time of binding up that breach shall come. The binding it up is the LORD’s work; for the “LORD bindeth up the breach of his people.” Of himself he says, “I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal.” Deut. xxxii. 39. Of him we may therefore say, “He maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” Job v. 18. God shall be reconciled to them, and they shall be reconciled to God. There are several expressions of Paul, Rom. xi. chapter, which confirm to us the healing of this breach between God and his ancient people. In verse 11th, the Apostle says, “Have they,” the Jews, “stumbled, that they should fall?” that is, finally and forever. To which he answers, “God forbid.” This imports that they shall be recovered from their stumbling, and that their fall is but for a time. In the 12th verse, he speaks of the fall and the diminishing of the Jews, and also of their future fulness. This proves, that as they have fallen and have been diminished by their breach, and by the stroke of their wound; so they shall yet enjoy a blessed spiritual fulness, in the binding up of the one, and in the healing of the other. In the 15th verse, he mentions the casting away of the Jews, and also the receiving of them; which shows, that as they have been cast away from their church state and privileges, so certainly shall they be received in again to the enjoyment of them all. In verse 24th, the healing of this breach is also secured: “For if thou wert cut out of the olive-tree, which is wild by nature, and wert graffed, contrary to nature, in a good olive-tree, how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive- tree?” The apostle here represents the future conversion of the Jews, to be equally certain as the calling of the gentiles, at the beginning of the gospel-dispensation; and that it is more reasonable to expect the former, than to have looked for the latter. The Apostle also expressly says, verse 26th, “And so all Israel shall be saved.” The last proof to be mentioned is contained verse 31st, which is remarkable for ascertaining, both the conversion of the Jews, and the causes and means by which it shall be accomplished: “Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.” The blessedness which is reserved for God’s ancient people is stated in these words, “they shall obtain mercy.” When Paul represents the goodness of God to him in the day of his conversion, he says, “But I obtained mercy.” 1 Tim. i. 13. As the breach was made up between God and Paul, who had been before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, when he obtained mercy; so the breach shall be bound up between God and his ancient people, who have been long in a state of rebellion against him, when they shall obtain mercy. It is through the mercy of the Gentiles that they shall obtain mercy. The holy word of God, the preaching of the gospel, and the other ordinances; a revelation of Christ, of God in Christ, and of salvation through him; the gift of the Spirit to the church, and of divine grace and spiritual blessings to her members—all these belong to the mercy of the gentiles. It will be by these causes and means, that the LORD will bind up the breach between himself and his ancient people, and cause them to obtain mercy. By these he will convince them of their sin and misery; he will humble them to the dust on account of their wickedness, and the iniquity of their fathers in rejecting the Saviour, and continuing in unbelief; he will manifest to them the Lord Jesus, as the Author of eternal salvation to all them who obey him; and he will bring them to embrace and submit to him, as their Prophet, Priest, and King. At this happy time, the promise in the text shall be fulfilled to the Gentiles.
2d, The LORD will accomplish this prediction to the nations, in the day that he bindeth up the breach between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. This breach began in the days of Rehoboam, by the defection of the ten tribes from his government, and the instituted worship of God at Jerusalem. It was occasioned by the folly of the king and his juvenile counsellors, in rejecting with pride, harshness, and insult, the reasonable proposals of the people. This breach was consummated, in the choice which the congregation of Israel made of Jeroboam to be their king—in his erecting among them, for political purposes, a religious system of will worship and idolatry—and in the subjection given by that deluded people to this erastian and wicked establishment. This breach was still continued, notwithstanding the means that were used, by the ministry of some of the prophets, and by the judgments of God upon them, to reclaim them from their rebellion and idolatry. This breach produced the most dismal consequences:—it involved the far greater part of God’s ancient people, whom he had brought out of Egypt and settled in the land of Canaan, in the great sin of total apostacy from him, by worshipping the golden calves at Dan and Bethel;—it was infinitely dishonouring to the God of Israel, provoked him to anger against them, and procured the entire ruin of that people. This breach became wide as the sea in the reigns of some of their kings, when bloody and revengeful wars were carried on between the two kingdoms: and this breach was rendered, in all human probability, irreparable, in the total captivity of the ten tribes by the king of Assyria, and in their settlement in the towns on the river Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. From their dispersion, that people has never yet returned; and this breach has not yet been bound up.
