The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Government of God, by John TaylorThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.orgTitle: The Government of GodAuthor: John TaylorRelease Date: February 17, 2014 [EBook #44941]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: UTF-8*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD ***Produced by the Mormon Texts Project. Emailtomnysetvold@gmail.com with corrections or to participatein proofreading of similar early Mormon texts.
By John Taylor,
One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-daySaints.
"O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge thepeople righteously, and govern the nations upon earth."—Psalm lxvii. 4.
Liverpool: Published by S. W. Richards, 15, Wilton Street.
London: Sold at the Latter-Day Saints' Book Depot, 35, Jewin Street;and by all booksellers.
London: Printed by W. Bowden 5, Bedford Street, Holborn.
Chapter I. The Wisdom, Order, and Harmony of the Government of God.
Chapter II. The Government of Man.
Chapter III. On the Incompetency of the Means Made Use of by Man toRegenerate the World.
Chapter IV. What Is Man? What Is His Destiny and Relationship to God?
Chapter V. The Object of Man's Existence on the Earth; and HisRelationship Thereto.
Chapter VI. Man's Accountability to God.
Chapter VII. The Lord's Course in the Moral Government of the World.
Chapter VIII. Whose Right Is It to Govern the World? Who Has GovernedIt?
Chapter IX. Will Man Always Be Permitted to Usurp Authority Over Men,and Over the Works of God? Will the World Remain for ever Under aCurse, and God's Designs Be Frustrated?
Chapter X. Will God's Kingdom Be a Literal or a Spiritual Kingdom?
Chapter XI. The Establishment of the Kingdom of God upon the Earth
Chapter XII. The Effects of the Establishment of Christ's Kingdom, orthe Reign of God upon the Earth.
It was Elder Taylor's intention to superintend the publishing of TheGovernment of God in person, previous to his departure for Great SaltLake City last spring; but the numerous cares attending the French andGerman Missions, of which he was President; the translation of the Bookof Mormon into the French and German languages; the establishment ofL'Etoile du Déseret at Paris, and Zions Panier at Hamburg; togetherwith a multitude of other business connected with the welfare of theKingdom of God, rendered it impossible.
The manuscript was therefore handed to me by Elder Taylor, with arequest to superintend the printing of the work, which I have done tothe best of my ability.
Considering the disadvantages arising from the Author's absence duringthe reading of the proofs, I believe it is as correctly rendered, aswas possible from a manuscript copy.
The Work is now before the Public, and from one portion at least itwill meet with a cordial reception, treating as it does upon the thememost dear to their hearts—the Reign of Righteousness and Peace.
From other portions it will meet with varied reception, but willnevertheless lead the minds of all to contemplate the glory of thattime when the Messiah, even Jesus, shall come with all his holy angels,and sit upon the throne of his glory, and govern all nations upon earth.
The Wisdom, Order, and Harmony of the Government of God.
The Kingdom of God is the government of God, on the earth, or in theheavens. The earth, and all the planetary systems, are governed bythe Lord; they are upheld by his power, and are sustained, directed,and controlled by his will. We are told, that "by him were all thingscreated that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible andinvisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, orpowers; all things were created by him, and for him: and he is beforeall things, and by him all things consist."[A] Collos. i. 16, 17. If allthings, visible and invisible, are made by and for him, he governs andsustains all worlds to us known, together with the earth on which welive. If he governs them, they are under his dominion, subject to hislaws, and controlled by his will and power.
[Footnote A: I wish here to be understood, that at present I am writingto believers in the Bible. I may hereafter give my reasons for thisfaith; at the present I refer to the Scriptures without this.]
If the planets move beautifully, and harmoniously in their severalspheres, that beauty and harmony are the result of the intelligence andwisdom that exist in his mind. If on this earth we have day and night,summer and winter, seed time and harvest, with the various changesof the seasons; this regularity, beauty, order, and harmony, are theeffects of the wisdom of God.
There are two kinds of rule on the earth; one with which man hasnothing directly to do, another in which he is intimately concerned.The first of these applies to the works of God alone, and Hisgovernment and control of those works; the second, to the moralgovernment, wherein man is made an agent. There is a very strikingdifference between the two, and the comparison is certainly notcreditable to man; and however he may feel disposed to vaunt himself ofhis intelligence, when he reflects he will feel like Job did when hesaid, (xlii. 6.) "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
In God's government there is perfect order, harmony, beauty,magnificence, and grandeur; in the government of man, confusion,disorder, instability, misery, discord, and death. In the first,the most consummate wisdom and power are manifested; in the second,ignorance, imbecility, and weakness. The first displays thecomprehension, light, glory, beneficence, and intelligence of God; thesecond, the folly, littleness, darkness, and incompetency of man. Thecontemplation of the first elevates the mind, expands the capacity,produces grateful reflections, and fills the mind with wonder,admiration, and enlivening hopes; the contemplation of the secondproduces doubt, distrust, and uncertainty, and fills the mind withgloomy apprehensions. In a word, the one is the work of God, and theother that of man.
In order to present the subject in a clear light, I shall briefly pointout some of the leading features of the two governments.
The first, then, is that over which God has the sole control, such asthe heavens and the earth, for "He governs in the heavens above, andin the earth beneath." It may be well here to say a few words on Hismoral government, in the heavens. All we can learn of that is veryimperfectly set forth in the Scriptures. It would seem, however, thatall was perfect order, for "He spake, and said, Let there be light,and there was light; and He divided the light from the darkness.""He spake, and the waters were gathered together, and the dry landappeared." And in the creation of the fish, the fowls, the beasts, thecreeping things, and man, it was done in the councils of God. The wordwas, Let us do this, and it was done. It would seem, then, that thatgovernment is perfect in its operations, for all the mandates of Godare carried out with the greatest exactitude and perfection. God spake,chaos heard, and the world was formed.
We find also that transgression is punished; when Satan rebelled he wascast out of heaven, and with him those who sinned.
Here, then, in these things consummate wisdom was manifested, and powerto carry it out.
The plan of redemption was also made thousands of years ago. Jesus isspoken of by the prophets as being "The Lamb slain from before thecreation of the world." The future destiny of this earth is also spokenof by prophecy; the binding of Satan; the destruction, and redemptionof the world; its celestial destiny; its becoming as a sea of glass;the descent of the new Jerusalem from heaven; the destruction ofiniquity by a power exercised in the heavens, associated with one onthe earth; and a time is spoken of where John says—"Every creaturewhich is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such asare in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, andhonor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne,and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Rev. v. 13. But I shall let thispass for the present, and content myself with saying on this subject,that in the councils of God, in the eternal world, all these thingswere understood: for if He gave prophets wisdom to testify of thesethings, they obtained their knowledge from Him, and He could not impartwhat He did not know; but "known unto God are all his works, from thebeginning of the world." Acts xv. 18. God, then, has a moral governmentin the heavens, and it is the development of that government that ismanifested in the works of creation; as Paul says, "The invisiblethings of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, beingunderstood by the things that are made, even his eternal power andGodhead." Romans i. 20.
But when we speak of the heavens, we mean also the planetary system;for the world, and other worlds are governed by principles independentof man. The power that causes this earth to roll on its axis, andregulates the planets in their diurnal and annual motions, is beyondman's control. Their revolutions and spheres are fixed by nature'sGod, and they are so beautifully arranged, and nicely balanced, thatan astronomer can calculate the return of a planet scores of yearsbeforehand, with the greatest precision and accuracy. And who cancontemplate, without admiration, those stupendous worlds, rollingthrough the immensity of space at such an amazing velocity, movingregularly in their given spheres without coming into collision, andreflect that they have done so for thousands of years. Our earth hasits day and night, summer and winter, and seed time and harvest. Wellmay the poet say that they—
"Proclaim for ever, as they shine,
The hand that made us is divine."
And here let me remark how different is this to the works of man.We see, then, the power of God manifested in their preservationand guidance; but when we reflect a little further, that while ourplanetary system rolls in perfect order round the sun, there are othersystems which perform their revolutions round their suns; and the wholeof these, our system with its centre, and other systems with theircentres, roll round another grand centre: and the whole of those, andinnumerable others, equally as great, stupendous, and magnificent, rollround another more great, glorious, and resplendent, till numbers,magnificence, and glory, drown the thought, we are led to exclaimwith the prophet, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom andknowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgements, and His wayspast finding out!" Romans xi. 33. Without referring again to themotions of our earth, and the beautiful regularity and precision of thewhole of this elegant machinery, we will turn our attention a little tothe works of creation as found on the earth. The make, construction,and adaptation of each for its proper sphere, are the work of God; andthey are all controlled by His wisdom and power, independent of man. Inthe conformation of the birds, the beasts, the fishes, the reptiles,the grains, herbs, plants, and trees, we see a striking exemplificationof this fact. No matter which way we turn our attention, the sameorder and intelligence are displayed. The fish in their organizationare peculiarly adapted to their proper element; the birds and beaststo theirs; the amphibious animals to theirs. The nicely organizedmachinery of their bodies; their bones, muscles, skins, feathers,scales, or hair; the formation of their bodies, their manner of living,together with the nature of their food, and their particular adaptationto the various elements and climates which they occupy, are all so manymarked evidences of skill, forethought, intelligence and power. We willhere notice a few examples. Plunge bird, beast, or man, into the water,and let them remain there, and they will soon die; take a fish out ofthe water, and death ensues; yet all are happy, and move with perfectenjoyment in their proper spheres. Elevate a man, beast, or fish, intothe air, and let them fall, and they will be bruised to death; but thebird, with its wings, light bones, and fragile body, is peculiarlyadapted to the aerial element in which it moves, and is perfectly athome; while the brute creation and men feel as much so on the earth.Again, their habits, food, coatings, or coverings, digestive powers,and the organization of their systems, are all peculiarly adapted totheir several situations. The same principle is developed in theirarrangement and position on the earth. Those that inhabit a southernclimate are peculiarly adapted to that situation; while those thatinhabit a northern are equally fitted for theirs.
Take the reindeer and polar bear to the torrid zone, and they wouldbe out of their proper latitude, and would probably die. Remove theelephant, lion, or tiger, to Iceland or Greenland, and leave them totheir own resources, and they would inevitably perish.
We will notice for a moment the construction of their systems. Eachone is possessed with muscular strength, or agility, according toits position, wants, or dangers, and there is a beauty, a symmetry,and a perfection about all God's works, which baffle and defy humanintelligence to copy. An artist is considered talented if he can make,after years of toil, a striking likeness of any of those things,either on canvas, or in marble. But when he has done, it is only adead outline; remove a little paint, or tear the canvas, and itsbeauty is destroyed; break the arm of a statue, and we see nothingbut a mutilated stone. But take a man, for example, and remove theskin, there is still order and beauty; remove the flesh, there isstill workmanship and skill, and the bones, the flesh, the muscles,the arteries and veins, and the nerves, and the lungs, not to forgetthe exquisite fineness of the sensitive organs, manifesting a skill, aforethought, a wisdom, and a power, as much above that of man as theheavens are above the earth.
We see the power, wisdom, and government of God, displayed in theamazing strength of some of the largest of the brute creation; asalso in the fineness and delicacy, of the arrangement of the smaller.And while we admire the stupendous power of the elephant, we areequally struck with the fineness, delicacy, and beauty of some of thesmaller insects. The prescience, and intelligence of God, are as muchmanifested in arranging the bones, muscles, arteries, and digestiveorgans of the smallest animaculæ, as in the construction of the horse,rhinoceros, elephant, or whale. I might touch upon the organization ofplants, herbs, trees, and fruits; their various compositions, modesof nourishment, manner of propagating their kind, &c.; but enoughhas already been said upon this subject. It is one that no one willdispute upon; Jew and Gentile, black and white, Christian and Heathen,philosopher and fool, all have one faith on this subject.
I have briefly touched upon it for the purpose of presenting in aclear light the imbecility and weakness of man; for wherever we turnour attention, we see power, wisdom, prescience, order, forethought,beauty, grandeur and magnificence.
These are the works of God, and shew His skill, workmanship, glory, andintelligence. They reflect His divine power, and shew in unmistakeablecharacters the wisdom of his government, and the order that prevails inthat part of creation over which He has the sole and unlimited control.
We can perceive very clearly that what God has done, is rightly done.It is not governed by instability and disorder, but continues frometernity to eternity to bear the impress of Jehovah.
The Government of Man.
We will now turn our attention a little to the government of man, andsee how that will compare with the foregoing, for man stands at thehead of this beautiful creation; he is endued with intelligence andcapacity for improvement; he is placed as a moral agent, and has thematerials put into his hands to work with, the works of his Fatheras a pattern, the conduct of many of the inferior creation as anexample—and might make the earth a garden, a paradise, a place ofuninterrupted happiness and felicity, a heaven below. And if God hadnot delegated this moral agency and power to man, and thus given himthe privilege, in part, of being the arbiter of his own destiny, suchit would have been to this day, like the Eden from which he was ejectedbecause of his transgression. For he had everything placed within hispower, and was made lord of the creation. The beasts, birds, fish,and fowl, were placed under his control; the earth yielded plenty forhis wants, and abounded in fruits, grain, herbs, flowers and trees,both to satisfy his hunger, and to please the sight, taste, and smell.The fields waved with plenty, and produced a perennial harvest. Thefruits teemed forth in all their luscious varieties to satisfy hismost capacious desires. The flowers, in all their gaiety, beauty,and richness, delighted the eye; while their rich fragrance filledthe air with odoriferous perfumes. The feathered tribes, with alltheir gorgeous plumage and variety of song, both pleased the eye, andenchanted and charmed the ear. The horse, the cow, and other animals,were there to promote his happiness, supply his wants, and make himcomfortable and happy. All were under his control, to contribute to hishappiness and comfort, supply his most extended desires, and to add tohis enjoyment; but with all these privileges what is his situation?
With celestial blessings within his reach, he has plunged down to thevery verge of hell, and is found in a state of poverty, confusion, anddistress. He found the earth an Eden—a paradise; he has filled it withmisery and woe, and has made it comparatively a howling wilderness. Andlet us not blame Adam alone for this state of things; for after hisejection from Paradise, the earth was sufficiently fertile to satisfyall the desires of man with moderate industry, and is at the presentday, if it were not for the confusion that exists, and if men wereproperly situated, and its resources developd. But more of this anon.
At present we will examine some of these evils, and then point outtheir cause, and the remedy.
We find the world split up and divided into different nations, havingdifferent interests, and different objects; with their religious andpolitical views as dissimilar as light and darkness, all the timejealous of each other, and watching each other as so many thieves;and that man at the present day (and it has been the case for ages),is considered the greatest statesman, who, with legislation ordiplomacy, can make the most advantageous arrangement with, or coerceby circumstances, other nations into measures that would be for thebenefit of the nation with which he is associated. No matter howinjurious it might be to the nation or nations concerned, the measurethat would yield his nation an advantage, might plunge another inirremediable misery, while there is no one to act as father and parentof the whole, and God is lost sight of. What is it that the privateambition of man has not done to satisfy his craving desires for theacquisition of territory and wealth, and what is falsely called honorand fame?
Those private, jarring interests have kept the world in one continualferment and commotion from the commencement until the present time;and the history of the world is a history of the rise and fall ofnations—of wars, commotions, and bloodshed—of nations depopulated,and cities laid waste. Carnage, destruction, and death, have stalkedthrough the earth, exhibiting their horrible forms in all theircadaverous shapes, as though they were the only rightful possessors.Deadly jealousy, fiendish hate, mortal combat, and dying groans, havefilled the earth, and our bulwarks, our chronicles, our histories,all bear testimony to this; and even our most splendid paintings,engravings, and statuary, are living memorials of bloodshed, carnage,and destruction. Instead of men being honoured who have sought topromote the happiness, peace, and wellbeing of the human family, andgreatness concentrating in that, those have been generally esteemedthe most who produced the most misery and distress, and were wholesalerobbers, ravagers, and murderers.
And from whence come these things? Let the apostle James answer: "Fromwhence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, evenof your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not—yekill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet yehave not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye askamiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." James iv. 1-3. Here isevidently a lack of that consummate wisdom, that moral and physicalcontrol, that parental power which balances the universe, and directsthe various planets. For let the same recklessness, selfishness,individuality, and nationality there be manifested, and we should seethe wildest confusion.
Man has come in contact with man, morally, physically, religiously,and nationally, from the foundation of the earth. If God's works haddone so, what tumult and ruin there would have been in the immensityof space! Instead of the order that now prevails, man would havebeen sometimes frozen to death, and at other times burned up; oneor two seasons of irregularity, even in climate, would depopulatethe earth. But what if the planets, irrespective of the power bywhich they are controlled, were to rush wildly through space, and,with their mighty impetus dash against each other? "What fearfulconsequences would ensue." There would be "system on system wrecked,and world on world." What terrible destruction and ruin! We have readof earthquakes destroying countries, of wars depopulating nations—ofvolcanoes overwhelming cities, and of empires in ruin; but what wouldthe yawning earthquake, the bellowing volcano, the clang of arms, ora nation's distress, be in comparison to a scene like this? Systemwould be shattered with system; planet madly rush on planet; worlds,with their inhabitants, would be destroyed, and creations crumble intoruins. There would be truly a war of planets, "a wreck of matter anda crash of worlds." These, indeed, would be fearful results, and shewplainly the distinction between the beautiful order of God's work,and the confusion and disorder of man's. God's work is perfect—man'simperfect. The one is the government of God, and the other that of man.
We notice the same mismanagement in the arrangement of cities andnations. We have large cities containing immense numbers of humanbeings, pent up, as it were in one great prison-house, inhaling afoetid, unwholesome atmosphere, impregnated with a thousand deadlypoisons; millions of whom, in damp cellars, lonely garrets, and pent upcorners, drag out a miserable existence, and their wan faces, haggardcountenances, and looks tell but too plainly the tale of their miseryand wretchedness. A degenerate, sickly, puny race tread in their steps,inheriting their fathers' misery and distress.
If we notice the situation of the nations of Europe at the presenttime, we see the land burthened with an overplus population, andgroaning beneath its inhabitants, while the greatest industry,perseverance, economy, and care, do not suffice to provide for thecraving wants of nature. And so fearfully does this prevail in manyparts, that parents are afraid to fulfil the first great law ofGod, "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth;" and bydesperate circumstances are almost forced to the unnatural wish ofnot propagating their species; while, corrupted with a correspondentdepravity with that which reigns among nations, they are found usingsuicidal measures to prevent an otherwise numerous progeny fromincreasing their father's misery, and inheriting his misfortunes. Andyet, while this is the case, there are immense districts of rich soil,covering millions of square miles, inhabited only by a few untutoredsavages, or the wild beast of the forest; and such is the infatuationof man that in many districts of country, which were once the seatsof the most powerful empires, and where flourished the mightiestnations, there is nothing but desolation and wildness. Such are Ninevehand Babylon, on the Asiatic Continent; and Otolum, and many othersdiscovered by Stephens and Catherwood, in Central America; and recentlydiscovered ruins—unequalled in the old world—a little above the headof the California Gulf. Not only their cities, but their lands aredesolate, deserted, and forsaken, and the same evils that once existedthere are transferred to another soil, all bespeaking plainly that wewant a great, governing, ruling principle to regulate the affairs ofthe world, and assist poor, feeble, erring humanity.
Again, if we examine some of the details of these evils, we shallsee more clearly the importance and necessity of a change. Nearlyone-third, speaking in general terms, of the inhabitants of the earthare engaged in a calling that would be entirely useless if the worldwere set right.
If men and nations, instead of being governed by their unruly passions,covetous desires, and ambitious motives, were governed by the pureprinciples of philanthropy, virtue, purity, justice, and honor, andwere under the guidance of a fatherly and intelligent head, directedby that wisdom which governs the universe, and regulates the motionsof the planetary systems, there would be no need of so many armies,navies, and police regulations, which are now necessary for theprotection of those several nations from the aggressions of each other,and internal factions. Let any one examine the position of Europealone, and he will find this statement abundantly verified. Look at thearmies and navies of France and England; and the confusion of Germany,also of Austria, Turkey, Russia and Spain, not to mention many of thesmaller nations, and let their armies, their navies, and police begathered together, and what an abundant host of persons there wouldbe. They would be sufficient to make one of the largest nations inthe world! And what are they doing? To use the mildest term, watchingeach other, as a person would watch a thief for fear of being imposedupon, and robbed, or killed; but generally strolling around as theworld's banditti, robbing, plundering, and committing aggressions uponeach other; and if they have peace, acquiring it by the sword; and ifprevented from aggression and war, it is generally, not that they aregoverned by just, or virtuous principles, but because they are afraidthat aggression might lead to combinations against them which wouldresult in their overthrow and ruin.
In the city of Paris alone, at the present time, and its immediateenvirons, there are one hundred thousand soldiers, besides police toa very great number, not to mention the vast number of custom-houseofficers and others. Suppose we add to these their families, wherethey have any, and where they have not, notice the vast amount ofprostitution, misery, degradation, and infamy, that such an unnaturalstate of things produces. I give the above as an example of the whole,but here the navies are not included. I say again, What are these alldoing? They do not raise corn to supply the wants of men, nor are theyoccupied in any useful avocation; but they must live, and theirwants must be supplied by the products of the labour of others. Therehas to be an immense amount of legislation for the accomplishment ofthis thing, and instead of having one government of righteousness andthe world obeying, we have scores of governments, all having to besustained in regal pomp, to be equal to their neighbouring nations;and all this magnificence and national pride having to be supportedby the labour of the people. Again, all these legislatures have toprovide immense hosts of men, in the shape of custom-house, excise, andpolice officers, to carry out their designs, all of whom, and theirfamilies, help to increase the burden, till it becomes insupportable.That, together with the unnatural state of society, before referredto, in regard to the situation of the inhabitants of cities and thenations, plunges millions of the human family into a state of hopelessdestitution, misery, and ruin, for they are groaning under all thesehopeless burdens without having sufficient land to till to meet theirdemands, and as natural means fail they are obliged to have recourseto those that are unnatural. Hence, in England a great majority ofthe inhabitants are made slaves of, virtually to supply the wants ofthe greatest part of the world, and are forced to be their labourers.Thousands of them are immured in immense factories, little less thanprisons, groaning under a wearisome, sickening, unhealthy labour;deprived of free, wholesome air; weak and emaciated, not having asufficiency of the necessaries of life. Thousands more from morningtill night are immured in pits, shut out from the light of day,the carol of the birds, and the beauty of nature, sickly and weak,in many instances for want of food; and yet, in the midst of theirwretchedness, gloom, and misery, you will sometimes hear them trying tosing in their dungeons and prison-houses, in broken, dying accents,
"Britons never shall be slaves."
I will here give, as one example, an iron works that I visited latelyin Wales. One of the proprietors informed me that they employed fifteenthousand persons, and paid them £5,000 per week. Most of these peoplelaboured under ground, in the pits, digging for iron ore and coal; theremainder were employed principally about the furnaces, in rollingthe iron, &c., at heavy, laborious, fatiguing work. And who were theytoiling for? Principally for the Americans and Russians, at thattime, to furnish them with railroad iron. And what did they get fortheir labour? The riches of those countries? No. £5,000 a week amongabout fifteen thousand persons. I suppose, however, a number of thesewere boys and girls. The average wages of men was from ten to twelveshillings per week. And this is their pay for that labour; and yet themasters are not to be blamed, that I can learn, for they are forced bycompetition to this state of things, and by the unnatural, artificialstate of society. If they did not do this their workmen must be outof employ, and ten times worse off, if that were possible, than theyare now. In the State of Pennsylvania, in America, where the railroadsrun through coal and iron mines both, they leave them untouched, andcome to England for iron to make the rails of, that they cannot affordto make at home, because of higher wages, and an outlet to society,which prevents them from being coerced into bondage. If the world wasright, the labour would be done there, and not here, and the labour ofcarriage saved.
The situation of the peasantry and workmen in France, Germany, Prussia,Austria, and Russia, and in fact I may say of Europe generally, isworse even than that of the same class in England; and wherever weturn our attention, we see nothing but poverty, distress, misery, andconfusion; for if men do not copy after the good and virtuous, theygenerally do after the evil. When nations and rulers set the pattern,they generally find plenty to follow their example; hence covetousness,fraud, rapine, bloodshed, and murder, prevail to an alarming extent.If a nation is covetous, an individual thinks he may be also; if anation commits a fraud, it sanctions his acts in a small way; and ifa nation engages in wholesale robbery, an individual does not seethe impropriety of doing it in retail; if a strong nation oppressesa weak one, he does not see why he may not have the same privilege;corruption follows corruption, and fraud treads on the heels of fraud,and all those noble, honourable, virtuous, principles that ought togovern men are lost sight of, and chicanery and deception ride rampantthrough the world. The welfare, happiness, exaltation, and glory ofman, are sacrificed at the shrine of ambition, pride, covetousnessand lasciviousness. By these means nations are overthrown, kingdomsdestroyed, communities broken up, families rendered miserable, andindividuals ruined. I might enter into a detail of the crimes,abominations, lusts, and corruptions that exist in many of our largecities, but I shall leave this subject, and conclude with the remarksof the prophet Isaiah, who gazed in prophetic vision on this scene:"Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste,and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitantsthereof... The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof,because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, andbroken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured theearth, and they that dwell therein are desolate." Isaiah xxiv. 1, 5 and6.
Iniquity of every description goes hand in hand; vice, in all itssickening and disgusting forms, revels in the palace, in the city,in the cottage; depravity, corruption, debauchery, and abominationsabound, and man, that once stood proudly erect in the image of hisMaker, pure, virtuous, holy, and noble, is vitiated, weak, immoral,and degraded; and the earth, which was once a garden, not only bringsforth briars and thorns, but is actually "defiled under the inhabitantsthereof."
