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rent nations of the world, except that of its diffusion under the forms of the Mosaic ritual from Jerusalem, as a central point, and the consequent flowing together of all people to the solemn festivals there annually celebrated.
In perfect accordance with this Jewish idea, is the prophecy now under consideration. It represents the universal diffusion of the knowledge and the love of God, under the conception of an expansion of the Mosaic economy over the whole earth. In the indefinitely distant future, so often indicated in the Hebrew Scriptures, by the words “the last days,” he sees “the mountain of the Lord's house” “ established in the top of the mountains," and 66 exalted above the hills." As Zion is now to be the central point of attraction to the whole earth, he beholds this mountain with its temple lifted up to the very summit of the highest mountain ranges of Palestine, and established there above all the surrounding hills, a conspicuous object of observation to the whole human family.
The spirit of prophecy has lifted up the prophet himself between the earth and the heaven, and brought him in the visions of God to Jerusalem, and placed him on the topmost pinnacle of her temple. There he beholds the men of every nation, flowing in mighty streams to Mount Zion from all quarters of the globe, and urging each other forward in their course. They come with an obedient spirit to learn and do the will of God. “Come," say they, “and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths." The Lord sits enthroned in his temple, and proclaims to all the gathering millions his holy law, so that Jerusalem now becomes the fountain of truth, knowledge, and justice to all mankind. " For the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” As of old he judged between the tribes of Israel, justifying the righteous and condemning the wicked, so now he is made the Judge and Arbiter of
many people," even “strong nations afar off.” Having in an obedient and loving spirit, submitted their controversies to his righteous tribunal, instead of an appeal to arms, as heretofore; and having received with willing hearts, the holy and benevolent principles of his government, all the implements of war become unnecessary. Universal
Universal peace, plenty, and security, succeed to the tumult and bloodshed which have hitherto filled the world with terror and wretchedness. “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shaïl sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree, and none shall make them afraid.” This state of the world is so different from that which has heretofore prevailedthe change is so great and glorious—that the promise almost staggers belief.
But it is made certain to us by the word of the omnipotent and ever faithful God. “For the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”
Let us now inquire after the meaning of this sublime imagery. With those who would represent these words as only a fond dream of human enthusiasm, we have at present no concern. Assuredly we regard them as spoken by the spirit of prophecy, and as containing a promise of the future extension and glory of God's church which, when realized, shall fully meet the highest hopes and the brightest anticipations which they are naturally adapted to create in the mind of the believing reader. What are these hopes and anticipations?
Thus much must be conceded by all-that the extension of the true religion over the whole earth, with the blessed accompaniments of universal peace, security, and plenty, is here predicted in unequivocal language. The true religion is, for substance, that which was possessed by the Jews to whom this prophecy was uttered; the same religion which we now possess; for Christianity is not the substitution of a new religion for an old, but the old religion embodied in a new and better form. We must carefully distinguish between the substance of religion and her accidentsbetween the living being herself and the dress in which she presents herself to us. Religion herself is immutable. From age to age she remains ever the same. The piety of Enoch and Noah, before the Abrahamic covenant, was not different from that of Abraham and, Joseph under this covenant; nor that of Abraham and Joseph under the Abrahamic covenant alone, from that of Moses and David and Isaiah under the superadded economy of the law. Nor was the religion of these Old Testament saints another religion than that of John the Baptist, who lived, as it were, between the Jewish and the Christian economy; or that of Peter and Paul, who lived under the full light and glory of the gospel dispensation. The faith of those who shall be found living upon the earth when the last trumpet shall sound, will be the same as the faith which made Abel's offering acceptable to God.
But while religion herself remains in all ages the same living being, the forms in which she clothes herself may vary to meet the varying exigencies of the different periods of the world's history. In the institutions of Moses, she was the same spirit that had vivified the simple rites of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But she had, by God's appointment, and for the accomplishment of a specific end, become clad in the splendid ritual of the tabernacle service, with its august priesthood; its numerous sacrifices and oblations; its solemn assemblies; its distinctions of clean and unclean meats; its “ days and months and years."! These constituted the new habiliments in which piety was to exert her living energies, until, in the fullness of time, she should be permitted to drop this magnificent but cumbersome attire, and be clothed upon with her last and most perfect earthly form. That it is under this simple and spiritual form, and not under that of Judaism, or some tertium quid, analogous to Judaism, to be hereafter introduced, that the prophecy now under consideration is to receive its fulfilment, admits not of a reasonable doubt. At the time of our Savior's appearance, the old theocracy, with its sacrifices and its central place of worship, adapted expressly to the wants of one particular nation, and totally unfitted for universal extension, had waxed old and was ready to vanish away. Its sacrifices were for ever superseded by the all perfect offering of Christ: its central temple, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, ushering in à dispensation not confined to places and seasons--a revolution in the constitution of God's church which our Savior had already intimated when he said to the woman of Samaria, in answer to her inquiry respecting the right location of the temple : “ Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship, ye know not what : we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” (John 4:21-23.) And as to the tertium quid which some have imagined-ean economy distinct from both Judaism and the present dispensation of Christianity, but analogous to the former in its having Jerusalem for its central point, we shall presently see that the prophecies of the Old Testament, soberly interpreted, furnish no certain ground for this hypothesis.
