Volume 10, Issue 3: Puritan Eye
The Success of Redemption
I would speak of the prosperous state of the
church through the greater part of this period. And in the general, I would observe two things,
1. That this is most properly the time of the kingdom of
heaven upon earth. Though the kingdom of heaven was in a degree set up soon after Christ's
resurrection, and in a further degree in the time of Constantine; and though
the Christian church in all ages of it is called
the kingdom of heaven; yet this is the principal time of the kingdom of heaven upon earth, the time
principally intended by the prophecies of Daniel whence the Jews took the name of
the kingdom of heaven.
2. Now is the principal fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Old
Testament which speak of the glorious times of the gospel in the latter days.
Though there has been a glorious fulfillment of those prophecies already, in the
times of the apostles, and of Constantine; yet the expressions are too high to
suit any other time entirely, but that which is to succeed the fall of
Antichrist. This is most properly the glorious day of the gospel. Other times are
only forerunners and preparatory to this: those were the seed-time, but this is
the harvest. But more particularly,
(1) It will be a time of great light and
knowledge. The present, are days of darkness, in comparison of those days.The light of that glorious time
should be so great, that it is represented as though there should then be no
night, but only day; no evening nor darkness. So Zech. xiv.6, 7. "And it shall come
to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark. But it shall
be one day, which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night; but it
shall come to pass, that at evening-time it shall be light."It is further
represented, as though God would then give such light to his church, that it
should so much exceed the glory of the light of the sun and moon, that they should
be ashamed: Isa. xxiv.23. "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun
ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and
before his ancients gloriously."
There is a kind of veil now cast over the greater part of the world,
which keeps them in darkness; but then this veil shall be destroyed: Isa. xxv.7.
"And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all
people, and the veil that is spread over all nations." Then all countries and
nations, even those which are now most ignorant, shall be full of light and
knowledge. Great knowledge shall prevail every where. . . . Knowledge then shall be
very universal among all sorts of persons; Jer. xxxi. 34. "And they shall teach
no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the
Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them."
There shall then be a wonderful unraveling of the difficulties in the
doctrines or religion, and clearing up of seeming inconsistencies: "So
crooked things shall be made straight, and rough places shall be made plain, and
darkness shall become light before God's people." Difficulties in Scripture
shall then be cleared up, and wonderful things shall be discovered in the word
of God, which were never discovered before. . . .
(2) It shall be a time of great
holiness. Now vital religion shall every where prevail and reign. Religion shall not be an empty profession, as it
now mostly is, but holiness of heart and life shall abundantly prevail. Those
times shall be an exception from what Christ says of the ordinary state of
the church, viz. that there shall be but few
saved; for now holiness shall become general: Isa. lx. 21. "Thy people also shall be all righteous." Not that
there will be none remaining in a Christless condition; but that visible
wickedness shall be suppressed every where, and true holiness shall become general,
though not universal. It shall be a wonderful time, not only for the multitude
of godly men, but for eminency of grace: Isa. lxv. 20. "There shall be no
more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for
the child shall die an hundred years old, but the sinner being an hundred
years old, shall be accursed." Zech. xii. 8. "He that is feeble among them at
that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel
of the Lord before them." And holiness shall then be as it were inscribed on
every thing, on all men's common business and employments, and the common utensils
of life: all shall be dedicated to God, and applied to holy purposes: every
thing shall then be done to the glory of God: Isa. xxiii. 18. "And her
merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord." (And so Zech. xiv. 20, 21.)And
as God's people then shall be eminent in holiness of heart, so they shall be
also in holiness of life and practice.
(3) It shall be a time wherein
religion shall in every respect be
uppermost in the world. It shall be had in great esteem and honour. The saints have
hitherto for the most part been kept under, and wicked men have governed. But
now they will be uppermost. The kingdom shall be given into the hands of the
saints of the "most high God," Dan. vii. 27. And "they shall reign on earth," Rev.
v. 10. They shall live and "reign with Christ a thousand years," Rev. xx. 4.
In that day, such persons as are eminent for true piety and religion, shall
be chiefly promoted to places of trust and authority. Vital religion shall
then take possession of king's palaces and thrones; and those who are in
highest advancement shall be holy men. . . .