Scattered as the posterity of the ten tribes may be, in the land of the children of the cast, they shall be gathered together, converted to Christianity, embodied with their brethren the Jews, and restored to their own land, in the day that the promise of the text will be fulfilled to the nations. This recovery of Israel, as well as Judah, seems to be evident from the words of Paul, Rom. xi. 26. “And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written. There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” The people who shall be delivered and saved, are called “all Israel and Jacob.” The posterity of the ten tribes, as well as the Jews, are included in those names. The posterity of Judah and Benjamin are not all Israel, nor all the descendants of Jacob; this salvation, therefore, cannot be confined to them, but must be extended to the whole house of Israel, and to all the sons of Jacob. But we have a very clear prophecy concerning the LORD’s binding up this breach between Israel and Judah, Ezek. xxxvii from the 15th verse to the end of the chapter. The symbolical actions which the prophet is commanded to perform, are mentioned verses 16, 17. “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick and write upon it. For Judah and the children of Israel his companions; then take another stick and write upon it. For Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions; And join them one to another into one stick, and they shall become one in thine hands.” The meaning of these symbols is explained, verse 19th: “Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hands.” In the following part of the chapter, the Lord condescends to amplify this explanation, to write the vision, and to make it plain upon tables, that he may run who readeth it. In those verses, the gathering the whole posterity of Jacob, the close union of the two kingdoms, their return to the land where their fathers dwelt, their subjection to him who is the Root and the Offspring of David, their covenant-relation to their God, their happiness in that condition, and their continuance in it to the end of the world, are all particularly foretold. As no dispensation of providence has taken place, for this divided people, that can be considered as an accomplishment of this most minute prediction; we may assuredly look for it at the latter day, “when the LORD will bind up the breach of his people, and heal the stroke of their wound.” There is another prediction of the same event, Jer. xxxiii. 24, 26. “Considerest thou what this people have spoken, saying. The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off?” In answer to this reproach cast upon his people, he assures them he will never cast off the seed of Jacob and David his servant, and expressly says, “for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy upon them.” This promise has a respect to both the families of his ancient people; and, when it is accomplished, he will heal the breach that subsists between them, and gather the dispersed of Israel into one.
3d, This prediction shall be accomplished to the nations, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach which has subsisted, between the Jews and the Gentiles. This breach took place between those parties, before the coming of Christ. The gentiles, through their ignorance and idolatry, despised the peculiar people of God, and opposed their holy religion. In the times of their degeneracy, the Jews also, by an abuse of their peculiar privileges, did often treat with supercilious contempt the gentile race. The ceremonial law, that middle wall of partition between them, was the occasion, and the corruption of their hearts, which produced enmity at each other, was the cause, of this breach. Though the wall of partition was taken down and abolished by the death of Christ, and though access was administered to both Jews and gentiles, by faith in Jesus, into a state of reconciliation to God, and to one another; yet this breach, by the Jews rejecting Christ and his gospel, did mournfully continue. It was very great, in the days of the apostles. The account of it may be given in the words of Paul. In 1 Thess. ii, 15, 16, when speaking of the Jews, he says: “Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the gentiles, that they might be saved, to fill up their sin alway; for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” This breach has remained to the present day. Though mingled with all nations, the Jews are not incorporated with any. By their stubborn attachment to the antiquated system of the Mosaic dispensation, they are contrary to all men, and are equally at variance with heathenish, Mahometan, and christianized gentiles.
But this breach shall be healed and bound up. They shall be cordially reconciled to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles shall be brought into a state of real friendship with them. The time shall come, when the same God in Christ shall be the object of the worship of them both—the same Spirit shall animate them all—the same gospel shall be believed and received—the same Saviour shall be the foundation of their confidence,—and the same salvation shall be enjoyed by them both. All these things are signified and secured by the words of the Apostle, in which he represents both Jews and Gentiles as branches graffed into one and the same olive-tree. He introduces this most beautiful and significant metaphor in Rom. xi. 16. and finishes his consideration of it in verse 24th. The nature of the privilege of both Jews and Gentiles is stated in verse 17th. “And thou,” speaking of the gentiles, “being a wild olive-tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive-tree.” The way of the restoration of the Jews to their gospel-privileges is mentioned verse 23d; which is by the power of God, and their faith in Jesus. “And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in; for God is able to graff them in again.” The certainty of the joint enjoyment of Christ, who is the true vine, by both Jews and Gentiles, as the good olive-tree, is asserted, in verse 24th. “For if thou wert cut out of the olive-tree, which is wild by nature, and wert graffed, contrary to nature, into a good olive-tree; how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive-tree.” Jews and Gentiles shall be branches of the same olive-tree, and shall mutually partake of its root and fatness. This expressive metaphor teaches us, that both Jews and Gentiles shall be the property of the same husbandman, shall grow in the same fruitful soil, shall be supported by the same root, nourished by the same fatness, covered with the same leaves, shall yield the same blossoms, and shall bear the same fruit, which shall be unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. When all this shall be performed by the LORD, the breach betwixt Jews and Gentiles shall be completely bound up. Nor are the Scriptures of the Old Testament silent on this delightful theme. In Isaiah xix. 23. 24, 25, the same blessedness is foretold; and He who confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers, will fulfil it in his season. “In that day shall there be an highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt, and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.” This remarkable prophecy, in which Egypt and Assyria represent the gentile nations, foretells a time, in which the most delightful peace, friendship, and intercourse, shall subsist between Jews and gentiles, and among the gentiles themselves; and when all of them, having been brought to the faith and profession of the gospel, shall be the objects of the divine favour and blessing. This can be fulfilled only when the “LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.”
