Images de page

deep-rooted cedars—And has not the event justified the prediction?- The powers of earth and hell combined against the infant church, but were not able to crush it-Neither imprisonment nor death could intimidate the disciples of Jesus Even the weaker sex were enabled to endure the most cruel tortures, and to glory in their tribulations for Jesus' sake-In every successive

age the same holy fortitude has characterized the followers of the Lamb If any through the fear of man have forsaken the church, they have only proved thereby that they never truly belonged to it; “ they went out from us because they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us”_Every true believer has been faithful unto death] 2. Numerous

[What more numerous than the piles of grass?-Yet such, it was foretold, should be the converts to Christianity-.-And how was this verified in the apostolic age!—Thousands were converted by one single sermon-In a few years the followers of Christ filled, not Judea alone, but also the whole Roman empire-At the reformation too the seed that had long lain under the earth, sprang up and yielded a glorious harvest But the promised period is yet future, though we hope, it is hastening on apace In the latter day “the people of God shall be as the stars of heaven for multitude" -- A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation” Yea, “a nation shall be born in a day?--And “All the ends of the earth shall remember themselves and turn unto the Lord”. _ There still indeed may be seasons when, as in former ages, they shall be mown down by their persecutors; but they shall spring up again like the grass; and the very blood of the martyrs shall be the seed of the church-" The knowledge of the Lord shall surely cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.”—] This subject may well excite in us 1. Thankfulness for what is past

[What a mercy is it, that when only an handful of corn is sown on the earth, some grains of it should fall on this barren spot!--and what a signal mercy if it have sprung up in our hearts!—And have we not reason to hope that this is indeed the case?-If we cannot boast of multitudes like the piles of grass, are there not sufficient to shew the virtue of the gospel seed, and the blessing of God upon the sowing of it?-Have not soine attained an height and stability, and maintained their stedfastness against the united assaults of the


1 John ii. 19. d Ps. xxij. 27. VOL. II:

e Isai. lx. 22.
e Hab. ii, 14.

3 P

world, the flesh, and the devil!--Let us then rejoice and be thankful to God for such distinguished blessings-And let us still shew ourselves to have been a planted in the house of the Lord by flourishing in the courts of our God.”] 2. Hope respecting the future

[The promise of God is sure, and shall be fulfilled in its season-We cannot but grieve when we see the barrenness of the field, and fewness of faithful labourers-But there is nothing impossible with God-He can send forth labourers into his harvest, and give the most abundant success to the seed sown–Yea, he can overrule the most adverse circumstances for the manifestation of his own glory-Let us wait upon him then in prayer, and cry from our inmost souls, “Thy kingdom come”-Let us beg, “ That the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified” throughout the worldAnd let us look forward in certain expectation, that the “grain of mustard-seed shall become a great tree,"s and that in due time “ All shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest."h-]

f 2 Thess. ii. 1.

g Matt. xiii. 32.

b Jer. xxxi. 34.


Dan. ii. 44. In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven

set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

THE various revolutions of kingdoms, how casual and contingent soever they may appear, are all foreordained in the inscrutable counsels of the Deity, and made subservient to the accomplishment of his eternal purpose—Indeed they seem to be marked in scripture solely in reference to the church of God; as though the rise and fall of empires were scarcely worth a mention, except as they accelerate or retard the progress of true religion- In the time of the Babylonish captivity God gave to Nebuchadnezzar a very remarkable dream, and interpreted it to him by the prophet Daniel - There appeared to him an image, whose head was of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet of iron and clay; on the

[ocr errors]

feet of which a stone fell, that utterly demolished the whole-This imported the succession of four great monarchies, and the erection of the Messiah's kingdom upon the ruins of them all-Respecting this kingdom it will be proper to consider I. Its rise

Two things are specified with respect to the rise of Christ's kingdom in the world 1. The time

[The Babylonish, Persian, and Grecian monarchies were to rise in succession, each on the ruins of that which preceded it; and at last the Roman empire was to swallow up, as it were, and comprehend them all-And“ in the time of the kings belonging to this last kingdom, even while they should enjoy the utinost plentitude of their power, another kingdom was to arise, the kingdom of the Messiah- This was accurately accomplished; for Christ was born in the reign of Augustus Cæsar, when the Roman empire was at the summit of its strength and grandeur: and, within the space of about fifty years from that time, his kingdom was spread, not only over Judea, but over a great part of the known world-] 2. The manner

