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be sent ?” Yea, but is not God able to send them ? Cannot he raise them up, as it were, out of the stones ! And can he ever want means of sending them ? No: were there no other means, take them by his Spirit,” as he did Ezekiel, chap. iii, 12, or by his angel, as he did Philip, Acts viji, and set them down wheresoever it pleaseth him. Yea, he can find out a thousand ways, to foolish man unknown. And he surely will : for heaven and earth may pass away; but his word shall not pass away: he will give his Son “the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession."
25. And so all Israel too shall be saved. For “blindness has happened to Israel," as the great apostle observes, Rom. xi, 25, &c, till the fulness of the “Gentiles be come in.” Then “the Deliverer that cometh out of Sion shall turn away iniquity from Jacob.” “God hath now concluded them all in unbelief, that he may have mercy upon all." Yea, and he will so have mercy upon all Israel, as to give them all temporal, with all spiritual blessings. For this is the promise :
“ For the Lord thy God will gather thee from all nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul," Deut. xxx, 3. Again : "I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them: and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever. I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. And I will plant them in this land assuredly, with my whole heart and with my whole soul,” Jer. xxxii, 37, &c. Yet again : “ I will take you
the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you,
shall be clean : from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God,” Ezek. xxxvi, 24, &c.
26. At that time will be accomplished all those glorious promises made to the Christian church, which will not then be confined to this or that nation, but will include all the inhabitants of the earth. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain,” Isa. xi, 9. “
· Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.” Thou shalt be encompassed on every side with salvation, and all that go through thy gates shall praise God. “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory." The light of the sun and moon shall be swallowed up in the light of his countenance, shining upon thee. " Thy people also shall be all righteous, ... the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” “ As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth ; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations,” Isa. 1x, 14, &c, and Ixi, 11.
27. This I apprehend to be the answer, yea, the only full and satisfactory answer that can be given, to the objection against the wisdom
and goodness of God, taken from the present state of the world. It will not always be thus: these things are only permitted for a season by the great Governor of the world, that he may draw immense, eternal good out of this temporary evil. This is the very key which the apostle himself gives us in the words above recited : “God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” In view of this glorious event, how well may we cry out; Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" although for a season * his judgments were unsearchable, and his ways past finding out,” Rom. xi, 32, 33. It is enough, that we are assured of this one point, that all these transient evils will issue well, will have a happy conclusion; and that “mercy first and last will reign." All unprejudiced persons may see with their eyes, that he is already renewing the face of the earth: and we have strong reason to hope that the work he hath begun, he will carry on unto the day of the Lord Jesus ; that he will never intermit this blessed work of his Spirit, until he has fulfilled all his promises, until he hath put a period to sin, and misery, and infirmity, and death, and re-established universal holiness and happiness, and caused all the inhabitants of the earth to sing together, “ Hallelujah, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth !” “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever!” Rev. vii, 12.
SERMON LXIX. - The New Creation.
" Behold, I make all things new," Rev. xxi, 5. 1. What a strange scene is here opened to our view! How remote from all our natural apprehensions ! Not a glimpse of what is here revealed was ever seen in the heathen world. Not only the modern, barbarous, uncivilized heathens have not the least conception of it; but it was equally unknown to the refined, polished heathens of ancient Greece and Rome. And it is almost as little thought of or understood by the generality of Christians : I mean, not barely those that are nominally such; that have the form of godliness without the power; but even those that in a measure fear God, and study to work righteousness.
2. It must be allowed, that after all the researches we can make, still our knowledge of the great truth, which is delivered to us in these words, is exceedingly short and imperfect. As this is a point of mere revelation, beyond the reach of all our natural faculties, we cannot penetrate far into it, nor form any adequate conception of it. But it may be an encouragement to those who have, in any degree, tasted of the powers of the world to come, to go as far as they can go; interpreting scripture by scripture, according to the analogy of faith.
3. The apostle, caught up in the visions of God, tells us, in the first verse of the chapter, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth;” and adds, verse 5, “ He that sat upon the throne said,” [I believe the only words which he is said to utter throughout the whole book,] “ Behold, I make all things new."