4th, This prediction shall be fulfilled to the nations, in the day that the LORD healeth the stroke of the wound of his ancient people. He will not only bind up their breach, but he will also heal the stroke of their wound. God has smitten them in his holiness and justice, with a mournful stroke, of which, all the former strokes of his anger on them were imperfect representations. The wound which they have received by this stroke, has been a grievous wound indeed. The destruction of their civil polity—the subversion of their church-state in the land of promise—the desolation of their city and temple—their extermination from the land of Canaan—their total dispersion among the nations—the great sufferings which they have endured by the unjust and cruel conduct of the gentiles to them—and, above all, their exclusion from the favour, service, and enjoyment of God, through their unbelief—constitute that distressing wound which is inflicted on them for their sin, by the stroke of the LORD’s anger.
The LORD will heal this wound, by restoring them to their own land, by making them a glorious church on the earth, and by enriching them with temporal and spiritual blessings. Their wound, and the healing of it, were predicted by Hosea, chap. iii. 4, 5. “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” We have seen the prediction in the former verse most minutely fulfilled, in their low estate under the stroke of their wound; and the blessing foretold in the latter verse shall be as distinctly accomplished, when God shall fulfil his word to them, “I am the LORD that healeth thee.” The lx. chapter of Isaiah contains a prophecy concerning this day and the events of it, which are mentioned in our text. Both the wound, and the LORD’s healing it, are foretold in verse 15th. “Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.” As the expressions of this verse, and indeed of the whole prophecy, are too grand to receive their accomplishment in the Jews’ return from Babylon, we must therefore look to the latter days for its fulfilment. “The same things are predicted, in chap. lxii. 4. “Thou shalt no more be termed, Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed. Desolate: But thou shalt be called, Hephzibah; and thy land, Beulah; for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” This verse refers to the things of which we are now speaking; for it is their last, and most grievous desolation, unquestionably, to which the words relate. No more were they to be termed, Desolate, nor their land any more termed Forsaken, after their restoration; it must, therefore, signify their present calamitous condition. While they lay under the stroke of their wound; the name of their nation was, Forsaken; and the title of their land was, Desolate; but when they shall be healed, they shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name; verse 2d. For their nation, the name shall be “Hephzibah, for the LORD delighteth in thee;” and for their land, the name shall be, “Beulah, for it shall be married.” The greatness of the misery which Israel now suffers under their bleeding wound, shall be exceeded completely by their glory and prosperity, when the LORD their God shall heal the stroke of their wound.
An improvement of the subject, in some inferences, shall conclude this discourse.
1st, Our duty, in improving the gospel light we enjoy, is evident from this doctrine. We are possessed of the same light which has enlightened the church in former ages, and which she shall enjoy afterwards in a superior degree. It is therefore our duty to walk while we have the light, lest darkness come upon us. Jesus hath said, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John viii. 12. Let it, therefore, be our great endeavour to embrace Christ, and to rest on him, in his obedience, and sufferings, and death; so shall we be delivered from the darkness of our natural state, from the darkness of a sinful course, and from the blackness of darkness for ever; and shall be brought to enjoy the light of eternal life, both in grace and in glory. Though the light of the moon is not like the light of the sun in our day, nor the light of the sun sevenfold; yet this gospel-light of salvation shines on us as really as ever it did shine at any former time, or ever will shine on any future period, to the end of the world. We enjoy the whole word of God, revealing law and gospel, precept and doctrine, threatening and promise. We enjoy all the instituted ordinances of divine grace, both the word and ministry of reconciliation, exhibiting to us God as on a throne of grace, willing to bless us with all spiritual blessings—Christ the one Mediator, able to save them to the uttermost who come unto God by him—the Holy Spirit ready to apply to our souls the blessings of salvation—the grace of faith, which is the mean of interesting us in Christ, and in that everlasting salvation which is in him—and the life of holiness; for those who have believed in Jesus “must be careful to maintain good works.” O, how great are our privileges! Though the time of the church in which we live is a day of small things, yet it is really a day of salvation to saints and sinners. Woe shall be unto all those who despise it; but blessed shall all those be who improve it to the Redeemer’s glory and their own salvation. Endeavour, O Christians, to consider daily your responsibility to God for the use you make of your privileges—the aggravated condemnation of gospel-despisers—and the blessedness of all those who receive Christ and walk in him—that you may walk in the light as he is in the light, may have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son shall cleanse you from all sin.
