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young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together : and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
THE happiness and prosperity of kingdoms depend much on the wisdom and equity of those who govern. Yet the best of rulers cannot always secure their people either from the turbulence of faction, or from assaults of foreign enemies. Thus it is with the kingdom of Christ on earth. He, the Lord and Governor of all, is endowed with every qualification for the discharge of his regal office, and executes that office with consummate equity and wisdom': yet, through the infirmities of his subjects, and the malice of his adversaries, his kingdom is far from enjoying the full advantages of his administration. There will, however, be a time, when his dominion shall be extended over all the earth, and perfect peace shall reign throughout all his empire.
The prophecy on which this observation is grounded, will naturally lead us to shew, I. The change that shall be wrought on men in the
latter dayMen in their intercourse with each other too much resemble the brute creation
[It is indeed humiliating to compare men with venomous and ferocious beasts : but there is scarcely any beast, however savage, to which God himself has not compared us. Nor is it by figurative representation only, but by plain and express declarations, that God has marked the evil dispositions of our fallen natured. And if we either look around us, or within us, we shall see that his descriptions are by no means exaggerated. Let any one observe the proud and envious, the wrathful and
a ver. 1—4.
ver. 5. c He likens us to foxes, Cant. ii. 15 ; serpents and vipers, Matt. iii. 7. and xxiii. 33; wolves, Matt. x. 16; wild asses, Jer. ii. 24; wild boars, Ps. lxxx. 13; wild bulls, Isai. li. 20, &c.
d Rom. i. 29–31. 2 Tim. iii. 2-4.
malicious, the selfish and covetous workings of the heart, and he shall soon perceive that, if man were unrestrained by human laws, he would prey upon his fellow-man with as much ferocity as the beasts themselves.]
But in the latter day universal harmony shall prevail—
[Then this beautiful description shall be fully realized. Men shall dwell together as the beasts in the ark, none attempting to hurt or destroy another: or rather, they shall dwell together as the beasts in Paradise; none having so much as a disposition to hurt; but all filled with gentleness and love.
Î'his event is foretold in other passages of Holy Writo; and it shall surely be accomplished at the appointed season : “The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this."]
To confirm our expectation of this universal change, let us consider, II. The means by which it shall be effected
It is beyond the power of any human efforts to accomplish it
[However civilization may have changed the manners of men, it is but too evident that their hearts are the same as ever. In proof of this we need only appeal to the bloody wars which nations wage with each other; to the duels which are fought on account of the most trifling injuries or insults; and to the execrable traffic in slaves, which, to the disgrace of the Christian name, yea, to the disgrace of humanity itself, is justified and carried on amongst us, in spite of all the efforts that have been made for its abolition. If further proof were necessary, we may all find it very abundantly in the various circles in which we move: for there is scarcely a society, or even a single family, in which feuds, dissensions, quarrels, do not frequently arise: yea, the very relatives most interested in cultivating love and harmony, are often most at variance. Does not this shew how untamed we are, notwithstanding the restraints of wholesome laws, and the instructions given us in the word of God?]
But the Gospel of Christ, when universally received, shall soon effect it
[Men continue like wild beasts, because "they know not the Lord?.” The knowledge of Christ, and of his salvation, would produce a wonderful change on their spirit and conduct. Behold, what it wrought as soon as ever the Gospel was preached! Thousands of blood-thirsty murderers were transformed into the most lovely and loving of the human race. e Isai. lxv. 25. f 1 Sam. ii. 12.
& Acts iv. 32. VOL. VII.