4. Very many commentators entertain a strange opinion, that this relates only to the present state of things; and gravely tell us, that the words are to be referred to the flourishing state of the church, which commenced after the heathen persecutions. Nay, some of them have discovered, that all which the apostle speaks concerning the “ new heaven and the new earth” was fulfilled when Constantine the Great poured in riches and honours upon the Christians. What a miserable way is this of making void the whole counsel of God, with regard to all that grand chain of events, in reference to his church, yea, and to all mankind, from the time that John was in Patmos, unto the end of the world! Nay, the line of this prophecy reaches farther stilt: it does not end with the present world, but shows us the things that will come to pass when this world is no more. For,
5. Thus saith the Creator and Governor of the universe; “Behold, I make all things new;"-all which are included in that expression of the apostle : “A new heaven and a new earth.” A new heaven: the original word in Genesis, chap. i, is in the plural number: and indeed this is the constant language of Scripture; not heaven, but heavens, Accordingly, the ancient Jewish writers are accustomed to reckon three heavens; in conformity to which, the apostle Paul speaks of his being caught“ up into the third heaven.” It is this, the third heaven, which is usually supposcd to be the more immediate residence of God; so far as any residence can be ascribed to his omnipresent Spirit, who pervades and fills the whole universe. It is here, (if we speak after the manner of men,) that the Lord sitteth upon his throne, surrounded by angels and archangels, and by all his flaming ministers.
6. We cannot think that this heaven will undergo any change, any more than its great Inhabitant. Surely this palace of the Most llighi was the same from eternity, and will be world without end. Only the inferior heavens are liable to change; the highest of which we usually call the starry heavens. This, St. Peter informs us, "is reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment, and destruction of ungodly men.” In that day," being on fire," it shall, first,“ shrivel as a parchment scroll;" then it “shall be dissolved, and shall pass away with a great noise;" lastly, it shall " flee from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and there shall be found no place for it.”
7. At the same time, the stars shall fall from heaven;" the secret chain being broken which had retained them in their several orbits, from the foundation of the world. In the mean while the lower, or sublunary heaven, with the elements, (or principles that compose it,) “shall melt with fervent heat;” while“ the earth, with the works that are therein, shall be burned up.” This is the introduction to a far nobler state of things, such as it has not yet entered into the heart of man to conceive,-the universal restoration, which is to succeed the universal destruction. For “we look," says the apostle, “ for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness," 2 Pet. 11, 7, &c.
8. One considerable difference there will undoubtedly be in the starry heaven, when it is created anew : there will be no blazing stars, no comets there. Whether those horrid, eccentric orbs are halfformed planets, in a chaotic state, (I speak on the supposition of a plurality of worlds,) or such as have undergone their general conflagration, they will certainly have no place in the new heaven, where all will be exact order and harmony. There may be many other differences between the heaven that now is, and that which will be after the renovation. But they are above our apprehension : we must leave eternity to explain them.
9. We may more easily conceive the changes which will be wrought in the lower heaven, in the region of the air. It will be no more torn by hurricanes, or agitated by furious storms, or destructive tempests. Pernicious or terrifying meteors will have no place therein. We shall have no more occasion to say:
“ There like a trumpet, loud and strong,
Thy thunder shakes our coast :
The banners of thy host !" No: all will then be light, fair, serene; a lively picture of the eternal day.
10. All the elements (taking that word in the common sense, for the principles of which all natural beings are compounded) will be new indeed; entirely changed as to their qualities, although not as to their nature. Fire is at present the general destroyer of all things under the sun ; dissolving all things that come within the sphere of its action, and reducing them to their primitive atoms. But no sooner will it have performed its last great office of destroying the heavens and the earth, (whether you mean thereby, one system only, or the whole fabric of the universe; the difference between one and millions of worlds being nothing before the great Creator ;) when, I say, it has done this, the destructions wrought by fire will come to a perpetual end. It will destroy no more : it will consume no more: it will forget its power to burn ;-which it possesses only during the present state of things ;-and be as harmless in the new heavens and earth, as it is now in the bodies of men and other animals, and the substance of trees and flowers; in all which, (as late experiments show,) large quantities of ethereal fire are lodged ; if it be not rather an essential component part of every material being under the sun.
