(5.) Then shall also Satan’s heathenish kingdom be overthrown. Gross heathenism now possesses a great part of the earth, and there are supposed to be more heathens now in the world, than of all other professions taken together, Jews, Mahometans, or Christians. But then the heathen nations shall be enlightened with the glorious gospel. There will be a wonderful spirit of pity towards them, and zeal for their instruction and conversion put into multitudes, and many shall go forth and carry the gospel unto them. And then shall the joyful sound be heard among them, and the Sun of Righteousness shall then arise with his glorious light shining on those many vast regions of the earth that have been covered with heathenish darkness for many thousand years, many of them doubtless ever since the times of Moses and Abraham, and have lain thus long in a miserable condition, under the cruel tyranny of the devil, who has all this while blinded and fooled them, and domineered over them, and made a prey of them from generation to generation. Now the glad tidings of the gospel shall sound there, and they shall be brought out of darkness into marvelous light.
It is promised, that heathenism shall thus be destroyed in many places. God has said, that the gods that have not made these heavens and this earth, shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens, Jer. 10:11 and that he will utterly abolish idols, Isa. 2:18. — Then shall the many nations of Africa, the nations of Negroes, and other heathens who chiefly fill that quarter of the world, who now seem to be in a state but little above the beasts, and in many respects much below them, be enlightened with glorious light, and delivered from all their darkness, and shall become a civil, Christian, understanding, and holy people. Then shall the vast continent of America, which now in so great a part of it is covered with barbarous ignorance and cruelty, be everywhere covered with glorious gospel light and Christian love. And instead of worshipping the devil, as now they do, they shall serve God, and praises shall be sung everywhere to the Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed Savior of the world. So may we expect it will be in that great and populous part of the world, the East Indies, which are now mostly inhabited by the worshippers of the devil, and so throughout that vast country Great Tartary. And then the kingdom of Christ will be established in those continents which have been more lately discovered towards the north and south poles, where now men differ very little from the wild beasts, excepting that they worship the devil, and beasts do not. The same will be the case with respect to those countries which have never yet been discovered. Thus will be gloriously fulfilled that in Isa. 35:1 “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them: and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” See also verses 6, 7.
2. Having thus shown wherein this overthrow of Satan’s kingdom will consist, I come now to the other thing to be observed concerning it, viz. its universal extent. The visible kingdom of Satan shall be overthrown, and the kingdom of Christ set up on the ruins of it, everywhere throughout the whole habitable globe. Now shall the promise made to Abraham be fulfilled, that “in him and in his seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed,” and Christ now shall become the desire of all nations, agreeable to Hag. 2:7. Now the kingdom of Christ shall in the most strict and literal sense be extended to all nations, and the whole earth. There are many passages of Scripture that can be understood in no other sense. What can be more universal than that in Isa. 11:9, “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” As much as to say, as there is no part of the channel or cavity of the sea anywhere, but what is covered with water. So there shall be no part of the world of mankind but what shall be covered with the knowledge of God. So it is foretold in Isa. 45:22 that all the ends of the earth shall look to Christ, and be saved. And to show that the words are to be understood in the most universal sense, it is said in the next verse, “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”
So the most universal expression is used, Dan. 7:27, “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High God.” You see the expression includes all under the whole heaven.
When the devil was cast out of the Roman empire, because that was the highest and principal part of the world, and the other nations that were left were low and mean in comparison of those of that empire, it was represented as Satan’s being cast out of heaven to the earth, Rev. 12:9, but it is represented that he shall be cast out of the earth too, and shut up in hell, Rev. 20:1, 2, 3. — This is the greatest revolution by far that ever came to pass. Therefore it is said in Rev. 16:17, 18, that on the pouring out of the seventh vial, there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great. And this is the third great dispensation of providence which is in Scripture compared to Christ’s coming to judgment. So it is in Rev. 16:15. There, after the sixth vial, and after the devil’s armies were gathered together to their great battle, and just before Christ’s glorious victory over them, it is said, “Behold I come quickly; blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments.” So it is called Christ’s coming in 2 Thes. 2:8. Speaking of Antichrist, it is said, “and then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” See also Dan. 7:13, 14, where Christ’s coming to set up his kingdom on earth, and to destroy Antichrist, is called coming with clouds of heaven. And this is more like Christ’s last coming to judgment, than any of the preceding dispensations which are so called, on these accounts:
(1.) That the dispensation is so much greater and more universal, and so more like the day of judgment, which respects the whole world.