2. The very mournful situation of the darkened nations of the earth is obvious from this subject. They have no gospel vision ; and where this is wanting, Solomon informs us, the people perish. The church, by the enjoyment of divine revelation, is called “the valley of vision.” Isa. xxii. 1, 5. This vision signifies a revelation of the will of God to men, by which they have an opportunity of knowing and complying with truth and duty, for their salvation. This sense of the term vision is evident from the words of the verse where it is found. Prov. xxix. 18. “Where there is no vision the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The want of vision, and the enjoyment of the revealed law, are here contrasted. The Lord Jesus is the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. To those who have heard of Christ, who have believed in him, and who have yielded, to his holy commandments, the obedience of faith, he will be the Author of eternal salvation, and to no other. The nations of the earth, that are yet in spiritual darkness, are in the same condition in which the enlightened Gentiles were, before the light of the gospel shined on them. This was mournful indeed. The best description that can be given of it is found in the apostle’s words, Eph. ii. 12. “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Alas! brethren, how miserable is their situation, who are strangers to Christ, the only Saviour of sinners, to the blessings of eternal life which are in him, to the everlasting covenant which God hath made with his chosen for our salvation, to the exercise and comforts of faith and hope, and to God himself, who is the infinite portion of his people! But this is the present state of all the unenlightened nations. Their condition is also described, in that prayer of the church, Psa. lxxiv. 20. “Have respect unto the covenant, for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.” By the murderous rites of their abominable idolatry which they practised, and by the barbarous conduct which they acted to one another, the dark places of the earth were full of the habitations of cruelty. It is a fact which is confirmed by satisfactory and unimpeachable evidence, that the dark places of the earth, at this day, are as full of the habitations of cruelty, in these and other particular ways, as they were in the days of David. How ought we to pity them, to pray for their deliverance, and to use every mean, competent to us, for sending to them the word and gospel of Christ! In the days of our remote ancestors, our own land was in the same miserable state; but, in the tender mercy of our God, the day-spring from on high hath visited us. Should we not, therefore, be filled with concern, that the same mercy may be extended to them, to guide their feet into the ways of peace?
3. This subject presents to our view the low and pitiable condition of God’s ancient people. They are still under the breach with which they were broken for their sin, for it is not yet bound up. They are still suffering by the wound which they have received by the stroke of the Almighty; for the time of healing is not come. That people are divided into two families; the posterity of the ten tribes, who composed the kingdom of Israel; and the descendants of Judah and Benjamin, who constituted the kingdom of Judah. The former, it is now supposed, inhabit some regions in the East; and the latter are wanderers among all nations. In their miserable lot, the LORD has raised and maintained, for his glory, and for warning men, a monument which proclaims the greatness of the sin and punishment of those who reject divine institutions, and despise divine grace. For departing from divine institutions under the former dispensation, and despising Moses’ law, the off-spring of Israel have existed under the judgments of the LORD two thousand five hundred years. On account of their rejection of Christ, and the revelation of divine grace in him, the Jews have suffered the displeasure of God about eighteen hundred years. O that those warnings would produce a proper effect on professed Christians! Contemplating the peculiarity and magnitude of their former privileges, and the greatness and singularity of their present distress, our minds should be filled with compassionate concern for their restoration. Fix your attention on them, O Christians, when they triumphantly marched out of Egypt, passed through the Red Sea, traversed the wilderness by the direction of the pillar of fire and the protection of the pillar of cloud, stood before the LORD at Horeb, walked through Jordan, conquered and possessed the land of promise, enjoyed the tabernacle and the temple of the LORD in the midst of them, assembled before the LORD in their solemn feasts, were fed to the full in the land flowing with milk and honey, and were often miraculously delivered from the hand of their enemies—and say if the words of Moses were not verified in them, “Happy art thou, O Israel! Who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the Shield of thy help, and who is the Sword of thine excellency.” Deut. xxxiii. 29. Consider them also in their present state, banished from their own land, wandering among the nations, despised and persecuted by many, proverbially prophane, deceitful, and avaricious, blaspheming that divine Saviour to whom all their prophets gave witness, despising that atonement which all their sacrifices typified, turning away from him whose day their religious progenitors desired to see, and existing under all that temporal and spiritual misery which is the effect of their forefathers’ imprecation, when they killed the Prince of Life, “His blood be upon us, and on our children,”—and you will see the reason they have to adopt that lamentation, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.” Lam. i. 12.