Those great national evils of which I have spoken are things which atpresent seem to be out of the reach of human agency, legislation, orcontrol. They are diseases that have been generating for centuries;that have entered into the vitals of all institutions, religious andpolitical; that have prostrated the powers and energies of all bodiespolitic, and left the world to groan under them, for they are evilsthat exist in church and state, at home and abroad; among Jew andGentile, Christian, Pagan, and Mahomedan; king, prince, courtier, andpeasant; like the deadly simoon, they have paralyzed the energies,broken the spirits, damped the enterprize, corrupted the morals, andcrushed the hopes of the world.
Thousands of men would desire to do good, if they only knew how;but they see not the foundation and extent of the evil, andlong-established opinions, customs and doctrines, blind their eyes,and damp their energies. And if a few should see the evil, and try aremedy, what are a few in opposition to the views, power, influence,and corruption of the world?
No power on this side of heaven can correct the evil. It is a worldthat is degenerated, and it requires a God to put it right.
On the Incompetency of the Means Made Use of by Man to Regenerate theWorld.
I purpose in this Chapter to shew the incompetency of the means madeuse of by man for the accomplishment of the purposes of God—theestablishment of His Kingdom, or Millennial reign.
Now, if it is the kingdom of God, that is to be established, it must beintroduced by God. He must not only be the originator of it, but thecontroller also, and any means short of these must fail of the objectdesigned.
The great evils that now exist in the world are the consequences ofman's departure from God. This has introduced this degeneracy andimbecility, and nothing but a retracing of his steps, and a return toGod can bring about a restitution.
God gave to man a moral agency, as head of the world, under himself.Man has usurped the sole authority, and taken upon himself to reignand rule without God. The natural consequence is, that we haveinherited all the evils of which I have spoken, and nothing butthe wisdom, goodness, power, and compassion of God, can deliver ustherefrom, restore the earth to its pristine excellence, and put managain in possession of those blessings which he has forfeited byhis transgression. Emperors, kings, princes, potentates, statesmen,philosophers, and churches, have tried for ages to bring this state ofthings about; but they have all signally failed, not having derivedtheir wisdom from the proper source. And all human means made use of atthe present time to ameliorate the condition of the world must fail, asall human means have always done.
There are some who suppose that the influence of Christianity, as it isnow preached and administered, will bring about a Millennial reign ofpeace. We will briefly examine the subject.
First, we will take the Greek and Catholic Churches as they haveexisted for ages—without an examination of their doctrines, whetherright or wrong—for they form two of the largest branches of theChristian Church. They have, more or less, governed a great portion ofEurope at different times; and what is the situation of the people andnations where they have held sway? We have noticed the effects, andalready briefly touched upon the evils that prevail in those countries;and if Greece and Russia, or any other country where the Greek Churchhas held sway, be a fair specimen of the influence of that church, wehave very little prospect, if that religion were more widely diffusedor extended, that the results would be more beneficial, for if ithas failed in a few nations to ameliorate their condition, it wouldnecessarily fail to benefit the earth if extended over it. Nor do weturn with any better prospect to the Catholic religion. Of what benefithas it been to nations where it has prevailed the most? Has there beenless war, less animosity, less butchery, less evil of any kind underits empire? It cannot be said that it has been crippled in its progressor its operations. It has held full sway in Spain, Rome, and a greatportion of Italy, in France and Mexico for generations, not to mentionmany smaller states. Has it augmented the happiness of those nationsof the world? I need not here refer to the history of the Waldenses,and Albigenses, and Huguenots, to that of the Crusades, wherein so manyChristian kings engaged; nor to the unhappy differences, the wars andcommotions, the bloodshed and carnage, that have existed among thesepeople, for their history is well known. And the present positionof both the Greek and Roman churches, presents a spectacle that isanything but encouraging to lead us to hope, that if the world wereunder their influence, a Millennial reign of peace and righteousnesswould ensue.
And let not any one say that these churches have not had a fairopportunity to develop themselves, for their religion prevailed and wascherished in those nations. They have held universal sway, at differenttimes, for generations. The kings, councils and legislatures, havebeen Catholic or Greek. In Rome, the Pope has ruled supreme, and alsofor some time in Lombardy, Ravenna, and other States. In Greece, thePatriarch of Constantinople, and in Russia, the Emperor, is head of thechurch.
But, methinks I hear the Protestants say, we fully accord with you thusfar, but we have placed Christianity on another footing. Let us examinethis subject for a moment.
The question would naturally follow, What have the reformations ofCalvin, Luther, and other reformers, done for the world? We may noticethat Denmark, Sweden, Prussia, with a great part of Germany, Holland,and Switzerland, as also England and the United States, are Protestant.What can we say of them? That they are a part of the disorganizedworld, and have manifested the same unhappy dispositions as otherportions. Reform has not altered their dispositions or circumstances.We see among them the same ambitious, grasping, reckless dispositionmanifested, and consequently the same wars, bloodshed, poverty, misery,and distress; and millions of human beings have been sacrificed totheir pride, ambition, and avarice, and thirst for national fame andglory.
The Reformation of the Church of England is anything but creditable tothat church. I refer to Henry VIII., and the vacillating course takenby some of its early reformers; and its persecution of those who wereopposed to it in religious faith.
I might here refer to the religious intolerance of Calvin of Geneva,and Knox of Scotland, and other reformers; but, as these are mereindividual affairs, I pass over them. If we look at Christian nationsas a whole, we see a picture that is truly lamentable, a miserableportrait of poor, degenerated, fallen humanity. We see Christiannations arrayed against Christian nations in battle, with the Christianministers of each Christian nation calling upon the Christian's Godto give them each the victory over their enemies! Christians! andworshippers of the same God!!
Hence, Christian England has been arrayed against Christian France;Christian Russia against Christian Prussia; Christian Spain againstChristian Holland; Christian Austria against Christian Hungary;Christian England against Christian United States; and ChristianUnited States against Christian Mexico. Not to mention the innumerableaggressions and conquests of some of the larger nations, not only upontheir Christian brethren, but against other nations of the earth.
Before those several nations have engaged in their wars, theirministers have presented their several prayers before the same God; andif He had been as infatuated as they, and listened to their prayers,they would long ago have been destroyed, and the Christian worlddepopulated. After their prayers they have met in deadly strife; foehas rushed against foe with mortal energy, and the clarion of war,the clang of arms, and the cannon's roar have been followed by dyinggroans, shattered limbs, carnage, blood, and death; and unutterablemisery and distress, desolate hearths, lonely widows, and fatherlesschildren. And yet these are all Christian nations, Christian brethren,worshippers of the same God. Christianity has prevailed more or lessfor eighteen hundred years. If it should still continue and overspreadthe world in its present form, what would it accomplish? The world'sredemption and regeneration? No, verily. Its most staunch supporters,and most strenuous advocates would say, No. For like causes alwaysproduce like effects: and if it has failed to regenerate the nationswhere it has had full sway for generations, it must necessarily failto regenerate the world. If it has failed in a small thing, how can itaccomplish a large one?
There are some of the Evangelical Churches, and modern reformers whowill tell me that the above is not Christianity; only a form, notthe spirit and life. But it is national Christianity; and it is thenations—the world and its redemption—that we are speaking of. But,lest they should think me unfair in making this application, I willbriefly examine their position. Which of the sects or parties is itthat is good, evangelical, and pure? The Church of England, Methodists,Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, Universalists, or which of thehundreds of sects that flood Christendom? For they do not agree; thereexists as much unhappy difference among them as there does among thenations. They have not power, of course, to act nationally; but, asindividual sects, there is as much virulence, discord, division, andstrife among them as among any other people. There is sect againstsect; party against party; polemical essay against polemical essay;discussion after discussion; and hard words, bitter feelings, angrydisputes, wrangling, hatred, and malice, prevail to an alarming extent:and it is enough, in many instances, for a member even of a family tobe of a different religious persuasion, no matter how honest, to causehis expulsion from the family.
In fact, if we look at Christianity, as exhibited among the evangelicalsocieties of England, and the United States, where Protestantismbears rule unchecked, what do we see? Nothing but a game at hazard,where a thousand opinions distract the people, each clamoring for hisown peculiar form of worship, and, like the Athenians, clinging withtenacity to their own favorite god, no matter how absurd or ridiculoushis pretensions. I would remark, however, both to Catholic andProtestant, that there is much good associated with both their systems,in the teaching of morality, virtue, faith in God, and our Lord JesusChrist; that there are thousands of sincere, honest, good, and virtuouspeople among them, as also among the nations; that these evils havebeen the growth of ages. "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and thechildren's teeth have been set on edge."
It is unnecessary here to say anything of missionary societies, tractsocieties, and evangelical societies; for if the fountain is impure,the stream must be impure; if the tree is bad, the fruit will be badalso. It is certainly a praiseworthy object to spread the Bible, andall useful information, and to do good as far as we can; but to talk ofthis evangelizing the world, is folly.
We will now turn our attention for a short time to another society,which has been formed lately in Europe, called a "Peace Society,"and which has lately held several congresses in London, Berlin, andelsewhere, with representatives from many of the European nations, andthe United States. Their object is, to ameliorate the condition of theworld, and bring about universal peace; but, with all deference totheir feelings, and fervent desires that such a happy event might beconsummated, I must beg leave to differ from them in their views. Peaceis a desirable thing; it is the gift of God, and the greatest giftthat God can bestow upon mortals. What is more desirable than peace?Peace in nations, peace in cities, peace in families. Like the softmurmuring zephyr, its soothing influence calms the brow of care, driesthe eye of sorrow, and chases trouble from the bosom; and let it beuniversally experienced, and it would drive sorrow from the world, andmake this earth a paradise. But peace is the gift of God. Jesus said tohis disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you, notas the world giveth give I unto you." John xiv. 27. Moral suasion isalways good, and the most happy that man can employ; but without theinterposition of God, it will be useless.
The nations of the world have corrupted themselves before God, andwe are not in a position to be governed by those principles withoutregeneration. If they were pure, and living in the fear of God, itwould be another thing; but the world at the present time is not madeof the proper materials to submit to a congressional interposition,of a kind similar to the one now established. The materials will notcombine, and no power, short of the power of God, can accomplish it. Wehave got into the feet and toes of Daniel's national image; they arecomposed of iron and clay, which will not mix; there is no chemicalaffinity between the bodies. As it has been in generations past, thestrong nations feel independent, and capable of taking care of theirown affairs; and if the weak unite, it is to protect themselves againstthe strong. The principles of aggression and protection still rule asstrong in the human bosom as ever they did. The world is as belligerentnow as it ever was, and as full of commotion and uncertainty.
The dispositions of the nations, of kings, rulers, and people, arethe same. The late revolutions in Europe, and present uncertain stateof political affairs, are an evident proof of this. The politicalatmosphere of the European nations is full of combustion, and onlyneeds igniting to set the whole in one common blaze. Talk of peace!there is war in the councils and cabinets, uncertainty and distrustwith emperors, kings, presidents, and princes; war in the churches,clubs, cabals, and parties that now distract the world. It is whisperedin the midnight caucus, and proclaimed in open day. The same spiritenters into the social circle, and breaks up families: father isarrayed against son, and son against father; mother against daughter,and daughter against mother; and brother against brother: it presidestriumphant at the assemblies of the "Peace Society," and spreadsconfusion, discord, and division there. A moral, deadly, evil hasinfused itself throughout the world, and it needs a more powerfulrestorative than the one proposed to ameliorate its condition. If theroot of the evil be not eradicated, in vain we regulate the branches;if the fountain be impure, in vain we strive to purify the streams. Themeans used are not adequate to the end designed, and in spite of allthose weak, puny efforts, the world will continue in its present sicklystate, unless a more powerful antidote be applied.
Another principle has many advocates on the Continent of Europe at thepresent time; a principle of Socialism. Like everything else, it ispossessed of different phases, and has been advocated in its variousbranches by Fourier, Robert Owen, Cabet, Pierre Leroux, and Proudhon,in Europe, and Fanny Wright in America. The leading object of many ofthese people is to have a community of goods and property. Some of themdiscard Christianity altogether, and others leave every one to do asthey please; others attach a little importance to it. I would brieflyremark on the first of those, that if scepticism is to be the basisof the happiness of man, we shall be in a poor situation to improvethe world. It is practical infidelity that has placed the world in itspresent position; how far the unblushing profession of it will leadto restoration and happiness, I must leave my readers to judge. It isour departure from God, that has brought upon us all our misery. Itis not a very reasonable way to alleviate it by confirming mankind inscepticism. I am aware that there is much in the world to induce doubt,and uncertainty on religious affairs, and religious professors havemuch to answer for; but there is a very material difference betweenthe religion of God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and that of those whoprofess His name.
As regards Communism, in the abstract, or on the voluntary principle,we will examine that briefly. Pick out a number of men in Paris,London, Berlin, or any other city, associated with all the evils andcorruptions of those cities, and organize them into a community. Willthe mere removal of them from one place to another make them better?Certainly not. If they were corrupt before, they will be after theirremoval; and if they were unhappy before, they will be after. Thistemporary change will not make a difference; for men in possessionof different religious, and political, and moral views, never canbe united in harmony. The difficulties that exist in the world on alarge scale, would exist there in miniature; and though prudence,forbearance, and policy, in smaller circles, might operate for a time,the evils would still exist; and though they might smoulder and be pentup, like a volcano, they would only rage with greater fury when theydid burst out.
I have conversed with some who seem to think that all that is necessaryto promote the happiness of man, is, that he have sufficient to eat anddrink, and that through this means it would be obtained. I grant thatthe comforts and happiness of men are in a great measure augmented bythese things; but to place them as the root and foundation, is wrong.In the present situation of Europe, where so much squalid poverty,wretchedness, and distress abound, it is not to be wondered at thatsuch feelings should obtain. But, if we cast our eyes abroad in theworld, we shall find that unhappiness is not always associated withthe poor: it revels in the church and state; among kings, potentates,princes, and rulers: it follows the haunts of the libertine andprofligate, and gnaws in many instances the conscience of the minister:it rides with lords and ladies in their carriages and chariots, andrevels in splendid saloons and in banquet halls. Many a pleasantcountenance covers an aching heart, and many a gorgeous costume hidesthe deadly worm; jealousy, disappointed ambition, blasted hopes, coldneglect, and conjugal infidelity, produce many a miserable heart; andrage, envy, malice, and murder, lurk in many instances under the coverof pomp, splendor, competency, or magnificence; not to mention thecare, anxiety, and trouble of officers of state in these troubloustimes. If the poor knew the situation of many of those in differentcircumstances, they would not envy their situations.
Again, if we notice the position of some of the southern and westernStates of America. They have abundance to eat and to drink, their landsbring forth bountifully. But does this make them happy? Verily, no. Thesame false state of society exists there; men are awfully under theinfluence of their depraved passions; men are frequently put to deathby what is called "Lynch law," without judge or jury. The pistol, thebowie knife, the rifle, and the dirk, are in frequent requisition, andmisery and unhappiness prevail.
In Mexico, where they possess one of the richest countries in theworld, a salubrious climate, a rich soil, abounding also with the mostvaluable mineral resources, yet the people are unhappy. Guerillasplunder the traveller, their streets are crowded with beggars; its menare without courage or energy, and the country is left a prey to anynation, who has covetousness or power to oppress it. The Scripturessay, that "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word thatproceedeth from the mouth of God;" and as they do not exist in thisway, another Scripture tells the story in plain terms, for it says,"Where there is no vision the people perish." Proverbs xxix. 18.
There is also another political party, who desire, through theinfluence of legislation and coercion, to level the world. To say theleast, it is a species of robbery; to some it may appear an honorableone, but, nevertheless, it is robbery. What right has any private manto take by force the property of another? The laws of all nations wouldpunish such a man as a thief. Would thousands of men engaged in thesame business make it more honorable? Certainly not. And if a nationwere to do it, would a nation's act sanctify a wrong deed? No; theAlgerine pirates, or Arabian hordes, were never considered honorable,on account of their numbers; and a nation, or nations, engaging inthis would only augment the banditti, but could never sanctify thedeed. I shall not, here, enter into the various manners of obtainingwealth; but would merely state, that any unjust acquisition of itought to be punished by law. Wealth is generally the representation oflabour, industry, and talent. If one man is industrious, enterprising,diligent, careful, and saves property, and his children follow in hissteps, and accumulate wealth; and another man is careless, prodigal,and lazy, and his children inherit his poverty, I cannot conceive uponwhat principles of justice, the children of the idle and profligatehave a right to put their hands into the pockets of those who arediligent and careful, and rob them of their purse. Let this principleexist, and all energy and enterprise would be crushed. Men wouldbe afraid of again accumulating, lest they should again be robbed.Industry and talent would have no stimulant, and confusion and ruinwould inevitably follow. Again, if you took men's property withouttheir consent, the natural consequence would be that they would seek toretake it the first opportunity; and this state of things would onlydeluge the world in blood. So that let any of these measures be carriedout, even according to the most sanguine hopes of the parties, theywould not only bring distress upon others, but also upon themselves;certainly they would not bring about the peace of the world.
One thing more upon this subject, and I have done. In Europe, therehas been of late years a great mania for revolutions—a strong desireto establish republican governments; but let me remark here, that theform of government will not materially affect the position of thepeople, nor add to the resources of a country. If a country is rich andprosperous under a monarchy, it will be so under a republic, and viceversa. If poor under one, it will be under another. If nations thinkproper to change their form of government, they of course have a rightto do so; but to think that this will ameliorate their condition, andproduce happiness, is altogether a mistake. Happiness and peace arethe gifts of God, and come from Him. Every kind of government has itsgood and evil properties. Rome was unhappy under a kingly government,and also under a republican form. Carthage as a republic was no morehappy than many of its monarchial contemporaries; nor was Corinth,Holland, or Venice; and republican Genoa has not manifested anythingvery much in favor of these principles. France was unhappy under heremperor, she was unhappy under her kings, and is unhappy as a republic.America is perhaps some little exception to this; but the differencelies not so much in her government, as in the extent of her country,the richness of her soil, and abundance of her resources; for, as Ihave already mentioned, "Lynch law" prevails to an alarming extent inthe south and west. In the state of New York, in the east, there aremobs painted as Indians resisting the officers of the law, and doing itwith impunity; and it is a matter of doubt whether persons having paidfor property, shall own it, or be dispossessed by their tenants, not inlaw, for the constitution and laws are good, but in practice defective,through popular clamor and violence. I refer to the estates of VanRanseller and others; and, in the west, to Joseph and Hyrum Smith, whowere murdered in Carthage jail, without any redress, although theirmurderers were known to the officers of state; and to the inhabitantsof a city, ten thousand in number, together with twenty thousandothers, principally farmers, labourers, and mechanics, occupying acountry about ten miles wide, and thirty long, most of which waswell cultivated and owned by the occupants,—who were all forced bycontinual harassing by lawless mobs, to leave a country in which theycould not be protected, and seek an asylum in a far off desert home,there being no power in the government to give redress.
It is altogether an infatuation to think that a change in governmentwill mend the circumstances, or increase the resources, when the wholeworld is groaning under corruption. If there are twenty men who havetwenty pounds of bread to divide amongst them, it matters but littlewhether it is divided by three, ten, or the whole, it will not increasethe amount. I grant, however, that there are flagrant abuses, of whichwe have mentioned some, associated with all kinds of governments,and many things to be complained of justly; but they arise from thewickedness of man, and the corrupt and artificial state of society. Doaway with one set of rulers, and you have only the same materials tomake another of; and if ever so honestly disposed, they are surroundedwith such a train of circumstances, over which they have no control,that they cannot mend them.
There is frequently much excitement on this subject; and many peopleignorant of these things, are led to suppose that their resources willbe increased, and their circumstances bettered; but when they find,after much contention, struggling, and bloodshed, that it does not rainbread, cheese, and clothing; that it is only a change of men, papers,and parchment, chagrin and disappointment naturally follow. There ismuch that is good, and much that is bad in all governments; and I amnot seeking here to portray a perfect government, but to show some ofthe evils associated with them, and the utter incompetency of all theplans of men to restore a perfect government; and as all their planshave failed, so they will fail, for it is the work of God, and not ofman. The moral agency of man without God, has had its full development;his weakness, wickedness, and corruption, have placed the world whereit is: he can see as in a glass his incompetency, and folly, andnothing but the power of God can restore it.
It is not to be wondered at, that those various plans should exist, forthe world is in a horrible situation. Jesus prophesied of it, and said,there should be upon the earth "distress of nations, perplexity, men'shearts failing them, for fear, and for looking after those things whichare coming upon the earth," Luke xxi. 25, 26. Men see these things,and their hearts fear; confusion, disorder, misery, blood, and ruin,seem to stare them in the face; and in the absence of something great,noble, and magnificent, suited to the exigency of the case, they trythe foregoing remedies, as a sailor, in the absence of a boat, wouldcling with tenacity to any floating piece of wreck, to save him from awatery grave.
Neither can men be blamed for trying to do good; it is certainly alaudable object; and with all the selfishness, ambition, and pride,associated with the foregoing, it must be admitted that there is muchuprightness, sincerity, and honest zeal.
There are very many philanthropists who would gladly ameliorate thecondition of men, and of the world, if they knew how. But the meansemployed are not commensurate with the end; every grade of society isvitiated and corrupt. "The whole head is sick, and the whole heartfaint." Our systems, our policy, our legislation, our education, andphilosophy, are all wrong, neither can we be particularly blamed, forthese evils have been the growth of ages. Our fathers have left God,his guidance, control, and support, and we have been left to ourselves;and our present position is a manifest proof of our incompetency togovern; and our past failures make it evident, that any future effort,with the same means, would be as useless. The world is diseased, and itrequires a world's remedy.
What Is Man? What Is His Destiny and Relationship to God?
Having shewn in the foregoing chapters, that the rule of God is perfectwhere he governs alone, that the rule of man is imperfect, and hasintroduced confusion and misery, and that the plans of men are notcompetent to restore the world to happiness, and the fulfilment of theobject for which it was created; it now devolves upon us to investigatethe way that this thing can, and will be accomplished; for there isa time spoken of in the Scriptures, when there will be a reign ofrighteousness.
First, then, we will enquire who and what is man? and what is hisdestiny, and what his relationship to God? For before we can definegovernment correctly, it will be necessary to find out the nature ofthe being that has to be governed.
What, then, is man? Is he a being temporal and earthly alone, andwhen he dies, does he sink into forgetfulness? Is he annihilated? orhas he a spirit as well as a body? If the first be the case, he alonehas a right to regulate his own affairs, to frame his own government,and to pursue that course which to him seems good; if not, the caseis different. I do not here wish to enter into a philosophicaldisquisition on the subject, but, as I am writing at present tobelievers in the Bible, I shall confine myself more to that. I willstate, that man is an eternal being, composed of body and spirit: hisspirit existed before he came here; his body exists with the spiritin time, and after death the spirit exists without the body. In theresurrection, both body and spirit will finally be reunited; and itrequires both body and spirit to make a perfect man, whether in time,or eternity.
I know there are those who suppose that the spirit of man comes intoexistence with his body, and that intelligence and spirit are organizedwith the body; but we read, that when God made man, he made him of thedust of the earth; he made him in his own likeness. Man was then alifeless body; He afterwards "breathed into him the breath of life, andman became a living soul."
Before that spirit was given, he was dead, lifeless; and when thatspirit is taken away, he is again lifeless; and let not any one saythat the body is perfect without the spirit; for the moment the spiritleaves the body, no matter how perfect its organization may be, the manis inanimate, and destitute of intelligence and feeling: "it is thespirit that gives life." Hence we find that when Jarius's daughter wasdead, his servant came and told him, saying, "Thy daughter is dead,trouble not the master;" but when she was restored, it is said "herspirit came again, and she arose straightway." Luke viii. 55. Whenher spirit was absent, the body was dead; when it returned, the bodylived. "Moses spake unto the Lord, and said, let the Lord, the God ofthe spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation." Num.xxvii. 16. Again, the Lord in speaking to Jeremiah, said, "Before Iformed thee in the belly, I knew thee," i. 5. I would ask, What partof Jeremiah did he know? It could not be his body, for it was notin existence; but he knew his spirit, for "he was the father of hisspirit." The Lord speaks to Job and says, "Where wast thou when I laidthe foundations of the earth? declare if thou hast understanding, whohath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretchedthe line upon it. Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?or who laid the corner stone thereof? when the morning stars sungtogether, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" xxxviii. 4, 6.Again, John says, "They that dwell on the earth, shall wonder, whosenames were not written in the book of life from the foundation of theworld." Rev. xvii. 8.
This spirit proceeds forth from God, and is eternal; hence Solomonsays, in speaking of death, "Then shall the dust return to the earth asit was, and the spirit unto God who gave it." Eccles. xii. 7. That thespirit is eternal, is very evident, from the Scriptures; Jesus prayedto his father, and said, "O Father, glorify thou me, with thine ownself, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."John xvii. 5. Here Jesus speaks of an existence before he came here,of a glory he had with his Father before the world was. Christ, then,existed before he came here and took a body. Again Jesus says, "I havemanifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world:thine they were, and thou gavest them me." John xvii. 6.
Let us see what the Apostle Paul says on the subject: "Blessed be theGod and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with allspiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ; according as hehath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world." Ephes. i,3, 4. Christ, then, existed with his Father before the world was, andthe Saints existed in, or with him. What part? their bodies? no, theirspirits. Again, man exists after he leaves here. It is unnecessary tosay anything about the life of the spirit, after the death of the body,or of the resurrection, as the subjects are so generally known andbelieved. Paul says, "If in this life only, we have hope in Christ, weare of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead,and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man camedeath, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. ... The trumpetshall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shallbe changed; for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and thismortal must put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass thesaying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." 1 Cor. xv.19-21, 52-54.
