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thoughts to the grand consummation, of which these successive periods furnish so many pledges and preludes. The most prominent general views, are those of the coming of the Lord for judgment, the shaking of all nations, issuing in a shaking of the heavens and earth, and the creation of a new heavens and earth. The Apocalypse again, which, as its name imports, was intended to be a key to ancient prophecy, determines the particular periods in which these general predictions were to be remarkably fulfilled.

The coming of the Lord signifies any striking display of the divine power and presence for removing disorders, redressing grievances, or duly apportioning punishment and reward. Besides its application to the death of individuals, the phrase is applied to the whole tenor of the reign of Messiah, as directed to the vindication of truth, meekness, and righteousness, or the general amelioration of the state of mankind.* But the special demonstrations of the judicial character of his reign as directed to these objects, are ascertained to be the three great comings,—for the destruction of Jerusalem,- for the subversion of Paganism in the Roman empire, -and for the overthrow of mystical Babylon. These belong to the process, and, after the destruction of the armies of Gog and Magog, terminate in his second visible appearance for final judgment, to which all the predictions ultimately conduct our thoughts, and from which the grandeur of their imagery is manifestly borrowed.

The Process is also described under the idea of a shaking or mighty concussion, attended with calamities, but eventually productive of ameliorating changes. The “ shaking of the nations,” in the rise and succession of the four great monarchies, which was preparatory for the first coming of Messiah, passed, under the fourth monarchy, into his reign, and then assumed the more striking character of “a shaking of the heavens and the earth,”—not of the earth only, or secular state of things, but of the heavens also, the sphere of ecclesiastical affairs. And this concussion, we are told, must go on in successive shocks, till only “ the things which cannot be shaken shall remain.” It terminates in a shaking of the whole present constitution of things, extending even to the material system, and finally removing whatever has obscured the divine glory, or does not suit the ulterior plans of its manifestation.t

• Ps. xcvi. 10-13; xcviii. 7-9. Rev. i. 7.
+ Hag. ii. 6, 7. Heb. xii. 25–27. 2 Pet. ïïi. 10.

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The last general idea of the process is that of creating a new heavens and earth.*

_The sublime enunciation from the throne, “ Behold I make all things new,” respects at once the changes implied in the very appointment of the mediatorial administration, and to be effected by the whole course of procedure under it. The chief of these is doubtless the moral or spiritual renovation of that multitude in whom the divine triumph shall be most completely displayed. “ If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature,

or there has been “ a new creation,' “old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new."t. But a more expansive view is presented in the word of prophecy, where the divine proclamation evidently refers to the changes intended both in the church and in the world. Old things—in the previous method of preserving the truth by a separate people, in the view given of the majesty of God as the judge of all, by the law or Mosaie system,-and in the means of foreshewing, exhibiting, and applying the promised redemption, passed away from the church, when a more impressive view of the Deity was presented in the death of the Saviour, when the righteousness witnessed by the law and the prophets was manifested, and when the less effective dispensation was superseded by the dispensation of the Spirit. Old things with regard to God's method of conducting his government among the Gentiles, passed also away. Neither to “ the gods” directly, that is to civil rulers, nor “ to angels,” who seem formerly to have held provincial governments, presiding among nations at variance with one another, (Dan. x. 13,) “hath he put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. The direct official ruler is now the Mediator himself. To him both angels and civil rulers are subjected,—the former that they may no longer minister solely as the agents of an absolute God, but in all their occupations may have specially in view those who either are or “ shall be the heirs of salvation, and thus the merciful arrangements in the divine purpose, – the latter, that their government may be gradually ameliorated under the benign and effective influence of the reign of heaven. Old things, too, in regard to Satan's power over the nations, as holding a certain right of dominion under God absolutely considered, passed away, when Christ was authorized to subvert

• Is. Ixv. 17. 2 Pet. iii. 13. Rev. xxi. 1. The allusion in the phrase “ a new heavens and earth," to the creation of the world, seems to intimate that the Mosaic account from Gen. i. 2, refers only to the remodelling of a pre-existing system of disorganized materials.