4. From this subject we may see, that no very remarkable revival will be bestowed on the gentile churches, nor any general diffusion of gospel light will be made to the darkened nations, till God’s ancient people shall be converted to Christianity. Our text informs us, that the “light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven-fold, as the light of seven days, in the day,” at the very time, “when the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.” From this we may conclude, that this promise will not be accomplished to the nations, till the breach of the Jews is bound up, and their wound is healed. Great exertions may be made, with encouraging success, and such are made in the present time, for edifying Christians who reside among the heathen, and for converting some of the heathen themselves; but all this will be like the morning twilight only, which will be the harbinger of the approach of this bright meridian day of gospel light. Till this happy season come, there is reason to fear, that the gentile churches may continue under the judgment of division; errors may prevail in the doctrine of some, human inventions may be retained in their worship, unscriptural forms of government may be practised, partiality and unauthorized usages in her censures may continue, and the papal interest may preserve its existence, prevalence, and influence in many lands. But this is not all: there is also reason to believe, that there will be a time of calamities to the gentile churches, and to the nations of the earth, till that great and notable day of the LORD shall come. The prophecy contained in the seven vials, which foretells the last judgments on the church’s enemies, is not completely fulfilled. It is probable, that the fourth vial, under which the sun of the papal world scorched men with fire, is now poured out. There remain three other vials of the LORD’s wrath to be poured on men—the fifth, which shall be poured upon the seat of the secular or papal beast—the sixth, which shall overturn the Turkish empire—and the seventh, by which the awful scene of judgments shall be completely finished. Those persons, therefore, who now look for a very long period of undisturbed tranquility among the nations, may perhaps have reason to say, “We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!”
5. We may see from this subject, that, at the time of the conversion of the Jews, the darkened nations shall be enlightened with the gospel, and the gentile churches shall be exceedingly revived. This is evidently contained in the text. At the time of the binding up the breach of Israel, and the healing of the stroke of their wound, the nations that have not the gospel, shall be visited with this invaluable blessing; and the nations that are possessed of it, shall be favoured with a clearer view, and a deeper experience of its saving truths. Respecting the gentile churches, the apostle declares, Rom. xi. 12. “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the gentiles, how much more their fulness.” From these words we see, that there was a time when the Jews fell from being a church of God, and were diminished, and the gentile nations, who had been in spiritual poverty, were then enriched with the unsearchable riches of Christ; and that there is a time to come when the Jews shall enjoy the fulness of the blessings of the gospel of Christ, which shall be the mean, much more than their fall, of increasing the spiritual riches of the gentile churches. In the 15th verse, the apostle says, “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead.” As the season in which the Jews were cast away, was the time chosen of God for reconciling to himself multitudes of the gentile world; so the blessed day of his receiving them again, shall be, to the gentile churches, as life from the dead. When this day shall come, the gentile churches will be low and languishing, and will be in great need of a revival. The change which will then take place on them, will be so great and salutary, that it is compared to a resurrection, even to life from the dead. The conversion of the Jews will be both the occasion and the mean of the gentile churches’ glorious revival. The spiritual illumination of the darkened part of the gentile world, at the conversion of the Jews, is also, in this chapter, revealed to the church. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, least ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved.” Verses 25, 26. The day of the conversion of the Jews, as it is the time of enriching and reviving the gentile churches, so it shall be the season of bringing in the fulness of the gentile nations, to the knowledge of the way of salvation, by the grace of God reigning through the righteousness of Christ, unto eternal life. At this happy time, the Lord will say to his ancient people, to the gentile christians, and to the darkened nations, “From this day will I bless you.” Hag. ii. 19.