If man, then, is an eternal being, came from God, exists here for ashort time, and will return, it is necessary that he know somethingabout God, and his government. For he has to do with him not only intime, but in eternity, and whatever man may be disposed to do, orhowever he may vaunt himself of his own abilities, there are somethings he has no control over. He came into the world without hisagency, he will have to leave it, whether he desires it or not; andhe will also have to appear in another world. He is destined, if heimproves his opportunities, to higher and greater blessings and glorythan are associated with this earth in its present state: and hencethe necessity of the guidance of a superior power, and intelligence,that he may not act the part of a fool here, and jeopardize hiseternal interests; but that his intelligence may be commensuratewith his position; that his actions here may have a bearing upon hisfuture destiny; that he may not sink into the slough of iniquity anddegradation, and contaminate himself with corruption; that he maystand pure, virtuous, intelligent, and honourable, as a son of God,and seek for, and be guided and governed by his Father's counsels.Having said so much on this subject, we will continue our investigationstill further, and enquire next, What is our relationship to God? Inanswering this, I would briefly remark, that the position that we standin to him, is that of a son. Adam is the father of our bodies, and Godis the father of our spirits. I know that some are in the habit oflooking upon God, as a monster only to be dreaded, known only in theearthquake, the tempest, the thunder, and the storm, and that thereis something gloomy and dismal attached to his service. If there is,it is the appendage of man, and not of God. Is there anything gloomyin the works that God has made? Turn where we will, we see harmony,loveliness, cheerfulness, and beauty.
The blessings of providence were made for man, and his enjoyment;he is placed as head of creation. For him the earth teems with therichest profusion; the golden grain, the luscious fruit, the choicestvines; for him, the herbs, and flowers, bedeck the earth, shed theirodoriferous perfumes, and display their gorgeous beauty; for him, theproud horse yields his back, the cow gives her milk, and the bee itshoney; for him, the sheep yields its fleece, the cotton-tree its down,and the worm its silk. For him, the shrub and vine bloom and blossom,and nature clothes herself in her richest attire; the rippling stream,the pure fountain, the crystal river flow for him, all nature spreadsher richest charms, and invites him to partake of her joyousness,beauty, and innocence, and to worship her God.
Talk about melancholy, in the fear of God, and in his service! Itis the corruption of the world, that has made men unhappy; and thecorruption of religion that has made it gloomy: these are the miseriesentailed by men, not the blessings of God. Talk about gloom! is theregloom in the warbling of the birds, in the prancing of the horse, inthe playfulness of the lamb, or kid; in the beauty of flowers, in anyof Nature's gifts, or rich attire, or in God, that made them, or in hisservice?
There are others, again, who would place the Lord at an immensedistance, and render our approach to him almost impossible; but thisis a superstitious idea, for our Father listens to the cries of hischildren, numbers the hairs of their heads; and the Scriptures say,"a sparrow cannot fall to the ground, without his notice." He speaksto his elect, and says, "He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple ofhis eye." Zech. ii. 8. He is our Father; and hence the Scriptures tellus to pray, "Our Father, who art in heaven." Paul says, "We have hadfathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence;shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits,and live?" Heb. xii. 9. We have, then, both a temporal and a spiritualFather; and hence his solicitude for our welfare, and his desire forour happiness. Says Jesus, "If a son ask bread, will he for bread givehim a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent. If ye,then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, howmuch more shall your Father which is in heaven, give good things tothem that ask him."
What a delightful reflection for his servants, to draw nigh to theirFather, as to an endearing parent, and ask for blessings, as a sonwould ask for bread, and be confident of receiving. Hence the faithfulin the Apostles' days received a spirit, whereby they could say, "Abba,Father," or Father, Father. What an endearing relationship! and if theworld could comprehend, how gladly would they throw themselves uponhis guardianship, seek his wisdom and government, and claim a father'sbenediction; but Satan has blinded the eyes of the world, and they knownot the things which make for their peace.
The Object of Man's Existence on the Earth; and His RelationshipThereto.
We next enquire, What is the object and design of man's existenceon the earth; and what is his relationship thereto? for all thismagnificent world, with its creation, life, beauty, symmetry, order,and grandeur, could not be without design; and as God existed beforeman, there must have been some object in man's creation, and in hisappearance on the earth. As I have before stated, man existed beforehe came here, in a spiritual substance, but had not a body; when Ispeak of a body, I mean an earthly one, for I consider the spirit issubstance, but more elastic, subtle, and refined than the fleshy body;that in the union of the spirit and flesh, there is more perfectionthan in the spirit alone. The body is not perfect without the spirit,nor the spirit without the body; it takes the two to make a perfectman, for the spirit requires a tabernacle, to give it power to developitself and to exalt it in the scale of intelligence, both in timeand eternity. One of the greatest curses inflicted on Satan and hisfollowers, when they were cast out of heaven, was, that they shouldhave no body. Hence, when he appeared before the Lord, and was askedfrom whence he came, he answered, "From going to and fro in theearth, and from walking up and down in it." Job i. 7, and ii. 2. Forthis reason he is denominated "The Prince of the power of the air,the Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Ephes.ii. 2. Hence he exerts an invisible agency over the spirits of men,darkens their minds, and uses his infernal power to confound, corrupt,destroy and envelope the world in confusion, misery, and distress;and, although deprived personally of operating with a body, he useshis influence over the spirits of those who have bodies, to resistgoodness, virtue, purity, intelligence, and the fear of God; andconsequently, the happiness of man; and poor erring humanity is madethe dupe of his wiles. The Apostle says, "The God of this world hathblinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of theglorious gospel of Christ who is the image of God, should shine untothem." 2 Cor. iv. 4. But not content with the ravages he has made, thespoliation, misery, and distress, not having a tabernacle of his own,he has frequently sought to occupy that of man, in order that he mightyet possess greater power, and more fully accomplish the devastation.We read, that in our Saviour's days, there were persons possessedwith devils, who were tormented by them; and Jesus and his disciplescast them out. Mary Magdalene was dispossessed of seven. A legion hadentered one man, and when commanded to leave, rather than have nobodies, they desired permission to enter those of swine, which theydid, and the swine were destroyed. Man's body to him, then, is of greatimportance, and if he only knew and appreciated his privileges, hemight live above the temptation of Satan, the influence of corruption,subdue his lusts, overcome the world, and triumph, and enjoy theblessings of God, in time and in eternity.
The object of man's taking a body is, that through the redemption ofJesus Christ, both soul and body may be exalted in the eternal world,when the earth shall be celestial, and to obtain a higher exaltationthan he would be capable of doing without a body. For when man wasfirst made, he was made "a little lower than the angels," Heb. ii.7; but through the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, heis placed in a position to obtain an exaltation higher than that ofangels. Says the Apostle, "Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" 1Cor. vi. 3. "Jesus descended below all things, that he might be raisedabove all things." He took upon him a body, that he might die as a man,and "that through death, he might destroy him that had the power ofdeath, that is, the Devil." Heb. ii. 14. Having conquered Death, then,in his own dominions, burst the barriers of the tomb, and ascended withhis body triumphant to the right hand of God, he has accomplished apurpose which God had decreed from before the foundation of the world,"and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers." Hence man, throughobedience to the Gospel, is placed in a position to be an adopted sonof God, and have a legitimate right to his Father's blessings, and topossess the gift of the Holy Ghost. And the Apostle says, that "Ifthe spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you,he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortalbodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Rom. viii. 11. Thus, asJesus vanquished death, so may we; as he overcame, so may we; and, iffaithful, sit with him upon his throne, as he has overcome, and satdown upon his Father's throne. Rev. iii. 21. Thus, man will not onlybe raised from degradation, but will also be exalted to a seat amongthe intelligences which surround the throne of God. This is one greatobject of our coming here and taking bodies.
Another object that we came here for, and took bodies, was to propagateour species. For if it is for our benefit to come here, it is also forthe benefit of others. Hence the first commandment given to man was,"Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it."Gen. i. 28. And as man is an eternal being, and all his actions have arelevancy to eternity, it is necessary that he understand his positionwell, and thus fulfil the measure of his creation. For as he, and hisoffspring are destined to live eternally, he is not only responsiblefor his own acts, but in a great measure for those of his children, inframing their minds, regulating their morals, setting them a correctexample, and teaching them correct principles; but more especiallyin preserving the purity of his own body. And why? Because, if heabuses his body, and corrupts himself, he not only injures himself, buthis partner and associates, and entails misery incalculable upon hisposterity, who are doomed to inherit the father's misery; and this isnot only associated with time, but with eternity. Hence the Lord hasgiven laws regulating marriage and chastity of the strictest kind, andentailed the severest punishment upon those, who, in different ageshave abused this sacred ordinance. For example, the curse of Sodom andGomorrah: and the terrible judgements pronounced against those whoshould corrupt and defile their bodies, let any one read Deut. xxii.13-30. And Paul says, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, andthat the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the templeof God, him shall God destroy." 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17. Whoremongers andadulterers shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 1 Cor. vi. 9,10; and Heb. xiii. 4. And why? Because man being made a free agent overhis own body, that he might exalt himself and posterity, both in timeand in eternity, if he abuses that power, he not only affects himself,but unborn bodies and spirits, corrupting the world, and opening theflood gates of vice, immorality, and estrangement from God. Hence thechildren of Israel were told not to marry with the surrounding nations,lest their seed should be corrupted, and the people turned to idolatry,which would lead to the forgetfulness of God, to an ignorance of hispurposes and designs, and cause them to lose sight of the object oftheir creation, and corrupt themselves; and to the introduction ofevery other evil, as a natural consequence. But where the order of Godis carried out, it places things in a lovely position.
What is more amiable and pleasant than those pure, innocent, endearingaffections which God has placed in the hearts of the man and woman, whoare united together in lawful matrimony? With a love and confidencepure as the love of God, because it springs from him, and is his gift;with bodies chaste, and virtuous; and an offspring, lovely, healthy,innocent, and uncontaminated; confiding in each other, they livetogether in the fear of God, enjoying nature's gifts uncorrupted andundefiled as the driven snow, or the crystal stream. But how would thisenjoyment be enhanced, if they understood their destiny; could unravelthe designs of God, and contemplate an eternal union, in another stateof existence; a connexion with their offspring, commenced here toendure for ever, and all their ties, relationships, and affectionsstrengthened! A mother feels great delight in beholding her child,and gazing on its lovely infant form. How would her bosom swell withecstacy at the contemplation of that child being with her for ever!And if we only understood our position, this was the object for whichwe came into the world. And the object of the kingdom of God is, tore-establish all those holy principles.
Chastity and purity are things of the greatest importance to theworld. Hence the Prophet says, "Because the Lord hath been witnessbetween thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealttreacherously; yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the Spirit. Andwherefore one? that he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heedto your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of hisyouth." Mal. ii. 14, 15. Here, then, the object of purity is pointedout clearly; and what is it? that God might preserve a godly seed. St.Paul says, "What? know ye not that he who is joined to an harlot isone body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.... Flee fornication.Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committethfornication, sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that yourbody is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye haveof God, and ye are not your own." 1 Cor. vi. 16-20. And in the nextchapter he speaks of the same things which Malachi does concerning apure seed. "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife,and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband, else were yourchildren unclean; but now are they holy."
The legislators of all civilized nations have seen the necessity ofsustaining these things, and consequently have passed, generally,very rigid laws for the protection of female virtue, and the supportof the marriage contract. Hence Acts have been passed and enforced,disinheriting those who were not born in wedlock. This, in someinstances, has produced a salutary effect. Ministers of the variouschurches have also used their influence, in a great measure, in supportof virtuous principles. These have had their effect in assisting tostem the torrent of iniquity. But as the nations themselves haveforsaken God, how can they expect to stop this crying evil; for thevery legislators who pass these laws are in many instances guiltythemselves; and when kings, princes, and rulers, corrupt themselves,how can they expect the people to be pure? for no matter how rigidlaw may be, corrupt persons will always find means to evade it. And,indeed, so far have these abominations gone, that it seems to be anadmitted fact, that these things cannot be controlled; and, althoughthere are laws relative to matrimonial alliances, yet there are somenations, called Christian, who actually give licence for prostitution,and all the degradation and misery associated with it. Nor are thesethings connected with the lower ranks of life only; wantonness andvoluptuousness go hand in hand, and revel unchecked in courts, amongthe nobles and kings of the earth. The statesman, the politician,and the merchant, the mechanic and the labourer, have all corruptedthemselves. The world is full of adultery, intrigues, fornication,and abominations. Let any one go to the masked balls in the principaltheatres in Paris, and he will see thousands of people of both sexes,impudently, shamelessly, and unblushingly, manifesting their lewddispositions. Indeed, debauch and wantonness bear full sway, notto speak of the dens of abomination that exist elsewhere. Londonabounds with unfortunate beings, led on by example, seduction, andmisery, to their fallen, degraded condition. The same thing existsthroughout England, France, the United States, and all nations. Hencemillions of youth corrupt themselves, engender the most loathsomediseases, and curse their posterity with their sin, who, in theirturn, rise up and tread in the corrupt steps of their fathers. Notto say anything of the thousands of lovely beings whom God designedfor companions of man in time and in eternity, and for raising upa pure offspring, who are corrupted, degraded, polluted, fallen,poor, miserable wretches; outcasts of society, insulted, oppressed,despised, and abused; dragging out a miserable existence; led on fromone degree of degradation to another, till death, as a friend, closestheir wretched career, and yet without hope. Thus, man that was madepure, in the image of his Maker, that could stand proudly erect as therepresentative of God, pure, and uncontaminated, is debased, fallen,corrupt, diseased, and sunk below the brute creation; a creature oflust and passion, and a slave to his unbridled appetites. I writeplainly on this subject; and I do it because it is a curse to theworld, and God will have a reckoning with the nations for thesethings. In vain, then, men legislate on these matters: the nationshave corrupted themselves, and these things are beyond their control.Men must be governed by higher, and purer motives than merely humanenactments. If the world understood its true position, and the eternalconsequences to them and their seed, they would feel different. Theywould feel that they were eternal beings; that they were responsibleto God, both for their bodies and spirits. Nothing but a knowledge ofman's fall and true position, and the development of the kingdom ofGod, can restore him to his proper state, restore the order and economyof God, and place man again in his natural position on the earth.
Having spoken of man as an eternal being, we will now examine whatrelation he has to this earth; for it is the government of God that wewish to keep our minds upon. This earth is man's eternal inheritance,where he will exist after the resurrection, for it is destined to bepurified and become celestial. I know that this position is consideredstrange by many, because it is generally supposed that we are going toheaven; that heaven is the final destination of the righteous; and thatwhen we leave this world, we never return. Hence Wesley says—
"Beyond the bounds of time and space,
Look forward to that heavenly place,
The Saints' secure abode;"
and this is an opinion generally believed by the Christian world.
We shall therefore commence by enquiring, Where is heaven? Can any onepoint out its location? I would remark, that it is a word of almostunlimited signification; nevertheless we will investigate the mattera little. We read, that in the beginning "God created the heavens andthe earth;" and furthermore, that he called the "firmament heaven."From the above we learn, that the heavens were created by the Lord,and that the heavens were created at, or about the same time as theearth, and that the firmament is called heaven. We are further toldconcerning the firmament, that "God separated the waters that werebelow the firmament, from those that were above the firmament." Hence,when God destroyed the world with a flood, "He opened the windows ofheaven;" when the rain ceased, he "shut the windows of heaven." Now,a word on this firmament; Where is it? "And God said, Let the watersbring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowlthat may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." We findout, then, from the foregoing, that the firmament is called heaven,viz., the heaven associated with this earth; and that the firmament isthe place where the birds fly, and the rain falls from heaven; and thescriptures say, that Jesus will come in the clouds of heaven. Matt.xxiv. 30. Mark xiii. 26. But there are other heavens: for God createdthis heaven, and this earth; and his throne existed before this worldrolled into existence, or the morning stars sang together for joy; for"Heaven is God's throne, and the earth is his footstool." Solomon says,"The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee." This heaven is veiled frommortal vision; spirits abound, but we cannot see them; and angels hoverthere, but to us are invisible, and can only be known or seen by therevelation of God. Hence Paul says, he "was caught up into the thirdheaven." Stephen "saw the heavens opened, and Jesus sitting on theright hand of God." Where this revelation exists, there exists withoutthe removal of the body a perfect knowledge of things as they are knownto God, so far as they are revealed. Thus, when John was on the Isleof Patmos, he says, "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and heardbehind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega,the first and the last, and What thou seest write in a book." Rev.i. 10, 11. Then commenced the revelation. It was the same also withStephen. From this we gather, that there is a veil that obscures theheavens from our sight; but when that veil is removed, and our visionis enlightened by the spirit of God, then we can gaze upon the gloriesof the eternal world, and heaven is opened for our view.
When persons are taken from the earth, and hid from our view, it issaid they are gone to heaven. Hence it is said, that Elijah went by awhirlwind into heaven, 2 Kings ii. 11. And it is also said of Jesusthat "while he blessed them he was parted from them, and carried upinto heaven." Luke xxiv. 51. But it is the destination of the Saintsthat we have to do with; and on this I would remark, that there aremany glories, and man will be judged according to his deeds. "There isone glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another gloryof the stars; for as one star differeth from another star in glory, soalso is the resurrection." 2 Cor. xv. 41, 42.
It would not comport with my object at the present time to enter intothe whole of the details of this subject. I would briefly remark,however, inasmuch as I am now talking of man's body, that there is aplace called "Paradise," to which the spirits of the dead go, awaitingthe resurrection, and their reunion with the body. This was an olddoctrine of the Jews. Paul, too, "was caught up into paradise and heardunspeakable words." 2 Cor. xii. 4. John says, "to him that overcomethwill I grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of theparadise of God." Rev. ii. 7. This Paradise, however, is not the placefor resurrected bodies, but for departed spirits: for Jesus said to thethief on the cross, "To day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." Lukexxiii. 43. Two days after this, and after the resurrection of his body,Mary was looking for the Lord, and he appeared to her: he said to her"Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to mybrethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father;and to my God, and your God." John xx. 17. We learn here, then, thatJesus went to Paradise, with the thief on the cross, in spirit; butthat he had not been with his body to his Father.
We will now speak of heaven, as a place of reward for the righteous.Daniel, in speaking of the resurrection, says, "Many of them that sleepin the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, andsome to shame and everlasting contempt." Dan. xii. 2. Jesus says, thosewho have forsaken all and followed him, "shall inherit everlastinglife" Matt. xix. 29.
There is also a Book of Life spoken of. Paul speaks of some whosenames were written therein. Phil. iv. 3. John also refers to the samethings: he says "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in whiteraiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life."Rev. iii. 5. Again, John, in speaking of the New Jerusalem, says, Thereshall not enter into it anything that worketh abomination, or maketh alie; but they which are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Rev. xxi.27. From this it would appear, that those who obey all the commandmentsof God, and have their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life, shallfinally enter into the New Jerusalem. Jesus again says, "To him thatovercometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I alsoovercame, and am sat down with my Father in his throne." Rev. iii. 21.This, then, is the heaven, as far as I can conceive, that people expectto go to.
We will now try to find out its location. Above we have noticed thatthe saints are to have everlasting life, that they are to be withJesus, and also in the New Jerusalem. We have now to enquire, WhereJesus's kingdom will be, and Where will be the place of the NewJerusalem. Daniel says, "I saw in the night visions, and behold onelike the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to theAncient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there wasgiven him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations,and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlastingdominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shallnot be destroyed." Dan. vii. 13, 14. Here, then, we find Jesus comingto establish a kingdom. Where is that kingdom? The Scriptures say, thatall nations, languages, and tongues shall serve and obey him. Wheredo those nations, languages, and tongues exist? The answer is, on theearth. We will next enquire, Where the saints will be. Daniel says,in the 27th verse, "And the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatnessof the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the peopleof the saints of the Most High." Here, then, we find Jesus reigningunder the whole heaven with his saints, and all nations, dominions, andpowers, serving him. I noticed above, that those who overcame would bewith Jesus, and with him have everlasting life. Zechariah speaks of atime when there will be a great assemblage of people against Jerusalem;after God's ancient people, the Jews, shall have been gathered there,and the Lord himself shall come forth to their defence. He says, "Thenshall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when hefought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day uponthe Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and theMount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof, toward the east andtoward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half ofthe mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward thesouth. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valleyof the mountains shall reach unto Azal; yea, ye shall flee, like as yefled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah:and the Lord my God shall come and all the saints with thee. And theLord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be oneLord, and his name one." xiv. 3, 4, 5, 9. Here we find that Jesus is tocome, and all his saints are to come with him. And that the Lord isto be King over all the earth. The question again arises, Where willJesus reign with his saints? the answer is, upon the earth. Again,we will refer to the revelations of John. He says, "I saw the souls ofthem that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word ofGod .... and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years," Rev.xx. 4. And if we wish to know Where they will reign, we will again letJohn speak: "For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thyblood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. Andhast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign onthe earth." Rev. v. 9, 10. It is not necessary to quote more on thissubject; it is so plain that he that runs may read. I know that thereare those who will tell us that this is not the final destination ofthe saints. I would here remark, that a great many events will takeplace in regard to the renovation of the earth, which it would beforeign to my subject at the present time to detail. I would state,however, that when the earth shall have become pure, if people supposethat they will then inhabit a heaven, not on the earth, they aremistaken; for if we have the good fortune to have our names written inthe Lamb's Book of Life, and to enter into the New Jerusalem, we shallin that very New Jerusalem have to descend to the earth. Methinks Ihear persons saying, What! shall we not, then, stay in heaven? Yes—inheaven; but that heaven will be on the earth; for John says, "And I sawa new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earthwere past away (purified by fire and become celestial), and there wasno more sea. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming downfrom God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold the tabernacleof God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be hispeople, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And Godshall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no moredeath, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any morepain; for the former things are passed away." Rev. xxi. 1-4. Here,then, we find man's final dwelling place is the earth; and for thispurpose it was first created, and it never will fulfil the measure ofits creation until this shall take place. Nor will man ever attain tothe end for which he was created, till his spirit and his body arepurified, and he takes his proper position on the earth.
The prophets of God, in every age, have looked forward to this time;and while many considered them to be fools, they were laying forthemselves an eternal foundation: they looked with scorn upon the gaudybaubles that fascinated foolish and corrupt man: they could not yieldto his chicanery and deception; but with the fear of God before theireyes, and a knowledge of the future, they stood proudly erect, in aconsciousness of their innocence and integrity; despised alike thepraise and powers of men, endured afflictions, privations, and death;wandered in sheep skins and goat skins, destitute, tormented, andafflicted, for "they looked for a city which hath foundations, whosebuilder and maker is God." Heb. xi. 10. Hence Job says, "I know thatmy Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day uponthe earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet inmy flesh shall I see God." xix, 25, 26. Man naturally clings to thisearth; there seems to be something inherent in his nature that drawsand binds his affections to the earth; hence he strives all that laysin his power to possess as much land as he can reasonably obtain; andnot always honestly, but wars have been waged for the acquisition ofterritory, and the possessions of the earth. But what avails it allwithout God! So far from benefiting man, it is an injury, if obtainedby fraud; for he has got to pass that test which none can avoid. Andif circumstances here give him the power over his brother, when heleaves this world and appears before God, he goes to be judged for thatvery act of oppression; and the thing that he so anxiously desired toobtain in this world is his curse in the next. An honourable desire forproperty is not wrong; but no man can have a lasting claim unless it isgiven him of God. Lands, properties, possessions, and the blessings ofthis life, are of use only as they are sanctified, and have a bearingon the world to come. There have been hereditary laws established inEngland, and I believe in other countries, securing landed possessionsto the eldest son, or heir. This has originated from the above feeling;and partly from the customs of the ancient Israelites, as recorded inthe Scriptures; and families through this means seek to perpetuatetheir names. They may do this for a season; but if man rightlyunderstood his true position, he would have a brighter object in view.The Scriptures tell us, "that every good and perfect gift comes fromGod;" that a man can receive nothing but what is given him from above.Men have conquered, and taken, bought and sold, the earth without God.But their possessions will perish with them; they may perpetuate themby law for a season to their descendants, but the Saints of God willfinally inherit the earth for ever, in time, and in eternity. Abrahamheld his possessions on a very different footing from the above. TheLord appeared unto him, and made a covenant with him, and said, "AndI will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land whereinthou art a stranger. All the land of Canaan for an everlastingpossession." Gen. xvii. 8. This covenant was an eternal one; yetAbraham did not possess the land, for Stephen says, "he gave him noneinheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on." Acts vii.5. And Paul says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out intoa place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; andhe went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in theland of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles withIsaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he lookedfor a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."Heb. xi. 8-10. Here, then, we find land given to Abraham by promise,a land that he did not possess; but he will do so, "for he looked fora city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Helooked forward to the redemption of his seed, the establishment of thekingdom of God, and the inheritance of those blessings eternally. Ifany one doubts this, let them read the xxxi. chapter of Jeremiah, andthe xxxvi. to xxxix. chapters of Ezekiel; wherein it is stated thatIsrael is to be gathered to their own land, that it is to become asthe Garden of Eden, and to be no more desolate. Ezekiel speaks of theresurrection of the dead, and the coming together of the bones, flesh,sinews, and skin, of a living army; of the uniting of the nations ofJudah, and Israel, in one; and in consequence of the great developmentof the powers of God, the heathen would be filled with astonishment;and finally, that God's tabernacle should be planted in their midstfor evermore. Then let them read from the xlvii. to the last chapterof Ezekiel; and they will find an account, not only of the restorationof the Jews, and ten tribes, but that the land is actually dividedto them by inheritance, in their different tribes, according to thepromise made thousands of years before to Abraham. In the 13th and 14thverses of the xlvii. chapter, he refers to this, and says, "Thus saiththe Lord God, This shall be the border whereby ye shall inherit theland according to the twelve tribes of Israel: Joseph shall have twoportions. And ye shall inherit it, one as well as another; concerningthe which I lifted up mine hand to give it unto your fathers; andthis land shall fall unto you for an inheritance." Thus we find thatthe promise unto Abraham concerning territory will be literallyfulfilled. Again, I would refer my readers to the fourteenth chapterof Zechariah. I would then turn their attention to the sealing of thetwelve tribes mentioned in the seventh chapter of Revelations, wherethere are twelve thousand out of every tribe sealed; and then ask,Where are these to reign? The answer is, on the earth; together withthose who have "washed their robes, and made them white in the blood ofthe Lamb, out of every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue."Jesus says, "Abraham saw my day and was glad." What! was he glad tosee his people scattered, dispersed, and peeled; Jerusalem troddenunder foot, the Jewish nation, temple, and polity destroyed, and hisseed cursed upon the face of the earth; or was it the second comingof Jesus, when they would be restored, Satan bound, the promises madeto him, and to his seed fulfilled, and misery and sorrow done away;for according to the testimony of Paul, "all Israel shall be saved."Abraham's views concerning land and possessions were not the same asthose entertained by men in our day; they were not only temporal, buteternal; and if the world was under the guidance of the same God asAbraham, they would be governed by the same principle; and anythingshort of this is transient, temporary, short lived, and does notaccomplish the purpose of man's creation.