(2.) On account of the great spiritual resurrection there will be of the church of God accompanying it, more resembling the general resurrection at the end of the world than any other. This spiritual resurrection is the resurrection spoken of as attended with judgment, Rev. 20:4.
(3.) Because of the terrible judgments and fearful destruction which shall now he executed on God’s enemies. There will doubtless at the introducing of this dispensation be a visible and awful hand of God against blasphemers, deists, and obstinate heretics, and other enemies of Christ, terribly destroying them, with remarkable tokens of wrath and vengeance. And especially will this dispensation be attended with terrible judgments on Antichrist. And the cruel persecutors who belong to the church of Rome, shall in a most awful manner be destroyed, which is compared to a casting of Antichrist into the burning flame, Dan. 7:11 and to casting him alive into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, Rev. 19:20.
Then shall this cruel persecuting church suffer those judgments from God, which shall be far more dreadful than her cruelest persecutions of the saints, agreeable to Rev. 18:6, 7. — The judgments which God shall execute on the enemies of the church, are so great, that they are compared to God’s sending great hailstones from heaven upon them, every one of the weight of a talent, as it is said on the pouring out of the seventh vial, Rev. 16:21, “And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God, because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.” And now shall be that treading of the wine press spoken of, Rev. 14:19, 20.
(4.) This shall put an end to the church’s suffering state, and shall be attended with their glorious and joyful praises. The church’s afflicted state is long, being continued, excepting some short intermissions, from the resurrection of Christ to this time. But now shall a final end be put to her suffering state. Indeed after this, near the end of the world, the church shall be greatly threatened. But it is said, it shall be but for a little season, Rev. 20:3, for as the times of the church’s rest are but short, before the long day of her afflictions are at an end. So whatever affliction she may suffer after this, it will be very short. But otherwise the day of the church’s affliction and persecution shall now come to a final end. The Scriptures, in many places, speak of this time as the end of the suffering state of the church. So Isa. 51:22. God says to his church with respect to this time, “behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury, thou shalt no more drink it again.” Then shall that be proclaimed to the church, Isa. 40:1, 2, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Also that in Isa. 54:8, 9 belongs to this time. And so that in Isa. 60:20, “The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.” And so Zep. 3:15, “The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.”
The time which had been before this, had been the church’s sowing time, wherein she sowed in tears and in blood, but now is her harvest, wherein she will come again rejoicing, bringing her sheaves with her. Now the time of the travail of the woman clothed with the sun is at an end. Now she hath brought forth her son, for this glorious setting up of the kingdom of Christ through the world, is what the church had been in travail for, with such terrible pangs, for so many ages, Isa. 26:17, “Like as a woman with child that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord.” See Isa. 60:20, and 61:10, 11. And now the church shall forget her sorrow, since a man child is born into the world, now succeed her joyful praise and triumph. Her praises shall then go up to God from all parts of the earth, as Isa. 42:10, 11, 12. And praise shall not only fill the earth, but also heaven. The church on earth, and the church in heaven, shall both gloriously rejoice and praise God, as with one heart, on that occasion. Without doubt it will be a time of very distinguished joy and praise among the holy prophets and apostles, and the other saints in heaven, Rev. 18:20, “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God bath avenged you on her.” See how universal these praises will he in Isa. 44:23, “Sing, O ye heavens, for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.” See what joyful praises are sung to God on this occasion by the universal church in heaven and earth, in the beginning of Revelation 19.
(5.) This dispensation is above all preceding ones like Christ’s coming to judgment, in that it so puts an end to the former state of the world, and introduces the everlasting kingdom of Christ. Now Satan’s visible kingdom shall be overthrown, after it had stood ever since the building of Babel. And the old heavens and the old earth shall in a greater measure be passed away then than before, and the new heavens and new earth set up in a far more glorious manner than ever before.
Thus I have shown how the success of Christ’s purchase has been carried on through the times of the afflicted state of the Christian church, from Christ’s resurrection, until Antichrist is fallen, and Satan’s visible kingdom on earth is overthrown.
— Therefore I come now,
Secondly. To show how the success of redemption will be carried on through that space wherein the Christian church shall for the most part be in a state of peace and prosperity. And in order to this, I would,
1. Speak of the prosperous state of the church through the greater part of this period.
2. Of the great apostasy there shall be towards the close of it, how greatly then the church shall be threatened by her enemies for a short time.
I. I would speak of the prosperous state of the church through the greater part of this period. And in doing this, I would, 1. Describe this prosperous state of the church. 2. Say something of its duration.
