Page images



St, MATTHEW xxv. 31, 32, 33. When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon

the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations ; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

In my last discourse, I declared to you what I believe to be the plain intimations of prophecy, concerning the expected Millennial state, and I made objections to certain opinions held on this subject, which appeared to me not to be so firmly grounded in Scripture, as to warrant the great confidence with which they are maintained. I think there are very clear predictions of the universal establishment of the kingdom of Christ upon earth, of the destruction or conversion of all his enemies, in short, of the extension throughout the world, of the true spiritual religion of the Gospel in so perfect a state, that the period in which so happy a condition shall prevail, may justly be called, the reign of Christ and his saints. “All shall (then) know the Lord from the least to the greatest;" (Jer. xxxi. 34.) the power of Satan being restrained, the influence of the Holy Spirit shall prevail, to graft the love of God in the hearts of all mankind, and to direct their feet into the paths of holiness and peace; then shall be literally fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, (Chron. ii. 4) they shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;”

I will not undertake to assert, that there shall not besomething more than a figurative fulfilment of that beautiful passage from the same prophet, which describes all the animal world as being at peace with each other, as well as men, (read Isaiah xi. 6. to 9.) Perhaps even the curse of barrenness shall be removed from the earth itself, and it shall flourish as the garden of Eden, in the brief days of primitive innocence; “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad (for them,) and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose ; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon.” (Isaiah xxxv. 1, 2.) “ Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree, (ly. 13.) We refer all these things to the Millennial state, merely because there has been no state of Christianity as yet which seems to warrant such joyful predictions. It may be that Satan and his ministers are in general employed by God as His agents in those operations which are most congenial to their malicious natures, and that, through their instrumentality, almost all of what we call natural evil is produced ; so that when they shall be bound and prevented from doing mischief, a great deal of that sort of evil shall disappear together with sin, and all things shall be restored to the state in which they were at the creation, when “God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good.” It may


be that the wild beasts shall lose their blood-thirsty and ferocious disposition, that the venom of reptiles shall become harmless, that no noxious qualities shall be found in herbs, that the earth shall bear its fruits without needing the labour of man, and that every climate shall be favorable to health and fertility. These are what some expect will be found among the attendant blessings of the Millennial state ; and if we understand the language of the prophets literally, some of these blessings are promised; but no one can deny it to be very probable, perhaps more probable, that such language is only intended to be figuratively descriptive of the happy condition of mankind, during that period; and at all events, should these things prove to be realities, they will be but inferior ingredients in the happiness which will then prevail; the great source of joy will be “the love of God, shed abroad in the hearts of men the Holy Ghost given unto them,” and the manifestation of that love, in the cultivation of every Christian temper, and in the practice of “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,” whatsoever things are in any respect virtuous and praiseworthy. Let the hearts of all mankind be “turned unto the Lord, and there will be abundant happiness, without any aid from the brute creation, or the inanimate world; Christians will


« PreviousContinue »