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said, I will bring My people again, as I did from Basan; Mine own will I bring again, as I did sometime from the deep of the sea. When He hath scattered the people that delight in war, then shall the princes come out of Egypt; the Morian's
ind shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” You see God promised to fight for His people, and His people were to make progress, and to spread while He fought as of old time.
If we next take up the book of the Prophet Isaiah, we shall find promises made to the kingdom of Christ so many, and so high and awful, that there is neither time nor necessity to quote them at length. Thus in the text: "It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. . And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks. . . . The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day"." "In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people: to it shall the Gentiles seek : and His rest shall be glorious.” Again, “The extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. And in mercy shall the throne be established, and He shall sit upon it in truth, in the tabernacle of
9 Isa. ii. 2. 4. 11.
1 Ps. Lxvü. 1. 17. 21, 22. 30, 31.
3 Isa. xi. 10.
David, judging and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness!."
But, you will say, such passages in the Prophet speak rather of the victory of the faith than of the Church ; and that the faith might spread, even though there were no Church. Let us, then, consider the following passages in addition, and see whether, taken all together, they admit of being thus explained. “Arise, shine, " says the Prophet to the Church, " for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. . . . And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. . . . The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee. The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. ... The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet.” Again, “Behold I will make thee a new
sharp threshing instrument, having teeth ; thou shalt · thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt
make the hills as chaff.” Again, “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations : spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes. For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.... No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn." Again, 1 Isa. xvi. 4, 5.
; Isa. liv. 2, 3. 17.
3 Isa. Lx. 1. 3. 10. 12. 14.
“Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the priests of the Lord, men shall call you the ministers of our God; for ye
shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.” And again, “Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers : they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet'."
What is wanting in such passages to the picture of a great empire, comprising all that a great empire ordinarily exhibits ? Extended dominion, and that not only over its immediate subjects, but over the kings of other kingdoms; aggression and advance; a warfare against enemies ; acts of judgment upon the proud; acts of triumph over the defeated ; high imperial majesty towards the suppliant; clemency towards the repentant; parental care of the dutiful. Again, these passages imply, in the subjects of the kingdom, a multitude of various conditions and dispositions ; some of them loyal, some restrained by fear, some by interest, some partly subjected, some indirectly influenced. They involve, in consequence, though they do not mention, a complex organization, and a combination of movements, and a variety and opposition of interests, and other similar results of extended sway. Of course, too, they involve vicissitudes of fortune, and all those other characteristics of the history of a temporal power which ever will attend it, while men are men, whether, as in the case of the Jews, they are under a supernatural Providence or no.
1 Isa. xlix. 23.
5. After this view of the Gospel Church, as set before us in our Lord's announcements, and in the prophecies which preceded His coming, let us turn, in conclusion, to its history, and see whether they have not been most exactly and marvellously fulfilled.
Even in the Apostles' life-time the Gospel had spread east, west, and south, far and wide, and the Church with it. Multitudes had been converted in all nations, and the Apostles were the acknowledged rulers of those multitudes. So wide and well-connected a polity there was not on the earth, even before their martyrdom, except the Roman Empire itself, which was the seat of it.
And much more have the prophecies been fulfilled in later times. Many persons among us think that the history of the Church has been the fulfilment of those dark and fearful predictions, which speak of the city of confusion, and the man of sin. Now here I put the matter to a simple issue. Here are two sets of prophecies: one about the Gospel Dispensation, in the Prophet Isaiah and his brethren; the other in Daniel, St. Paul, and St. John, about the great enemy of the Gospel. I ask, then, which of the two sets of prophecy is the more literally fulfilled in the history of the Church? In which have we the less need to betake our. selves to allegories, and explanations, and forced statements? which of the two has the fewer difficulties? Has there not, in fact, been a great corporation, or continuous body politic, all over the world, from the Apostles' days to our own, bearing the name of Church
one, and one only? Has it not spread in spite of all opposition, and maintained itself marvellously against the power of the world? Has it not ever taken the cause of the poor and friendless against the great and proud ? Has it not succeeded by the use of weapons, not earthly and carnal, but by righteousness and mercy, as was foretold ? Has it not broken in pieces numberless kingdoms and conquerors which opposed it, and risen again, and flourished more than before, after the most hopeless reverses ? Has it not ever been at war with the spirit of the world, with pride, and luxury, and cruelty, and tyranny, and profaneness? Let us, then, glorify our Lord and Saviour for what He has said, what He has done. Surely we may use, and with fuller reason, if it be possible, the words of Solomon, "Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto His people Israel, according to all that He promised; there hath not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised by the hand of Moses His servant. The Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers : let Him not leave us, nor forsake us: that He
incline our hearts unto Him, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and His statutes, and His judgments which He commanded our fathers; . . . that He maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, at all times, as the matter shall require; that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else."
11 Kings viii. 56-60.