(4) Those will be times of great peace and
love. There shall then be universal peace and a good understanding among the nations of the world, instead
of confusion, wars, and bloodshed. Isa. ii. 4. "And he shall judge among the
nations, and shall rebuke many people: and 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." It is
represented as if all instruments of war should be destroyed, having become useless:
Psal. xlvi. 9. "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth: he breaketh
the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder, he burneth the chariot in the fire."
(See also Zech. ix. 10.) Then shall all nations dwell quietly and safely,
without fear of any enemy. Isa. xxxii. 18. "And my people shall dwell in a
peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places." (Also
wrath, and revenge, be suppressed every where: and peace and love shall
prevail between one man and another; which is most elegantly set forth in Isa. xi.
6_10. Then shall there be peace and love between rulers and ruled. Rulers
shall love their people, and with all their might seek their best good; and
the people shall love their rulers, shall joyfully submit to them, and give
them that honour which is their due. So shall there be happy love between
ministers and their people: Mal. iv. 6. "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers
to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." Then
shall flourish in an eminent manner those Christian virtues of meekness,
forgiveness, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, and brotherly-kindness, those
excellent fruits of the Spirit. Men, in their temper and disposition, shall then be
like the Lamb of God, the lovely Jesus. The body shall be conformed to the head.
Then shall all the world be united in one amiable society. All nations,
in all parts of the world, on every side of the globe, shall then be knit
together in sweet harmony. All parts of God's church shall assist and promote the
spiritual good of one another. A communication shall then be upheld between
all parts of the world to that end; and the art of navigation, which is now
applied so much to favour men's covetousness and pride, and is used so much by
wicked debauched men, shall then be consecrated to God, and applied to holy uses. .
(5) It will be a time of excellent
order in the church of Christ. The true government and discipline of the church will then be settled and put into
practice. All the world shall then be as one church, one orderly, regular,
beautiful society. And as the body shall be one, so the members shall be in
beautiful proportion to each other. Then shall that be verified in Psal. cxxii.
3. "Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together."
(6) The church of God shall then be beautiful and
glorious on these accounts; yea, it will appear in the perfection of beauty: Isa. lx. 1.
"Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon
thee." Isa. lxi. 10. "He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a
bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with
her jewels." On these accounts, the church will then be the greatest image
of heaven itself.
(7) That will be a time of the greatest
temporal prosperity. Such a spiritual state as we have just described, has a natural tendency to health and
long life; and that this will actually be the case, is evident by Zech. viii.
4. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, There shall yet old men and old women dwell
in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for
very age." It has also a natural tendency to procure ease, quietness,
pleasantness, and cheerfulness of mind, also wealth, and a great increase of children; as
is intimated in Zech. viii. 5. "And the streets of the city shall be full of
boys and girls playing in the streets thereof."But further, the temporal
prosperity of the people of God will also be promoted by a remarkable blessing
from heaven: Isa. lxv. 21. "They shall build houses, and inhabit them; and
they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them." And in Mic. iv. 4. "But
they shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree, and none shall
make them afraid." Zech. vii. 12. "For the seed shall be prosperous, the vine
shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens
shall give their dew, and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess
all these things." (See also Jer. xxxi. 12, 13. and Amos ix. 13.) Yea then
they shall receive all manner of tokens of God's presence, acceptance, and
favour: Jer. xxxiii. 9. "And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an
honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I
do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all
the prosperity that I procure unto it." Even the days of Solomon were but an
image of those days, as to the temporal prosperity which shall be obtained in them.
(8) It will also be a time of great
rejoicing: Isa. xxxv. 10. "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting
joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and
sighing shall flee away." Chap. lv. 12. "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led
forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you."
Chap. lxvi. 11. "That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her
consolations: that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her
glory." Chap. xii. 3.
The Scriptures every where represent this prosperity to be of long
continuance. The former intervals of rest and prosperity, as we before observed,
are represented to be but short; but the representations of this state are
quite different: Rev. xx. 4. "And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for
the witness of Jesus, and they lived and reigned with Christ
a thousand years." Isa. lx. 15. "Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man
went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of
many generations."This may suffice as to the prosperous state of the church through
the greater part of the period from the destruction of Satan's visible kingdom
in the world to Christ's appearing in the clouds of heaven to judgment.