First. I would describe the prosperous state the church shall be in.
And, in the general, I would observe two things.
1. That this is most properly the time of the kingdom of heaven upon earth. Though the kingdom of heaven was in a degree set up soon after Christ’s resurrection, and in a further degree in the time of Constantine. And though the Christian church in all ages of it is called the kingdom of heaven, yet this time that we are upon, is the principal time of the kingdom of heaven upon earth, the time principally intended by the prophecies of Daniel, which speak of the kingdom of heaven, whence the Jews took the name of the kingdom of heaven.
2. Now is the principal fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Old Testament which speak of the glorious times of the gospel which shall be in the latter days. Though there has been a glorious fulfillment of those prophecies already, in the times of the apostles, and of Constantine, yet the expressions are too high to suit any other time entirely, but that which is to succeed the fall of Antichrist. This is most properly the glorious day of the gospel. Other times are only forerunners and preparatories to this. Other times were the seed time, but this is the harvest. But more particularly,
(1.) It will be a time of great light and knowledge. The present days are days of darkness, in comparison of those days. The light of that glorious time shall be so great, that it is represented as though there should then be no night, but only day, no evening nor darkness. So Zec. 14:6, 7, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark. But it shall be one day, which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.”— It is further represented, as though God would then give such light to his church, that it should so much exceed the glory of the light of the sun and moon, that they should be ashamed, Isa. 24:23, “Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients, gloriously.”
There is a kind of veil now cast over the greater part of the world, which keeps them in darkness. But then this veil shall be destroyed, Isa. 25:7, “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.” And then all countries and nations, even those which are now most ignorant, shall be full of light and knowledge. Great knowledge shall prevail everywhere. It may be hoped, that then many of the Negroes and Indians will be divines, and that excellent books will be published in Africa, in Ethiopia, in Tartary, and other now the most barbarous countries. And not only learned men, but others of more ordinary education, shall then be very knowing in religion, Isa. 32:3, 4, “The eyes of them that see, shall not be dim; and the ears of them that hear, shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge.” Knowledge then shall be very universal among all sorts of persons; agreeable to Jer. 31:34, “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.”
There shall then be a wonderful unraveling of the difficulties in the doctrines of religion, and clearing up of seeming inconsistencies, so “crooked things shall be made straight, and rough places shall be made plain,” and darkness shall become light before God’s people. Difficulties in Scripture shall then be cleared up, and wonderful things shall be discovered in the Word of God, which were never discovered before. The great discovery of those things in religion which had been before kept hid, seems to be compared to removing the veil, and discovering the ark of the testimony to the people, which before used to be kept in the secret part of the temple, and was never seen by them. Thus, at the sounding of the seventh angel when it is proclaimed, “that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” It is added that “the temple of God was opened in heaven; and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament.” So great shall be the increase of knowledge in this time, that heaven shall be as it were opened to the church of God on earth.
(2.) It shall be a time of great holiness. Now vital religion shall everywhere prevail and reign. Religion shall not be an empty profession, as it now mostly is, but holiness of heart and life shall abundantly prevail. Those times shall be an exception from what Christ says of the ordinary state of the church, viz. that there shall be but few saved. For now holiness shall become general, Isa. 60:21, “Thy people also shall be all righteous.” Not that there will be none remaining in a Christless condition, but that visible wickedness shall be suppressed everywhere, and true holiness shall become general, though not universal. And it shall be a wonderful time, not only for the multitude of godly men, but for eminency of grace, Isa. 65:20, “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old, but the sinner being an hundred years old, shall be accursed.” And Zec. 12:8, “He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.” And holiness shall then be as it were inscribed on everything, on all men’s common business and employments, and the common utensils of life. All shall be as it were dedicated to God, and applied to holy purposes. Everything shall then be done to the glory of God, Isa. 23:18, “And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord,” and so Zec. 14:20, 21. — And as God’s people then shall be eminent in holiness of heart, so they shall be also in holiness of life and practice.
(3.) It shall be a time wherein religion shall in every respect be uppermost in the world. It shall be had in great esteem and honor. The saints have hitherto for the most part been kept under, and wicked men have governed. But now they will be uppermost. The kingdoms shall be given into the hands of the saints of the “Most High God,” Dan. 7:27, “And they shall reign on earth,” Rev. 5:10, “They shall live and reign with Christ a thousand years,” Rev. 20:4. In that day, such persons as are eminent for true piety and religion, shall be chiefly promoted to places of trust and authority. Vital religion shall then take possession of kings’ palaces and thrones. And those who are in highest advancement shall be holy men, Isa. 49:23, “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers.” Kings shall employ all their power, and glory, and riches, for the advancement of the honor and glory of Christ, and the good of his church, Isa. 60:16, “Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breasts of kings.” And the great men of the world, and the rich merchants, and others who have great wealth and influence, shall devote all to Christ and his church, Psa. 45:12, “The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift, even the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour.”