6. That there is a particular time fixed by the LORD, for performing this glorious work among men, is evident from this subject. The text mentions a day in which the LORD will act the part of a Physician to his ancient people, by binding up their breach, and healing their wound; and in which he will cause light to arise upon the gentile nations. Several descriptions of this day are contained in the word of God, from which we may obtain some knowledge of it. In Dan. xii. 7. we have two of these descriptions. In verse 6th, this important question is proposed to the man clothed with linen: “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” And in verse 7th we have his answer: “And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” A numerical statement of this day, and a characteristic sign of it, are here, by the highest authority, and in the most solemn manner, made known to the church. The person whose voice Daniel heard, was the Son of God. The description he gives of this person at the beginning of chapter x. where this vision commences, accords so exactly with that given of Christ, in Rev. chapter i, as constrains us to believe, that he was the same person who was seen in vision, both by the Prophet and the Apostle. The way in which he confirms his answer, is by a solemn oath, with his hands lifted up to heaven. The numerical statement of this day is given in those words, “it shall be for a time, and times, and an half.” This refers to the same day which those of John describe, Rev. xii. 14. “A time, and times, and half a time,” which fixes the duration of the season of the woman’s abode in the wilderness. The same period is mentioned, Rev, xi. 2. “And the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months:” and verse 3d, “And they shall prophesy a thousand and two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” These three designations of time relate to the same period. The second and third enable us, with certainty, to fix the duration of the first. The time of forty- two months, allowing thirty days to each month, agrees exactly with twelve hundred and sixty days; and each of these numbers contains precisely one year, two years, and half a year. As a day is the prophetic symbol for a year, the time of the church’s sufferings, and of her enemies’ prevalence in the world, will be one thousand and two hundred and sixty years. The most probable and satisfactory opinion concerning the beginning and termination of this time, is that which dates its commencement in the year six hundred and six, and brings it to a conclusion in the year eighteen hundred and sixty six. Then shall the precious promises of our text, if this calculation is correct, be fulfilled to the Jews, and to the enlightened and darkened parts of the gentile world. The characteristic sign of this day, which is given in this verse, is contained in the last clause, “And when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” By the holy people we must understand the posterity of Jacob. The LORD’s accomplishing to scatter the power of that people, signifies his bringing his work of judgment upon them to an end, his closing up the period in which they were dispersed among the nations, and his finishing the season in which their political and ecclesiastic power was totally suspended.—Another characteristic sign of this day is found, Dan. xii. i. “And there shall be a time of troubles, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” This character of that day, which consists in great judgements from God, and grievous calamities on men, agrees exactly with the representation which was made to John, when the seventh angel poured out his vial. Rev. xvi, 17, 18. “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air, and there came a voice out of the temple of heaven, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great.” The effects of this earthquake are detailed in the three following verses, which signify great moral, political, ecclesiastic convulsions among the nations of the earth. There is another characteristic sign of this day mentioned by Christ, Luke xxi. 24. “And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the gentiles, until the times of the gentiles shall be fulfilled.” The fulfilling those times, signifies the finishing the season in which the gospel and the ordinances of it are to be the peculiar privilege of the gentiles, and in which the posterity of Japheth shall have the exclusive possession of the tents of Shem. The LORD of the church has appointed her to exist in the world, through the whole course of time, in four grand periods. The first is that time in which the true religion was revealed unto all nations, which began at the giving of the first promise, and ends at the settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan. The second is that period in which the true religion was confined to the posterity of Israel; which began with their enjoyment of the land of promise, and ended in the days of the apostles. The third is that season when the true religion was exclusively enjoyed by the gentiles; which began at the rejection of the Jews, and shall end when they shall turn to the LORD. The fourth period is that in which the true religion shall be the common enjoyment of all nations; which shall take its rise on the day mentioned in the text, and shall continue to the end of the world. The times of the gentiles shall be fulfilled at the end of the third period; when the gospel shall be no more the peculiar privilege of the gentiles, but all Israel shall also enjoy the word and ordinances of eternal salvation. Another characteristic sign of this very day was made known to the church as early as the days of Noah : “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Gen. xix, 27. The posterity of Ham, whom Canaan seems to represent, inhabited the vast regions of Africa and some parts of Asia. The period of time mentioned in this verse, is that in which the descendants of Japheth, or the gentiles, succeeded the posterity of Shem, or the Jews, in the enjoyment of the privileges of the church. During this time the posterity of Ham are doomed to a state of servitude to the gentiles; but when that season shall expire, they shall be delivered from this bondage. At this glorious era, they also shall be converted to Christianity; for, of two of the principal kingdoms of that race, the Scriptures foretell, that “Princes shall come out of Egypt, and Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” Psal. lxviii. 31. The African slave-trade is the last, the worst, the most degrading and wicked species of that bondage which that unhappy people have suffered. While its partial abolition indicates the approach of this day; its total abolition, among all nations, will be accomplished when this light shall shine.
