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rent to our limited powers of vision, which apparent contradiction is owing to our infirmity, and by no means to the want of consistency in divine revelation.
The twentieth chapter of Revelation of all others is least capable of self-interpretation; it requires to be illustrated by corresponding prophecies. The previous pages have been directed to this object, especially in the five preceding synchronisms; and with one more effort of this sort I will close; an effort deserving a discourse to itself, instead of a place at the heel of this.
Ezekiel begins his prophecy with an account of the departure of the glory of God from Jerusalem, and he concludes with a promise of the return of that glory in the new dispensation.
The sixteenth chapter descants on Jerusalem's wickedness, punishment, and merciful restoration, together with her elder sister, Samaria and her daughters, and her younger sister, Sodom and her daughters, which may only be in the new earth. Chapters thirty and thirty-one foretell the utter overthrow of Egypt and Assyria, “Pharaoh and all his multitude." The thirty-second repeats the calamity of Pharaoh, and adds to it, of Ashur, Elam, Meshech, and Tubal, Edom, and the Zidonians by name, and of the princes of the north without name. These are all “slain by the sword, and bear their shame with them that
down to the pit. Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted over all his multitude, even Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword, saith the Lord God."*
Observe here, that Gog is of the land of Magog, and is chief prince of " Meshech and Tubal,”+ and that “ Pharaoh” is understood by the wise to be a name of the Dragon, the old serpent, familiar to the prophets.
The thirty-third chapter is addressed to the watchmen of Israe with denunciations against the land. The thirtyfourth reproves the shepherds of Israel, and promises that the Lord himself will search out of all nations, and gather upon the mountains of Israel his scattered flock. "There shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel; and I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and will bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment."
* Ezek. xxxii. 30, 31. † Ezek. xxxviii. 2, 3. Ezek. xxxiv. 14, 15, 16
As these mountains and flocks and mercies belong to the millennium, so do the judgments detailed in chapters xxx., xxxi., xxxii., belong to the introduction of the millernium, and correspond to the overthrow of the beast and false prophet in the harvest of the earth, when ail the nations by name are counted to the slaughter and consigned to the pit: “even Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword.”*
Ezekiel thirty-five begins the subject anew with the destruction of Edom, t which is made a perpetual desolation, never to return. I This is the present evil world. Chapter thirty-six is a counter prophecy to the mountains of Israel, promising to them, and to the hills and rivers and valleys, ** Ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come,” (verse 8,) in the resurrection. “They shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them :” verse 12. O house of Israel, “I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land :" verse 24. " Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good:" verse 31. To this end their recovery must be “life from the dead."
Chapter xxxvii. explains the millennial resurrection literally of “the whole house of Israel,” v. 11, which, if it do not include us, “Our hope is lost; we are cut for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them: Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, () my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live; and I shall place you in your own land : then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord."-v. 11-15.
The ancient commentators, Sts. Irenæus, Chrysostom, and Jerome understood this of a literal resurrection of the faithful; and if it fails to teach that, no language can teach it: even the resurrection of Jesus might be turned into a figure as easy; for it is written that his grave was opened, and he came forth out of his grave, and lived and returned into his own land. If this proof of the resurrection be taken
* See Rev. xix. 20. + Edom is taken by the wise to mean the beast of the Apocalypse, as also Pharaoh means the Dragon. Jew and Greek and Roman understand it so, and I take their conclusion without examining the grounds of it, only to show you how remarkably it fits with the details of the millennium.
$ Ezek. Ixxv. 9.
from the Old Testament, every other may, by a similar rule; and the Sadducees may be justified by the law and the prophets, and the Pharisees condemned.
The prophet proceeds to declare the purpose of God, to unite Judah and Ephraim into one nation: "and David, my servant, shall be king over them," v. 24; "their prince forever," v. 25. "And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore," v. 28. .
This is the eternal state subsequent to the resurrection : for it is both impossible for David to reign on earth again without rising from the dead, and also for any condition of things in this world to continue forever; seeing that the true Witness testifies of this heaven and earth that they shall pass away, and all things belonging to them are transitory.
After this description of the resurrection of "the whole house of Israel," and of their union under David in one everlasting kingdom, which seems to accord and synchronize with the first resurrection,* the prophet proceeds, in chapters xxxviii. and xxxix., to speak of the coming of Gog and all his bands, from Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, or Phut, Gomer, and Togarmah, against the mountains of Israel, “as a cloud to cover the land." The Lord will then appear in his anger, so that all men and things shall shake at his presence, and he will rain upon Gog, "and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hail-stones, fire and brimstone.”+ The thirty-ninth chapter only carries out the doctrine and particulars of the preceding; leaving the reader in no doubt that this Gog and his destruction are the same which are so similarly described in Rev. xx., and no elsewhere expressly named in the Bible.