Why, then, it may be asked, was the spiritual economy of Christianity foretold under the symbols of Judaism? Why was it not set forth in its own naked majesty and simplicity, instead of being enigmatically shadowed forth under the gorgeous trappings of the Mosaic ritual? To this it might be a sufficient reply to ask in turn, why are not the glories of heaven set forth in the Scriptures in their naked inajesty and simplicity, instead of being dimly shadowed forth under images taken from all that is esteemed noble and excellent among men-marriage feasts, white robes, golden crowns, thrones, crystal streams, trees of life? Is it quite certain “ that the spirits of just men made perfect” will literally walk with Christ in white, and wear golden crowns, and recline in Abraham's bosom? The true answer to both the above questions is, that what things men are not prepared to apprehend in their simple spiritual excellence, must be symbolized to them by images taken from objects with which they are familiar. This principle our Lord distinctly avowed in his teachings. “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables. (Luke 8: 10, and the parallel passages.) 66 I have yet many
things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16: 12.) So also the apostle Paul : “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” (1 Cor. 3 : 2.). The passage so often quoted and applied to the blessedness of the heavenly world, " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9), was applied by the apostle, not to the glories of heaven, but to the glories of the gospel dispensation, as exceeding all that the ancient patriarchs and prophets had been able to conceive of. It is especially worthy of remark, that in a majority of the passages in which the apostle Paul uses the word “mystery,” he applies it to this very thing, the abolition of the Mosaic economy, with the exclusive spiritual prerogatives which it conferred upon the Jewish people, and the introduction, in its stead, of a catholic dispensation which placed all nations on a common level in respect to religious prerogatives. He speaks of this as a mystery made known unto him by revelation, “which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit ; that the gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” (Eph. 3:5, 6.) The Jews were willing enough to believe that all nations should finally be brought to the knowledge and worship of the true God in subordination to themselves, as their religious and political head. The accomplishment of this, they supposed to be the proper work of the Messiah. But that all nations should be placed on a level with themselves, as co-ordinate members of God's family, was a truth which they could not receive, even when forced upon them by miracles the most stupendous, and judgments the most terrible. How much less could they have received it in the days of Isaiah and Micah, while the theocracy was yet in its vigor, and had not, as in the days of Christ and his apostles, fulfilled its mission, and fallen into the decrepitude of old age ?
God, therefore, wisely withheld a premature disclosure of the future dispensation of Christianity in its naked simplicity and spirituality ; a disclosure which would, humanly speaking, have been followed by much error and misapprehension, and would have had the effect to bring existing forms into dishonor, without giving men anything better in their stead. He left his church to conceive of that future glory and enlargement which he promised her, under the idea of the extension of the Mosaic economy over all the earth.
In accordance with this simple principle, a large class of images employed by the Old Testament prophets in predicting the future extension and prosperity of the church, finds a natural and easy solution. The subject-matter is the triumphs of Christianity in her present simple and spiritual form; but the drapery is borrowed THIRD SERIES, VOL. III.
from the economy under which these prophets lived, and were educated. The bright visions of the future, with which they are favored, and which they describe in such glowing terms, are the revelations of God's Spirit ; but they are all east in the mould of Judaism. Whoever denies this principle in Old Testament prophecy, will find himself involved in formidable difficulties.
A writer on prophecy who, as an able and faithful minister of Christ, merits and receives our highest esteem, states as among the points, or facts believed by different writers who have pursued their investigations furthest, to be taught in prophecy,” that, after a series of preparatory events, among which are the restoration of the Jews to their own land, in the midst of great revolutions and convulsions among the European and Asiatic nations; a general dissolution of society through the spirit of lawlessness and violence, of corruption and revolution ; a great conspiracy among the antichristian nations, leading to the great war of Gog and Magog predicted by Ezekiel :
“ That some time, either previous to, or during these movements, the sign of the Son of Man coming in the heavens, shall be seen, and he descending from the heaven in the air with his saints, for the resurrection of their bodies, and catching up the saints alive on the earth, into the presence of the Lord ;-that at this coming, which will be sudden and unexpected, he will inflict dreadful judg. ments on the apostate nations by means of volcanic and other fires, which will clestroy the seat of the Beast, the mystic Babylon, but not all the nations of the earth ;—that while his saints remain for a series of years in the immediate presence of Christ, before he descends from the air to the earth, being judged and allotted to their stations and work, he will be conducting his retributive judgment on the nations of the earth, preparing the way for the full restoration of Israel and their national conversion, in a manner analogous with his Providence towards them, for forty years in the wilderness ;-and that when the work of judgment by various interpositions of his Providence, shall have gone on, and the wickedness of the anti-christian nations shall have come to the full, at the last signal stroke of Divine vengeance, he will descend from the air, and stand upon the Mount of Olives, utterly to destroy the hosts of the wicked, to change the geological structure of Jerusalem and its vicinity by a terrible earthquake, and to produce those transformations designed to fit it for being made the metropolis of the world ;-that he will re-establish the Theocracy in Jerusalem in more than its pristine glory, with its temple re-built, and rites of worship adapted to the dispensation in which Jerusalem and the Jewish nation are to stand pre-eminent among the nations ;-that having concluded his work of retributive justice by various means, through a series of years, to the entire extermination of the wicked on the face of the whole Roman earth, there shall be found rem