[It was foretold that stone which should be cut out without hands, should break in pieces this vast image;" that “ the God of heaven should set up a kingdom" solely by his own power, without the intervention of human force or policy; or, to use the words of another prophet,“ Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" This also was remarkably fulfilled in the establishment of Christ's kingdom in the world—The persons who were his principal supporters, were a few illiterate fishermen, alike untutored in philosophy, and unassisted by the authority of earthly magistrates—They were expressly forbidden to use the sword;a and the most learned of all the apostles suppressed every thing that favoured of carnal wisdom, lest he should make the cross of Christ of none effectb-Yet, notwithstanding their weapons were not carnal, they were mighty through God to the pulling down of the strong holds of sin and satan-And indeed the heavenly treasure was committed thus to earthen veg. sels on purpose that the excellency of the power might more evidently appear to be of Goda_]


a Matt. xxvi. 52. e 2 Cor. x. 4, 5.

bi Cor. i. 17. and ii. 1. d 2 Cor. iv. 7.

In addition to the time and manner in which the
Messiah's kingdom should, according to this prophecy,
arise, the world was prepared to discover it by
II. Its greatness

It was to have the pre-eminence above all other kingdoms in respect of 1. Power

All the monarchies referred to by the prophet were great and powerful; but this far excelled them all. The stone cut out without hands fell upon the feet of the image which were of iron and clay, and broke the whole image in pieces; intimating that the kingdom of Christ should prevail over the Roman empire together with the other monarchies which were comprehended in it: all the powers of the world were to be only “ as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor," before it-We are not to understand by this, that Christianity is adverse to human governments, (for it tells us that “the powers that be are ordained of God, and that we should be subject to them, not merely through fear, but for conscience sake") but that it will bring down every power which sets up itself against the Lord and his Christ- This was further represented in the vision by “ the stone becoming a mountain, and this mountain filling the earth”-Christianity is to prevail over the whole earth~ The idolatries of Pagan Rome yielded to the sublimer principles of the gospel; and the superstitions of antichrist, which for a long season obscured divine truth, have fallen, and shall in due time vanish hefore its light and influence-Nor shall the authority of Christ extend, like that of earthly monarchs, merely over the bodies of men; it shall reach unto their souls, and “bring into subjection the very thoughts and desires of their hearts" There shall not be one disaffected subject in his whole empire: the happiness of all his people shall be bound up in their Prince, whose will shall be their only law, and whose honour their only aim-] 2. Continuance

(All other kingdoms have fallen, and shall fall; nor can the best constituted governments maintain their stability beyond the time allotted them in the divine counsels But the kingdom of Christ "shall stand for ever:” his power shall " never be transferred to other hands;" nor shall any revolutions shake the foundations of his throne" He shall put down all rule and all authority and power, and reign till all his enemies are become his footstool'e—The precise mode of administering his kingdom will indeed terminate when there shall be no more subjects upon earth to govern: but the kingdom itself will exist in heaven to all eternity, when it shall be delivered up into the Father's hands, and God shall be all in all — The perpetuity of this kingkom was afterwards revealed to Daniel, with some additional ciscumstances indeed, in a vision similar to that before 5—The four monarchies appeared to him as four great beasts; the last of which had ten horns, corresponding with the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image, and intimating that ten smaller powers should grow out of that fourth monarchy, all of which should in due season fall before the kingdom of Christ, which was then to become universal in its extent, and everlasting in its continuance-] APPLICATION 1. To the enemies of Christ's kingdom

[Persons may be enemies of Christ's kingdom either by denying the truth of Christianity, or by resisting its influence -But whether we be professed infidels or merely nominal Christians, the subject before us is highly proper for our consideration—Whence came this marvellous correspondence between the predictions and the accomplishmeot of them, if Christianity be not of divine original? was it not established at the very time that was fixed in this prophecy, and has it not prevailed, not only without the aid of human authority, but in direct opposition to all the power and policy of the confederate world?-And if it have broken in pieces so many adverse powers, and “made them even as the chaff of the summer threshing-floors,” shall you withstand it with impunity? Our Lord, in reference to this very passage, has assured that "

on whomsoever this stone shall fall it shall grind him to powder" —But remember, it is not a feigned or forced submission that is required of you: Christ reigns over a willing people, and must be enthroned in their hearts--Let such be his influence over you--Let “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ be put down;" and let his law be your rule, his service your delight, and his honour your aim-] 2. To the friends and subjects of Christ

[As Christianity has not prevailed in the world without inuch opposition, so neither will it gain a complete ascendency over the heart without many conflicts But should any one despond because his adversaries are mighty? We need only look at the prevalence of Christianity in the world, and


e I Cor. xy. 24, 25. h Dan. yii. 14.

f Ibid.

8 Dan. vii. 347.. i Matt. xxi. 43, 44. See also, Isai. Ix. 12.

« PrécédentContinuer »