I cannot conclude this subject better than by giving a quotation fromP. P. Pratt's "Voice of Warning." "By this time we begin to understandthe words of the Saviour, 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inheritthe earth.' And also the song which John heard in heaven, which endedthus: 'We shall reign on the Earth.' Reader, do not be startled:suppose you were to be caught up into heaven, there to stand with theredeemed of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and join themin singing, and to your astonishment, all heaven is filled with joy,while they tune the immortal lyre, in joyful anticipation of one dayreigning on the earth; a planet now under the dominion of Satan, theabode of wretchedness and misery, from which your glad spirit had takenits flight, and as you supposed, an everlasting farewell. You mightperhaps be startled for a moment, and enquire within yourself, Whyhave I never heard this theme sung among the churches on earth? Well,my friend, the answer would be, because you lived in a day when peopledid not understand the Scriptures. Abraham would tell you—you shouldhave read the promise of God to him, Gen. xvii. 8, where God not onlypromised the land of Canaan to his seed for an everlasting possession,but also to him. Then you should have read the testimony of Stephen,Acts vii. 5, by which you would have ascertained that Abraham never hadinherited the things promised, but was still expecting to rise fromthe dead, and be brought into the land of Canaan to inherit them. Yes,says Ezekiel, if you had read the xxxvii. chapter of my Prophecies,you would have found a positive promise that God would open the gravesof the whole house of Israel, who were dead, and gather up their drybones, and put them together, each to its own proper place, and evenclothe them again with flesh, sinews, and skin, and put his spirit inthem, and they should live; and then, instead of being caught up toheaven, they should be brought into the land of Canaan, which the Lordgave them, and they should inherit it. But, still astonished, you mightturn to Job; and he, surprised to find one unacquainted with so plaina subject, would exclaim, did you never read my xix. chapter, from the23rd to the 27th verses, where I declare, I wish my words were printedin a book, saying, that my Redeemer would stand on the earth in thelatter day, and that I should see him in the flesh, for myself, and notanother; though worms should destroy this body! Even David, the sweetsinger of Israel, would call to your mind his xxxvii. Psalm, where herepeatedly declares that the meek shall inherit the earth for ever,after the wicked are cut off from the face thereof. And last of all, toset the matter for ever at rest, the voice of the Saviour would mildlyfall upon your ear in his Sermon on the Mount, declaring emphatically,'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.' To thesethings you would answer, I have read these passages, to be sure; butwas always taught to believe that they did not mean so, therefore Inever understood them until now. Let me go and tell the people whatwonders have opened to my view, since my arrival in heaven, merelyfrom having heard one short song. It is true, I have heard much of theglories of heaven described, while on earth, but never once thought oftheir rejoicing in anticipation of returning to the earth. Says theSaviour, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; if they will not believethem, neither would they believe, although one should rise from thedead.'"[A]
[Footnote A: Pp. 48-50. Seventh Edition; Liverpool: F. D. Richards. This is anexcellent work, and well worthy of any one's perusal.—J. T.]
Man's Accountability to God.
This is a subject which it may be necessary for us to inquire into, inorder that we may find out how far man is responsible. For if man benot a moral agent, he cannot be responsible for the present position ofthe world; and it would be unjust in God to punish him for acts thatwere not his, and for circumstances over which he had no control.
By a careful examination of the Scriptures, we shall find that man hashad certain powers vested in his hands, which he holds subject to thecontrol and guidance of the Lord; and that if he has acted withoutthe counsel, guidance, or instruction of God, he has gone beyond thelimits assigned him by the Lord, and is as much culpable as a ministerplenipotentiary of any nation would be who should exceed the limits ofhis instructions; or a man holding a farm, or vineyard, by a certainlease, if he should disregard the conditions of that lease, and destroythe farm, or vineyard; for the earth is the Lord's, and man was puton it by the Lord. It is not man's possession, only as he holds itfrom God. Man's body was given him by God, and also his spirit, forthe purpose heretofore mentioned. God had his object in view in thecreation of the world and of man (which it is not necessary here toinvestigate); and if man is placed as an agent to act for the Lord, andalso for himself, and then should neglect the Lord, he would certainlybe held responsible to his Creator. That God had an object in view inregard to the creation of the world, is evident. Or, why was there aconsultation in heaven about it? Why the beautiful regulation of sun,moon, and stars? Why the provision made for the redemption of manbefore he came here? For Christ was "the Lamb slain from before thefoundation of the world." Why the arrangement of the resurrection?the New Jerusalem, and the reign of Jesus on the earth? Will any onesay that all these things were done, and all nature organized in itspresent beauty, and order, without a design? It would be preposterous.If God has a design in those things, and man by his wilfulness,wickedness, corruption, and rebellion, should thwart the design of God,and yield himself to another influence, even that of Satan, will he notbe held responsible? And whether God has a particular design or not,does not affect the question particularly; for the earth is the Lord's,and man also, and God has a perfect right to dictate what laws hepleases. That the Lord looks upon the world in this manner is evidentfrom the words of our Saviour. "There was a certain householder whichplanted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine-pressin it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went intoa far country. And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent hisservants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another,and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first;and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them hisson, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen sawthe son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let uskill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, andcast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the Lord, therefore,of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They sayunto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let outhis vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruitsin their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in theScriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is becomethe head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellousin our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall betaken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruitsthereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; buton whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." Matt. xxi.33-44. Here, then, the thing is clearly developd: man's agency; theabuse of that agency; the punishment inflicted for that abuse, togetherwith the awful consequences of resistance to the proper authority. "Onwhomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder." God nevergave man unlimited control of the affairs of this world; but alwaysspeaks of man as being under his guidance, inhabiting his territory,and responsible to him for his acts. The world is His vineyard, andman is the agent. Hence, when God made man, "God blessed him, and Godsaid unto him, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, andsubdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over thefowl of the air, and every living thing that moveth upon the earth."This, then, was man's dominion, given him by the Lord. And the wordcontinues: "And God gave them every herb bearing seed, and every treein which is the fruit of a tree." These things were given by God; butto show his power, and his right to be obeyed, and in order to testman, he forbid his eating of a certain tree; and when he did eat of it,and thus broke the commandment of God, he thrust him out of the garden,and decreed that he "should eat his bread by the sweat of his brow."
Again, God demanded worship and sacrifices, and when Cain and Abeloffered them, he received one and rejected the other; and further, whenCain was wroth on account of his sacrifice not being accepted, the Lordsaid to him, "Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest notwell, sin lieth at the door." Gen. iv. 5-7. After the destruction ofthe world, which was in consequence of the people sinning against God,he blessed Noah, and spake to him, and gave him the same dominionwhich had been given before to Adam; and Noah offered sacrifices tohim. The same recognition of the Almighty's power and authority wasmanifested by Abraham, Moses, the Children of Israel, and the Prophets;by Jesus also, and the primitive Christians. Man was left as a freeagent with power to act, and vested with certain powers by his Father,and responsible to him for his acts, as a son, servant, or agentwould be to his father, master, or employer. Perhaps it would be morecorrectly conveyed thus:—a man lets or rents a vineyard or farm, theman occupying it has a certain agency and discretionary power vestedin his hands, but always subject to certain conditions imposed by theowner of the property. Hence God made a covenant with Noah, Abraham,the Children of Israel, and the primitive saints. The making of acovenant naturally implies two parties: in such cases, God is one,the people the other. If the people fulfil their covenant, the Lordis bound to fulfil his; but if man transgresses then the Lord is notbound to fulfil his engagement. For instance, in speaking to ancientIsrael, he said, "And it shall come to pass if thou shalt hearkendiligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do allthe commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy Godwill set thee on high above all nations of the earth." Deut. xxviii.1. He then describes what those blessings are; and further states,that if they do not observe his statutes they shall be cursed. TheLord set before them blessings and cursings; blessings if they obeyed,but cursings if they disobeyed. Man, then, acts as a moral agent, toimprove upon the blessings which God puts within his power, or not, ashe pleases; and it is the abuse of this moral agency, which has filledthe world with misery and distress.[A]
[Footnote A: This part of the subject is fully explained in the remarks on theGovernment of Man, chap. ii.]
Man has lost sight of the object of his creation, and his futuredestiny; and losing sight of his origin, his relationship to God,and his future destiny, he has fallen into the mazes of ignorance,superstition, and iniquity, and is groping in the dark, and knowsnot how to conduct himself in this world, or how to prepare for theworld to come. For, instead of being governed by the Spirit, Wisdom,and Revelations of God, he is governed by the spirit of the Evil One,"the god of this world, who rules in the hearts of the children ofdisobedience." They have left God, and submitted themselves to his evilsway, and used that agency which God has given to them, not only inrejecting God, but in obeying Satan; and furthering his designs, whichare in opposition to those of God, the happiness of mankind, and thesalvation of the world. I know there are many who will ridicule thisidea but it is a thing which is plain in the Scriptures. The ApostlePaul says, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them whichbelieve not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who isthe image of God, should shine unto them." 2 Cor. iv. 4. And if any manthinks he is wise, he has his moral agency and the world before him;and if he can improve the situation of the world without God, he hasample opportunity to display his intelligence.
I would remark, further, that so far from Satan not exercising thispower over man, he exercises it to such an extent, and he possessessuch an unbounded influence over the human family, that God's purposesrelative to man, and the earth, never can be carried out until Satanis bound, and cast into the bottomless pit. John says, "And I saw anangel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, anda great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the Dragon, that oldserpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a sealupon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousandyears should be fulfilled." Rev. xx. 1-3. Here, then, he is describedas deceiving the nations, and his power is curtailed for a season,that he shall not possess it. It is a difficult thing to persuade menthat they are deceived; because that very power that deceives them,inflates the mind with self-sufficiency and assurance: but who, thatlooks abroad in the world, and sees the confusion, distress, and miserythat abound, will say that man has acted wisely?
Man, then, is a moral agent, possessing the power to do good or to doevil; if he does well, he fulfils the measure of his creation, andsecures his happiness in time and in eternity. If he does not well,and is involved in difficulties and misery, it is his own fault, andhe may blame himself. There are many circumstances over which manindividually has no control; but I am speaking more particularly ofnations and the world, and man's moral agency associated with them:concerning individuals, the Lord will make his own arrangements.The Jews are cursed nationally, on account of their fathers'transgression, and cannot remove that curse, as a nation, until thetime come. As individuals they can receive the Gospel as well asothers. Their fathers committed grievous national offences againstGod for some length of time, and finally filled up the measure oftheir iniquity, in rejecting, and crucifying the Son of God. Ifthey killed the prophets, and stoned those whom God sent, how couldhe treat with them? He could act no other way consistently than to"destroy those husbandmen, and give the vineyard to others." For ifGod be the proprietor of the vineyard, and has a right to confernational blessings for obedience, he has also a right to visit themwith national curses for disobedience. A nation rejecting God andhis ordinances, and killing his prophets, and still professing tobe his people, act hypocritically, and impose a great curse uponposterity. And if men will not acknowledge God, how can they expecthim to acknowledge and bless them? Again. There are heathen nationsenveloped in idolatry; and if millions of people came into the worldin those places surrounded with idolatry and superstition, it wouldbe unjust for them to be punished for what they did not know. Hence,if they have no law, they will be judged without law; and God in hisown wisdom will regulate their affairs, for it is their misfortune,not their individual offence, that has placed them in their presentposition. If, however, we could trace their history, we should find,as with the Israelites, so with them. Their present darkness andmisery originated in a departure from God; and as their fathers didnot desire to retain God in their knowledge, he gave them up to theirpresent darkness, confusion, and wretchedness. See Paul's remarks onthis subject, Rom. i. 21-25, 28. For nationally, the conduct of fathershas a great influence over their children, as well as in a familycapacity. Hence the Jews will be blessed as a nation, in consequenceof the promises made to Abraham, for as I have said before, theseare eternal principles; man is an eternal being, and all his actionshave a relevancy to eternity. The actions of fathers have a bearingand influence on their children, both as families and nations, intime and in eternity. And those great principles that God has his eyeupon in relation to the nations, and to the world, will certainly beaccomplished. Hence the stimulus to excite men to tread in the stepsof Abraham, that like him they may obtain blessings for themselvesand their posterity. And hence the choice of Abraham by the Lord.The Lord said, "I know him that he will command his children and hishousehold after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord." Gen.xviii. 19. And why did the Lord feel anxious about this? Because ofhis own purposes in relation to the earth, and because of his parentalcare of the bodies and spirits of man. For there are matters of greatimportance associated with these things, as before referred to; and theLord has felt very anxious, for the perpetuation of correct principles.So strong were his feelings in relation to this matter, that he gavethe following law to the children of Israel: "If thy brother, the sonof thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom,or thy friend which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying,Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, northy fathers; namely, of the gods of the people which are round aboutyou, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee; from the one end of theearth even unto the other end of the earth; thou shalt not consent untohim, nor hearken unto him; neither shalt thine eye pity him, neithershalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him; but thou shalt surelykill him; thine hand shall be first upon him, to put him to death, andafterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him withstones, that he die, because he hath sought to thrust thee away fromthe Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, fromthe house of bondage." Deut. xiii. 6-10. Here, then, it is stated,that if brother, son, wife, or any one, wish to lead thee from God,thou shalt destroy them; and why? Because in forsaking God, they losesight of their eternal existence, corrupt themselves, and entail miseryon their posterity. Hence it was better to destroy a few individuals,than to entail misery on many. And hence the inhabitants of the oldworld and of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, becauseit was better for them to die, and thus be deprived of their agency,which they abused, than entail so much misery on their posterity, andbring ruin upon millions of unborn persons. And having thus deprivedthem of their agency to act upon the earth, and punished them for theirtransgressions, Jesus went "and preached unto the spirits in prison;which sometime were disobedient, when once the long suffering of Godwaited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing." 1 Peteriii. 19, 20.
It is upon this principle that the world will be punished in the lastdays for their transgressions, because they have abused their agency,and broken the covenant that God made with them. They have yielded tothe influence of Satan, perverted the designs of Jehovah, and broughtupon themselves and posterity a curse, misery, and ruin. If any thingfurther is desired upon this subject, Isaiah has described it plainly,and has shewn the awful effects of an abuse of this moral agency anddeparture from God, and the breaking of this covenant. To him I referthe reader as a conclusion on this subject. "Behold, the Lord makeththe earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, andscattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be, as with thepeople, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master;as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with theseller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker ofusury, so with the giver of usury to him. The land shall be utterlyemptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. Theearth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away,the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiledunder the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws,changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore haththe curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate:therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left."xxiv. 1-6.
The Lord's Course in the Moral Government of the World.
We will now enquire, What part the Lord has ever taken in the moralgovernment of the world. In the last chapter I shewed that man has amoral agency; acting under the Lord, and is, consequently, responsibleto him for his acts, as a moral agent. But does he leave him alone andunassisted to carry out his designs? No. Looking upon man as his son,he has from time to time offered his services and instructions, as afather. He has given revelations, instructing and warning his people.He has given promises to the obedient, and threatened the disobedient.He has instructed kings, rulers, and prophets. He has also protectedthe righteous, and punished, by judgments, the wicked. He has promisedto Abraham and others lands and possessions. He has held out promisesof eternal life to the faithful; but has never coerced or forced thehuman mind. He destroyed the inhabitants of the old world because theyhad corrupted themselves. He did not govern their minds; they mightforget God, "and every thought of their hearts be only evil, and thatcontinually;" but the earth was the Lord's, and he was the Father ofour spirits; and although man had an agency to propagate his species,it was given him by God; and if he was so blind as to corrupt himself,and entail misery upon millions of unborn beings, the God of theuniverse, "the Father of Spirits," had a right to prevent him. And ifhe was prostituting the use of those faculties given him by God, tothe service of Satan, and abusing the liberty which his Creator had soliberally given, although the Lord could not control the free actionof his will, he could destroy his body, and thus prevent him fromcursing posterity. Hence, if a man transgresses the laws of the land,he is considered a bad member of society, and is punished accordingly;sometimes imprisoned; sometimes banished; and sometimes put to death.Legislators assign as a reason for these things, that such persons areinjurious to society; that if crime was not punished, the virtuous andgood would be abused; the wicked would triumph; character, life, andproperty would be insecure; and anarchy, confusion, and desolationwould inevitably ensue.
I would here ask, If man acts upon this principle, has not God a rightto do so with the affairs of his government? Or should we arrogateto ourselves privileges that we will not allow the Lord to possess?Upon this principle the Devil and his angels were cast out of heaven.The devil having his agency, as well as man, came here, and soughtto destroy the works of God; and succeeded so far as to obtain aninfluence over man's spirit, and bring his body into subjection tohis agency; and if man was so ungrateful and corrupt as to yield tohis influence, and obey his agency, God had as much right to punishhim as he had the Devil; and as he cast the Devil and his angels outof heaven, he also cut man off from the earth, and thus punishedthe "spirits that were disobedient in the days of Noah." Satan, inheaven, had no power over those spirits; but when they came to earth,he gained an ascendency over them, and not having a body himself,made use of their bodies to corrupt the world, and thus thwart thedesigns of Jehovah; they must therefore bear the consequences oftheir disobedience. And if I am asked by a sceptic why God destroyedso many human beings, I answer, this was God's government, they hadtransgressed his laws, were traitors to him, and he had a right topunish them, as I before stated, to prevent them from bringing ruinupon others, and perpetuating this misery of the human family, in time,and in eternity.
The Lord has given laws, and although he has not forced man to keepthem, nor coerced his will, yet he has punished him for disobedience,as a father would a son. A father of a child can teach that childcorrect principles; but unless he controls or confines the body,he cannot force that child to observe them; he can punish him fordisobedience, however, and thus exert a moral or physical influenceover him. Our Father does the same. He punished the inhabitants ofSodom and Gomorrah, Babylon, Ninevah, Jerusalem, and many other cities,and will punish the world on the same principle.
Again: he has offered rewards, and given them to the faithful, such asNoah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; he protected the Children of Israel,and blessed them with temporal and national prosperity, when theyserved him, and punished their enemies; and he would have extended hisblessings to the world, if they would have been obedient to him. TheLord has used these influences; but never coerced the will. Hence Jesussaid to the Jews, "How often would I have gathered you together as ahen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." Godwould have benefitted them, but they would not be benefited. Again,the Prophet says, "Because I have called, and ye refused, I havestretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at noughtall my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at yourcalamity; I will mock when your fear cometh." Prov. i. 24-26. Thesethings clearly prove that man is a free, moral agent, and that Godnever has controlled the human mind, and that, consequently, if man isfound in a state of wretchedness, degradation, and ruin, he has himselfto blame for it, and not the Lord. The Lord would have given him hiscounsel if he had sought it; for he did instruct men of God formerly,and gave them laws, and ordinances; and he told his people that ifthey called upon him "in the day of trouble, he would hear them;" andJames says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who givethto all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him."i. 5. When the Children of Israel served God and obeyed him, theyacknowledged his authority, and said, "The Lord is our judge; the Lordis our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us." Isaiah xxxiii.22. If the Children of Israel had been obedient, and this principlehad extended over the earth, we should have had the Kingdom of Godestablished on the earth, and universal peace and happiness would haveprevailed. But man's corruption and degeneracy have destroyed theworld, and nothing but the wisdom, power, and blessings of God canrestore it.
Whose Right Is It to Govern the World? Who Has Governed It?
Having traced out in the preceding chapters the nature of man, hisdestiny and parentage, spiritual and temporal; what his object is inbeing here; what his relation to this earth is; his moral agency; andshown that God has never controlled his actions; we will next enquirea little about the earth; whose right it is to govern it; and who hasgoverned it.
It will not be necessary to say a great deal here about the earth,and its organization, for we have touched on this subject before, andit is one about which there should be no dispute among believers inthe Bible. I will briefly state, that Paul says, "For by him were allthings created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible andinvisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, orpowers: all things were created by him and for him." Colos. i. 16. Thisbeing the case, without further investigation, we will examine whoseright it is to govern it. If the world be the Lord's, he certainlyhas a right to govern it; for we have already stated that man hasno authority, except that which is delegated to him. He possesses amoral power to govern his actions, subject at all times to the law ofGod; but never is authorized to act independent of God; much less ishe authorised to rule on the earth without the call and direction ofthe Lord; therefore, any rule or dominion over the earth, which isnot given by the Lord, is surreptitiously obtained, and never will besanctioned by him. I am aware that kings and queens are anointed andset apart by their different ministers, according to the differentforms and creeds of the several countries over which they reign. Thereare two things necessary, however, to make their authority legal, andto authorize them to act as God's representatives on the earth. Thefirst is, that they should be called of God; and the second, thatthe persons by whom they are anointed are duly authorised to anointthem. First, then, it may be necessary to observe, that, if kingsand queens are of God's selection, and are his representatives, theymust themselves be appointed by him; for if not so, how can they beconsidered his representatives? The prophet Hosea complains, that "theyhave set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knewit not." viii. 4. If they are sent by him, they must understand theiroffice and calling, and the designs of the Lord concerning the peoplewhom they govern, the same as a governor of a province, or a ministerplenipotentiary, receives his credentials from the prince or courtwhom he serves. If, then, we examine the position of kings, and theirrelationship to their divine Sovereign, we shall find that there areonly two ways for this calling to be legal. It must have been given,either by God, through revelation to the ancestors of the reigningkings, and handed down in an unbroken descent to the present time;or, otherwise, given by direct revelation, and they set apart by aprophet of the Lord God. But no nation, kingdom, or king in existencewill acknowledge either of these ways. All the kingdoms that are nowin existence were founded by the sword, without any respect to God. Inrelation to their anointing, the question would naturally arise, Whoauthorised the ministers to anoint those kings and queens? For if thepersons officiating have not the authority thus to anoint, and set themapart, to execute God's law and reign over the nations, their anointingwill avail them little: it will be merely the anointing of man withoutthe direction and sanction of God.
Authority to anoint kings and queens, in order that they may be theanointed of the Lord, must be given in one of three ways. It mustfirst, have been given by revelation to the primitive Christian Church,authorising them to administer in this ordinance, and empowering theirsuccessors to do it; secondly, by direct revelation; or, otherwise,it must have been transmitted from the ancient Jews, through a linealdescent. In regard to the first, we find no such record in the NewTestament; neither Jesus, nor his Apostles, nor any of the seventies,nor elders, ever administered in this ordinance, or spoke of it asbeing associated with the powers of their ministry. Consequently, nopower can come from there.[A]
[Footnote A: I am aware that the Roman Catholic ministry will tellus, that they have traditionary authority to anoint kings, and toperform many ordinances that are not contained in the Scriptures.Without, however, arguing the point of their authority here, I wouldbriefly remark, that in order for the administration to be legal, it isnecessary that the kings themselves be called of God; that this call isrequisite, as well as the anointing; and that, if they possessed allthe power they claim, they have no more right to anoint a man to beking, who is not called by God, in one of the two mentioned ways, thanany officer of state would be authorised to confer an office of trustor honor on any individual, the gift of which was vested in the kingalone, if the king had never appointed the individual. All intelligentpersons must see that either appointment is illegal, and consequentlynull and void. The following from a French History, is interesting, andneeds no comment: it shows clearly the design of its usage first inFrance:—
"La cérémonie du sacre était-elle connue en France avant l'inaugurationde Pepin?
"R. Non; elle n'avait jamais été employée: mais Pepin se servit decette cérémonie empruntée des Juifs, inconnue jusqu' alors, pourimprimer à la royaute un caractére plus auguste; cette coutume s'estperpetuée depuis pour tous les Rois de France. II commença à régner,752, A.D.
Nouvelle Histoire de France, par Louis Ardent, p. 47. Paris: chezCorbet, Libraire Quai des Augustins.]
