All things

Verse 27: “ The first shall say to Zion, Behold, behold them and I will give to Jerusalem, one that bringeth good tidings ;" i. e, that foreshows glorious future things which God is about to do for his people.

$ 11. Therefore, since God mentions the foretelling of future events in this manner, as a certain note of divinity, and a distinguishing honour that he would put on the Messiah, his elect in whom his soul delighteth ; is it credible, that God would put this honour, in so great a degree, on one who falsely pretended to be the Messiah, and the beloved of God? And especially, when he pretended, in this respect, to have the same honour which belongs to God; as John xvi. 13--15. “He will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shali show it unto you. that the Father hath, are mine: Therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.” He, also, speaks


, of his knowledge of divine secrets, and future events, as the effect of the peculiar love that God had to him ; John v. 20. “ The Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth."

$ 12. Great changes in kingdoms and nations, coming to pass according to God's predictions, is often spoken of by God himself as a great evidence of his being the only true God. The foretelling of the destruction of Babylon by Cyrus, is greatly insisted on by God, as a great evidence of his being the true God, and as most clearly and greatly distinguishing him from all pretenders to divinity. See chap. xli. 21-27; see, also, chap. xliv. 25. to the end, and xlvi. 10. But Jesus was one that professed divinity, and foretold revolutions of nations as great and strange as this, yea, far more wonderful. He foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, which had been the holy city, and of the nation of Jews, who had been God's own people, and whose protector he had in a special manner been, and towards whom he exercised a most peculiar providence. He also foretold the deliverance of the Christians who were in Jerusalem. It was a greater thing, and less to be expected, that such a city and such a nation should be destroyed, than that destruction should befal a nation of aliens. Therefore, to foretel this destruction, with the various circumstances of it, as they actually took place, is a greater evidence of divine foreknowledge, than to foretel the destruction of a nation of aliens.

$ 13. The turning of the wilderness into a fruitful field, is spoken of by God as a peculiar work of God, and a certain sign of a divine hand; İsaiah xli. 18, 19, 20. "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the Shittah-tree, and the myrtle, and the oil-tree. I will set in the desert the fir-tree, and the pine, and the box-tree together, that they may see and know, and consider and understand to gether, that the hand of the Lord hath done this." It is evident, this is not intended in a literal sense, but signifies the happy change in the state of mankind, from a state wherein men are represented as barren, as briars and thorns, and as wild beasts, to a morally excellent and happy state. This might be proved, by the frequent use of such figures in the prophecies of scripture. But it is manifest, that this, accord. ing to Christ's prediction, was effected, in a remarkable manner, by Christ himself, and his apostles and followers, in the turning of the world from heathenism, to the knowledge and worship of the true God, to just apprehensions of his moral government, and from all manner of vice to virtue.

§ 14. It is remarkable, that it is foretold, Isaiah xlii. that the Messiah should set judgment in the earth, and his law or religion among the nations, particularly the isles, or Europe, against strong opposition, and through great sufferings, under which his church should seem ready to be extinguished, or crushed, like smoking flax, or a bruised reed; but that, finally, judgment should be brought forth to victory.


The propriety of a general judgment, and a future state.

$1. The doctrine taught in the scriptures, that at the end of the world all mankind shall stand together before the judgment-seat of the supreme Lawgiver and Judge, to have all things visibly set to rights—and justice made visibly to take place with respect to all the persons, actions, and affairs of the moral world, by the infinitely wise, holy, and just Head of it is a most reasonable doctrine, and much commends itself to our belief, from the reason of the thing, on the supposition of a moral government maintained over the world by Him who created it. For this implies, that he governs the world as its lawgiver and judge, and will treat men as accountable crea

God's moral government not only requires, that there should be divine laws, and an execution of them in rewards and punishments, but, also, that both should be made visible. It is requisite, that the subject should have proper means of knowing what the laws are, by which he is obligated, and the grounds of the obligation; and that others, who are his fellowsubjects, should also know his obligations. For, as men are made to dwell in society, this cannot well be, without knowing each other's obligations, and being able to judge of the good Vol. VII.


or evil of each other's actions. It is likewise requisite, that the subject of the laws, should have proper means of knowing the grounds of the rewards or punishments of which he is the subject, in the execution of the laws; and that it should be made manifest, to the conscience of him who is rewarded or punished, what he is rewarded or punished for, and the ground on which the Judge assigns such a retribution; and, if he see others punished or acquitted, that the ground of it should be manifested to him, that he may see the justice of it. That there should be some judicial proceeding in which that should take place, seems absolutely necessary, in order to a proper manifestation of the grounds of the subject's reward or punishment, and a display of the justice of his judge to his own conscience; which must be, if the subject be dealt with as a rational moral agent.

§ 2. Hence it is of necessity, that every one of mankind must be the subject of such a dispensation of God towards him, which may fitly be called an appearing before the judgment-seat of God. And it is most reasonable to suppose, that this judicial proceeding will not be secret; that each individual will not be judged so, that the transaction with respect to him will be out of the sight and knowledge of all others; but that truth and righteousness will be made visibly to take place, after a prevalence of wrong, wickedness, and confusion, in the violations of a divine law, which was public, and the law of their union and regulation in society: many of those violations are, of course, visible to others, and others are concerned in them, either in being united in the wickedness, and accessary to it, or a party concerned in suffering the injury done by that wickedness.

