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THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
“ Thy Kingdom come."--MATTHEW vi. 10.
WHEN we contemplate such an event as the predicted mission of the angels being accomplished; when we see with the eye of hope that not only 144 thousand of the descendants of Abraham, but an infinitely great number of sincere, humble christians, from different nations of the world, are to be assembled together in a place of safety, before the last vials of God's wrath are poured out, as the waters of the flood were in the time of Noab; we are naturally led on to the contemplation of the size of the place which is to contain them. In reflecting one day on this subject, when reading the book of Revelation, I compared the first verse of the 11th chapter with the 16th verse of the 21st chapter, and I found that the city in which the spiritual temple was to be erected was to occupy a space of twelve thousand furlongs square. “ And there was given me a reed like unto a rod : and the Angel stood saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court that is without the temple leave out, and measure it not, for it is given unto the Gentiles : and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof, and the city lieth four-square, and the length is as large as the breadth : and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length, and the breadth, and the height of it are equal." I then consulted the map of the world, and could not perceive any part of it so suitable to the description here given, as Australia. Leaving out New South Wales, the only part of the island which has been a penal colony, and the Swan River settlement, there is a square of twenty-five degrees in the centre of the Island, which, reduced to furlongs, would make 12,000. In prophetic language one portion or space of time is frequently put for another; thus days are put for years: and in studying the 2nd verse of the 11th chapter above quoted, if we substitute years for months, and calculate from the year 1800, when persons began to come from England, to get grants of land, or to purchase it cheaply, and to accumulate wealth by the labour of prisoners, it is like a fulfilment of the prophecy that it should be “ trodden down of the Gentiles” for 42 years; for in the year 1842 it ceased to be a penal colony. Before Australia was discovered, religious persecution had ceased; and the country, from its great distance from England, would never have been 80 well prepared as it now is, for the reception of the Lord's people, had it not been for a time a penal settlement. Pride was originally the cause of its ceasing to be so. Those who had made it their adopted country, and accumulated wealth in it, were ashamed of living in an English prison ; and it is remarkable, how those very individuals who petitioned for the withdrawal of convict labour, have since had their pride humbled by having their petition granted. A sudden cessation of a command of convict labour had a serious effect on the commercial interests of the country; the settlers felt the change materially, when they were obliged to give high wages to immigrants, instead of having their flocks tended, and their lands cultivated, by assigned servants, to whom they were only obliged
to give food and coarse clothing. This circumstance bas prevented many persons, since that period, from investing their capital in stock or sheep; and several settlers sold their stations, and invested the money they received for them in bank shares. The directors of one of those banks, lent money on land security, to persons who were carrying on large mercantile speculations, and the annals of the colony, since the year 1842, contain a series of failures of banks, mercantile houses, and landed proprietors, all more or less involving friends and relatives in poverty. The time appears now to have ceased when people are tempted to come to this country merely to "get gain,” that they may take it to spend in the old world. Several who went to England with this object in view, have been obliged to return; they tried to pursue the same absentee system which has been productive of such serious evils to Ireland, but they have found by experience that the value of all kinds of property is so fluctuating in New South Wales, that no one can calculate on receiving rents regularly, if they reside at such a distance as Europe, and that if they wish to quit Australia they must sell their land and break all ties with the country. That all those circumstances are favorable to “the meek of the earth,” who may be taught to take refuge here, is a fact that cannot be doubted. The prophet Isaiah leads us to expect that the place of refuge for the Lord's people would be in a country favorable to the cultivation of gardens, and to that liberty of conscience so necessary to the happiness of those who wish to worship God in spirit and in truth, without being interfered with by the Pharoahs of the old world, who to support their armies, and gratify their pride, tax their industrious subjects unnecessarily." 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. 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 : for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from (New) Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks ; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”* A mountain is emblematic in scripture of a place of safety, and it is remarkable, that part of Australia is in exactly the same degree of south latitude that old Jerusalem is in north latitude, the 30th. It has all the characteristics of the land of Canaan, only that it is much larger. We could not select such a square of land near ancient Jerusalem, without including a vast portion of Persia and Arabia, which countries are now occupied by unbelievers. So that it does not appear to be the will of the Almighty that his people should return to it, until it has undergone that purification by fire, which is to destroy all the unbelieving nations by which it is surrounded; and while this purification is going on, the saints, who take refuge in “ the Lord's barn,” and are ultimately to inherit the earth, will be safe. There is a “new earth” ready to receive them, where wars and persecutions have never raged; where even the stars above are different to those in the northern hemisphere. A great part of this “new earth,” is uninhabited, and even unexplored ; but
Isaiab ii. 2, 3, 4,
if it were taken possession of by sincere worshippers, who, individually and collectively, made the word of God a lamp unto their feet, and a light unto their path,* it would be a fulfilment of the prophecy, * Behold I create a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”+ It is also remarkable, that one of the constellations which has induced astronomers to come and admire the beauties of the heavens, wbich cannot be seen in the old world, is called “ The Southern Cross.” In Mrs. Hemans' poem, “The Forest Sanctuary,” she thus alludes to the effect the observation of those four beautiful stars, had on the mind of a Spaniard who was flying from persecution in the 16th century, when he recognised them again. He is described as first having seen them when he went to South America, in his youth, as a warrior :
Then came night, th' intense
“ When Humbolt was travelling across the Andes he was particularly struck with an expression of one of the guides who accompanied him during the watches of the night. On seeing this constellation he said, “ Midnight is past, the cross begins to bend.” The philosopher applied the man's remark to the progress of the gospel. I
Sir Thomas Mitchell also mentions the interest which
Psalm cxix. 105 + Isaiah lxv. 17. 2 Peter iii. 13. See “ Conversations on Nature and Art," by Mrs. Palliser.