ePub 版

sideration concerning the things which belong to their peace, and have begun to remember, that they have souls, which must either be saved, or lost, beware how they resist the merciful influence of the same divine Agent in rousing them to just thoughts about their condition, and a rational concern for their eternal well being. It is a fearful thing to oppose the Spirit of God, thus graciously employed to bring us to salvation. God is not mocked. If you forsake him, he will forsake you : and you have no right to believe, that he will ever return to you again. Keep before your eyes the parable of the unclean spirit, who, after he had gone out of the man, and had wandered for a season in desert places, seeking rest and finding none, said to himself, I will return to my house, whence I came out.” Accordingly he went, and found it empty, swept, and garnished. Then he took seven other spirits, worse than himself, and entered with them into the soul of the miserable wretch, from whom he had been once cast out. Well might our Saviour add this melancholy reflection, " The last state of that man is worse than the first."

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]



Isaiah lx. 8.

Who are these, that fly us a cloud, and as the doves to their


These words are a part of the most splendid Prophecy concerning the future glory of the Church, contained in the Scriptures. In the preceding chapter, the Prophet describes, in the most affecting terms, the miserable state of the Jewish nation, immediately before the coming of Christ; and the general corruption of the world, immediately before the Millennium. In the last mentioned period of declension, God is exhibited as inflicting exemplary vengeance upon the apostates, especially concerned in it; and then, as gloriously exerting his power, wisdom, and mercy, to save the world from absolute ruin. As a consequence of this united display of vengeance and mercy, it is declared, that they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. The enemy will indeed come in like a flood; but his exertions, however furious and formidable they may seem, will be in vain: for the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. The Redeemer also will come to Zion, and unto them that turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Christ will appear in a peculiar manner to his church, and to his ministers, for their protection, encouragement, and success. The covenant, mentioned in the last verse of the chapter, will then be carried into complete execution. The Spirit of God, and the Word of God, will no more depart from his children, nor from their children, throughout all succeeding generations.

Enraptured with the prospect of these wonderful events, the Prophet hastens through the intervening ages on the wings of inspiration ; and, stationing himself in the midst of the glorious scenes, which he had anticipated with wonder and delight, calls upon the church to arise, and shine ; her light being come, and the glory of the Lord being risen upon her. Darkness, he informs her, will, indeed, at the moment of her approaching prosperity, coder the earth, and thick darkness the people : but the Lord shall arise upon her, and his glory shall be seen upon her. As an immediate effect of this peculiar manifestation of Christ to his church, he informs her, that the Gentiles, the innumerable inhabitants of this great world, shall come to her light, and their kings to the brightness of her sun-rising. The Prophet then directs her to lift up her eyes round about; i. e. to cast them over the whole horizon; and to see. “All they," he exclaims, “ are now gathering themselves together; they come unto thee." This is the end, for which they assemble by one great and universal impulse, moving at once the whole family of Adam. Strangers as they have heretofore been, they have now become sons and daughters; and shall be nursed, or carried, as children, at her side.

Full of this astonishing event, so sudden, so momentous, the Prophet, continuing his strain of rapture, and addressing the church in the name of God, subjoins, “ *Thou shalt fear, and overflow with joy; and thy heart shall be ruffled, and dilated. And the riches of the sea shall be poured in upon thee, when the wealth of the nations shall come unto thee. An inundation of camels shall cover thee: the dromedaries of Midian and Epha. All of them from Saba shall come : gold and frankincense shall they bear. And the praise of Jehovah shall they joyfully proclaim. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered unto thee: unto thee shall the rams of Nebaioth minister. They shall ascend with acceptance on my altar: and I will glorify the house of my glory.”


These animals, it is to be observed, are exhibited as partaking of the same general impulse, and instead of being compelled, as heretofore, to the place of sacrifice,) as voluntarily assembling

* Lowth's Translation,

themselves; taking by one common instinct the road to Jerusalem; and of their own accord ascending the altar of God. Amazed at this unexampled event, the Prophet casts his eyes beyond this multitude of voluntary offerings; and beholds a vast assembly of mankind, moving onward in the same direction, and pointing their course to the temple of Jehovah. At this wonderful sight, he exclaims, in the language of the text, “ Who are these, that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows ?”

The question, “ Who are these ?” plainly indicates, that the persons, spoken of, were either unknown, or unexpected. They are said to fly, as a cloud. They were, of course, a vast multitude, and were hastening eagerly to their place of destination. They are said to fly, as the doves to their windows : and were, therefore, considered as returning with a dove-like spirit to their final and proper residence. As this is a prediction inspired by God himself; it will one day be certainly fulfilled.

From the text, thus introduced, I derive the following observations.

1. At some future period, a vast Multitude of mankind will be gathered into the Church of Christ.

II. This multitude will, in a great measure, consist of such per. sons, as were not rationally expected to become Christians.

III. These persons will enter the Church, of their own accord, and with great earnestness of mind.

IV. They will possess a dove-like character.

1. At some future period, a vast Multitude of mankind will be gathered into the Church of Christ.

Of the truth of this proposition there can be little doubt to him, who admits this chapter to be a part of divine Revelation. At its commencement, the Church is called upon to arise and shine ; her light being come, and the glory of the Lord being risen upon her: and is informed, that the Gentiles, i. e. the great body of them; the mass of mankind, comprehended, in the Jewish language, under this name, shall come to her light; or as it is rendered by Bishop Lowth, shall walk in her light; and their kings in the brightness of her sun-rising : i. e. in the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, or the moral light of the Saviour. In the 5th verse, the church is directed to lift up her eyes round about, and

to see: and is informed, that all of them are gathering themselves together, and coming unto her. Finally, it is declared, that they are become her sons and daughters, who are to be carried, and fostered, as beloved children, at her side.

This immense train is the subject of the text. The great world of men is the body, which flying as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows, occasioned the astonishment and rapture of the Prophet.

II. This multitude will, in a great measure, consist of such persons, as were not rationally expected to become Christians.

This truth is sufficiently indicated by the question in the text: a question, asked evidently with surprise and exclamation. “Who are these, that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows ??? Why is this inquiry made? Evidently because those, to whom it is applied, were either unknown to the Prophet, or were unexpected by him.' They cannot have been unknown; because he has before told us who they were. It was their character, therefore, which especially astonished his mind.

Nor shall we wonder at this fact, if we consider the actual character of those, who are here exhibited as voluntarily hastening into the kingdom of Christ. They are Herthen, Moh'immedans, Votaries of the Greek and Romish superstitions, Jews, and Infidels. All these have been bitter and persecuting enemies to Christ and his church. The Heathen, I acknowledge, did not, in many instances, even know him by name. Yet they always opposed his government, and redemption, so far as they were acquainted with them; refused to perform those acts of duty, which they understood; and obstinately and characteristically perpetrated the crimes, which he had forbidden. The rest knew, and rejected, him ; bated bis word, and his followers ; were guilty of every sin ; and neglected every duty. Well might the Prophet be astonished at the sight of such men, changed into disciples of the Redeem

Were we to be alive at the time, and to be actual spectators of the event; should we not be amazed to see the Jew, with a heart hard as the nether millstone reacting the crucifixion of Christ by bitterly opposing his redemption, and a reprobate of eighteen hundred years, changed into a penitent, believing, meek, humble, disciple of the Redeemer? Should we not be astonish


« 上一頁繼續 »