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shall then be cleared up, and wonderful things shall be discovered in the Word of God, which were never discovered before. The great discovery of those things in religion which had been before kept hid, seems to be compared to removing the vail, and discovering the ark of the testimony to the people, which before used to be kept in the secret part of the temple, and was never seen by them. Thus, at the sounding of the seventh angel, when it is proclaimed, " that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ ;" it is added, that “ the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament." So great shall be the increase of knowledge in this time, that heaven shall be as it were opened to the church of God on earth.
(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 swed; for now holiness shall become general : Isa. Ix. 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. Ixv. 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. 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. 66 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 bitherto 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 kings' palaces and thrones; and those who are in highest advancement shall be holy men: Isa. xlix. 23. “ And kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, and their queens thy nursing-mothers.” Kings shall employ all their power, and glory, and riches, for the advancement of the honour and glory of Christ, and the good of his church: Isa. Ix. 16. - Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breasts of kings." And the great men of the world, and the rich merchants and others who have great wealth and influence, shall devote all to Christ and his church : Psalm xliv. 12. “ The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift, even the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour."
(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, ïi. 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 Zech. viii. 10, 11.)
Then shall malice, and envy, and 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, (see Isa. Ix. 5—9.) And then men will be abun. dant in expressing their love one to another, not only in words, but in deeds of charity, Isa. xxxü. 5. " The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful;" but, (ver. 8.) “the liberal deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things shall he stand.”
(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. I. “ Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." Isa. Ixi. 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. Ixv. 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. Ixvi. 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. “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” That will be the church's glorious wedding-day with Christ upon earth : Rev. xix. 7. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him ; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. Verse 9. .“ Blessed are they which are called to the marriagesupper of the Lamb."
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. 66 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. Ix. 15. 6 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.
II. I now come to speak of the great apostacy there should be towards the close of this period, and how the church should, for a short time, be threatened by her enemies. And this I shall do under three particulars.
1. A little before the end of the world, a great part of the world shall fall away from Christ and his church. It is said, Rev. xx. 3, that Satan should be cast into the bottomless pit,
and shut up, and have a seal set upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and that afterward he must be loosed out of his prison for a little season. Accordingly we are told, (ver. 7, 8,) that when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and go forth to deceive the nations, which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog. This intimates, that the apostacy would be very general. The nations of the four quarters of the earth shall be deceived ; and the number of those who shall now turn enemies to Christ shall be vastly great, as the army of Gog and Magog is represented in Ezek." It is said, (Rev. xx. 8,) that the number of them is as the sand of the sea, and that they went up on the breadth of the earth, as if they were an army large enough to reach from one side of the earth to the other.
Thus after a happy and glorious season, such a long day of light and holiness, of love and peace, and joy, it shall again be a dark time. Satan shall begin to set up his dominion again in the world ; and this world shall again become a scene of darkness and wickedness. The bottomless pit shall be opened, and devils shall come up again out of it, and a dreadful smoke shall ascend to darken the world. And the church of Christ, instead of extending to the utmost bounds of the world, as it did before, shall be reduced to narrow limits. The world of mankind being continued so long in a state of great prosperity, shall now begin to abuse their prosperity, to serve their lust and corruption. This we learn from Luke xvii. 26, &c.
2. Those apostates shall make great opposition to the church of God. The church shall be threatened with sudden and entire overthrow by them. It is said, Satan shall gather them together to battle, as the sand on the sea-shore: and they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city. So that this beloved city shall seem just ready to be swallowed up by them: for her enemies shall not only threaten her, but shall actually have gathered together against her; and not only so, but shall have besieged her, shall have compassed her about on every side.--However, there is nothing in the prophecy which seems to hold forth, that the church had actually fallen into their hands, as it had fallen into the hands of Antichrist, to whom it was given to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. God will never suffer this to take place after the fall of Antichrist ; for then the day of her mourning shall be ended, alarmingly threatened with utter and sudden destruction.
3. Now the state of things will seem most remarkably to