(4.) Those will be times of great peace and love. There shall then be universal peace and a good understanding among the nations of the world, instead of such confusion, wars, and bloodshed, as have hitherto been from one age to another, Isa. 2:4, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” So it is represented as if all instruments of war should be destroyed, as being become useless, Psa. 46:9, “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth: he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder: he burneth the chariot in the fire.” See also Zec. 9:10. Then shall all nations dwell quietly and safely, without fear of any enemy. Isa. 32:18, “And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Also Zec. 8:10, 11.
And then shall malice, and envy, and wrath, and revenge, be suppressed everywhere, and peace and love shall prevail between one man and another, which is most elegantly set forth in Isa. 11:6-10. Then shall there be peace and love between rulers and ruled. Rulers shall love their people, and with all their might seek their best good, and the people love their rulers, and shall joyfully submit to them, and give them that honor which is their due. And so shall there be an happy love between ministers and their people, Mal. 4:6, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” Then shall flourish in an eminent manner those Christian virtues of meekness, forgiveness, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, brotherly kindness, those excellent fruits of the Spirit. Men, in their temper and disposition, shall then be like the Lamb of God, the lovely Jesus. The body shall be conformed to the head.
Then shall all the world he united in one amiable society. All nations, in all parts of the world, on every side of the globe, shall then be knit together in sweet harmony. All parts of God’s church shall assist and promote the spiritual good of one another. A communication shall then be upheld between all parts of the world to that end. And the art of navigation, which is now applied so much to favor men’s covetousness and pride, and is used so much by wicked debauched men, shall then be consecrated to God, and applied to holy uses, as we read in Isa. 60:5-9. And it will then be a time wherein men will be abundant in expressing their love one to another, not only in words, but in deeds of charity, as we learn, Isa. 32:5, “The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful,” and, verse 8, “But the liberal deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things shall he stand.”
(5.) It will be a time of excellent order in the church of Christ. The true government and discipline of the church will then be settled and put into practice. All the world shall then be as one church, one orderly, regular, beautiful society. And as the body shall be one, so the members shall be in beautiful proportion to each other. Then shall that be verified in Psa. 122:3, “Jerusalem is builded as a city, that is compact together.”
(6.) The church of God shall then be beautiful and glorious on these accounts. Yea it will appear in perfection of beauty, Isa. 60:1, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Isa. 61:10, “He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” On these aforementioned accounts, the church will then be the greatest image of heaven itself.
(7.) That will be a time of the greatest temporal prosperity. Such a spiritual state as we have just described, has a natural tendency to temporal prosperity. It has a tendency to health and long life. And that this will actually be the case, is evident by Zec. 8:4, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.” It has also a natural tendency to procure ease, quietness, pleasantness, and cheerfulness of mind, and also wealth, and great increase of children, as is intimated in Zec. 8:5, “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.” — But further, the temporal prosperity of the people of God will also be promoted by a remarkable blessing from heaven, Isa. 65:21, “They shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.” And in Mic. 4:4, “But they shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.” Zec. 8:12, “For the seed shall be prosperous, the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew, and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these thing.” See also Jer. 31:12, 13, and Amos 9:13. Yea then they shall receive all manner of tokens of God’s presence, and acceptance, and favor, Jer. 33:9, “And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.” Even the days of Solomon were but an image of those days, as to the temporal prosperity which shall obtain in them.
(8.) It will also be a time of great rejoicing, Isa. 35:10, “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Chap. 55:12, “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you.” Isa. 66:11, “That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations: that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.” Chap. 12:3, “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Then will be a time of feasting. That will be the church’s glorious wedding day, so far as her wedding with Christ shall ever be upon earth, Rev. 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice; and give honour to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” Verse 9, “Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” But I come now,
Second. To say something of the duration of this state or the church’s prosperity. On this I shall be very brief. The Scriptures everywhere represent it to be of long continuance. The former intervals of rest and prosperity, as we before observed, are represented to be but short. But the representations of this state are quite different, Rev. 20:4, “And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus — and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Isa. 60:15, “Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.”