But it will, probably, retain its vivifying power, though divested of its power to destroy.
11. It has been already observed, that the calm, placid air will be no more disturbed by storms and tempests. There will be no more meteors with their horrid glare, affrighting the poor children of men. May we not add, (though, at first, it may sound like a paradox,) that there will be no more rain. It is observable, that there was none in paradise; a circumstance which Moses particularly mentions, Gen. ii, 5, 6; “The Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth.But there went up a mist from the earth,” which then covered up the abyss of waters, “and watered the whole face of the ground,” with moisture sufficient for all the purposes of vegetation. We have all reason to believe, that the case will be the same when paradise is restored. Consequently, there will be no clouds or fogs; but one bright, refulgent day. Much less will there be any poisonous damps, or pestilential blasts. There will be no sirocco in Italy; no parching or suffocating winds in Arabia; no keen northeast winds in our own country,
“Shattering the graceful locks of yon fair trees ;" but only pleasing, healthful breezes,
Fanning the earth with odoriferous wings." 12. But what a change will the element of water undergo, when all things are made new! It will be, in every part of the world, clear and limpid; pure from all unpleasing or unhealthful mixtures; rising here and there in crystal fountains, to refresh and adorn the earth “ with liquid lapse of murmuring stream.” For undoubtedly, as there were in paradise, there will be various rivers gently gliding along, for the use and pleasure of both man and beast. But the inspired writer has expressly declared, “there will be no more sea," Rev. xxi, 1. We have reason to believe, that at the beginning of the world, when God said, “ Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear," Gen. i, 9; the dry land spread over the face of the water, and covered it on every side. And so it seems to have done, till, in order to the general deluge, which God had determined to bring upon the earth at once,
the windows of heaven were opened, and the fountains of the great deep broken up." But the sea will then retire within its primitive bounds, and appear on the surface of the earth no more. Neither indeed, will there be any more need of the sea. For either, as the ancient poet supposes,
Omnis feret omnia tellus ; -every part of the earth will naturally produce whatever its inhabitants want;—or all mankind will procure what the whole earth affords, by a much easier and readier conveyance. For all the inhabitants of the earth, our Lord informs us, will then be sayyɛhos,
-equal to angels : on a level with them in swiftness, as well as strength : so that they can, quick as thought, transport themselves, or whatever they want, from one side of the globe to the other.
13. But it seems, a greater change will be wrought in the earth, than even in the air and water. Not that I can believe that wonderful discovery of Jacob Behme, which many so eagerly contend for ; that the earth itself, with all its furniture and inhabitants, will then be transparent as glass. There does not seem to be the least foundation for this, either in Scripture or reason. Surely not in Scripture : I know not one text in the Old or New Testament, which affirms any such thing. Certainly it cannot be inferred from that text in Revelation, chap. iv, ver. 6; “ And before the throne there was a sea of glass, like unto crystal.” And yet, if I mistake not, this is the chief, if not the only scripture, which has been urged in favour of this opinion! Neither can I conceive that it has any foundation in reason. It has been warmly alleged, that all things would be far more beautiful, if they were quite transparent. But I cannot apprehend this : yea, I apprehend quite the contrary. Suppose every part of a human body were made transparent as crystal, would it appear more beautiful than it does now! Nay, rather, it would shock us above measure. The surface of the body, in particular, " the human face divine,” is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful objects that can be found under heaven ; but could you look through the rosy cheek, the smooth, fair forehead, or the rising bosom, and distinctly see all that lies within, you would turn away from it with loathing and horror!
14. Let us next take a view of those changes which we may reasonably suppose will then take place in the earth. It will no more be bound up with intense cold, nor parched up with extreme heat; but