6 3. Reasonable creatures are the eye of the world ; they are capable of beholding the beauty and excellency of the Greator's workmanship, and those displays of himself, which he has made in his works; and, therefore, it is requisite, that the beauty and excellency of the world, as God hath constituted it, should not be hid or kept secret. But the beauty of God's constitution of the world, consists mainly, without doubt, in the intelligent part of the world, which is the head and end of all the rest, et instar omnium. . But the beauty and order of God's constitution of this, consists chiefly in his moral regulation of it. Now, therefore, since God has made the beauty and regularity of the natural world, so publicly visible to all; it is much more requisite, that the moral beauty and regularity of his disposals in the intelligent world, should be publicly visible. For the beauty of God's works, consists a thousand times more in this, than in the other. It is reasonable to suppose, that these will be as publicly visible as the brightness and beautiful order and motions of the heavenly bodies, and the

regular successions of the various seasons of the year, and the beauties of nature in the air, and on the face of the earth. The moral deformity and confusion of the world, is most public; it stands forth continually in view through all ages. It is, therefore, fit, that the rectifying of this deformity and disorder, and the bringing of light out of darkness, should also be made publicly visible to those creatures, that are made to be the eye of the creation, to behold its beauty, and the glory of the Creator in it. God has given man a nature, which, if it be under the influence of true virtue, desires, above all things, to behold this kind of order and beauty. When man sees a great and horrid crime committed, as some nefarious act of injustice, cruelty, &c., the nature of the reasonable creature has something in it, which desires and makes it requisite, that he should see justice done, and right take place, with respect to such an act. The mind, or heart, as it were, fails in such a case, if it neither sees this, nor hopes to see it.

§ 4. If it be requisite that judgment should be public, and that many should stand together before the judgment-scat; on the same account, it will appear most reasonable to suppose, that the whole world should appear together in one great assembly, before the judgment-seat. The whole world is one commonwealth and kingdom, all made of one blood, all under one moral head, one law, and one government; and all parts of it are joined in communication one with another. All are sinners, and yet God appears placable to all, &c. All dwell in one habitation, viz. this earth, under the same roof of the visible heavens, having the same sun to enlighten them, &c. Besides, many of the causes and controversies to be decided by the supreme Judge of the world, are of the most public nature; as causes between princes and heads of great kingdoms and monarchies, and their people ; and causes between one nation and another. Yea, there are many causes which the supreme Judge must bring to an issue, wherein the greater part of the world is concerned. And when the cause and controversy between these two is judged, it is requisite that both parties should appear together before the judgment-seat. The Roman emperors had to do with other nations that were without the limits of the empire, to the utmost ends of the earth ; as with the Scythians, the Persians, the Arabians, the Indians, the Chinese, the Germans, Cimbrians, and Africans. So that it is requisite when they appear to be judged, that not only the people of the Roman empire should appear with them, but also those other nations. Thus all the nations of Europe have dealings one with another continually; and these European nations have some dealings with almost all other nations upon carth, in Asia, Africa, and America.

§ 5. It is therefore necessary, that all nations should be ga. thered together before the judgment-seat of the supreme Lawgiver and Judge, that he may determine between them, and settle all things by his wise, righteous, and infallible decision. And many of the good and evil acts that are done, though the world is not properly concerned in them as a party interested, yet are public through the world. They are done in the sight of the world, and greatly draw the attention of mankind. It is fit, therefore, that they should be as publicly judged. And, it is to be observed, that the longer the world stands, the more and more communication have the different parts of it together. So that, at the end of the world, there probably will be the highest reason, in this respect, that all nations that shall then be found upon the earth, should be called together before the judgment-seat of God.

9 6. As it is requisite, that all who dwell on the face of the earth at the same time, should appear together before the judg. ment-seat; so it is also requisite, that all generations that have succeeded one another, appear together. Many of the moral acts, both good and bad, not only are public in this respect, that they are known over great part of the face of the earth, in or near the time of them, but also they are made public to all the following generations, by tradition and history. And if the actions of one generation be not visible to all, yet the actions of one generation are very visible to the generation immedi. ately following, and theirs to the next; and so all, in this sense, are very visible one to another. And as all nations of the world are morally concerned one with another, though not so as each one immediately concerned with every other nation; yet all are mutually concerned by concatenation.-One nation is concerned with the next, and that with the next, and so on: so that there is need that all such should appear together to be judged.

$7. All generations of men from the beginning to the end of the world, are morally concerned one with another. The first generation is concerned with the next, and that with the next, and so on to the end of the world. Therefore it is requisite, that all should appear together to be judged. Parents may injure their children, and children may injure their parents ; and so they are two parties in one cause, which must be deci. ded by the supreme Judge. Therefore, it is needful, that they, as parties, should appear together, when their cause is judged. Jarents and children, or a younger generation and an older, may be accessary to each other's crimes, or united in each other's virtuous deeds; and therefore it is requisite that they should be judged together. Yea, the present generation may become accessary to an injury committed by their ancestors ages ago.

« VorigeDoorgaan »