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“ of the fruits. A vine, in the prophetic language, " is an image of the church of God; the branches “ of the vine are the members of the church; and “ the useless shoots, and unfruitful luxuriant “ brunches, are the insincere nominal members of “ the church. And the pruning of such shoots " and branches of the vine is the excision of such “ hypocritical professors, at least the separation “ of them from the church by God's judgments. “ Phis verse therefore and the following clearly " predict a judgment to fall upon the church for its “ purification, and the utter destruction of hypo
• of refreshing and copious showers; so, it appears, the “ thunder of God's judgments will usher in the long desired « season of the consummation of mercy. So accurate is the “ allusion in all its parts.” Letter on Isaiah xviii.
It may here be observed, how exactly Scripture core responds with Scripture. The long cessation of the visible interpositions of Providence has led the members of Antichrist to deny that such interpositions ever took place: yet in this very deuial they have unwittingly accomplished the prophecies. In the last days were to arise scoffers, walking after their own lusts, contemptuously asking where is the promise of God's coming, denying that the earth was ever overwhelmed by the deluge, and asserting that all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. The Lord however hath already begun to shake both the political heavens and the political earth; and, ere long perhaps, Infidelity may be con. strained with unwilling eyes to behold the restoration of Israel amidst such signs and wonders, as she can neither contradict nor oppose. VOL. I.
- critical .“ critical professors of the truth *. The purifi“cation of the Christian church, by the awful vi. “sitations predicted in this passage, seems to be " the proper preparative for the renewal of the “ call, to them that are near, the Jews; and to
them that are yet afar off, the Gentile tribes not “ yet converted. Immediately after this purgation
of the church, at the very time when the bird “ of prey with all the beasts of the earth, "Antichrist with his rebel rout, shall have fixed “ his seat between the seas, in the holy mountain t, “a present shall be brought to the Lord of hosts ;: “ the nation, described in ver. 2. as those to whom " the swift messengers are sent, after their long “ infidelity, shall be brought as a present unto " Jehovah. They shall be converted to an ac“ knowledgment of the truth; and they shall be “ brought to the place of the name of Jehovah, "to mount Sion: they shall be settled in peace " and prosperity, in the land of their original in“ heritance .
This *«God, in the latter ages, will purify his Church with sore " but wholesome judgments. Compare John xv. 1, 2." (Letter ou Isaiah xviii.) These judgments will probably be the troubles occasioned by incessant war.
* " It was a prevailing opinion among the early fathers, u that Antichrist is to possess himself of the Holy Land, and
that there he is to perish." (Letter on Isaiah xviii.) 'This opinion was inanifestly founded on Dan. xi. 41, 45, not to mention other parallel prophecies. it“ When the present offered consists of persons, the "offered, as well as the offerers, must be worshippers. For
.." This then is the sum of this prophecy, and " the substance of the message, sent to the people “ dragged about and plucked. That in the latter “ ages, after a long suspension of the visible inter: “ positions of Providence, God, who all the while “ regards that dwelling place which he never will
abandon, and is at all times directing the events “ of the world to the accomplishment of his own “ purposes of wisdom and mercy; immediately " before the final gathering of his elect from the " four winds of heaven, will purify his church by "such signal judgments, as shall rouse the atten“ tion of the whole world, and, in the end, strike " all nations with religious awe. At this period, “ the apostate faction will occupy the holy land. “ This faction will certainly be an instrument of 46 those judgments, by which the church will be pu. “ rified. That purification therefore is not at alt • inconsistent with the seeming prosperity of the “ affairs of the atheistical confederacy. But, after “ such duration, as God shall see fit to allow to ss the plenitude of its power, the Jews, converted
“ to be offered is to be made a worshipper; or, in some in. “ stances, to be devoted to some particular service in which the “ general character of a worshipper is previously implied, both “ in the person who hath authority so to devote, and in the “ devoted, as in the instances of Jephthal's daughter and the " child Samuel. The people therefore, brought as a present " to Jehovah to mount Zion, will be hrought thither in a con. verted state.” Letter on Isaiah xviii.
to the faith of Christ, will be unexpectedly “ restored to their ancient possessions. The swift
messengers will certainly have a considerable “ share, as instruments in the hand of God, in the ” restoration of the chosen people. Otherwise, to “ what purpose are they called upon (Ver. 1.) to
receive their commission from the prophet? It “ will perhaps be some part of their business to “ afford the Jews the assistance and 'protection of “ their feets. This seems to be insinuated in the “ imagery of the first verse. But the principal “ part, they will have to act, will be that of the
carriers of God's message to his people. This “ character seems to describe some Christian “ country, where the prophecies, relating to the “ latter ages, will meet with particular attention; “ where the literal sense of those, which promise " the restoration of the Jewish people, will be
strenuously upheld; and where these will be so “ successfully expounded, as to be the principal “ means, by God's blessing, of removing the veil “ from the hearts of the Israelites
“In what people of the earth, of the eastern " or the western world, the characters of the mesa "senger people may be found, when the time shall " come for the accomplishment of the prophecy, is « hitherto uncertain in that degree, that we are “hardly at liberty, in my judgment to conjecture. 65 But I cannot but say, that it seems in the highest “ degree improbable, that the atheistical demo
“cracy of France should be the people, for whom * the honour of that office is intended. The French " democracy, from its infancy to the present mo"ment, has been a conspicuous and principal “ branch at least of the western Antichrist. The “ messenger people is certainly to be a Christian
people. For I think it cannot be doubted, that
the messenger people, and the leaders of the " present to Jehovah to mount Sion, are the same s people. And the act of leading a present to “ Jehovah to mount Sion must be an act of wor
shippers of Jehovah ; for it is an act of worship. " They therefore who lead the present will be true
worshippers, performing that service from reli“ gious motives. Those, who shall thus be instru" ments in this blessed work, may well be de" scribed, in the figured language of prophecy, as “ the carriers of God's message to his people. " The situation of the country, destined to so high
an office, is not otherwise described in the pro“ phecy, than by this circumstance; that it is to ir be beyond the rivers of Cush; that is, far to the
west of Judèa, if these rivers of Cush are " to be understood, as they have been generally “ understood, of the Nile and other Ethiopian “ rivers; far to the east, if of the Tigris and the “ Euphrates. The one, or the other, they must ** denote; but which, is uncertain
“ My notion of the prophet's geographical lan“guage is, that it is the language of the Phenician " voyagers of his time. And, in those times, the