In regard to the second position, all Christendom deny presentrevelation; and thus from their own confession they have not obtainedtheir authority from that source; and in regard to the third, ifthere was authority associated with the Jews to ordain kings, theChristians certainly could not claim a Jewish rite; for the Jewishnation and authority were all destroyed: "they were broken off becauseof unbelief." Rom. xi. 17, 19, 20. The Christians obtained all theirauthority to officiate from Jesus Christ, and not from the Jews.Whichever way you look at it, there is no foundation for any suchauthority, and consequently the anointing is all a farce, for it doesnot originate with God.
But here let us enquire a little further, Does God set up Christiankings to fight against Christian kings? and Christian subjects todestroy Christian subjects? I know they call upon God; but what todo? In their wars they ask him to destroy one another. This patchworkdominion, and mongrel Christianity, although they may be quite feasiblein the dark, yet they present a curious spectacle when brought into thelight of Truth.
It may be asked, Has not the Lord given authority to kings to reign?Yes; he has, to two kinds: to one, to accomplish certain purposes thathe had in view relative to the nations; to the other, to rule over hispeople—these were legally called and anointed by him. Of the firstkind, was Nebuchadnezzar; he had a kingdom and dominion given to him,so say the Scriptures, but certainly not to govern God's people, forhe made, and caused to be worshipped, a large golden Image; and putShadrach, Meschach, and Abednego into a furnace for not doing so. What,then, was his calling? First, it was to govern a wicked and idolatrouspeople; and secondly, to fulfil the will of God, in the punishmentof his people. As the people over whom he ruled had given themselvesup to idolatry, they had an idolatrous king given to them for theirruler, for the Lord, never having given up his right to govern theworld, gives the people kings according to their deserts; and althoughhe may not give them legal authority as His representatives, yetby his overruling Providence, he places wicked men in a positionthat they may have power over a wicked nation, both to trouble thatnation and themselves. Such was the case with Pharaoh, king of Egypt;and also with Salmanaser, king of Assyria, when he defied the God ofIsrael. Such was the case with some of the kings of Israel, in therebellions of that people; and with Belshazzar, king of Babylon, whowas eating and drinking with his wives and concubines in the palaceat Babylon, when the handwriting was seen on the walls, "God hathnumbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Thou art weighed in the balancesand art found wanting." Dan. v. 26, 27. Babylon was destroyed; andso fully have the purposes of God been accomplished in relation tothat magnificent city, that the place where it then stood is now adesert. And such also will be the case with the nations and kings ofthe earth, in the last day, as spoken of by Zechariah. "Behold, theday of the Lord cometh . . . . . For I will gather all nations againstJerusalem to battle . . . . . then shall the Lord go forth and fightagainst those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle." xiv.1-3: also read the 39th chapter of Ezekiel. Here, then, is a slaughterthe most terrible that could be conceived: the armies actually coverthe land, and so dreadful is the slaughter, that they cannot bury thedead, so that their stench shall stop the noses of the passers by. Thefowls of the air are commanded also to assemble, that they may eat theflesh of kings, captains, and mighty men; and yet those kings, princes,and rulers will, by the providence of God, be given to the people as achastisement, that the Lord may punish both kings and people on accountof their iniquities. Daniel clearly exemplifies this subject in thefollowing words, in speaking of the judgements that should come uponNebuchadnezzar. He states, that these judgements were "to the intentthat the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom ofmen, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it thebasest of men." iv. 17. Another duty that wicked kings have to performon the earth is, that of being used by the Almighty as a scourge orrod to punish nations that are corrupt. Hence when Israel had sinnedagainst God, and the Lord determined to chastise them, he told them,through his prophets, that he would punish them by Nebuchadnezzar, Kingof Babylon. Accordingly, Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem, andtook the Children of Israel captive to Babylon, with the vessels ofsilver and gold belonging to the Temple. And God afterwards punishedBabylon for its transgressions; Cyrus, king of Persia was raised up bythe Lord to chastise it.
But did either of these kings govern God's people? or were theyordained by the Lord? No, only as his sword to execute his judgementson the nations. Such, also, were Alexander, Cæsar, and others; andhence Paul tells the Christians in his day to submit themselves tokings and rulers. And why? These men were ordained for a certainpurpose, and it was not for the Christians to set in order the affairsof God's kingdom, nor to regulate the world. The Lord would do thatin his own time and way; it was for them to wait for the time "of therestitution of all things."
Another order of kings were those that were anointed to reign overGod's people, the children of Israel. Such was Saul, who was anointedby Samuel; such also were David and Solomon, and many of the kingsof Israel. Those kings that were anointed and acknowledged of theLord were not only kings but priests. Hence, Saul, when he had sinnedagainst God, and the Spirit of the Lord was withdrawn, "enquired of theLord, and the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim,nor by prophets." 1 Sam. xxviii. 6. David also acted as a priest, andcould obtain knowledge or revelation from God also, for when Saul wasrejected, and sought David's life, David called for the ephod, usedby the priests: see Exodus xxviii. "And David said to Abiathar thepriest, bring hither the ephod. Then said David, O Lord God of Israel,thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilahto destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me upinto his hand? Will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard, O LordGod of Israel? I beseech thee tell thy servant. And the Lord said, Hewill come down. Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me andmy men up into the hand of Saul? And the Lord said, They will deliverthee up." 1 Sam. xxiii. 9-12. Here we find David actually enquiring ofGod for direction, and obtaining information. The Lord had forsakenSaul, and would not answer him; but he would and did answer David: seealso the xxiii. 2; and xxx. 8; and 2 Sam. ii. 1; v. 19-25; xxi. 1; 1Chron. xiv. 10-14. From the whole of the above we learn, that Davidtook no step without enquiring of the Lord. Solomon also, acted as apriest as well as a king; and it is said of him, that Solomon lovedthe Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father. And the Lordgave him wisdom, and instructed him in the affairs of his kingdom. Whenhe prayed unto the Lord, and asked of him wisdom, God granted him thedesire of his heart, and gave him with wisdom, riches and honor. "AndJudah and Israel dwelt in safety, every man under his vine and figtree, from Dan to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon;" and when he hadfinished the temple, he offered his sacrifices, and acknowledged theGod of Israel; and he prayed for the nation over which he ruled, not byproxy, but himself. "And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord inthe presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth hishands towards heaven;" and then he uttered a prayer for himself, hispeople, and nation: see 1 Kings viii. 22. And we read that afterwardsthe Lord appeared to him, and said unto him, "I have heard thy prayerand thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowedthis house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; andmine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And if thou wiltwalk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, andin uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, andwilt keep my statutes and my judgements: then I will establish thethrone of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to Davidthy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throneof Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or yourchildren, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which Ihave set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them;and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out ofmy sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:and at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall beastonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord donethus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Becausethey forsook the Lord their God, who brought forth their fathers outof the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and haveworshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the Lord brought uponthem all this evil." 1 Kings ix. 3-9.
Thus, then, these men, delegated and appointed of God, acted as hisrepresentatives on the earth. They received their kingdoms from him.They were anointed by prophets of God, who received the word of theLord concerning them, as in the case of Saul and David; and if theydeparted from God, he chastised, or removed them, as in the case ofSaul and David, and of which the history of the Kings of Israel is astriking example, and faithful commentary. Those that were faithfulamong them sought to know the mind of God, and to carry out hisdesigns. The greatest, most powerful, and prosperous rule that everexisted among them, as a nation, was that of Solomon, who asked, andobtained wisdom from God; and that wisdom as a necessary consequencebrought honour, happiness, security, riches, magnificence, and power.Thus those kings that were righteous, who received their kingdoms fromthe Lord, went to war, or proclaimed peace by his directions; theywere his representatives on the earth, and governed his people as theLord's anointed. Yet even the monarchy of the House of Israel wasnot in strict accordance with the will of God; but originated in therebellion and pride of the children of Israel, who, wishing to be likethe nations around them, being dissatisfied with their judges, desiredof the Lord a king. The following are their words, and the Lord'sanswer: "Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together,and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, Behold thou art old,and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us likeall the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Giveus a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lordsaid unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all thatthey say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they haverejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all theworks which they have done since the day that I brought them up out ofEgypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and servedother gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto theirvoice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the mannerof the king that shall reign over them. And Samuel told all the wordsof the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said,this will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: he willtake your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and tobe his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he willappoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; andwill set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to makehis instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he willtake your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to bebakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and youroliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. Andhe will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give tohis officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants,and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses,and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep; andye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because ofyour king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hearyou in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice ofSamuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that wealso may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, andgo out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the wordsof the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord. And theLord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king.And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city."1 Sam. viii. 4-22.
We find that this thing was displeasing to the Lord; they resisted thecounsel of God; but as they were the Lord's people, he listened totheir requests, and gave according to their desires; he felt bound tofulfil his engagements, and, if they would not walk fully by the rulethat he required, to give a government of their own asking, which, ifnot so good as the one he proposed, was nevertheless sanctioned by him;and that order once established, those kings set apart, and anointed byhim, had a perfect right to look to him for his guidance, which theydid, and inasmuch as they performed his will, as his representatives,were blessed of him. For kings could not be blamed for the order thatexisted, they did not originate the government; it was the people, allthey could do was to rule according to the direction of the Lord. Butthis was not a perfect government. The Lord had his eye on somethingyet more glorious, something in which the salvation, and happiness ofthe world were concerned; a rule of righteousness, when, not only onenation, but the kingdoms and dominions of the whole earth, should begiven to the Son of God; and when all nations, kindreds, people, andtongues should serve and obey him; and as the earth belonged to him,and the people also, that he should govern them. Such will be the caseas we shall hereafter show, and a system be introduced that will notonly benefit one nation, but that will govern all nations, bless thewhole of the human family, and exalt and happify the world. All thesethings that have existed, are merely temporary arrangements, adaptedto the weakness, ignorance, and wickedness of the human family, inthe times of darkness, and power of Satan. If the above is the case,in regard to the best of these governments, even that of the House ofIsrael, what is the situation of those who are governing, without evenany pretensions to have received their government and authority fromGod! It may be asked, What is to be done in this state of things? howare they to be regulated? This is worthy of our attention, but as weshall devote some time to this hereafter, we will content ourselveswith saying, this is God's work, and not man's. He has these things inhis hands, and he must arrange them; confusion, revolt, rebellion, isnot the way to bring these things about; for if the world is alreadyevil, this will only make it worse. Besides, the kings and rulers ofthe present day are no more responsible than others; they did not makethe nations as they are, they found them so; neither are they appointedto govern the world, nor do any of them profess it. According to theirmost extended calculation, their power would be confined to their ownnations. Some of the kings and queens of the earth seem to be actuatedby a desire to promote the happiness of the nations with which theyare associated, and over which they rule. The Queen of England isalmost universally beloved by her subjects, and that deservedly; shehas been mild and pacific in her course, and her rule and dominionhave been as near right as it is possible for a government to be underexisting circumstances. If there are evils, she did not originatethem, she found them so. She has kept her covenant that she made withthe nation, and sought the welfare of her subjects, and they owe herfealty, and ought to render to her obedience. And as she, nor nomonarch, is set to build up the kingdom of God, or establish universalrule, as a monarchy without authority from God, it is perhaps as gooda form as could exist. The Emperor of Russia, with all his faults ofgovernment, nevertheless possesses many good traits; at any rate heseems to reverence the Lord. Some time ago, when the cholera broke outin St. Petersburgh, the inhabitants supposed that their wells had beenpoisoned; a large number of people assembled for the purpose, as theythought, of finding out, and punishing the aggressors. The excitementwas very great. The Emperor, hearing of the tumult, rushed into theirmidst and said, "My children, you are mistaken in supposing that thewells have been poisoned, and this is the cause of our affliction, thisis a judgement that has come from God, let us fall down before him,and ask him to remove his scourge from our midst;" whereupon he fellupon his knees in the midst of the people, and prayed to the Lord toremove the plague from among them. He has a strong impression that Godhas a work for him to do on the earth; and in this he may be right.Although he is not delegated to establish the kingdom of God, he maynevertheless be appointed as Caesar, Nebuchadnezzar, and others, as ascourge to the nations, and so fulfil his destiny, for as we are onthe eve of great events, and a fearful doom awaits the nations, somepowerful means must be made use of, in this as well as in other ages,to bring these things about.
Some may remark on the foregoing, Does not Paul say, that "the powersthat be, are ordained of God?" Yes, and so say I; but all powersthat are ordained of God, do not rule for his glory, nor are theyall associated with his government and kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar andBelshazzar were ordained of God, but they were both idolaters. Cyruswas ordained of God; but he was an heathen. God regulates his ownaffairs; and while the world is in a state of idolatry, apostacy, andrebellion, he, by his providence, overrules the affairs of the nation,as Daniel says, "to the intent that the living may know that the MostHigh ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will,and setteth up over it the basest of men." Dan. iv. 17. But others willsay that Paul tells us "to be subject to the powers that be." So say I.God will establish his own government: the cavillings, rebellions, andcontentions of men will not do it; and it is proper for well disposedpersons to wait the Lord's time, to be peaceable and quiet, and to prayfor kings, governors, and authorities. This was what Jeremiah taughtthe children of Israel to do, "And seek the peace of the city wherein Ihave caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord forit, for in the peace thereof shall you have peace." xxix. 7. It is veryevident, from what has been shown, that there is no proper governmentnor rule upon the face of the earth; that there are no kings who areanointed, or legally appointed of God; and that, however much disposedany of them may feel to benefit the world, it is out of their power, itexceeds the limits of their jurisdiction, it requires a power, spirit,and intelligence, which they do not possess. We see, moreover, thattumults, commotions, rebellions, and resistance are not the way to doit. It requires more wisdom than that which emperors, kings, princes,or the wisest of men possess, to bring out of the wild chaos, themisery, and desolation that have overspread the world, that beautifulorder, peace, and happiness portrayed by the prophets as the reign ofthe kingdom of God.
Will Man Always Be Permitted to Usurp Authority Over Men, and Over theWorks of God? Will the World Remain for ever Under a Curse, and God'sDesigns Be Frustrated?
The above are grave questions, and will necessarily requireexamination, for they concern the earth and its inhabitants. Their truesolution will affect man in time and in eternity. The world cannotremain as it is, for the following reasons:—
First. It would be unreasonable.
Secondly. It would be unjust.
Thirdly. It would be unscriptural.
Fourthly. It would frustrate the designs of God, in regard to thespirits of the righteous; the dead; the progression of the world, andits final exaltation; and also the exaltation of man.
First.—It would be unreasonable for man to continue his usurpedauthority. If God is interested in the welfare of his creatures, hecertainly never would permit, without some just cause, the destructionof his works, and the misery of his creatures; and we have fullydemonstrated, that the world is full of abominations, and evils, andthat those evils can only be removed by the interposition of the Lord;that the assumed authority of men, and the Devil, can only be checkedby a superior power. God holds that power in his hands; he holds thelife of the human family in his hands; and the world, notwithstandingits rebellion and iniquity, has to be sustained by him from day today. Let him but withdraw his governing and controlling power from theearth, and it would wander wildly through space, unblest by the genialinfluences of the sun, or clash against some other system, involvingall creation in ruin: let some slight variation take place in itsdiurnal motion, and the sea would leave its proper bounds, overflow theearth, and millions of the human family would perish. Let even someslight variation take place in the atmosphere, and the Lord withdrawthe sanitory influences that preserve the earth in its present healthystate, and the murky atmosphere would contain contagion, and disease;the pestiferous air would spread desolation, and death; plague andpestilence would fill the earth; and millions of foetid loathsomebeings would be living, and dying examples, of man's impotency andweakness. Even a small insect sent to destroy the grain, accompaniedwith the blight of the potatoes, such as has already been witnessed,would produce incalculable evil; let these things become moreuniversal, and the death of the human family must ensue. Even so slighta thing as too much, or too little rain would produce uncalculatedmisery.
When we contemplate man as he is, a poor worm dependent upon God forhis daily bread, and upon how many slight contingencies the brittlethread of life is continued, and that the least variation in theeconomy of God might, in numberless ways, involve the human family inruin, and then notice his arrogance, pride, conceit, and rebellion; itseems to us mysterious that the mercy of God should be so long extendedto him; and we can only account for it upon this principle, that God istoo great, wise, powerful, and magnanimous to be moved to anger by theimpotent ravings, the empty pride, the little meanness, the swellingpusillanimity, and the utter helplessness, of the erratic, puerile,insignificant creature, man. He lets him wallow in his corruptions,gloat in his misery, and permits him to become a prey to Satan, fora season, that he may feel the greatness of his fall, the extent ofhis degeneracy, and the utter ruin that his own course, instigatedby the powers of the adversary, has brought upon him; that he mayafterwards learn to appreciate the mercies of God, see and understandthe delusion, and be enabled eternally to appreciate the mercies andgovernment of God, after having first atoned for his own acts andtransgressions. For like a wayward and disobedient child, he will beglad to return to his father's house and friendship; and when thevision of his mind shall be opened, which, if not done in this world,will be in the world to come, he will be thoroughly disgusted withhimself and his acts, and will be glad on any conditions to find anasylum with his Father.
This state of things, then, is merely permitted for a season, todevelop the designs and influences of Satan, and their effects; todevelop the weakness of man, and his incompetency to rule and governhimself without God; to manifest the mercy of God, in bearing withman, in the midst of his rebellion; to show man his ingratitude, andthe depth of his depravity, in order that he may appreciate more fullythe mercy and long-suffering of God, and the purity and holinessthat reign in the eternal world. Man has tasted the misery of sinand rebellion, and drunk of the cup of sorrow, in order that he mayappreciate more fully the joy and happiness that spring from obedienceto God, and his laws. But to think for a moment that man here willalways be permitted to subvert the designs of God, and the world befor ever under the dominion of Satan, is the height of folly, andonly develops more fully the pride, littleness, and emptiness of man.For notwithstanding man is a weak creature, in comparison to God, yethe has within him the germs of greatness and immortality. God is hisFather, and though now wandering in darkness, sunk, degraded, andfallen, he is destined, in the purposes of God, to be great, dignified,and exalted; to occupy a glorious position in the eternal world, andto fulfil the object of his creation. Will this design be frustratedby the powers of darkness, or the influence of wicked and ungodly men?Verily, no. To suppose such a thing, manifests the greatest absurdity,which can only be equalled by the weakness and ignorance from whenceit springs. What! God, the author of the universe, and of all createdgood, suffer his plans to be frustrated by the powers of the Devil?Shall this beautiful world, and all its inhabitants, become a prey toSatan and his influences, and those celestial, pure, principles thatexist in the eternal world, be for ever banished? Shall the earth stillbe defiled under the inhabitants thereof, when God is our Father? Shalliniquity, corruption, and depravity always spread their contaminatinginfluences, and this earth, that ought to have been a paradise, be adesolate miserable wreck? Shall tyranny, oppression, and iniquity forever rule? Shall the neck of the righteous always be under the feet ofthe ungodly? No, says every principle of reason, for the Almighty Godis its maker. No, echoes the voice of all the prophets, there shallbe a restitution of all things. No, say the Scriptures of all truth,"The earth shall become as the Garden of Eden," the wicked shall berooted out of it; the time shall come when the Saints shall possessthe kingdom, and the earth shall become as the garden of the Lord.No, responds the voice of all the dead Saints, we died in the hope ofbetter things, etc. No! say our later revelations—
"The Lord hath brought again Zion;
"The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel,
"According to the election of grace,
"Which was brought to pass by the faith
"And covenants of their Fathers.
"The Lord hath redeemed his people,
"And Satan is bound, and time is no longer:
"The Lord hath gathered all things in one;
"The Lord hath brought down Zion from above;
"The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath;
"The Earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength;
"And truth is established in her bowels:
"And the heavens have smiled upon her;
"And she is clothed with the glory of her God;
"For he stands in the midst of his people,
"Glory, and honor, and power, and might,
"Be ascribed to our God, for he is full of mercy,
"Justice, grace, and truth, and peace,
"For ever, and ever. Amen."[A]
[Footnote A: Doctrine and Covenants, Section 84: 99-102.]
It is therefore contrary to every principle of reason and intelligenceto suppose such a thing.
Secondly.—It would be unjust: and "shall not the Judge of all theearth do right?" But what right would there be in thus permittingSatan to usurp the dominion for ever? It would be giving in the firstplace to Satan that which belongs to God. This earth is not Satan'sinheritance; it is the Lord Jesus Christ's, he is the rightful ownerand proprietor. If Satan be indeed the God of this world, and rules inthe hearts of the children of disobedience, he is only an usurper. Itis not his rightful dominion, for all things were created by Christ,and for Christ, whether they be principalities, or powers, or thrones,or dominions, all these were created by him, and for him, and he onlyhas a right to rule; but Satan has subverted the ways of God, deceivedthe human family, introduced misery, and confusion, and blightedthis beautiful creation with his contaminating curse. As an usurper,it would be unjust to permit him to rule; it would be unjust to thegovernment of God, for, if God has a right to rule, no other power canhave that right, unless it is delegated, and if delegated, still theright is vested in the power that delegates.
It is therefore derogatory to God, for the world to be yieldingobedience to another power. For while God, not the Devil, providesfor, feeds, sustains, and beautifies the Universe, and nourishes themillions of people who inhabit the earth, with his beneficent hand andfatherly care;—for him to be neglected and despised, or forgotten, isthe height of injustice, and the very climax of perverse ingratitude.But again, it would be unjust to the good and virtuous; this earth isproperly the dwelling place, and rightful inheritance of the Saints.Inasmuch as it belongs to Jesus Christ, it also belongs to his servantsand followers, for we are told, "The earth is the Lord's and thefulness thereof," and that, when things are in their proper place,"the Saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess thekingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shallbe given to the saints of the Most High." Dan. vii. 18 and 27. It istherefore their righful inheritance, and the usurpation before referredto, while it is unjust to God, is also as unjust to his Saints. Whocan contemplate the position of the world, as it has existed, withoutbeing struck with this fact, Where has God ever had a people but theyhave been persecuted? The testimony of God has always been rejected,and his people trodden under foot. Paul tells us that they "weretempted, tried, sawn asunder, that they wandered about in sheep skins,and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented." Heb. xi.37. And to such an extent had this prevailed among the ancient Jews,that Stephen gravely asks the question, "Which of the prophets havenot your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them, which shewedbefore, of the coming of the Just One, of whom ye have been now thebetrayers and murderers." Acts vii. 52. What did they do with Jesus!and what with his followers! We may here ask, Is it right, is itproper, is it just, for this state of things to continue? It is truethat the saints have had a hope of joys to come, and this state oftrial has been permitted for their ultimate good; but although thisis the case, it does not make the thing the more just. "It must needsbe," says Jesus, "that offences come, but woe to that man by whom theoffence cometh. It were better for him that a millstone were hangedabout his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea," thanthat he should offend one of those little ones. Matt, xviii. "Theythat touch you, touch the apple of mine eye." He has cried all along,"Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." The saintshave suffered and endured, but they have done it in the hopes of abetter resurrection; and as they have always looked upon this earth astheir inheritance, to deprive them of this, would be to falsify thepromises of God unto them, disappoint all their hopes, render inutiletheir sufferings and fidelity on the earth; and be to them an act,not only of temporary, but also of eternal injustice. For men of Godin former days were just as much actuated by the prospect of a rewardas a merchant, a warrior, a statesman, or any other person in searchof wealth, honor, or fame. The only difference is, the one sought itin this life, the other in the life to come; the one looked for hisreward here, the other expected it hereafter; the one had no hopeconcerning the future, the other had; the one was blinded by the God ofthis world, and knew not his position, or possessed not a nobility ofsoul sufficient to make him brook the world, and the scorn of men, insearch of a better inheritance; the other understood by revelation hisrelationship to God, the position of the world, and his high calling,and glorious hope; he sought the nearest way to eternal life, scornedto be captivated by the world's tinsel show, despised the short-livedpleasures offered by the god of this world, and possessed magnanimityof soul sufficient to lead him to acknowledge the God of the Universe,and to brook the scorn of empty fools, and ephemeral philosophers.If persecution's deadly shafts, and superstition's craven hate, werelevelled against him, he dared to brook death in all its horrid forms,and live and die an honourable man, a true philosopher, a servant ofGod, and endure as seeing him who is invisible, in the hopes of abetter resurrection. Deprive him of this hope, and you rob the just ofhis reward, dishonour God, and perpetuate misery and corruption in theworld.
Thirdly.—As it would be unjust, so also it would be unscriptural. TheScriptures are full and clear on this subject; they represent Christ asbeing the rightful heir, and inheritor of this world; they representhim as having come once to atone for the sins of the world; but thathe will afterwards come as its ruler, judge, and king; they representhim as the "Lord of the vineyard, the rightful heir" to the earth, andas having hitherto been dispossessed; but they again represent himas coming to claim his rights, to dispossess the usurpers; to takethe authority, to rule, and reign, and to possess his own dominions.They represent the earth as labouring under a curse; but speak alsoof its deliverance therefrom; of its being blighted because of thetransgression of man; but that it shall again yield its increase andbecome as the Garden of Eden. They represent the whole creation asgroaning and travailing in pain, but that the creature also shall bedelivered. That the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon all flesh; thatthe wolf shall lie down with the lamb, the lion eat straw with the ox,and finally, every creature that is in the heavens, on the earth, orunder the earth, shall be heard to say, glory and honor, and power,etc. That the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lordfrom Jerusalem. That Jerusalem shall become the throne of the Lord,and that the dead saints shall live, and reign with Christ, no longerdeprived of their rightful inheritance; but as Jesus said when here,"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
If, then, the Scriptures are not idle phantoms, if their visions, andprophecies were not mere phantasies, and written to deceive, we have asmuch right to look for these things as we have to believe in any eventthat has taken place; but lest any of my readers should be ignorant ofthe Scriptures relative to these subjects, I will give a few passageswhich are in themselves as clear and pointed, as any other portion ofthe word of God.