7. This subject presents to our view the happy state into which the church shall be introduced, when this day of light to the Gentiles, and of healing to the Jews, shall come. Many Scripture prophecies have a principal respect to it, and shall obtain the highest accomplishment which they can have on the earth, at this eventful era. The last prediction concerning it is recorded, Rev. xx. 1.—6. In these verses, the following things are foretold.—Christ’s glorious victory over Satan. He who has the keys of hell and death, shall descend from heaven, in a bright display of his justice and power, shall lay hold on Satan, bind him with his great chain, cast him into hell, shut him up in his prison, and place his seal on the door of it.—The restraint that shall be laid on this enemy: “He shall deceive the nations no more.” The influence he has exerted in leading the nations to false religion, tyrannical government, abominable idolatry, inhuman cruelty, gross immorality, barbarous war, and the like, shall come to an end.—The dignity and happiness of the subjects of Christ’s kingdom: “I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgement was given unto them: And they lived and reigned with Christ.” These words express the power which the saints shall enjoy and exercise at that blessed day. Both civil and ecclesiastic power shall be in their hand; and they shall be directed, supported, and comforted, in an uncommon degree, with the word, the Spirit, the presence, and the blessing of Christ.—The character and principles of the subjects of Christ’s kingdom: “And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.” The Christians of that time will be the true successors of the most holy and faithful members of the church, who have lived in the preceding ages.—The low condition of the subjects of Satan’s kingdom: “The rest of the dead lived not again.” The men who are of the same principles and spirit with the wicked generations, who have lived in former times, shall be few in number, and reduced in their influence.—The spiritual employment of believers at that time: “They shall be priests of God and of Christ.” They shall be holy, spiritual, devoted to God, and Christ, and religion, and exemplary in all things.—The duration of their happy time, “a thousand years.” As this number is used six times in seven verses, and as no other number is mentioned to represent the continuance of this season; there is reason to believe, that its duration will be one thousand years. Such shall the time be, which the accomplishment of the promises in the text shall introduce, and establish in the earth. This clear revelation of such a joyful day should have a practical effect on us, by influencing us to the exercise of an assured faith and hope of its coming; of ardent desire, patient waiting, and diligent preparation for its approach; for in its season it will come, as the effect of every vision. Since the LORD has been pleased to foretell and promise such a day; since its coming will glorify his name, honour Christ, and bring unspeakable blessings to men; your warrant is clear, and your encouragement great, O Christians, to cry mightily to God, at his throne of grace, that he may speedily cause Babylon to fall, and the kingdoms of this world to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. Contemplating the quickening and purifying life that shall be infused into the gentile churches, considering the glorious light that shall arise on the darkened nations, and meditating upon the wonderful deliverance and enlargement that shall be wrought for the people of the God of Abraham at that day, we may exclaim, in the words of the Psalmist, “Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous works. And blessed be his glorious name for ever; and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen, and Amen.”
8. From this subject we may be informed of our duty, respecting the important matters that are contained in the text; and that is, to do every thing in our power to promote their accomplishment. Bear with me a little, my Christian Brethren, while I address you on this necessary duty. God, in his holy providence, has put in motion a great work, in our day, for conveying the knowledge of his word and gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. In the erection of the British and Foreign Bible Society at London, which is now existing in its eleventh year; and in the erection of a great number of Bible Societies and Associations, both at home and abroad, we recognise this wonderful work of God. This general combination of Christians, for propagating the word of God, presents to our view one universal Society, which is entirely new, in its constitution, object, mode of operation, and extensive range. The grand design of the radical Society, and its auxiliary branches, is to furnish a more liberal supply, to the poor and others at home, of the authorised version of the Holy Scriptures; to give pecuniary and other assistance to Societies, having the same object, in other parts of the world; and to translate the Scriptures into foreign languages, to print them in these languages, and to circulate them among the people by whom these languages are spoken; languages which have never formerly been the vehicle of conveying to the human understanding and heart, the words of eternal life. If these exertions are continued, with the blessing of God, they may, in a few years, be the mean of bestowing the holy oracles of God, upon many nations, where they have never been known. Of the nations who may be thus privileged, we may say, with a little variation, as was said in the second chapter of the Acts, concerning the people, from different nations, who were at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, when they were addressed by the Apostles, after these ambassadors of Christ had received the gift of tongues; They were all amazed and marveled because they did read in their own language, and in their own tongues wherein they were born, the wonderful works of God. As the miraculous gift of tongues was a dispensation of God, which was most suitable to the Apostolic age; so the translating and printing the Scriptures in foreign languages, are equally congenial to the present state of things. The latter, as well as the former, we hope, is a grand operation of God, which will, in due time, promote his glory, and the salvation of men.
