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Each rolls the rapturous hosanna round.
Thus heavenward all things tend. For all were once
Where violence shall never lift the sword,
Come, then, and, added to thy many crowns, Receive yet one, the crown of all the earth, Thou who alone art worthy!”
LECTURE VII. ,
THE NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH.
Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.—2 Pet. iii. 13.
It appears from the context that St. Peter “had met with some men that scoffed at the future destruction of the world, and the coming of our Savior; and they were men, it seems, that pretended to philosophy and argument;" and they endeavored to support their infidelity by this argument: "all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation ;” that is, seeing there hath been no change in nature, or in the world, from the beginning to this time, why should we think there will be any for the future?
After observing that we should not be surprised to meet with such persons, knowing from God's word “that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,” the apostle undertakes to overthrow their reasoning; and he denies the proposition upon which it is founded, that all things have continued as they were from the beginning; and declares it to be contrary to fact, and imputes the error to their lusts, yea, to wilful ignorance. “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth consisting of water, and by water. Whereby the world that then was,” (having a watery constitution,) “ being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
The present heavens and earth are different from the first which perished by water; are of another constitution, fitted by the word or wisdom of God, and reserved, under the divine onduct, to another fate, namely, to perish by fire. This world, therefore, though different from the old world, is yet dissolvable, and like that must also perish according to the nature of its constitution ;
be viewed as a pile, or store of fuel, “ reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
“ The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up. Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
Having described the dissolution of this world in full and emphatical terms, as, the passing away of the heavens, the melting of the elements, and the burning up of the earth and all the works
therein, the apostle subjoins, nevertheless-notwithstanding this total dissolution of the present world, "we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” As if the apostle had said, “notwithstanding this strange and violent dissolution of the present heavens and earth, which I have described to you, we do not at all distrust God's promises concerning new heavens and a new earth that are to succeed these, and to be the seat of the righteous"—the dwelling-place of the just.
Let us therefore attend,
I. To the promises made to God's people, of new heavens and a new earth, wherein they shall dwell;
II. To the happiness and glory of that state.
The new heavens and new earth were doubtless fully contained in that ancient, first promise, respecting the seed of the woman, couched in the threatening to the serpent, Gen. iii. 15: It shall bruise thy head. Man was the lord of this lower creation. The serpent, by conquering man, had just made himself master and lord of these dominions: hence he is called the prince of this world; and therefore the ground was cursed, and all the lower creation laid under the bondage of corruption, or death, because it had fallen into his cursed hands. But in this first promise, we behold the conqueror conquered—the prince of this world losing all his dominions, and cast out; the seed of the woman triumphing over him—the prey taken from the mighty-captivity led captive, and delivered from the curse and