Concerning Christ being the rightful heir, it is written, "All thingswere created by him, and for him, and without him was not anything madethat is made." He is the "Mighty God, the everlasting Father," &c. "Forof him, and from him, and to him are all things." "Thou sayest that Iam a king, for this end was I born, etc." "Then the Lord shall be kingover all the earth."
The Jews made a great mistake concerning the coming of Christ before;the Gentiles have made as great a mistake in regard to his secondcoming. The Jews expected him to come as a temporal deliverer alone,and overlooked his sufferings, trials, persecution, and death; theGentiles having believed in his sufferings, have lost sight of hissecond coming; the promises of God made to the fathers; the redemptionof the earth, and the kingdom of God. Both are wrong; both believed inpart; neither in the whole. The Jews, in consequence of their unbelief,were cut off; but when Christ comes again, he will come in the way thattheir fathers looked for him, as a King, with power, and authority.The Gentiles having fallen into darkness, have lost sight of the greatpurposes of God, in regard to the redemption of man, and of the world;the restitution of all things, and the coming of Christ to reign. Theyhave so far forgotten themselves, that they are actually fulfillingthe prophecy of Peter: "There shall come in the last days scoffers,walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of hiscoming?" 2 iii. 4. But to return: the Scriptures represent Christ asthe lord of the vineyard, as the "heir" that was killed; as the "sowerof the seed" in the world; as the "destroyer of the wicked husbandmen;"as coming to "rule the nations with a rod of iron," etc.; and to takepossession of the kingdom. Daniel says, "I saw in the night visions,and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near beforehim. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, thatall people, nations, and languages, should serve him; his dominion isan everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdomthat which shall not be destroyed." Dan. vii. 13, 14. Zechariah says,"And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, whichis before Jerusalem on the East; and the Mount of Olives shall cleavein the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and thereshall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall removetoward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall fleeto the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shallreach unto Azal; yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before theearthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah: and the Lord my Godshall come, and all the saints with thee." . . . . "And the Lord shallbe king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, andhis name one." xiv. 4, 5, 9. These and many other things must befulfilled if the Scriptures be true. These designs of God, which werethe hope of the ancient Saints, and of which poets sung, and prophetswrote, were the consolation of all the faithful Saints, Prophets, andPatriarchs,—Jews and Christians. Take these away, and the world, tothe Saints, is a miserable blank; the hope of the righteous futile, andthe Word of God a farce.
Fourthly.—It would frustrate the designs of God, in regard to thespirits of the righteous, the dead, the progression of the world, andits final exaltation; and also the exaltation of man.
When the Lord created this world, as we have already stated, he hadan object in view, not only in regard to the world, and its futuredestiny, but also as it regards the spirits which were then inexistence. Those great and eternal purposes which our heavenly Father,in his consummate wisdom, had in view, when he issued his DivineMandate, and this world was created, cannot be frustrated unless hecease to be God. And those enlivening hopes which cheered his sons;those spirits that lived with him, when they saw this beautiful orbfashioned, this earth made as the place for their habitation, astheir possession, as the place where they should take bodies, wherethey should live, rule, and reign, not only in time, but in eternity,must not, cannot be destroyed. And yet what avails it all to them, ifSatan triumph, the wicked rule, and God's kingdom be not established!They could not "have shouted for joy" at the prospect of this worldcontinuing under the dominion of Satan; at the blight, degradation,misery, and ruin that have overspread it. But if we trace the matterstill further, and look at the righteous dead, their position wouldbe any thing but enviable under those circumstances. It was thehopes of the resurrection that made them endure, and it was God thatimplanted them in their bosoms; but if they are not raised, and ifChrist's kingdom is not established, and they do not reign with him,their hopes are vain, their sufferings useless, and the purposes ofGod are frustrated. In vain did they bear a faithful testimony inopposition to a depraved world; in vain they endured, as seeing himthat is invisible; in vain they wandered about in sheep skins, and ingoat skins; in vain they looked for a city which hath foundations, asa recompense of reward; and false and deceptive are the testimonies ofall the prophets who have testified of the restitution of all things,from the foundation of the world. Take away this, and our highest, andmost exalted hopes are blighted; we live like fools, and die like dogs.If the world is always suffered to continue as it is, then is the hopeof the righteous vain, the promises of God fail, Satan triumphs, andGod's purposes are frustrated.
All the designs of God concerning this world and the work of creation,were perfected in his mind before this world rolled into existence, or"e'er the morning stars sang together for joy." When this world wasformed, God intended it as the final dwelling place of those bodieswhich should inhabit it. And when "the sons of God shouted for joy,"it was at the prospect of that exaltation, that they would be capableof obtaining, in consequence of this creation, which they then sawcome into existence. And if, as Jesus, they had to descend below allthings, in order that they might be raised above all things; stillthis was the medium, or channel, through which they were to obtaintheir ultimate exaltation, and glorification. It was by the unionof their spirits, which came forth from the Father as the "Fatherof Spirits," with earthly bodies, that perfect beings were formed,capable of continued increase and eternal exaltation; that the spirit,quick, subtle, refined, lively, animate, energetic, and eternal, mighthave a body through which to operate, that might be compared to thesteam, to an engine; the electric fluid to the telegraphic wire; for,notwithstanding that spirit, steam, or electricity are the powerful,quickening, energetic principles, employed; yet without the engine,the telegraphic wire, or the matter, they would be comparativelyuseless; these elements might wander in empty space; spend their forceat random, or remain dormant, or useless, without those more tangible,material objects, through which to exercise their force. When steamwas first applied to practical purposes; when the operation of themagnetic needle, and the mode of communication through the electrictelegraph, were discovered; when railroads and steam boats were firstinvented, something of importance was discovered, and of great value tothe human family. The men who made these discoveries and applicationsare deservedly looked upon at the present time as men of great genius,and as the benefactors of the world; but what was it they did? Theydid not create the elements, those already existed: steam, magnetism,electricity, iron, coals, water, existed before, and had existed fromthe beginning of creation. What was it these geniuses discovered? Itwas simply a method of organizing this matter, the making use of grossinanimate materials to confine the more subtle, refined, elastic,energetic, and powerful, that their combined power and energy mightbe brought into effect; and that through the union of two powerfulagencies, which had lain dormant, their forces might be united, and bebrought into active and powerful operation. Thus, then, was the bodyformed as an agent for the spirit. It was made of grosser materialsthan the spirit, which proceeded from God, but was necessary as anhabitation for it that, it might be clothed with a body, perfect inits organization, beautiful in its structure, symmetrical in itsproportions, and in every way fit for an eternal intelligent being;that through it, it might speak, act, enjoy, and develop its power,its intelligence, and perpetuate its species. Hence as the discoveriesof those geniuses already referred to, were hailed with pleasure bythe inhabitants of the world, on account of the benefits conferredupon men, so when God created this earth, and organized men upon it,"the morning stars sung together for joy;" they looked upon it as Godlooked upon it, as a work perfect, magnificent, and glorious, throughwhich they saw their way to exaltation, glory, thrones, principalities,powers, dominions, and eternal felicity. They had the intelligencebefore, but now they saw a way through which to develop it. Through theworld's great Architect, their Father, they discovered a plan fraughtwith intelligence and wisdom, reaching from eternity to eternity,pointing out a means whereby, through obedience to celestial laws, theymight obtain the same power that he had. And if, in fallen humanity,they might have to suffer for a while, they saw a way back to God, toeternal exaltations, and to the multiplied, and eternally increasinghappiness of innumerable millions of beings. And if, as Jesus, they hadto descend below all things, it was that they might be raised above allthings, and take their position as sons of God, in the eternal world;that overcoming the world they might sit down with Christ upon histhrone, as he overcame and sat down upon the Father's throne. Rev. iii.21.
But again; this creation is unlike the works of man, which, howeverexcellent, and useful, all bear the marks of humanity, all are moreor less imperfect in their structure, and liable to a thousandcontingences, are more or less clumsy, cumbrous, and unwieldy, and mustbe governed by numerous very limited laws; as for instance, you canconvey intelligence, but it must be exactly on the line of the electricwire, you cannot go beyond its limits; you can make an engine work,but it must be stationary; or if moving, must be confined to rails,depth of water, and a thousand other contingences. None of these thingspossess intelligence, nor the principles of life within themselves,neither can they impart, nor perpetuate it to others, they are merelymachines, to be acted upon by man, and without man they cease to exist;when one is worn out, or broken, another must be made at the sametoil and labour; possessing not the principles of life, they cannotimpart their likeness; whereas man, beasts, fish, fowl, and all theanimate works of God can. Man's works in comparison with God's, arelike comparing a child's wooden horse to the beautiful creature God hasmade, or rather his penny whistle to the music of heaven, or the largerboy's billiards to the motions of the planetary system. They possess nointelligence, no powers, no reflection, no agency. The works of man aremerely made to be acted upon; are short lived, temporary, perishablethings. Man, however, bears the impress of Jehovah, is made after hisimage, in his likeness, and possesses the principles of intelligencewithin himself, and the medium of conveying it to others. He possessesalso, power to perpetuate his species, as also to communicate histhoughts, his intelligence, genius, and power to others, that areformed like him. He received his intelligence, his spirit, from God, heis a part of himself,
A spark of Deity
Struck from the fire of his eternal blaze;
he came from God as his son, he bears the impress of Jehovah, evenin his fallen degenerate corrupted state. His powerful intellect,his stately genius, his grasping ambition, his soaring, and in manyinstances, exalted hopes, display, though he be fallen, the mark ofgreatness; he bears the impress of Deity and shows that he is of divineorigin.
Unlike the works of man, the work of God in relation to this earth wasdestined to be eternal, not subject to be controlled by any littlecontingences; nor was it dependent upon fluctuation, or change. Man'sworks might fluctuate, change, or be destroyed, but not so with God's,they were, and are eternal; eternal mind, and eternal matter; organizedand created according to the unsearchable intelligence of that eternalunfathomable mind; that fountain of intelligence, forethought, wisdom,and energy, that dwells with God. And this earth, and man in theirdestination, and all the works of this creation, are as unchangeableas the sun, moon, or stars, and as unalterable as the throne of God.Satan may deceive men, for a season; their minds may be blinded by thegod of this world, but God's purposes will be unchanged. Who is Satan?A being powerful, energetic, deceptive, insinuating; and yet necessaryto develop the evil, as there are bitters, to make us appreciate thesweet; darkness, to make us appreciate light; evil and its sorrows,that we may appreciate the good; error that we may be enabled toappreciate truth; misery, in order that we may appreciate happiness.And as there are in the works of creation opposing, mineralogicalsubstances which in chemical processes are necessary to develop certainproperties of matter, and produce certain effects; as fire is necessaryto purify silver, gold, and the precious metals, so it is necessary toinstruct, and prepare man for his ultimate destiny—to test his virtue,develop his folly, exhibit his weakness and prove his incompetencywithout God to rule himself or the earth; or to make himself happy orexalt himself in time, or in eternity. But again, who is Satan? He is abeing of God's own make, under his control, subject to his will, castout of Heaven for rebellion; and when his services can be dispensedwith, an angel will cast him into the bottomless pit. Can he fightagainst and overcome God? Verily, No! Can he alter the designs of God?Verily, No! Satan may rage; but the Lord can confine him within properlimits. He may instigate rebellion against God, but the Lord can bindhim in chains.
Shall the purposes of the Lord be frustrated? Verily, No! The nationsof the earth may be drunken, and rush against each other likeinebriates; but the Lord's purposes are unchanged. Thrones may be castdown, kingdoms depopulated; and blood, sword, and famine may prevail,yet the Lord lives, and will accomplish his own designs. Man mayforget God, but God does not forget man: man may be ignorant of hiscalling, but not so with God. Man may not reflect upon the designs ofGod, in relation to this earth, but God must and does; and if in man'smadness, his infidelity, his hypocrisy, or his ignorance, he cannotfind time here to reflect upon these things, he will find ample leisurehereafter, and the purposes of God will roll on; and perhaps when heshall be preached to, as the rebellious Antediluvians, after receivingthe punishment of his deeds, he may know something more of the power,justice, and purposes of God, and be glad to hear the Gospel in prisonwhich he rejected on this earth. But to suppose that the purposes ofGod will be frustrated in relation to his designs in the formation ofthis earth, is altogether folly. They will roll on as steadily as thesun or moon in their courses. And as surely as we look in the east forthe rising of the sun in the morning to display his gorgeous glory,light up the beauties of creation, and waken sleepy man; so surelywill "the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings," sosurely will the sleeping dead burst from their tombs, and the glorifiedbodies with their spirits re-unite, so surely will a reign of justice,truth, equity, and happiness—the reign of God, supersede the barbarousoppression, and corrupt governments of this world, so surely will thatlong night of darkness, ignorance, crime, and error be supersededby the glorious day of righteousness; and so surely will this earthbecome as the Garden of the Lord, the kingdom and reign of God beestablished, and the Saints of the Most High take the kingdom andpossess it for ever and ever. The time of the restitution of all thingswill be ushered in; the earth resume its paradisiacal glory, and thedead and the living Saints possess the full fruition of those thingsfor which they lived, and suffered, and died. These are the hopes thatthe ancient Saints enjoyed; they possessed hopes that bloomed withimmortality and eternal life; hopes planted there by the Spirit ofGod, and conferred by the ministering of Angels, the visions of theAlmighty, the opening of the Heavens, and the promises of God. Theylived and died in hopes of a better resurrection. How different to thenarrow, conceited, grovelling views of would-be philosophers, of sicklyreligionists, and dreaming philanthropists!
Therefore, as we have said, anything short of this would render inutilethe hopes of the Saints; would fail to accomplish the expectation ofmillions of spirits; and cause Satan to triumph, and frustrate thedesigns of God. This earth, after wading through all the corruptionsof men, being cursed for his sake, and not permitted to shed forthits full lustre and glory, must yet take its proper place in God'screations; be purified from that corruption under which it has groanedfor ages, and become a fit place for redeemed men, angels, and God todwell upon. The Lord Jesus will come and dispossess the usurper; takepossession of his own kingdom; introduce a rule of righteousness; andreign there with his Saints, who, together with him, are the rightfulproprietors.
Will God's Kingdom Be a Literal or a Spiritual Kingdom?
It would be almost unnecessary to answer such a question as theabove, were it not for the opinions that are entertained in the worldconcerning a purely spiritual kingdom, particularly as in a precedingchapter I have clearly pointed out a literal kingdom, rule, and reign.But I have introduced this merely to meet some questions that existin the minds of many, relative to a spiritual kingdom, arising fromcertain remarks of our Saviour's, where he says, "My kingdom is not ofthis world;" and again, the "kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink,but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;" and again,"the kingdom of God is within (or among) you."
The kingdom of God, as I have already stated, is the government ofGod, whether in the heavens, or on the earth. Hence Jesus taught hisdisciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, asit is done in heaven." And when the kingdom of God is established onthe earth, and prevails universally, then will the will of God be doneon earth, and not till then; then will the reign of God exist on theearth, as it now does in heaven. It is this reign we are speaking of,a reign of righteousness. But whenever God's laws are established,or his kingdom is organized, and officers selected, and men yieldobedience to the laws of the kingdom of God; to such an extent doesGod's kingdom prevail. John preached the kingdom of God, or, heavennigh at hand. Jesus said, the kingdom of heaven is within you. Jesuscompared the kingdom of heaven to a husbandman who sowed wheat, andwhen he went to his field, he found tares also. Matt. xiii. Now whatwas this field? The field was the world, or in other words, God'srightful possession, where he ought to govern; the good seed are thechildren of the kingdom, or those who receive and obey the laws of thekingdom of heaven. The tares are the children of the wicked one; orthose who rebel against God and his laws. The tares are to be gatheredout of his kingdom, and burned; and then are the righteous to shine asthe sun in the kingdom of their Father. Again, the kingdom of Heavenis likened unto a treasure that a man found in a field, and sold allhis possessions, in order that he might possess himself of that fieldand treasure; and a pearl of great price, for which a man did likewise;thus Abraham, Noah, Lot, Moses, and many of the Prophets purchased thistreasure at the sacrifice of all things. And why? They discovered thepearl, the treasure, and had respect unto the recompense of reward;enduring as seeing him who is invisible. And what was it all for? Forthe purpose of obtaining present blessings, earthly enjoyments, thepleasures of sense? No! they all died in faith not having receivedthe promises; but having seen them afar off; they knew of the treasure,and sold all for it; they "looked for a city which hath foundations,whose builder and maker is God." Wherefore it is said, God is notashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city.They looked for a reign of righteousness—the government of God—theywere inspired with the same hope as that of all the Prophets who hadprophesied since the world begun, viz., the hope of the restitutionof all things. John the Baptist, and Jesus would have introduced thekingdom; but the people would not have it; still, as the apostle Johnsays, to as many as did believe, "to them gave he power to become theSons of God, even to them that believe on his name." John i. 12. Theybecame sons of God. Yes, say some spiritually, and I say literallytoo. They made a literal covenant with God to keep his laws; they wereadministered to literally by officers of the kingdom of God; theybelieved literally; were baptised literally, and received the gift ofthe Holy Ghost literally; and became literally the servants or sons ofGod. But what was their hope? Was it in this world? Yes, but not at thepresent. They expected the promise of Jesus to be fulfilled to them:"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." And theylooked, with Peter, and all the ancient Saints, for a new Heaven and anew Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. They looked with Paul, andthe Saints to whom he wrote, for a kingdom, not ariel or visionary, butone "which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
The world, as we have before stated, although it belongs to God, hasnever been under his control. His vineyard has brought forth briarsand thorns; tares have been sown in his field; but there has been somewheat, and that wheat represents the children of the kingdom, whohave kept his laws and observed his ordinances; and wheresoever thelaws of his kingdom have been observed, in the same proportion hashis kingdom prevailed. Christ, therefore, organized his kingdom withApostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, Evangelists, etc.; officers andadministrators of his laws, which laws were given by the Lord; theybaptized for the remission of sins, laid on hands for the gift of theHoly Ghost, and introduced members into the kingdom of God on earth,and as they were empowered to bind on earth, and in heaven, to seal onearth, and in heaven, these persons, not only became members of theChurch here, but also of the kingdom of heaven, and participators inall its blessings here and hereafter. They were now Sons of God; butit did not fully appear yet what they should be, only they should belike him. If he conquered death, so should they; if he overcame, soshould they; if he sat down upon his Father's throne, he would give tothem that overcame, power to sit down upon his throne, as he overcameand sat down upon his Father's throne. And if Jesus comes to reign onthe earth, he will also bring his Saints with him, and they shall liveand reign with him. These things are spiritual, but they are literal;they are temporal, but they are also spiritual and eternal. Hence withGod all things are temporal; all things are spiritual; and all thingsare eternal. These are only our phrases to specify certain ideas,which ideas in themselves are very often incorrect: we have bodies andspirits, but it takes both to be a perfect man. We talk about time andeternity,—what is time? A portion of eternity; eternity was, beforetime was, and will continue to exist when time shall be no more.Spiritual and temporal things are only so, as we form ideas of them.What is our body?—temporal, material? Yes, matter; but the matter ofwhich it is made is eternal, and it will yet be spiritual like untoChrist's glorious body. What is our spirit?—material, spiritual andeternal also? But more subtle and elastic than our corporeal bodies.
Having said so much on this subject, we now come to some of ourquestions. "The kingdom of Heaven is not meat and drink, butrighteousness, and peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost." What arewe to understand by this? that righteousness composes a kingdom?Righteousness is an attribute, a principle, a state of being, not agovernment; peace and joy are the result of this attribute. God isrighteous, and consequently righteousness flows from him. There maybe also a righteous man; but we do not say that God is a kingdom,or that a righteous man is a kingdom, but that the kingdom of Godis a righteous kingdom. You can say a righteous kingdom, a kingdomof righteousness; but you cannot say righteousness is a kingdom. Akingdom may be governed by righteous laws; its laws may be righteous,its administrators righteous, its people righteous; but to sayrighteousness is a kingdom, is nonsense. The kingdom of God is arighteous kingdom; it is made up of higher enjoyments than eatingand drinking; it is more refined and elevated; it is a kingdom ofholiness, virtue, purity; of "righteousness, and peace, and joy in theHoly Ghost,"—principles that exist in part now, as far as the kingdomextends. When the kingdom of God is universal, it will, like thekingdom in the heavens, be all "righteousness, peace, and joy in theHoly Ghost;" yet, it will have its laws, officers, and administrators,and will be a literal, tangible thing. The Spirit of the Lord shall bepoured upon all flesh; the will of God will be done on earth as it isin heaven, and the joy and peace which result from righteousness, willbe experienced by all the world. What did Jesus mean, then, when hesaid, "The kingdom of Heaven is within you," or "among you" (marginalreading.) Luke xvii. 20, 21. There certainly must be some mistakehere, for Jesus was speaking to Pharisees, whom he had denounced ascorrupt men, hypocrites, whited walls, painted sepulchres, etc. Now,who will say they had the kingdom of God within them? The kingdom ofGod was among them. And it did not come with observation, nor withostentation or pomp; they might have seen it, but their eyes wereblinded, that they could not see; their ears were stopped that theycould not hear. Many of us suppose that if we had lived in their day,we should have recognized it among the miracles, signs, and powers thatwere manifested by him. But Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, andknow me, and follow me, but others do not." If any man do his will,says Jesus, "he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, orwhether I speak of myself." John vii. 17. But if they do not, whatthen? They have eyes, but see not; ears, but hear not. The God of thisworld blinds their eyes, lest the light of the gospel should shine inupon them. Jesus says, "Except a man be born again; he cannot see thekingdom of God." And "except he is born of water and the spirit, hecannot enter into it." John iii. 3 and 5. It therefore cometh not withobservation; the Scriptures are clear on the point, and show to thelast that when God's kingdom shall be more fully established on theearth, the inhabitants of the earth will be as ignorant of it as theJews were, that Jesus was the Messiah; for the nations of the earth,with their kings, will yet be gathered together against the people ofthe Lord, to battle, when the Lord himself will go and fight againstthem, and there will be one of the most terrible slaughters that evertook place on the earth. It cometh not with observation. It is arighteous kingdom, and righteous men can see it, and appreciate it, andthose only.
I have demonstrated, in a preceding chapter, to which I refer myreaders, more fully on this subject, that the kingdom of God would beliterally established on the earth; it will not be an ariel phantom,according to some visionaries, but a substantial reality. It will beestablished, as before said, on a literal earth, and will be composedof literal men, women, and children; of living saints who keep thecommandments of God, and of resurrected bodies who shall actually comeout of their graves, and live on the earth. The Lord will be king overall the earth, and all mankind literally under his sovereignty, andevery nation under the heavens will have to acknowledge his authority,and bow to his sceptre. Those who serve him in righteousness will havecommunications with God, and with Jesus; will have the ministering ofAngels, and will know the past, the present, and the future; and otherpeople, who may not yield full obedience to his laws, nor be fullyinstructed in his covenants, will, nevertheless, have to yield fullobedience to his government. For it will be the reign of God upon theearth, and he will enforce his laws, and command that obedience fromthe nations of the world which is legitimately his right. Satan willnot then be permitted to control its inhabitants, for the Lord Godwill be king over all the earth, and the kingdom and greatness of thekingdom under the whole heaven will be given to the saints. This mayproperly be called the day of reckoning, the time when the world'saccounts will be settled; when things that have been going wrong forages, will be put right; when injustice and misrule will no more bepermitted; when the usurper shall be cast out; when the rightful heirshall possess the kingdom; when unrighteousness will be banished, andjustice and judgement bear sway; when the wicked shall be rooted outof the earth, and the saints possess it; when God's designs shall beaccomplished on the earth, and men resume their proper position. Itis the fulfilment of the promises of the Lord to his people, or inscriptural words, "The dispensation of the fulness of times, when Godwill gather together all things in one." Satan has had his dominion,and has deceived, corrupted, and cursed the human family; but then hisdominion will be destroyed, and he will be cast into the bottomlesspit; men will no longer be under the influence of his spirit, bedecoyed by his wiles, or imposed upon by his deceptions. Religion, andthe fear of God, will no longer be painted in dismal colours, or bedressed in the sable drapery of sanctimonious priests, or sacerdotalgloom; nor yet in the forbidding costumes of hermits, monks, andnuns. But, stript of all this religious masquerade, and superstitiousmummery, the fear of God, and the observance of his laws, will belooked upon in their proper light. God will be seen, feared, andworshipped as our Father, Friend, and Benefactor; his laws will be keptas being those framed by infinite wisdom, and the most conducive tothe happiness of the human family. Virtue, truth, and righteousness,will appear in their native loveliness, beauty, simplicity, glory, andmagnificence, for God alone will be exalted in that day.
The Establishment of the Kingdom of God upon the Earth.
How will the kingdom of God be established? We have already shownvery clearly, that none of the means which are now used among men arecommensurate with the object designed, and that all the combined wisdomof man must, and will fail, in the accomplishment of this object; thatthe present forms of political and religious rule cannot effect it;that philosophy is quite as impotent; and that as these have all failedfor ages, as a natural consequence they must continue to fail. We haveportrayed the world broken, corrupted, fallen, degraded and ruined; andshown that nothing but a world's God can put it right.