It matters not with whom this august scheme originated, or by whom it is conducted; sufficient it is for us to know, that it is the work of Him who does what he will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth. God is sovereign, wise, and holy in the choice of his instruments; and, therefore, it becomes us in this, as in many other things, to be still, and know that he is God. By giving these societies their most cordial support. Christians are by no means obliged, either to relinquish any of those principles of religion, which, by divine authority, they deem themselves bound to maintain; or to approve of any of those sentiments or practices in religion, against which, by the same authority, they feel themselves bound to testify. As there can be no valid objection, so their should be no distressing scruple, to prevent them who delight in the law of the LORD from giving assistance to a scheme, which is so scriptural in its object, and which has produced already such salutary effects. The extraordinary success that has attended the exertions of the parent Society, and others, as it should encourage those who have already contributed to continue their support; so it should excite those who have not yet countenanced this work, to come forward speedily to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty. As the former have put their hand to the plough, let them beware of looking back; and, as the latter are solicited to assist, let them be on their guard lest they be found caring for none of those things.
It is impossible to read the correspondence between the radical Society of London, and some of the foreign Societies, without being deeply affected and even, in some instances, shedding tears. These will be tears of mingled emotions; tears of joy and wonder at the magnitude, extent, and efficiency of the exertions; tears of praise and thanksgiving to God, for his exciting grace, and superintending providence; and tears of faith and hope of glorious results. The holy Scriptures are the mean of humanizing mankind, by making them live like rational creatures;—they are the mean of civilizing them, by making them taste the sweets of social order, and of a more improved state of things;—they are the mean of evangelizing rational creatures, by causing them understand the doctrines of the gospel, the blessings of salvation, and their own moral and religious duties;—and the sacred Scriptures are the mean of spiritualizing men, by bringing them out of their natural state, endowing them with the image of God, clothing them with the righteousness of Christ, introducing them into fellowship with God, and enabling them to live a life of faith and holiness; the consequence of which shall be, that, to multitudes an entrance shall be ministered abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Impressed with these considerations of the necessity, importance, and utility to men, of the holy Scriptures, who would not rush forward to devote a part of that substance which the LORD has given them, to promote this wonderful work?
We are met here this evening, my Christian friends, to unite more fully this district of the parish in an annual contribution, for supporting these Societies in this great work. This is a privilege, and an honour, bestowed upon us by God in his providence, as well as it is a duty required at our hands. Let none be discouraged from coming forward, on account of the smallness of the sum they are able to give. Such persons should remember that the lowest contribution may be as generous in itself, and as acceptable to God, as the very highest that has been made, if the willingness of the mind, and the difference in the outward possessions of the contributors, are duly considered. Let not our love of the world, on the one hand, nor our poverty on the other, prevent us from contributing, according to our ability, for this precious purpose; but let both those classes of persons remember the words of Solomon, Prov. xi. 24. “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that which withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.”—That we may have to give to him that needeth, and to contribute, at the same time, to the important purpose of supporting Bible Societies, let us beware of every sinful extravagance, in rioting and drunkenness, in chambering and wantonness, in strife and envying. Ah! what fruit shall we have in these things? Alas! Christians, the end of these things is death. Let us, in contributing for this end, glorify God with our substance, and with the first-fruits of our increase, and consecrate part of our gain to the LORD of the whole earth. Let us accompany our contributions with the fervent prayer of faith, for the blessing of God on the whole undertaking. Let us hope and pray, that, while we are endeavouring to furnish others with the Holy Scriptures, the Spirit of God, who is their Author, may more clearly manifest, and more powerfully apply, the doctrines, promises, precepts, and consolations of that word to our own souls. Let us daily study to embrace Christ, to believe in him, and to rest on him for our eternal salvation; and, in consequence of this, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, let us live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present world. Let us come cheerfully forward, at the call of God, to contribute for spreading the knowledge of his holy word, both at home and abroad; so shall we be found using a most eligible mean for promoting the accomplishment, to Jews and Gentiles, of the precious promises contained in the text: “The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.”