This may suffice as to the prosperous state of the church through the greater part of the period from the destruction of Satan’s visible kingdom in the world to Christ’s appearing in the clouds of heaven to judgment.
II. I now come to speak of the great apostasy there should be towards the close of this period, and how eminently the church should be for a short time threatened by her enemies. And this I shall do under three particulars.
1. A little before the end of the world, there shall be a very great apostasy, wherein great part of the world shall fall away from Christ and his church. It is said in Rev. 20:3, that Satan should be cast into the bottomless pit, and shut up, and have a seal set upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be fulfilled. And that after that he must be loosed out of his prison for a little season. And accordingly we are told, in the verse 7 and 8, that when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and should go forth to deceive the nations, which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, which seems to show as though the apostasy would be very general. The nations of the four quarters of the earth shall be deceived. And the number of those who shall now turn enemies to Christ shall be vastly great, as the army of Gog and Magog is represented in Ezekiel, and as it is said in Rev. 20:8, that the number of them is as the sand of the sea, and that they went up on the breadth of the earth, as though they were an army big enough to reach from one side of the earth to the other.
Thus after such an happy and glorious season, such a long day of light and holiness, of love, and peace, and joy, now it shall begin again to be a dark time. Satan shall begin to set up his dominion again in the world. This world shall again become a scene of darkness and wickedness. The bottomless pit of hell shall be opened, and devils shall come up again out of it, and a dreadful smoke shall ascend to darken the world. And the church of Christ, instead of extending to the utmost bounds of the world, as it did before, shall be reduced to narrow limits again. The world of mankind being continued so long in a state of such great prosperity, shall now begin to abuse their prosperity, to serve their lust and corruption. This we learn from Luke 17:26. etc.
2. Those apostates shall make great opposition to the church of God. The church shall seem to be eminently threatened with a sudden and entire overthrow by them. It is said, Satan shall gather them together to battle, as the sand on the sea shore. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city. So that this beloved city shall seem just ready to be swallowed up by them. For her enemies shall not only threaten her, but shall actually have gathered together against her. And not only so, but shall have besieged her, shall have compassed her about on every side.
There is nothing in the prophecy which seems to hold forth as though the church had actually fallen into their hands, as the church had fallen into the hands of Antichrist, to whom it was given to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. God will never suffer this to be again after the fall of Antichrist. For then the day of her mourning shall be ended. But the church shall seem most eminently threatened with utter and sudden destruction.
3. Now the state of things will seem most remarkably to call for Christ’s immediate appearance to judgment. For then the world shall be filled with the most aggravated wickedness that ever it was. For much the greater part of the world shall have become visibly wicked and open enemies to Christ, and their wickedness shall be dreadfully aggravated by their apostasy. Before the fall of Antichrist, most of the world was full of visibly wicked men. But the greater part of these are poor heathens, who never enjoyed the light of the gospel. And others are those that have been bred up in the Mahometan or Popish darkness. But these are those that have apostatized from the Christian church, and the visible kingdom of Christ, in which they enjoyed the great light and privileges of the glorious times of the church, which shall be incomparably greater than the light and privileges which the church of God enjoys now. This apostasy will be most like the apostasy of the devils of any that ever had before been. For the devils apostatized, and turned enemies to Christ, though they enjoyed the light of heaven. And these will apostatize, and turn enemies to him, though they have enjoyed the light and privileges of the glorious times of the church. That such should turn open and avowed enemies to Christ, and should seek the ruin of his church, will cry aloud for such immediate vengeance as was executed on the devils when they fell.
The wickedness of the world will remarkably call for Christ’s immediate appearing in flaming fire to take vengeance on them, because of the way in which they shall manifest their wickedness, which will be by scoffing and blaspheming Christ and his holy religion. And particularly, they will scoff at the notion of Christ’s coming to judgment, of which the church shall be in expectation, and of which they will warn them. For now doubtless will be another fulfillment, and the greatest fulfillment, of 2 Pet. 3:3, 4, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” They shall be in no expectation of the coming of Christ to judgment, and shall laugh at the notion. They shall trample all such things under foot, and shall give up themselves to their lusts, or to eat and drink, and wallow in sensual delights, as though they were to be here forever. They shall despise the warnings the church shall give them of the coming of Christ to judgment, as the people of the old world despised what Noah told them of the approaching flood, and as the people of Sodom did when Lot said to them, “the Lord will destroy this city.” Their wickedness on this account will cry aloud to heaven for Christ’s appearing in flaming fire to take vengeance of his enemies, and also because another way that they shall exercise their wickedness will be in the wicked design and violent attempt they shall be engaged in against the holy city of God, against that holy city, wherein lately, and for so long a time, so much of the religion of Christ had been seen. They shall then be about to perpetrate the most horrid design against this church.