The question is, what course will God take for the accomplishment ofthis thing? and as this is a matter that requires more than humanreason, and as we are left entirely to Revelation, either past,present, or to come, it is to this only that we can apply. We willenquire, therefore, what the Scriptures say on this subject. It iscalled the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven. If, therefore, itis the kingdom of heaven, it must receive its laws, organization,and government, from heaven; for if they were earthly, then wouldthey be like those on the earth. The kingdom of heaven must thereforebe the government, and laws of heaven, on the earth. If the governmentand laws of heaven are known and observed on the earth, they must becommunicated, or revealed from the heavens to the earth. These thingsare plain and evident, if we are to have any kingdom of heaven, forit is very clear, that if it is not God's rule, it cannot be hisgovernment, and it is as evident that if it is not revealed fromheaven it cannot be the kingdom of heaven. That such a kingdom willbe set up is evident from the following, "And in the days of thesekings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never bedestroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people." Dan. ii.44; and again, "I saw in the night visions, and behold one like the Sonof man came with the clouds of Heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days;and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion,and glory, and a kingdom that all people, nations, and languages,should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shallnot pass away; and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."Dan. vii 13, 14. From the above we learn two things: First—that Godwill set up a kingdom which shall be universal; and, that that kingdomshall not be given into the hands of other people; and secondly—thatthe Saints of God shall take possession of that kingdom. The Angelwhich announced to Mary the birth of Jesus said, "He shall be great,and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall giveunto him the throne of his Father David; and he shall reign over thehouse of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end."Luke i. 32, 33.
It may not be improper here to notice an opinion that has verygenerally prevailed throughout the Christian world, that Christ'skingdom was a spiritual kingdom; that it was set up at the time ourSaviour was upon the earth; and that Christianity as it now exists,is that kingdom. After what I have already written on the subject ofa literal reign and kingdom, this would seem superfluous; but as thisopinion is almost universal in the Christian world, my readers mustexcuse me, if, in this instance, I digress a little. Several writers inthe Catholic church, as well as the Rev. David Simpson, M. A., BishopBurnett, the Rev. John Wesley, and many others among the Protestants,have advocated the above opinion. The substance of their ideas is asfollows: that Daniel, by the figure of an image of gold, silver, brass,iron, clay, in chap. ii.—and by the figures of the four beasts, inchap, vii., represented a spiritual kingdom; that this kingdom was setup in the days of the Saviour, and his disciples; that Christianity, asit now exists, is that kingdom, and that it will become universal overall the earth. They state that the four great empires, the Babylonian,Persian, Grecian, and Roman, are represented by the head, breast,belly, and legs of the Image, and by the four Beasts, in chapter vii;and that the kingdom of God was to be set up under the dominion of thefourth, which, as they correctly state, was the Roman. They state,moreover, that the declaration and prophecy of the Angel to Mary,above quoted, were also fulfilled in the first coming of the Messiah;in his preaching, in his gospel, and in the organizing of the church,etc. Many other passages are made to bear the same signification,which it would be foreign from my present purpose to notice. I havereferred to the above, as some of the most prominent. Now, with alldeference to the gentlemen who have written on this subject (andeducation, respectability, and talent, entitle their opinions to somerespect) I must beg leave to differ from them, and consider, that intrying to support a favorite dogma, they have been led into error;for it seems to me that nothing can be more foreign to the meaningof these scriptures than the above interpretation. Now concerningthe four great monarchies being represented as above, I consider itis perfectly correct; but to state that the kingdom was to be set upunder the fourth monarchy, or under the dominion of the fourth beast,is stretching the thing too far; and putting a construction upon itwhich it evidently will not bear. The text reads, "in the days of thosekings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom." The question is, Whatkings? I am answered, during the reign of one of the four; and thatas Christ came during the reign, and dominion of the Roman empire, itevidently refers to that. But let me again ask a question, Under thereign of what kings was this kingdom to be set up? Under the reign ofthe fourth? Verily, No. Let Daniel speak for himself. After describingthe fourth kingdom, which was the Roman, which is compared to iron,and which in the Image was represented by the legs, he then refers toother kingdoms and powers, as being compared to iron and clay. Therewere also feet and toes, as well as a body, which were compared topowers or kings. This is clearly exemplified in the seventh chapter ofDaniel, for after speaking of the four kings, he describes ten horns,of which the ten toes in the Image above referred to, are typical.Those ten horns, he says, are ten kings. It was, then, in the days ofthose kings, or while those kingdoms should be in existence, that theGod of Heaven should set up a kingdom; and not during the power of thefourth kingdom; to which, with any degree of truthfulness, the figurecould not apply in either case. But again, it could not apply to thefirst coming of our Saviour for the following reasons:—
First.—The stone hewn out of the mountain without hands was to smitethe Image on the toes; whereas, according to the interpretation of thedivines before referred to, the toes were not yet in existence, forthey state that this kingdom was set up during the fourth monarchy,which was the Roman, and which is represented in the legs of the Image.Now, as the powers composing the feet and toes were not yet formed,how could the little stone smite that which was not in existence? Forit will be observed that after the whole Image was made, the stone washewn out of the mountains without hands which smote it.
Secondly.—When this kingdom is set up, it is stated "it shall not beleft to other people;" but we are told in Dan. vii. chap., that afterthe fourth monarchy which was the time, according to the aforesaidinterpretation, for the setting up of the kingdom of God, a certain"horn," or king, should make war with the Saints, and prevail againstthem; and that "he should think to change times and laws—and thatthey should be given into his hand." Nothing can be more obvious thanthis; for this power, after the first coming of the Messiah, not onlythinks to change times and laws, but "they" are actually "given intohis hand," which will not be the case, when the kingdom above referredto is set up.
Thirdly.—When the kingdom of God was to be set up, it was to be"given to the Saints of the Most High;" and all nations, kindreds,people, and tongues, were to obey the Lord, which has not taken place,and never can under the present state of things.
Fourthly.—There is no more similarity between Christianity, as it nowexists, with all its superstitions, corruptions, jargons, contentions,divisions, weakness, and imbecility, and this KINGDOM OF GOD, as spokenof in the Scriptures, than there is between light and darkness; and itwould no more compare with things to come, than an orange would comparewith the earth, or a taper with the glorious luminary of day.
Fifthly.—The kingdom of God, as spoken of by Daniel, was to becomeuniversal, which Christianity has not, and cannot, as it now exists.
Sixthly.—The Angel's testimony to Mary has not yet been fulfilled. Itis stated, that "The Lord shall give unto him the throne of his fatherDavid, and he shall reign over the House of Jacob for ever, and of hiskingdom there shall be no end;" whereas he did not sit upon David'sthrone, nor does he now; he did not reign over the house of Jacob, nordoes he now, for the ten tribes are yet outcasts; "the house of Judahis scattered and without a king," and Jesus himself, when asked todivide an inheritance, demanded, "Who made me a ruler or king." He,indeed was a king; "but in his humiliation his judgement was takenaway."
From the whole of the above it is very evident that the kingdom, ofwhich these divines speak, was not, and could not be the one referredto by Daniel, or by the angel to Mary; as we have before stated, it wasa literal kingdom, and not a spiritual one only. I would further remarkhere, that a certain power was to "make war with the Saints, and toprevail against them until the Ancient of Days came;" and then, and nottill then, was "judgement given to the Saints of the Most High."
We will now return from our digression, and after stating that thekingdom of God is a literal kingdom; that it will be great, powerful,glorious, and universal, and that it will extend from sea to sea, andfrom the rivers unto the ends of the earth; that all kingdoms willbe in subjection to it, and all powers obey it, we will proceed toexamine how it will be established. It is compared to a small stone"hewn out of the mountain without hands," and yet the God of Heavenis to set up this kingdom. Isaiah, in his eleventh chapter, to whichI refer my readers, in speaking of the establishment of this kingdom,says, "In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall standfor an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek, and hisrest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that theLord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnantof his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, andfrom Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and fromHamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensignfor the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gathertogether the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."10-12. From the above it would seem, that an ensign or standard is tobe raised to the nations; that the Gentiles shall seek to it; and thatthe ten tribes return, as well as the Jews to their land; that thedispersed of Judah, and the outcasts of Israel are to return. Now, astandard, or ensign, is a nation's colours, flag, or rallying point;it is one of those appendages to a kingdom that is always respected byits inhabitants. It is used in a variety of ways, and for differentpurposes; sometimes by the emperor, king, governor, or general, tosignify his presence; sometimes by vessels to specify their nation;and sometimes by estates, cities, corporations, or clubs: and alwaysby armies and navies, to represent whom they belong to. If a king hada proclamation to make, and wished to rally his subjects, or try theirfidelity, he might send a flag, or standard, and all that rallied to itwould be considered his liege subjects.
But here the God of Heaven sets up a standard. The world, as we havebefore stated, is his; it is his right to possess it. Satan has heldthe dominion for some time, and the Lord now comes to dispossesshim, to take possession of his rightful inheritance, and to rulehis own kingdom. In order to do this, he issues his mandate, makesa proclamation, lifts up a standard, and invites all to join it.Those who do may be considered as his servants, as the citizens ofhis kingdom; those who do not, as being in opposition to him, hisgovernment, and laws. As the Father of the human family, as the princeand king, he lifts up an ensign, and calls the world's attention. Nowthe only rational way for the Lord to accomplish this, is to form acommunication with man, and to make him acquainted with his laws. Wecannot conceive of him thundering from the heavens and terrifying theinhabitants of the earth, nor yet sending angels with flaming swordsto coerce obedience. This would be using physical power to control themind; but as man is a free agent, he uses other means to act upon hismind, his judgement, and his will; and by the beauty and lovelinessof virtue, purity, holiness, and the fear of God, to captivate hisfeelings, control his judgement, and influence him to render thatobedience to God which is justly his due; not until these means fail,will others be exercised.
As the world are ignorant of God and his laws, not having had anycommunication with him for eighteen hundred years; and as all thosegreat and important events must transpire, and as the Lord says hewill "do nothing but what he reveals to his servants the Prophets,"it follows, that there must be revelations made from God; and ifso, as a necessary consequence, there must be prophets to revealthem to. How did God ever reveal his will, and purposes to Enoch,Noah, Abraham, Moses, the Prophets, Jesus, and his Disciples, andthey to the people? God's messengers made known his will, and thepeople obeyed, or rejected it. If they were punished by floods, fire,plagues, pestilence, dispersions, death, etc., it was in consequenceof their disobedience. As God has dealt in former times, so will hein the latter, with this difference, that he will accomplish hispurposes in the last days; he will set up his kingdom; he will protectthe righteous, destroy Satan, and his works, purge the earth fromwickedness, and bring in the restitution of all things. The above,while it is the only rational way, is evidently the only just, andscriptural way. Some people talk about the world being burned up, aboutplagues, pestilence, famine, sword, and ruin, and all these thingsbeing instantaneous. Now it would not be just for the Lord to punishthe inhabitants of the earth without warning. For if the world areignorant of God, they cannot altogether be blamed for it; if they aremade the dupes of false systems, and false principles, they cannothelp it; many of them are doing as well as they can while, as we havebefore stated, it would be unjust for the world to continue as it is.It would at the same time be as unjust to punish the inhabitants ofthe world for things that they are ignorant of, or for things overwhich they have no control. Before the Lord destroyed the inhabitantsof the old world, he sent Enoch and Noah to warn them. Before the Lorddestroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, he sent Lot into their midst. Beforethe Children of Israel were carried captive to Babylon, they werewarned of it by the Prophets; and before Jerusalem was destroyed,the inhabitants had the testimony of our Lord, and his Disciples.And so will it be in the last days; and as it is the world that isconcerned, the world will have to be warned. We will therefore proceedto examine the scriptural testimony on this subject. John says in theRevelations, "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of Heaven,having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them, that dwell on theearth; and to every nation, and kindred, tongue, and people, sayingwith a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour ofhis judgement is come, and worship him that made heaven and earth, thesea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel,saying, Bahylon the great is fallen." xiv. 6-8. Here, then, a lightbursts forth from the heavens; a celestial messenger is deputed toconvey to men tidings of salvation; the everlasting gospel is againto be proclaimed to the children of men; The proclamation is to bemade to "every nation, kindred, people, and tongue." Associated withthis, was to be another declaration, "Fear God, and give glory to him,for the hour of his judgement is come." Thus, all were to have a fairwarning, and afterwards Babylon falls—not before. From the above it isevident, that the everlasting gospel will be restored, accompanied witha warning to the world. Now, if the everlasting gospel is restored,there must be the same principles, laws, officers, or administrators,and ordinances. If, before, they had Apostles, they will again havethem; the same laws and ordinances will be introduced, and the samemethod for receiving members into the kingdom. They will also haveProphets, Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists. If they baptised byimmersion for the remission of sins, and laid on hands for the gift ofthe Holy Ghost, they will again do the same things. If the gift of theHoly Ghost formerly brought things past to the saints' remembrance, ledthem into all truth, and showed them things to come, it will do thesame again, for it is the everlasting gospel. If formerly it causedmen to dream dreams, and to see visions, it will do the same again; ifto one was given the gift of tongues, to another the gift of healing,to another power to work miracles, to another the gift of wisdom, thesame will exist in latter days, for it is the everlasting gospel whichis to be restored. If it put men in possession of a knowledge of God,and of his purposes, and brought life and immortality to light informer days, it will do the same again. If it dispelled the clouds ofdarkness, unveiled the heavens, put men in possession of certainty, andgave them a hope that bloomed with immortality and eternal life, itwill do the same again. If it caused men to know the object of theircreation, their relationship to God, their position on the earth, andtheir final exaltation and glory, it will do the same again, for itis the everlasting Gospel. In short, it is the will of God to man,the government of God among men, and a portion of that light, gloryand intelligence, which exist with God and angels, communicated tomortals, and obtained through obedience to his laws and ordinances. Ifthe Gospel formerly was to be proclaimed to all nations, so it is now,with this difference associated with it, there is to be a cry, "FearGod, and give glory to him, for the hour of His judgement is come."From this, then, we may expect a proclamation to be made to all people;messengers to go forth to every nation, and the same principles whichonce existed to be again restored in all their fulness, power, glory,and blessings. The above is the way pointed out in the Scriptures, andis the only just and rational way to deal with rational, intelligentbeings; for intelligence must be appealed to by intelligence, and itwould be unjust to punish the world indiscriminately, without firstappealing to their reason, judgement, and intelligence. But not onlywill the everlasting Gospel be again restored, and be preached inits fulness as formerly, and go as a messenger to all the world; notonly will there be a spiritual kingdom and organization; but therewill also be a literal kingdom, a nation, or nations, a Zion, and thepeople will gather to that. We will here insert a prophecy of Davidon this subject: "But thou, O Lord, shalt endure for ever; and thyremembrance unto all generations. Thou shalt arise, and have mercy uponZion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. For thyservants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof. Sothe heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of theearth thy glory. When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear inhis glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despisetheir prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come: andthe people which shall be created shall praise the Lord. For he hathlooked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lordbehold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose thosethat are appointed to death; to declare the name of the Lord in Zion,and his praise in Jerusalem; when the people are gathered together, andthe kingdoms to serve the Lord." Psalm cii. 12-22. Here we find, First,that a literal Zion is to be built up; Secondly, that when that Zionis built up, the Lord will come—will appear in his glory; Thirdly,that it is something which concerns the nations of the earth, and thewhole world, for there shall the people be gathered together, and thekingdoms to serve the Lord.
It may be proper here to remark, that there will be two places ofgathering, or Zions; the one in Jerusalem, the other in another place;the one is a place where the Jews will gather to, and the other a mixedmultitude of all nations. Concerning the house of Israel, Jeremiahsays, "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shallno more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children ofIsrael out of the land of Egypt; but, the Lord liveth, that brought upthe children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all thelands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again intotheir land that I gave unto their fathers," xvi. 14, 15. According tothis passage, and many others, there will evidently be a great displayof the power of God manifested towards the house of Israel in theirrestitution to their former habitations. Another Scripture says, that"Jerusalem shall be inhabited in her own place, even in Jerusalem."Here I would remark, that there was a Zion formerly in Jerusalem;but there is also another spoken of in the Scriptures. Hence, inthe passage which we quoted from the Psalms, the Kingdoms are to begathered together in Zion, and the people to serve the Lord; and notonly the Jews, but the Heathens are to fear the name of the Lord, andall the kings of the earth his glory. The law is to issue from Zion,and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Again—"The Lord God thatgathereth the outcasts of Israel, says, yet will I gather others untome besides these." It is very evident from these passages that thereare two places of gathering, as well as from many others that mightbe quoted. For example, Joel, in speaking of the troubles of the lastdays, says, There shall in the last days be deliverance in Mount Zion,and in Jerusalem. Now, he never could say with propriety in Mount Zion,and in Jerusalem, if these were not two places. The ancient Zion wasin Jerusalem. It would not be proper to say in London, and in London;but you could say in London and in Edinburgh, in New York and inPhiladelphia, in Frankfort and in Brussels; and so you can say in Zionand in Jerusalem. But again, the Jews are to be gathered to Jerusalemin unbelief, as spoken of in Zechariah; and when the Messiah appearsamong them, being ignorant of Jesus, they shall ask, "What are thesewounds in thy hands?" Then he shall answer, "Those with which I waswounded in the house of my friends." xiii. 6. And then a fountain shallbe opened for the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, andthey will enter into the covenant by baptism, xiii. 1. But the peopleof Zion the Lord will take them one of a city, and two of a family,and bring them there, and give them pastors after his own heart, thatshall feed them with knowledge and understanding. Jer. iii. 14, 15.The people there are to be all righteous. It is the last Zion that wewish more particularly to speak of at present, as associated with thekingdom of God; and, as we are now searching out the manner in whichthe kingdom of God will be established, it is to us a matter of greatimportance. There are very great judgements spoken of in the last days,as the consequence of man's departure from God; these we have alreadyreferred to in part; but as we have mentioned, the Gospel must againbe preached as a warning unto all nations, and accompanied with it isto be a proclamation, "Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hourof his judgement is come." Rev. xiv. 7. But the people would veryreasonably be heard to enquire, what can we do? What hope have we?If war comes, we cannot either prevent or avoid it. If plague stalksthrough the earth, what guarantee have we of deliverance. You say youhave come as messengers of mercy to us, and as the messengers of thenations. What shall we do? Let Isaiah answer: he has told the tale ofwar, and defined the remedy. This shall be the answer of the messengerof the nations, that "the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of hispeople shall trust in it." xiv. 32. Yes, says Joel, when this great andterrible day of the Lord comes, there shall be deliverance in MountZion, and in Jerusalem, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whomthe Lord shall call. ii. 32. Yes, says Jeremiah, He will take themone of a city, and two of a family, and bring them to Zion, and givethem pastors after his own heart, that shall feed them with knowledgeand understanding, iii. 14, 15. The proclamation to the world will bethe means of establishing this Zion, by gathering together multitudesof people from among all nations. For there are multitudes among allnations who are sincerely desirous to do the will of God, when theyare made acquainted with it; but having been cajoled with priestcraftand abominations so long, they know not which course to steer, and arejealous of almost everything. As it was formerly, so will it be in thelatter times. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and know me, andfollow me, and a stranger they will not follow, for they know not thevoice of strangers." Those who love truth, and desire to be governed byit, will embrace it, and enter into the covenant which the Lord willmake with his people in the last days, and be gathered with them; theywill be taught of the Lord in Zion, will form his kingdom on the earth,and will be prepared for the Lord when he comes to take possession ofhis kingdom. For "when the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appearin his glory," and not before. But if Zion is never built up, the Lordnever will come, for he must have a people, and a place to come to. Theprophets hailed this day with pleasure, as the ushering in of thoseglorious times, which were to follow. Micah says, "But in the last daysit shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shallbe established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exaltedabove the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shallcome, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, andto the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, andwe will walk in his paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and theword of the Lord from Jerusalem." iv. 1, 2. Isaiah with rapture gazedupon the scene, and in ecstacy cried out, "Who are these that fly as acloud, and as the doves to their windows? Surely the isles shall waitfor me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from afar,their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thyGod, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. Andthe sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shallminister unto thee." lx. 8-10. You will find by reading the 14th verse,that this place is to be called "The City of the Lord; the Zion of theHoly One of Israel." Here then we find, that the Lord will have a housebuilt; that it shall be upon the tops of the mountains, and be exaltedabove the hills; that many nations shall go there, to learn the will ofthe Lord, and that the law shall go forth from Zion. That the peopleshall come as clouds to it; that they shall take their silver and goldwith them. That God's worship will be known, and the religion of theLord will lose its forbidding aspect. And God, and his religion, bepopular among the nations of the earth.
This brings us to another means that will be made use of, for theestablishment of the kingdom of God; for, before this, he will rebukestrong nations that are afar off. And before they "beat their swordsinto ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and nationsshall have war no more."[A] there will be a time of terrible trouble,and distress, of war and calamity, such as never has been before onthe earth. Having noticed in the above that a standard will be raisedto the nations, that the Gospel will be preached again to all peopleand a proclamation be made to all nations; that a literal Zion will bebuilt; that the righteous will flock to that Zion, and be taught ofthe Lord, and be prepared for his coming; that great multitudes willflow to Zion, and the blessing of God dwell there; we now come to pointout another way that the kingdom of God will be established, viz.,by judgements, that the nations may be purified and prepared for anuniversal reign.
[Footnote A: If any one wish further information on this subject, Irefer them to O. Pratt's "New Jerusalem."—Liverpool: S. W. Richards.]
Before the Lord destroyed the old world, he directed Noah to prepare anark; before the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, he toldLot to "flee to the mountains;" before Jerusalem was destroyed, Jesusgave his disciples warning, and told them to "flee out of it;" andbefore the destruction of the world, a message is sent; after this, thenations will be judged, for God is now preparing his own kingdom forhis own reign, and will not be thwarted by any conflicting influence,or opposing power. The testimony of God is first to be made known, thestandard is to be raised; the Gospel of the kingdom is to be preachedto all nations, the world is to be warned, and then come the troubles.The whole world is in confusion, morally, politically, and religiously;but a voice was to be heard, "Come out of her, my people, that youpartake not of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Johnsaw an angel having the everlasting Gospel to preach to every nation,kindred, people, and tongue. And afterwards there was another cried,"Babylon is fallen." Isaiah, after describing some of the most terriblecalamities that should overtake that people, says, "The noise of amultitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuousnoise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hostsmustereth the host of the battle .... Pangs shall take hold of them,and they shall be in pain, as a woman that travaileth." That "the dayof the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay theland desolate, and shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it; for thestars of heaven, and the constellations thereof, shall not give theirlight: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth; and the moon shallnot cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for theirevil, and the wicked for their iniquity, and I will cause the arrogancyof the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of theterrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold." xiii. 4-12.After enumerating many other things concerning Babylon and Assyria,as types of things to come, he says, "This is the purpose that ispurposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretchedout upon all the nations." xiv. 26. He says again, "Behold the Lordmaketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upsidedown, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be,as with the people so with the priest; as with the servant, so with hismaster.... The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: forthe Lord hath spoken this word... The earth also is defiled under theinhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, changedthe ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant." xxiv. 1-5. From theabove, it would seem that terrible judgements await the inhabitants ofthe world; that there will be a general destruction; the world will befull of war, and confusion, the nations of the earth will be convulsed,and the wicked hurled out of it. Jesus said, when on the earth, "Fornation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; andthere shall be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in diversplaces; men's hearts shall fail them for fear of those things that arecoming on the earth." Jesus came first as the babe of Bethlehem; hewill come again, "and rule nations with a rod of iron, and dash them inpieces like a potter's vessel." Isaiah says, "There shall come fortha rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of hisroots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit ofwisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spiritof knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quickunderstanding in the fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge after thesight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; butwith righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity forthe meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of hismouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked, andrighteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness thegirdle of his reins." xi. 1-5. The first of this was fulfilled when ourSaviour came on this earth before; the second will be when he comesagain, "he will smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with thebreath of his lips will he slay the wicked." The spirit of the Lordwill be withdrawn from the nations, and after rejecting the truth, theywill be left in darkness, to grope their way, and being full of thespirit of wickedness, they will rage and war against each other, andfinally, after dreadful struggles, plagues, pestilence, famine, etc.,instigated by the powers of darkness, there will be a great gatheringof the nations against Jerusalem, for they will be infuriated againstits inhabitants, and mighty hosts will assemble, so that they will belike a cloud to cover the land, and the Lord will appear himself to thedeliverance of his people and the destruction of the wicked. Zech xiv.Let any one compare this chapter with Ezekiel xxxviii. and xxxix., andhe will find one of the most terrible destructions described, that ispossible to conceive of; and then turn to the second Psalm, where Daviddescribes the kings of the earth taking counsel against the Lord, andagainst his anointed. He says, He that sitteth in the heavens shalllaugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.... That he will set hisking upon his holy hill in Zion, that he will give him the heathenfor his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for hispossession.... That he will break them with a rod of iron, and dashthem in pieces like a potter's vessel; and then he concludes by saying,Be wise, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth,serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling; kiss the son,lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindledbut a little.
In making a brief summary of what we have said before in relation tothe means to be employed for the establishment of the Kingdom of God,we find the following:—
1st.—That it will be not only a spiritual kingdom, but a temporal andliteral one also.
2nd.—That if it is the Kingdom of Heaven, it must be revealed from theheavens.
3rd.—That a standard is to be lifted up, by the Lord, to the nations.
4th.—That an Angel is to come with the everlasting Gospel, which isto be proclaimed to every nation, kindred, people, and tongue; thatit is to be the same as the ancient one, and that the same powers andblessings will attend it.