Chapter xl. to the end of the prophecy of Ezekiel enters into a particular description of the New Jerusalem, in language suited to the Mosaic dispensation, but manifestly intending that same which the Apocalypse describes coming down out of heaven, in the new creation which God will make, whose waters are waters of life, whose trees are the tree of life, whose inhabitants are the chosen people, whose temple is built of living stones, whose sacrifices are a pure offering of praise on the altar of the heart, whose form is four square, and whose walls are salvation, and her gates praise. "The Lamb is the light thereof;" and "the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there ;" [MMANUEL; "the tabernacle of God is with men.''
"This is the city the patriarchs eyed from afar, while as pilgrims they traced the thorny road; this is the Jerusalem which * Rev. xx. 4.
+ Ezek. Xxxviii. 22.
Paul declares is free, which is above, and is the mother of
The coincidence of these two prophets, Ezekiel and St. John, is remarkable in the description of a dreadful overthrow of the nations, followed by a resurrection of the holy people, against whose mountains Gog, an enemy of a fearful name, comes like a cloud; and deliverance is wrought by fire from heaven, to the destruction of the innumerable host. Then follows the particular description of the holy, heavenly land, and the royal metropolis, named after her King forever, as the bride takes the name of the Bridegroom.
This parallelism of Ezekiel's prophecies and the Apocalypse, and these synchronisms of Daniel, Paul, and John, constitute the materials of Jacob's ladder, “set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it.”+ The portion which rests on the solid earth, we can feel and handle; but the top is a dizzy height, which angels, not mortals, may climb and comprehend. “Behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac. I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."I Heaven is represented with a wall around; and that implies an enemy without. The battlements and gates are of impregnable mould; they look toward the enemies' land. What though he come like a cloud ? He comes never again; but he forever perishes, outside of the beloved city."Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem !” “Fear not, for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thy Maker is thy husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called."'S “For the Lord will comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein; thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”||
Of the present discourse, this is the sum :
From the fall of man and of the whole creation under the curse of sin and the dominion of death, until the times of the anapsyzis, or resuscitation from the presence of the Lord, when he shall send Jesus Christ, who is now preached to us, and shall make all things new in the resurrection of the dead, the Holy Spirit has unceasingly testified of the coming of the great day of the Lord, and of his kingdom, with great
* Gal. iv. 26. Cox's "Second Coming,” p. 134. + Gen. xxviii. 12. John i. 51.
Gen. xxviii. 13, 15. $ Is. li. 17 and liv. 4, 5.
|| Is. li. 3.
power and glory; when Jesus will not only change these vile bodies like unto his own glorious body; but also these heavens and earth, bestowing on them an atmosphere of blessedness, and a soil of fatness, with a salubrity that knows of no sickness, and a joy which knows of no pang, separation, sighing, or sorrow any more. For this value the fathers, Adam, Abraham, and David, received the promises. They did not dream of having them fulfilled in this land of death, in which they dwelt as sojourners and travellers; but they expected the redemption of the Lord's pledges in the resurrection of the dead, and in the heavenly land of immortal life.
In this light they, together with the prophets, foresaw Christ's day and were glad. In this light the prophets described the New Jerusalem, and the righteous nation, and their everlasting King on the throne of his father David, in his endless kingdom over all God blessed forever. In this explicit manner the holy gospel describes the kingdom of heaven, and the angelic nature of those who are found worthy to attain that world, and the resurrection of the dead, through Jesus our Nobleman that is gone to receive a kingdom and to return. In this manner, and coming in this kingdom, the apostles preached "Jesus and the resurrection, through all the world. In this faith the primitive church for three centuries steadfastly looked for his coming. In this faith Luther and Melancthon and the great reformers of the sixteenth century expected the coming of the Lord, while they grappled in mortal agonies with the gigantic power of the Latin hierarchy. In this manner, and in this kingdom, all our creeds and standards of faith confess the hope of the coining of the Lord Jesus; and all believers daily pray that he will come, and will not tarry: “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” And when the hopes and prayers of all ages of the holy people, from Adam to this day, are answered and fulfilled, then will be the anticipated millennium: “The dispensation of the fulness of times," heaven in earth, when creation will no longer sigh and groan and travail in pain together, as it does now, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God; but creation itself will attain with us, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, redemption of the body from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of that eternal world, where “they neither marry nor are given in marriage, neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection."*
Luke XX. 35.