And the numerousness of the wicked that shall then be, is another thing which shall especially call for Christ’s coming. For the world will doubtless then be exceeding full of people, having continued so long in so great a state of prosperity, without such terrible desolating extremities, as wars, pestilences, and the like, to diminish them. And the most of this world, which shall be so populous, will be such wicked contemptuous apostates from God. Undoubtedly that will be a day wherein the world will be by far fuller of wickedness than ever before it was from the foundation of it. And if the wickedness of the old world, when men began to multiply on the earth, called for the destruction of the world by a deluge of waters, this wickedness will as much call for its destruction by a deluge of fire.
Again, the circumstances of the church at that day will also eminently call for the immediate appearing of Christ, as they will be compassed about by their blasphemous murderous enemies, just ready to be swallowed up by them. And it will be a most distressing time with the church, excepting the comfort they will have in the hope of deliverance from God. For all other help will seem to fail. The case will be come to the last extremity, and there will be an immediate need that Christ should come to their deliverance. And though the church shall be so eminently threatened, yet so will Providence order it, that it shall be preserved until Christ shall appear in his immediate presence, coming in the glory of his Father with all his holy angels. And then will come the time when all the elect shall be gathered in. That work of conversion which has been carried on from the beginning of the church after the fall through all those ages, shall he carried on no more. There never shall another soul be converted. Every one of those many millions, whose names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world, shall be brought in. Not one soul shall be lost. And the mystical body of Christ, which has been growing since it first began in the days of Adam, will be complete as to number of parts, having every one of its members. In this respect, the work of redemption will now be finished. And now the end for which the means of grace have been instituted shall be obtained. All that effect which was intended to be accomplished by them shall now be accomplished.
How the success of redemption shall be accomplished in glory.
THUS I have shown how the success of Christ’s redemption has been accomplished during the continuance of the Christian church under the means of grace. We have seen what great revolutions there have been, and are to be, during this space of time, how the great wheels of providence have gone round for the accomplishment of that kind of success of Christ’s purchase, which consists in the bestowment of grace on the elect. And we are, in the prosecution of the subject, come to the time when all the wheels have gone round. The course of things in this state of it is finished, and all things are ripe for Christ’s coming to judgment.
You may remember, that when I began to discourse of this third proposition, viz. That from the resurrection of Christ to the end of the world, the whole time is taken up in procuring the success and effect of Christ’s purchase of redemption, I observed, that the success of Christ’s purchase is of two kinds, consisting either in grace or glory, and that the success consisting in the former of these, is to be seen in those works of God which are wrought during those ages that the church is continued under the means of grace, and that the success, consisting in the latter, will chiefly be accomplished at the day of judgment.
Having already shown how the former kind of success has been accomplished, I come now, in the second place, to the latter, viz. that kind of success which is accomplished in the bestowment of glory on the church, which shall chiefly be bestowed on the church at the day of judgment. — And here I would mention two or three things in the general concerning this kind of success of Christ purchase.
1. How great the success of Christ’s purchase is, chiefly appears in this. The success of Christ’s purchase does summarily consist in the salvation of the elect. But this bestowment of glory is eminently called their salvation, Heb. 9:28, “To them that look for him, shall he appear the second time, without sin unto salvation.” — So it is called redemption, being eminently that wherein the redemption of the church consists. So in Eph. 4:30, “Sealed unto the day of redemption,” and Luke 21:28, and Eph. 1:14, “Redemption of the purchased possession.”
2 All that is before this, while the church is under the means of grace, is only to make way for the success which is to be accomplished in the bestowment of glory. The means of grace are to fit for glory. And God’s grace itself is bestowed on the elect to make them meet for glory.
3. All those glorious things which were brought to pass for the church while under the means of grace, are but images and shadows of this. So were those glorious things which were accomplished for the church in the days of Constantine the Great. And so is all that glory which is to be accomplished in the glorious times of the church which are to succeed the fall of Antichrist. As great as it is, it is all but a shadow of what will be bestowed at the day of judgment. And therefore, as I have already often observed, all those preceding glorious events, by which God wrought glorious things for his church, are spoken of in Scripture as images of Christ’s last coming to judgment.
But I hasten more particularly to show how this kind of success of Christ’s purchase is accomplished.