And, wherever it is received, its tendency is the same. It is the rod of God's strength, which brings down every adverse power, and accomplishes for man the salvation of his soulh. It renews all after the same image'; brings all into the same familyk; unites all in the same interests?; and forms all into one mystical body m: how then can it fail of producing harmony and love? This knowledge shall at a future period be universally diffused" : and these effects shall as universally result from ito.] Let us LEARN from this subject, 1. The nature of true conversion
[Conversion does not consist in embracing any tenets, however scriptural, or important. The knowledge of Christ is indeed, as has been before observed, the means of converting us; but conversion itself consists in a thorough change in all our tempers, dispositions, and conduct, and in a renewal of our souls after the divine image. The lion must become a lamb: we must become as little children, if ever we would enter into the kingdom of heaven 9,"] 2. The excellency of the Gospel —
[In vain is the moral fitness of things insisted on; yea, in vain are the demands of the law and the terrors of hell displayed, for the conversion of men: nothing but the knowledge of Christ crucified can ever operate on the soul of man, so as to produce in it a radical and universal change". But, where Christ is known aright, there the whole man will assume a new character: and in proportion as his glory is seen by us, we shall be assimilated to his images. Let not the Gospel then be despised as fanatical, or be defamed as licentious; but let it be revered and embraced with our whole hearts.] 3. The blessedness of those who know the Lord
[It is to be lamented that the knowledge of Christ does not produce in these days the full effects that were visible in the Apostles. But the fault is in us, and not in the Gospel. Nevertheless there are many, who, even in this age of vice and infidelity, are monuments of the power and grace of Christ; and who, from having been as despiteful towards each other as Jews and Gentiles, are living in the sweetest communion with each other, and with their God. Happy they, whose views are thus rectified, whose passions are thus subdued, and whose lives are thus regulated by the Gospel of Christ'! They have indeed a paradise below; and shall soon enjoy uninterrupted harmony in heaven"]
h Ps. cx. 2. 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. Rom. i. 16. i Col. iii. 10. * Eph. ii. 19. 2 Cor. vi. 18. | Eph. iv. 4, 5. m 1 Cor. xii. 20, 21, 25, 27.
n Hab. ii. 14. o Isai. ï. 4. and Tit. ü. 11, 12. P 2 Cor. v. 17. Eph. iv. 22–24. 9 Matt. xviii. 3. r Rom. viii. 3.
s 2 Cor. iii. 18.
t Deut. xxxii. 29. u 1 John i. 3. and iv. 16, 17.
THE MILLENNIUM. Isai. xi. 9. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea. THE generality of mankind ascribe a far greater degree of moral influence to civilization, than the state of the heathen world in its most refined ages will justify. We are willing however to admit, that some good effects are to be traced to this cause. But to renew and sanctify the heart is far beyond its power : this is the province of religion, even of that religion which is revealed to us in the Gospel. The prophet has been describing in most beautiful language the change that shall one day be wrought on the face of the earth; and he traces it to the propagation of the Gospel, and the extension of divine knowledge, as its true and only source ; “ The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,” &c. for “ the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.”
In these words he shews us,
It cannot be more justly or comprehensively described than in these words, “ the knowledge of the Lord”—
[Many indeed, even of those who call themselves Christians, suppose that religion is altogether comprehended in doing to others as we would be done unto. But, though it must be acknowledged that this is an important branch, yet it is far from being the whole, since it relates only to the duties of the second table, and leaves out all the duties which we owe to God. We must rather say, that the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus is the sum and substance of religion : because in this is contained that vital energy which puts forth itself in all the fruits of righteousness. It is in this light that the scriptures continually represent it. The Prophet Isaiah says, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify manya.'
Jeremiah a Isai. liii. 11.
cautions us against “glorying in any thing, but in the understanding and knowing of God” as displaying justice and mercy in the person of Christb. Our Lord himself affirms that, to know God, and Jesus Christ as sent by him, is life eternal." And St. Paul, in his nervous mode of expression, “counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord 4."]
But by " the knowledge of the Lord” we must of necessity understand a practical and experimental knowledge of him
[Were a speculative knowledge sufficient, Balaam, and even the devils themselves, might vindicate their claim to religion; since he could boast, that he “ knew the knowledge of the Almighty,” and indeed prophesied of Christ in very exalted termse; and they could say to Christ, “We know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God?.” But the only knowledge that can be considered as constituting religion, is that which the apostle so emphatically described and so earnestly desired; “I count all things but dung, that I may win Christ, and know him in the power of his resurrection, in the fellowship of his sufferings, and in a conformity to his death." St. John, with a simplicity peculiar to himself, confirms this truth, saying, “ Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments : he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him h."]
Painful as the general want of this religion is at present, we shall be comforted in considering, II. In what manner it shall hereafter prevail
The comparison, which the prophet makes between the diffusion of true religion and the waters of the unfathomable and boundless ocean, leads us naturally to observe, that the knowledge of the Lord in that day will be, 1. Universal in its extent
[Improbable as this event may appear, there is scarcely any other so frequently and so plainly foretold in the prophetic writings as this. David, in a Psalm where he not only speaks of Christ, but even personates him, says,
" All the ends of the earth shall remember themselves and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him; for the kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the governor among the b Jer. ix. 23, 24.
c John xvii. 1. d Phil. iii. 8. e Numb. xxiv. 16, 17.
f Luke iv. 34. & Phil. iii. 10. h 1 John ii. 3, 4.