Volume 8, Issue 5: The Puritan Eye
A happy reunion of the divided Church is promised in the Word of God. It is implied in those promises which secure to the Church the enjoyment of a high degree of prosperity in the latter days; in which God engages to arise and have mercy on Zion, to be favorable to his people, pardon their iniquity and hear their prayers, cause their reproach to cease, and make them a praise, a glory, and a rejoicing, in all the earth; in a word, in which he promises to pour out his Holy Spirit and revive his work. God cannot be duly glorified, religion cannot triumph in the world, the Church cannot be prosperous and happy, until her internal dissensions are abated, and her children come to act in greater unison and concert. But when her God vouchsafes to make the light of his countenance to shine upon her, and sheds down the enlightening, reviving, restorative and sanctifying influences of his Spirit, the long delayed, long wished-for, day will not be far distant. It will have already dawned.
But there are, in the Bible, promises that bear directly on this part of the Church's felicity, and pledge the divine faithfulness for the restoration of her lost peace and violated unity. Some of these I shall lay before you as grounds of your faith, and encouragements to your hopes and endeavors.
I begin with the declaration of the evangelical prophet, which has been often reechoed in the prayers of the friends of Zion, and which deserves your particular attention from its occupying a place in the midst of promises referring immediately to the times of the New Testament: "Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion" (Isa. 52:8). The divisions and distractions of the Church have, in every age, been greatly owing to the conduct of her overseers and guardians. If they "follow their own spirit, and see a lying divination," how can it be expected that they shall "go up into the gaps, to make up the hedge, or stand in the battle in the day of the Lord?" (Ezek. 13:3-6). If in giving forth instructions respecting sin and duty, danger and safety, their voices be dissonant and contradictory, must they not cause great distress and perplexity to their people, and prove, instead of messengers of peace, "the snareof a fowler in all their ways, and hatred in the house of their God?" (cf. Hos. 9:8; Micah 7:4). How cheering, then, the assurance that they "shall see eye to eye" in the matters of God, and lift up their united voice in "publishing salvation, and saying to Zion, `Thy God reigneth!'" (Isa. 52:7-8). . . .
God will bring about this happy event under the administration of his Son, and by the influences of his Spirit.
"I will make them one nation . . . and David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd" (Ezek. 37:22, 24). Christ is "the Prince of Peace;" and "having made peace by the blood of his cross" (Isa. 9:6; Col. 1:20), it is fit that he should have the honor, and he is qualified for the task, of terminating all the variances which may arise among those whom he has reconciled to God. As the High Priest of our profession, his prayer for them that have believed on him is, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us" (John 17:21); and when at any time, in their present imperfect state, they kindle the anger of God against them by their discontents and seditions, "he stands," like Aaron with his golden censer, "between the dead and the living, and the plague is stayed" (cf. Num. 16:48). As the King of the Church he will confer this blessing on her. Though we do not yet see that "abundance of peace" (Ps. 72:7) which was predicted of is reign, we have the best grounds to believe that, in the progress of his wise and righteous and beneficent administration, the ecclesiastical feuds which have prevailed among his followers, and even the political wars which have raged among the nations, will gradually subside, and issue in a state of peace, concord, and amity, which, though not so perfect and uninterrupted as some have sanguinely anticipated, has hitherto been unexampled in the world. "He shall speak peace unto the heathen" (Zech. 9:10). "He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Micah 4:3; cf. Isa. 2:4).
He will accomplish this chiefly by the influences of his Spirit, accompanying his word--enlightening, regenerating, humanizing, purifying the hearts of men, and thus uniting them in love to himself, and subjection to his laws. The conversions, the revivals, the reformations, the unions, the enlargements of the Church, are all ascribed in Scripture to this secret, irresistible, all-subduing agency. When God had begun to bestow on his people the blessings promised in our text and context, the prophet Zechariah was presented with the sight of a golden candlestick, having a bowl on its top, with seven lamps and seven pipes, and two olive trees which furnished the bowl with a constant supply of oil. And this is the explanation of the emblem, as given by the angelical interpreter who stood by it, " `Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' saith the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6).