1. Christ will appear in the glory of his Father, with all his holy angels, coming in the clouds of heaven. When the world are thus reveling in their wickedness, and compassing the holy city about, just ready to destroy it, and when the church is reduced to such a great strait, then shall the glorious Redeemer appear. He through whom this redemption has all along been carried on, he shall appear in the sight of the world. The light of his glory shall break forth. The whole world shall immediately have notice of it, and they shall lift up their eyes and behold this wonderful sight. It is said, “every eye shall see him,” Rev. 1:7. — Christ shall appear coming in his human nature, in that same body which was brought forth in a stable, and laid in a manger, and which afterwards was so cruelly used, and nailed to the cross.
Men shall now lift up their eyes, and see him coming in such majesty and glory as now is to us utterly inconceivable. The glory of the sun in a clear firmament, will be but darkness in comparison of it. And all the glorious angels and archangels shall attend upon him, thousand thousands ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand round about him. How different a person will he then appear from what he did at his first coming, when he was as a root out of a dry ground, a poor, despised, afflicted man! How different now is his appearance, in the midst of those glorious angels, principalities, and powers, in heavenly places, attending him as his ordinary servants, from what it was when in the midst of a ring of soldiers, with his mock robe and his crown of thorns, to be buffeted and spit upon, or hanging on the cross between two thieves, with a multitude of his enemies about him triumphing over him!
This sight will be a most unexpected sight to the wicked world. It will come as a cry at midnight. They shall be taken in the midst of their wickedness, and it will give them a dreadful alarm. It will at once break up their revels, their eating, and drinking, and carousing. It will put a quick end to the design of the great army that will then be compassing the camp of the saints. It will make them let drop their weapons out of their hands. The world, which will then be very full of people, most of whom will be wicked men, will then be filled with dolorous shrieking and crying. For all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him, Rev. 1:7. And, where shall they hide themselves? — How will the sight of that awful majesty terrify them when taken in the midst of their wickedness! Then they shall see who he is, what kind of a person he is, whom they have mocked and scoffed at, and whose church they have been endeavoring to overthrow. This sight will change their voice. The voice of their laughter and singing, while they are marrying and giving in marriage, and the voice of their scoffing, shall be changed into hideous, yea hellish yelling. Their countenances shall be changed from a show of carnal mirth, haughty pride, and contempt of God’s people. It shall put on a show of ghastly terror and amazement. And trembling and chattering of teeth shall seize upon them.
But with respect to the saints, the church of Christ, it shall be a joyful and most glorious sight to them. For this sight will at once deliver them from all fear of their enemies, who were before compassing them about, just ready to swallow them up. Deliverance shall come in their extremity. The glorious Captain of their salvation shall appear for them, at a time when no other help appears. Then shall they lift up their heads, and their redemption shall be drawing nigh, Luke 21:28. — And thus Christ will appear with infinite majesty, and yet at the same time they shall see infinite love in his countenance to them. And thus to see their Redeemer coming in the clouds of heaven, will fill their hearts full of gladness. Their countenances also shall be changed, but not as the countenances of the wicked, but shall be changed from being sorrowful, to be exceeding joyful and triumphant. And now the work of redemption will be finished in another sense, viz. that the whole church shall be completely and eternally freed from all persecution and molestation from wicked men and devils.
2. The last trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, and the living changed. God sent forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, to gather together his elect from the four corners of the earth in a mystical sense, before the destruction of Jerusalem, i.e. he sent forth the apostles, and others, to preach the gospel all over the world. And so in a mystical sense the great trumpet was blown at the beginning of the glorious times of the church. But now the great trumpet is blown in a more literal sense, with a mighty sound, which shakes the earth. There will be a great signal given by a mighty sound made, which is called the voice of the archangel, as being the angel of greatest strength, 1 Thes. 4:16, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” On the sound of the great trumpet, the dead shall be raised everywhere. Now the number of the dead is very great. How many has death cut down for so long a time as since the world has stood! But then the number will be much greater after the world shall have stood so much longer. and through most of the remaining time will doubtless be much fuller of inhabitants than ever it has been. All these shall now rise from the dead. The graves shall be opened everywhere in all parts of the world, and the sea shall give up the innumerable dead that are in it, Rev. 20:13.
