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THE UNFINISHED MYSTERY.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and He will shew them
his covenant.-Psalm XXV. 14.
A REMARKABLE circumstance which occurred in the year 1847, drew my attention very particularly to the following text of scripture: “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the Prophets."* I referred to the margin of my Bible, and found, that St. Paul thus explains the subject of it, “ For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits ; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”+ In another epistle he alludes to the same idea in the following words : “ By revelation he made known to me the mystery ; which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit ; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” I From this we may judge, that as the gospel has been preached to all nations, and the Holy Scriptures have been translated into all known languages, the time must be near when the Jews are to be gathered out of all the nations where they have been scattered, and the Lord's people from among the Gentile world also. When our Lord sent his apostles out to preach his gospel, he did not lead
them to think that all would believe their report. On the contrary, he told them not to remain too long with the inhabitants of the different cities who would not listen to them, and that they were merely to leave some evidence of having been there; even such a trifling action as shaking off the dust of their feet would be a witness against rebellious cities in the day of judgment. Cities and nations are now in existence which were not thought of at the time the apostles were commanded to“ teach all nations” and when our Saviour uttered the following memorable words: “ Woe unto thee Chorazin! Woe unto thee Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” * The writings of the Apostles, and the words of Christ, are familiar to the inhabitants of what are called christian nations, and christian cities, living under the government of christian kings, queens, or princes. But if we compare the actions of the inhabitants with the precepts of the gospel, we must admit, that the words of our Saviour could be applied to them. Were he on earth again, might he not say with as niuch truth, “Wce unto you London. Woe unto you Paris.. Woe unto you Rome. Woe unto you Vienna. Woe unto you St. Petersburgh. Woe unto you Madrid. Woe unto you Lisbon. Woe unto you Dublin. Woe unto you Edinburgh, &c. “ Thou art exalted into heaven, and shalt be brought down to hell : for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would hare remained until this day ; but I say unto you, that it
Matthew xi. 21, 22.
shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”* The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon, and Capernaum, had not the privilege of having the Holy Scriptures circulated amongst them, like the inbabitants of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. But not only is vice secretly encouraged by the wealthy professors of christianity, but pride, covetousness, neglect of the poor, and many other evidences that the greater number of the inhabitants are living in open contempt of that word which is to judge them at the last day, are visible; they are all “ lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God," † and before the “ kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ,” the “ tares must be separated from the wheat.” The chosen people of Christ's Gentile Church, as well as the descendants of Abraham, are now scattered over an ungodly world. The tares are choking the wheat; the messengers of God have done much in calling sinners to repent, by the instrumentality both of preaching and writing; their office will soon be to obey the following command of the Saviour whose gospel they have so faithfully preached : “ And in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them ; but gather the wheat into my barn." } This is part of a parable which was spoken by our Lord to the multitude; but when his disciples asked him, after the multitude were sent away, to explain the parable to them, he answered, “ He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world ; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world; the Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, und them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father. Who hath ears to hear let him hear.” * From the above texts we may learn that the barn and the kingdom are synonomous terms. But the question naturally arises, where is that kingdom ? where is that barn ? Our Saviour said to his disciples on one occasion, “my kingdom is not of this world” † He also told them to pray that it might come, and he compared it to a grain of mustard seed, to leaven, and to other sensible objects, which require time to grow, and produce certain effects. At the time he was on earth, the shape of the world was not known, and the most learned philosophers of Greece had some ridi. culous ideas about it. Thales believed it was a sphere; but Anaximander, his disciple, compared it to a cylinder ; Lencippus gave it the shape of a drum; others preferred the cubic form ; and some, following Xenophanes and Anaximenes, believed it to be a high mountain, the base of which bas an infinite extension, while the stars float around its summit. Ptolomy, who lived in the first century after the Christian Era, made greater advances in the science of geography, than any other Philosopher before his time, as he introduced the measures of latitude and longitude, and adopted a general system of fixing the position of places. But it was not until Christopher Columbus discovered a part of the new world in 1492, that the real shape of the earth was established as an undoubted truth. From that time, the part of the world which was known to the apostles has been called the old world'; and it is worthy of remark, that from that period a spirit of enquiry into the truths contained in the sacred volume was aroused; the art of printing took the Bible out of the hands of priests and monks; people began to “think for themselves” in matters of religion, and the Reformation commenced. Persecution raged in Europe for several years, and caused thousands of Protestants to take refuge in America. Satan's empire appears to have been on the decline from the time the “grain of mustard seed” began to grow; and modern history proves to us how the prophecy of Isaiah, relative to the Gentile branch of the church, has been fulfilled: “ Thus saith the Lord God, behold I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders ; and kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers.” * The manner in which the church has been protected by some kings, and persecuted by others, during the last 1850 years, is a very interesting branch of history; but as a nurse is no longer wanted when a man is grown up, so a time may be expected to arrive when the Church of Christ will no longer require the assistance or protection of the kings or queens of the old world. Soame Jenyos expresses, in a few words, the ill effects which may follow from too much of this royal nursing: “Pure and genuine christianity never was, nor ever can be, the national religion of any country upon earth. It is a gold too
* Matt xi. 23, 24. + 2nd Tim. iii. 4.
Matt. xiii. 30.