5th.—That not only will the Ancient Gospel be preached, but there willaccompany it a declaration of judgement to the nations.
6th.—That there will be a literal Zion, or gathering of the Saints toZion, as well as a gathering of the Jews to Jerusalem.
7th.—That when this has taken place, the Spirit of God will bewithdrawn from the nations, and they will war with and destroy eachother.
8th.—That judgements will also overtake them, from the Lord, plague,pestilence, famine, etc.
9th.—That the nations, having lost the Spirit of God, will assembleto fight against the Lord's people, being full of the spirit ofunrighteousness, and opposed to the rule and government of God.
10th.—That when they do, the Lord will come and fight against themhimself; overthrow their armies, assert his own right, rule thenations with a rod of iron, root the wicked out of the earth, and takepossession of his own kingdom. I might here further state, that whenthe Lord does come to exercise judgement upon the ungodly, to make anend of sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness, he will establishhis own laws, demand universal obedience, and cause wickedness andmisrule to cease. He will issue his commands, and they must be obeyed;and if the nations of the earth observe not his laws, "they will haveno rain." And they will be taught by more forcible means than moralsuasion, that they are dependant upon God; for the Lord will demandobedience, and the Scriptures say, time and again, that the wickedshall be rooted out of the land, and the righteous and the meek shallinherit the earth. The Lord, after trying man's rule for thousands ofyears, now takes the reins of government into his own hands, and makesuse of the only possible means of asserting his rights. For if thewicked never were cut off, the righteous never could rule; and if theDevil was still suffered to bear rule, God could not, at the same time;consequently after long delay, he whose right it is, takes possessionof the kingdom; and the kingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom underthe whole heavens, shall be given to the Saints of the Most High God;and the world will assume that position for which it was made. A Kingshall rule in righteousness, and Princes shall decree judgement. Theknowledge of the Lord will spread, and extend under the auspices ofthis government. Guided by his counsels, and under his direction, allthose, purposes designed of Him, from the commencement, in relation toboth living and dead, will be in a fair way for their accomplishment.
The Effects of the Establishment of Christ's Kingdom, or the Reign ofGod upon the Earth.
Having said so much pertaining to the Kingdom, we come to our lastproposition, and enquire, What will be the effects of the establishmentof Christ's kingdom, or the reign of God on the earth?
This is, indeed, a grand and important question, and requires ourmost serious and calm deliberation. If, after all this distress,tribulation, war, bloodshed, and sacrifice of human life, the conditionof the world is no better, man is certainly in a most unhappy, hopelesssituation. If it is nothing more than some of the changes contemplatedby man, from one species of government to another, and we must stillhave war, bloodshed, and disorder, and be subject to the caprices oftyrants, or the anarchy of mobs, our prospects are indeed gloomy, andour hopes vain; we may as well "eat and drink, for tomorrow we die;"for, as we have already proven, under the most improved state of humangovernments we should still be subject to all the ills which fleshis heir to, without any redeeming hope. But this is not a transient,short-lived change; it is something decreed by God in relation tothe earth and man, from before the commencement of the world; eventhe dispossessing of Satan, the destruction of the ungodly, and thereign of God; or in other words, putting the moral world in the sameposition in which the physical world is—under the direction of theAlmighty. It is the doing away with war, bloodshed, misery, disease,and sin, and the ushering in of a kingdom of peace, righteousness,justice, happiness, and prosperity. It is the restoration of the earthand man to their primeval glory, and pristine excellence; in fact, the"restitution of all things spoken of by all the prophets since theworld began."
Now, restoration signifies a bringing back, and must refer to somethingwhich existed before; for if it did not exist before, it could notbe restored. I cannot describe this better than Parley P. Pratt hasdone in his "Voice of Warning," and shall therefore make the followingextract:—
"This is one of the most important subjects upon which the human mindcan contemplate; and one perhaps as little understood, in the presentage, as any other now lying over the face of prophecy. But howeverneglected at the present time, it was once the ground-work of thefaith, hope, and joy of the Saints. It was a correct understandingof this subject, and firm belief in it, that influenced all theirmovements. Their minds once fastening upon it, they could not be shakenfrom their purposes; their faith was firm, their joy constant, andtheir hope like an anchor to the soul, both sure and stedfast, reachingto that within the veil. It was this that enabled them to rejoice inthe midst of tribulation, persecution, sword, and flame; and in viewof this, they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, and gladlywandered as strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they sought acountry, a city, and an inheritance, that none but a Saint ever thoughtof, understood, or even hoped for.
"Now, we can never understand precisely what is meant by restoration,unless we understand what is lost or taken away; for instance, when weoffer to restore any thing to a man, it is as much as to say he oncepossessed it, but had lost it, and we propose to replace or put himin possession of that which he once had; therefore, when a prophetspeaks of the restoration of all things, he means that all things haveundergone a change, and are to be again restored to their primitiveorder, even as they first existed.
"First, then, it becomes necessary for us to take a view of creation,as it rolled in purity from the hand of its Creator; and if we candiscover the true state in which it then existed, and understandthe changes that have taken place since, then we shall be able tounderstand what is to be restored; and thus our minds being prepared,we shall be looking for the very things which will come, and shallbe in no danger of lifting our puny arm, in ignorance, to oppose thethings of God.
"First, then, we will take a view of the earth, as to its surface,local situation, and productions.
"When God had created the heavens and the earth, and separated thelight from the darkness, his next great command was to the waters,Gen. i. 9,—'And God said, let the waters under the heaven be gatheredtogether into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it wasso.' From this we learn a marvellous fact, which very few have everrealized or believed in this benighted age; we learn that the waters,which are now divided into oceans, seas, and lakes, were then allgathered together, into one vast ocean; and, consequently, thatthe land, which is now torn asunder, and divided into continents andislands, almost innumerable, was then one vast continent or body, notseparated as it is now.
"Second, we hear the Lord God pronounce the earth, as well as everything else, very good. From this we learn that there were neitherdeserts, barren places, stagnant swamps, rough, broken, rugged hills,nor vast mountains covered with eternal snow; and no part of it waslocated in the frigid zone, so as to render its climate dreary andunproductive, subject to eternal frost, or everlasting chains of ice,—
Where no sweet flowers the dreary landscape cheer,
Nor plenteous harvests crown the passing year;
but the whole earth was probably one vast plain, or interspersedwith gently rising hills, and sloping vales, well calculated forcultivation; while its climate was delightfully varied, with themoderate changes of heat and cold, of wet and dry, which only tendedto crown the varied year, with the greater variety of productions,all for the good of man, animal, fowl, or creeping thing; while fromthe flowery plain, or spicy grove, sweet odours were wafted on everybreeze; and all the vast creation of animated being breathed nought buthealth, and peace, and joy.
"Next, we learn from Gen. i. 29, 30,—'And God said, Behold, I havegiven you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all theearth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree, yielding seed;to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and toevery fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth,wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and itwas so.' From these verses we learn, that the earth yielded neithernauseous weeds nor poisonous plants, nor useless thorns and thistles;indeed, every thing that grew was just calculated for the food of man,beast, fowl, and creeping thing; and their food was all vegetable;flesh and blood were never sacrificed to glut their souls, or gratifytheir appetites; the beasts of the earth were all in perfect harmonywith each other; the lion ate straw like the ox—the wolf dwelt withthe lamb—the leopard lay down with the kid—the cow and bear fedtogether, in the same pasture, while their young ones reposed, inperfect security, under the shade of the same trees; all was peace andharmony, and nothing to hurt nor disturb, in all the holy mountain.
"And to crown the whole, we behold man created in the image of God,and exalted in dignity and power, having dominion over all the vastcreation of animated beings, which swarmed through the earth, while,at the same time, he inhabits a beautiful and well-watered garden, inthe midst of which stood the tree of life, to which he had free access;while he stood in the presence of his Maker, conversed with him faceto face, and gazed upon his glory, without a dimming veil between. Oreader, contemplate, for a moment, this beautiful creation, clothedwith peace and plenty; the earth teeming, with harmless animals,rejoicing over all the plain; the air swarming with delightful birds,whose never ceasing notes filled the air with varied melody; and all insubjection to their rightful sovereign who rejoiced over them; while,in a delightful garden—the capitol of creation,—man was seated on thethrone of his vast empire, swaying his sceptre over all the earth, withundisputed right; while legions of angels encamped round about him, andjoined their glad voices, in grateful songs of praise, and shouts ofjoy; neither a sigh nor groan was heard, throughout the vast expanse;neither was there sorrow, tears, pain, weeping, sickness, nor death;neither contentions, wars, nor bloodshed; but peace crowned the seasonsas they rolled, and life, joy, and love, reigned over all his works.But, O! how changed the scene.
"It now becomes my painful duty, to trace some of the importantchanges, which have taken place, and the causes which have conspired toreduce the earth and its inhabitants to their present state.
"First, man fell from his standing before God, by giving heed totemptation; and this fall affected the whole creation, as well asman, and caused various changes to take place; he was banished fromthe presence of his Creator, and a veil was drawn between them, andhe was driven from the garden of Eden, to till the earth, which wasthen cursed for man's sake, and should begin to bring forth thorns andthistles: and with the sweat of his face he should earn his bread, andin sorrow eat of it, all the days of his life, and finally return todust. But as to Eve, her curse was a great multiplicity of sorrow andconception; and between her seed, and the seed of the serpent, therewas to be a constant enmity; it should bruise the serpent's head, andthe serpent should bruise his heel.
"Now, reader, contemplate the change. This scene, which was sobeautiful a little before, had now become the abode of sorrow andtoil, of death and mourning: the earth groaning with its productionof accursed thorns and thistles; man and beast at enmity; the serpentslily creeping away, fearing lest his head should got the deadlybruise; and man startling amid the thorny path, in fear, lest theserpent's fangs should pierce his heel; while the lamb yields his bloodupon the smoking altar. Soon man begins to persecute, hate, and murderhis fellow; until at length the earth is filled with violence; allflesh becomes corrupt, the powers of darkness prevail; and it repentedNoah that God had made man, and it grieved him at his heart, becausethe Lord should come out in vengeance, and cleanse the earth by water.
"How far the flood may have contributed, to produce the variouschanges, as to the division of the earth into broken fragments, islandsand continents, mountains and valleys, we have not been informed; thechange must have been considerable. But after the flood, in the days ofPeleg, the earth was divided.—See Gen. x. 25,—a short history, to besure, of so great an event; but still it will account for the mightyrevolution, which rolled the sea from its own place in the north, andbrought it to interpose between different portions of the earth, whichwere thus parted asunder, and moved into something near their presentform; this, together with the earthquakes, revolutions, and commotionswhich have since taken place, have all contributed to reduce the faceof the earth to its present state; while the great curses which havefallen upon different portions, because of the wickedness of men, willaccount for the stagnant swamps, the sunken lakes, the dead seas, andgreat deserts.
"Witness, for instance, the denunciations of the prophets uponBabylon, how it was to become perpetual desolations, a den of wildbeasts, a dwelling of unclean and hateful birds, a place for owls; andshould never be inhabited, but should lie desolate from generationto generation. Witness also the plains of Sodom, filled with towns,cities, and flourishing gardens, well watered: but O, how changed! avast sea of stagnant water alone marks the place. Witness the landof Palestine; in the days of Solomon it was capable of sustainingmillions of people, besides a surplus of wheat, and other productions,which were exchanged with the neighbouring nations; whereas, now it isdesolate, and hardly capable of sustaining a few miserable inhabitants.And when I cast mine eyes over our own land, and see the numerousswamps, lakes, and ponds of stagnant waters, together with the vastmountains and innumerable rough places; rocks having been rent, andtorn asunder, from centre to circumference; I exclaim, Whence all this?
"When I read the Book of Mormon, it informs me, that while Christ wascrucified among the Jews, this whole American continent was shakento its foundation, that many cities were sunk, and waters came up intheir places; that the rocks were all rent in twain; that mountainswere thrown up to an exceeding height; and other mountains becamevallies: the level roads spoiled; and the whole face of the landchanged.—I then exclaim, These things are no longer a mystery; I havenow learned to account for the many wonders, which I everywhere behold,throughout our whole country; when I am passing a ledge of rocks, andsee they have all been rent and torn asunder, while some huge fragmentsare found deeply imbedded in the earth, some rods from whence theywere torn, I exclaim, with astonishment, These were the groans! theconvulsive throes of agonizing nature! while the Son of God sufferedupon the cross!
"But men have degenerated, and greatly changed, as well as the earth.The sins, the abominations, and the many evil habits of the latterages, have added to the miseries, toils, and sufferings of human life.The idleness, extravagance, pride, covetousness, drunkenness, and otherabominations, which are characteristics of the latter times, haveall combined to sink mankind to the lowest state of wretchedness anddegradation; while priestcraft and false doctrines, have greatly tendedto lull mankind to sleep, and caused them to rest, infinitely short ofthe powers and attainments which the ancients did enjoy, and which arealone calculated to exalt the intellectual powers of the human mind,to establish noble and generous sentiments, to enlarge the heart, andto expand the soul to the utmost extent of its capacity. Witness theancients, conversing with the Great Jehovah, learning lessons fromthe angels, and receiving instruction by the Holy Ghost, in dreams bynight, and visions by day, until at length the veil is taken off, andthey permitted to gaze, with wonder and admiration, upon all thingspast and future; yea, even to soar aloft amid unnumbered worlds;while the vast expanse of eternity stands open before them, and theycontemplate the mighty works of the Great I AM, until they know as theyare known, and see as they are seen.
"Compare this intelligence, with the low smatterings of educationand worldly wisdom, which seem to satisfy the narrow mind of man inour generation; yea, behold the narrow-minded, calculating, trading,overreaching, penurious sycophant, of the nineteenth century, whodreams of nothing here, but how to increase his goods, or takeadvantage of his neighbour; and whose only religious exercises orduties consist of going to meeting, paying the priest his hire,or praying to his God, without expecting to be heard or answered,supposing that God has been deaf and dumb for many centuries, oraltogether stupid and indifferent like himself. And having seen the twocontrasted, you will be able to form some idea of the vast elevationfrom which man has fallen; you will also learn, how infinitely beneathhis former glory and dignity, he is now living, and your heart willmourn, and be exceedingly sorrowful, when you contemplate him in hislow estate—and then think he is your brother; and you will be readyto exclaim, with wonder and astonishment, O man! how art thou fallen!once thou wast the favourite of Heaven; thy Maker delighted to conversewith thee, and angels and the spirits of just men made perfect werethy companions; but now thou art degraded, and brought down on a levelwith the beasts; yea, far beneath them, for they look with horror andaffright at your vain amusements, your sports and your drunkenness,and thus often set an example worthy of your imitation. Well did theapostle Peter say of you, that you know nothing, only what you knownaturally as brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed. And thus youperish, from generation to generation. While all creation groans underits pollution; and sorrow and death, mourning and weeping, fill up themeasure of the days of man. But O my soul, dwell no longer on thisawful scene: let it suffice, to have discovered in some degree, what islost. Let us turn our attention to what the Prophets have said shouldbe restored.
"The Apostle Peter, while preaching to the Jews, says, 'And he shallsend Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom theheavens must receive, until the times of restitution (restoration)of all things which God hath spoken, by the mouth of all the holyprophets, since the world began.' It appears from the above, that allthe holy prophets from Adam, and those that follow after, have hadtheir eyes upon a certain time, when all things should be restored totheir primitive beauty and excellence. We also learn, that the time ofrestitution was to be at or near the time of Christ's second coming;for the heavens are to receive him, until the times of restitution, andthen the Father shall send him again to the earth.
"We will now proceed to notice Isaiah xl. 1-5. 'Comfort ye, comfortye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, andcry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity ispardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand, double for all hersins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye theway of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall bemade low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough placesplain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shallsee it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.'
"From these verses we learn, first, that the voice of one shall beheard in the wilderness, to prepare the way of the Lord, just at thetime when Jerusalem has been trodden down of the Gentiles long enoughto have received, at the Lord's hand, double for all her sins, yea,when the warfare of Jerusalem is accomplished, and her iniquitiespardoned; then shall this proclamation be made as it was before byJohn, yea, a second proclamation, to prepare the way of the Lord, forhis second coming; and about that time every valley shall be exalted,and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall bemade straight, and rough places plain, and then the glory of the Lordshall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouthof the Lord hath spoken it.
"Thus you see, every mountain being laid low, and every valley exalted,and the rough places being made plain, and the crooked places straight,that these mighty revolutions will begin to restore the face of theearth to its former beauty. But all this done, we have not yet gonethrough our restoration; there are many more great things to be done,in order to restore all things.
"Our next is Isaiah 35th chapter, where we again read of the Lord'ssecond coming, and of the mighty works which attend it. The barrendesert should abound with pools and springs of living water, and shouldproduce grass, with flowers blooming and blossoming as the rose, andthat, too, about the time of the coming of their God, with vengeanceand recompense, which must allude to his second coming; and Israel isto come at the same time to Zion, with songs of everlasting joy, andsorrow and sighing shall flee away. Here, then, we have the curse takenoff from the deserts, and they become a fruitful, well-watered country.
"We will now inquire whether the islands return again to thecontinents, from which they were once separated. For this subjectwe refer you to Revelation vi. 14,—'And every mountain and islandwere moved out of their places.' From this we learn that they movedsomewhere; and as it is the time of restoring what had been lost, theyaccordingly return and join themselves to the land whence they came.
"Our next is Isaiah xiii. 13, 14, where 'The earth shall move out ofher place, and be like a chased roe which no man taketh up.' Also,Isaiah lxii. 4, 'Thou shalt no more be termed forsaken; neithershall thy land any more be termed desolate; but thou shalt be calledHephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, andthy land shall be married.'
"In the first instance, we have the earth on a move like a chased roe;and in the second place, we have it married. And from the whole, andvarious Scriptures, we learn, that the continents and islands shall beunited in one, as they were on the morn of creation, and the sea shallretire and assemble in its own place, where it was before; and allthese scenes shall take place during the mighty convulsion of nature,about the time of the coming of the Lord.
"Behold! the Mount of Olives rend in twain;
While on its top he sets his feet again,
The islands at his word, obedient, flee;
While to the north, he rolls the mighty sea;
Restores the earth in one, as at the first,
With all its blessings, and removes the curse.
"Having restored the earth to the same glorious state in which it firstexisted; levelling the mountains, exalting the valleys, smoothingthe rough places, making the deserts fruitful, and bringing allthe continents and islands together, causing the curse to be takenoff, that it shall no longer produce noxious weeds, and thorns, andthistles; the next thing is to regulate and restore the brute creationto their former state of peace and glory, causing all enmity to ceasefrom off the earth. But this will never be done until there is ageneral destruction poured out upon man, which will entirely cleansethe earth, and sweep all wickedness from its face. This will be doneby the rod of his mouth, and by the breath of his lips; or, in otherwords, by fire as universal as the flood. Isaiah xi. 4, 6-9, 'But withrighteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity forthe meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod ofhis mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall liedown with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatlingtogether; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and thebear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and thelion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall playon the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand onthe cockatrice's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holymountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, asthe waters cover the sea.'
"Thus, having cleansed the earth, and glorified it with the knowledgeof God, as the waters cover the sea, and having poured out his Spiritupon all flesh, both man and beast becoming perfectly harmless, asthey were in the beginning, and feeding on vegetable food only, whilenothing is left to hurt or destroy in all the vast creation, theprophets then proceed to give us many glorious descriptions of theenjoyments of its inhabitants. 'They shall build houses and inhabitthem; they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine of them; theyshall plant gardens and eat the fruit of them; they shall not buildand another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as thedays of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall longenjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bringforth in trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, andtheir offspring with them; and it shall come to pass, that before theycall I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear.' Inthis happy state of existence it seems that all people will live to thefull age of a tree, and this too without pain or sorrow, and whatsoeverthey ask will be immediately answered, and even all their wants will beanticipated. Of course, then, none of them will sleep in the dust, forthey will prefer to be translated; that is, changed in the twinklingof an eye, from mortal to immortal; after which they will continue toreign with Jesus on the earth." Pp. 110-122.
A great council will then be held to adjust the affairs of the world,from the commencement, over which Father Adam will preside as headand representative of the human family. There have been, in differentages of the world, communications opened between the heavens and theearth. Those powers have been separated, and have acted in differentspheres, until the present. The kingdom of God on the earth has beensmall, weak, unpopular, trampled under foot of men, and none but menof noble minds, firm hopes, and daring resolution, have advocated itsprinciples. These men, being possessed of intelligence from the heavensby the ministering of angels, the communications of the spirits of thejust, and the manifestation of eternal things, knew of the approachingday of glory, the reign of God on the earth; they understood theirdestiny, and lived, and died, in the hopes of inheriting these things.Those communications from the heavens developd the purposes of God tothem; and in all their moves, they were regulated by the prospect ofthe future. In the Mosaic Dispensation they had to make earthly thingsaccording to the pattern of heavenly. Hence it was said to Moses, "Seethat thou make all things according to the pattern shewn thee in theMount." The ark was made, therefore, after a heavenly pattern, and sowas the Temple of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a figure of the heavenly.The sacrifices of the Aaronic Priesthood referred to the expiation ofChrist, who appears as the earthly High Priest of the Jews, and as oureternal High Priest and Intercessor in the heavens. His Priesthoodwas an eternal one, and is after the order of Melchisedek, andMelchisedek's was after his order, and they both were after the orderthat exists in the heavens. This priesthood with the Gospel, broughtlife and immortality to light, put men in possession of certainty, andunveiled the future; they knew the divine laws and ordinances, andacted with a reference to them; and being commissioned of God, they hadpower to bind and loose, etc.
Then they will assemble to regulate all these affairs, and all thatheld keys of authority to administer, will then represent their earthlycourse. And, as this authority has been handed down from one to anotherin different ages, and in different dispensations, a full reckoningwill have to be made by all. All who have held keys of Priesthood,will then have to give an account to those from whom they receivedthem. Those that were in the heavens, have been assisting those thatwere upon the earth; but then, they will unite together in a generalcouncil to give an account of their stewardships, and as in thevarious ages men have received their power to administer, from thosewho had previously held the keys thereof, there will be a generalaccount. Those, under the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christof Latter-day Saints, have to give an account of their transactionsto those who direct them in the Priesthood; hence the Elders give anaccount to Presidents of Conferences; and Presidents of Conferencesto Presidents of Nations. Those Presidents and the Seventies give anaccount to the Twelve Apostles; the Twelve to the First Presidency;and they to Joseph, from whom they, and the Twelve, receivedtheir Priesthood. This will include the arrangements of the lastdispensation. Joseph delivers his authority to Peter, who held the keysbefore him, and delivered them to him; and Peter to Moses and Elias,who endued him with this authority on the Mount; and they to those fromwhom they received them. And thus the world's affairs will be regulatedand put right, the restitution of all things be accomplished, and theKingdom of God be ushered in. The earth will be delivered from underthe curse, resume its paradisiacal glory, and all things pertaining toits restoration be fulfilled.
Not only will the earth be restored, but also man; and those promiseswhich, long ago, were the hope of the saints, will be realised. Thefaithful servants of God who have lived in every age, will then comeforth and experience the full fruition of that joy, for which theylived, and hoped, and suffered, and died. The tombs will deliver uptheir captives, and re-united with the spirits which once animated,vivified, cheered, and sustained them while in this vale of tears,these bodies will be like unto Christ's glorious body. They will thenrejoice in that resurrection for which they lived, while they sojournedbelow. Adam, Seth, Enoch, and the faithful who lived before the flood,will possess their proper inheritance. Noah and Melchisedek will standin their proper places. Abraham, with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with himof the same promise, will come forward at the head of innumerablemultitudes, and possess that land which God gave unto them for aneverlasting inheritance. The faithful, on the continent of America,will also stand in their proper place; but, as this will be the timeof the restitution of all things, and all things will not be fullyrestored at once; there will be a distinction between the resurrectedbodies, and those that have not been resurrected; and as the Scripturessay that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neitherdoth corruption inherit incorruption; and although the world willenjoy just laws—an equitable administration, and universal peace andhappiness prevail as the result of this righteousness; yet, there willbe a peculiar habitation for the resurrected bodies. This habitationmay be compared to Paradise, from whence man, in the beginning, wasdriven.
When Adam was driven from the Garden, an angel was placed with anaming sword to guard the way of the tree of life, lest man shouldeat of it, and become immortal in his degenerate state, and thus beincapable of obtaining that exaltation, which he would be capable ofenjoying through the redemption of Jesus Christ, and the power of theresurrection, with his renewed and glorified body. Having tasted of thenature of the fall, and having grappled with sin and misery, knowinglike the gods both good and evil, having like Jesus overcome the evil,and through the power of the atonement, having conquered death, hell,and the grave, he regains that Paradise, from which he was banished,not in the capacity of ignorant man, unacquinted with evil, but likeunto a god. He can now stretch forth, and partake of the tree of life,and eat of its fruits, and live and flourish eternally in possession ofthat immortality which Jesus long ago promised to the faithful: "To himthat overcomes, will I grant to sit with me in my throne; and eat ofthe tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."
This electronic edition was produced by the Mormon Texts Project.Volunteers who helped with this book include: Tanya Ross, MeridithCrowder, Tod Robbins, Ben Crowder, Bryce Beattie, Stephen Cranney,Tyler Thorsted, Eric Heaps, Jason Barron, Jean-Michel Carter, DavidWillde, and Tom Nysetvold. Special thanks to Trevor Nysetvold for hiscomplete proof of the final version.
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Email Tom Nysetvold (email@example.com) to report errors or toparticipate in proofreading similar early books of The Church of JesusChrist of Latter-Day Saints.