+ 2 Cor. v. 17.

that dominion in all its pre-established forms and extent. These changes in the scheme and means of administration, are described in prophecy as followed up by their proper effects, in the gradual abolition of the previous order of things so far as allowed still to exist and develop itself under the reign of Messiah, till the new heavens and earth are perfected. Then the very material system itself shall be freed from the bondage of corruption, by that fire to which the literal heavens and earth are reserved. *

The result of the process in these several views, is what the scriptures denominate the Restitution of all things. Already all things have been “gathered together in one,” or under one head, in being subjected to the harmonizing government of Jesus. The times of restitution," or of “rectification," seem to be those periods in which the several kinds of reconciliation in the divine purpose are effected, or the disorganized and unnatural state of things introduced by sin is removed.

And when Christ “shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power,” which either has been, or might be, opposed to the divine glory, by obscuring or preventing its full manifestation, then shall he himself “ deliver up the kingdom," terminating the present administration, and presenting the grand result to the Father, who acts in the name of Deity as the Majesty on high. And this is declared to be “the END, as it shall evince the subordination of the mediatorial government itself to the divine glory, that “God may be all in all.”+

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* 2 Pet. iii. 7. + Acts iii. 21. Heb. ix. 10. Eph. i. 9, 10. Col. i. 20. # Phil. ii. 11. Cor. xv. 24-28.

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THE

CONCLUSION

MUST, IN THE TERMS OF THE THEME, BE A STATEMENT OF

“ INFERENCES MOST NECESSARY FOR AND USEFUL TO MANKIND.

לל

The following are selected from the many which may naturally occur to every reflecting mind.

I. That there must be, and really is, a certain optimism in the natural and moral constitution of things.

Though the maxim, “ whatever is, is right,” cannot be admitted absolutely, and is clearly false as to the moral conduct of all responsible beings; and though we cannot affirm, “ that whatever is, is best,” to the exclusion of good things to come,—better things both to be desired and expected than presently exist ;-yet in relation to the ordinations of the Deity, it may be said, whatever is, is right,—the permission of sin itself, the employment of wicked agents, and all the extent to which their wickedness is allowed to proceed. In the same relation, it may also be affirmed, that for the time being, whatever is, is best. Reason itself assures us, that God does all things well; and we have seen that the apparently most objectionable parts of providence are capable of full vindication.

II. That those schemes of philosophy, which even apparently exclude the Deity from the government of the universe, by representing every thing as the result either of chance, or of laws which are no otherwise related to him than as he established them at first, ought to be laid aside. These modes of philosophising have no sanction from reason, and are decisively condemned by the uniform ascription of every thing to God's permission or efficiency in divine revelation. Besides the baleful influence they are calculated to have on society in general, by weakening, if not destroying, the impression of human responsibility, they deprive the very contemplator of Nature of much exquisite pleasure he might otherwise enjoy, and move him from his proper place as a being formed for discerning and adoring the manifestation of the Deity in his works.

III. That morality has a real and stable foundation.

If there be a God, whatever is agreeable to his nature and befits the relation of a creature to him, must be not only law. ful, but morally binding, or duty; and as such, it will have the legislative sanction of divine authority notified in one form or another.

IV. That positive institutions and precepts, sanctioned by divine authority, are to be expected, and when known, ought to be religiously observed.

If there be a God, he must intend to be worshipped by his rational creatures, for his perfection and supremacy clearly demand their homage. But, with the exception of expressing their dependence upon him, and gratitude to him, reverencing his name in oaths, and not assimilating him to the creatures, nor representing him by images, nature gives no indication of the manner or particular forms in which he may choose to be worshipped. These can be known only by special communication from himself, which is therefore to be expected, particularly in such a constitution of things as ours, since the homage to be given by fallen creatures must be regulated agreeably to their circumstances, and bear a reference to the divine plan of acceptance and moral restoration, which God alone can disclose. Such precepts and instructions, though variable, as founded not on the nature but on the will of God, ought to be religiously respected and carefully observed, so long as they are in force.

V. That Revelation is a boon of inestimable value.

a By it we attain the clearest views of the basis and compass of morality; it alone can ascertain the forms of positive obedience; on both heads it brings the legislator and judge into view. Then, by disclosing the purposes and plans of the Deity, it enables us to surmount difficulties otherwise hope

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