And now all the inhabitants that ever shall have been upon the face of the earth, from the beginning of the world to that time, shall all appear upon earth at once, all that ever have been of the church of God in all ages, Adam and Eve, the first parents of mankind, and Abel, and Seth, and Methuselah, and all the saints who were their contemporaries, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the prophets of Israel, and the saints in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, and all that were of the church in their times, and all the holy apostles of Jesus Christ, and all the saints of their times, and all the holy martyrs under the ten heathen persecutions, and all who belonged to the church in its wilderness state, during the dark times of Antichrist, and all the holy martyrs who have suffered under the cruelty of the Popish persecutions, and all the saints of the present time, and all the saints who are here in this assembly among the rest, and all that shall be from hence to the end of the world. Now also all the enemies of the church that have or shall be in all the ages of the world, shall appear upon the face of the earth again, all the wicked killed in the flood, and the multitudes that died all over the world among God’s professing people, or others, all that died in all the heathen nations before Christ, and all wicked heathens, and Jews, and Mahometans, and Papists that have died since, all shall come together. Sinners of all sorts, demure hypocrites, those who have the fairest and best outside, and open profane drunkards, whoremasters, heretics, deists, and all cruel persecutors, and all that have died or shall die in sin amongst us.
And at the same time that the dead are raised, the living shall be changed. The bodies of the wicked who shall then be living, shall be so changed as to fit them for eternal torment without corruption, and the bodies of all the living saints shall be changed to be like Christ’s glorious body, 1 Cor. 15:51, 52, 53. — The bodies of the saints shall be so changed as to render them forever incapable of pain, or affliction, or uneasiness. And all that dullness and heaviness, and all that deformity, which their bodies had before, shall be put off. And they shall put on strength, and beauty, and activity, and incorruptible unfading glory. And in such glory shall the bodies of all the risen saints appear.
And now the work of redemption shall be finished in another respect, viz. that all the elect shall now be actually redeemed in both soul and body. Before this, the work of redemption, as to its actual success, was but incomplete and imperfect. For only the souls of the redeemed were actually saved and glorified, excepting in some few instances. But now all the bodies of the saints shall be saved and glorified together. All the elect shall be glorified in the whole man, and the soul and body in union one with the other.
3. Now shall the whole church of saints be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and all wicked men and devils shall be arraigned before the judgment seat. When the dead saints are raised, then the whole church, consisting of all the elect through all ages, will be standing together, on the face of the earth, at least all excepting those whose bodies were glorified before. And then they shall all mount up as with wings in the air to meet Christ. For it seems that Christ, when he comes to judgment, will not come quite down to the ground, but his throne will be fixed in the air, in the region of the clouds, whence he may be seen by all that vast multitude that shall be gathered before him. The church of saints therefore shall be taken up from the earth to ascend up to their Savior. Thus the apostle tells us, that when the dead in Christ are raised, and the living changed, then those who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be ever with the Lord, 1 Thes. 4:16, 17. What a wonderful sight will that be, when all the many millions of saints are seen thus mounting up from all parts of the world!
Then shall the work of redemption be finished in another respect. Then shall the whole church be perfectly and forever delivered from this present evil world, forever forsake this cursed ground. They shall take their everlasting leave of this earth, where they have been strangers, and which has been for the most part such a scene of their trouble and sorrow, where the devil for the most part has reigned as god, and has greatly molested them, and which has been such a scene of wickedness and abomination, where Christ their Lord has been cruelly used, and where they have been so bated, and reproached, and persecuted, from age to age, through most of the ages of the world. They shall leave it under foot to go to Christ, and never shall set foot on it again. And there shall be an everlasting separation made between them and wicked men. Before they were mixed together, and it was impossible in many instances to determine which were which. But now all shall become visible. Both saints and sinners shall appear in their true characters.
Then shall all the church be seen flocking together in the air to the place where Christ shall have fixed his throne, coming from the east and west, and north and south, to the right hand of Christ. What a mighty cloud of them will there be, when all that ever have been of the church of God, all that were before Christ, all that multitude of saints that were in the apostles’ time, and all that were in the days of Constantine the Great, and all that were before and since the Reformation, and also all that great multitude of saints that shall be in all the glorious times of the church, when the whole earth shall for so many generations be full of saints, and also all that shall be then living when Christ shall come. I say, what a cloud of them will there be, when all these are seen flocking together in the region of the clouds at the right hand of Christ!
And then also the work of redemption will be finished in another respect, viz. that then the church shall all be gathered together. They all belonged to one society before, but yet were greatly separated with respect to the place of their habitation, some being in heaven, and some on earth, and those who were on earth together were separated one from another, many of them by wide oceans, and vast continents. But now they shall all be gathered together, never to be separated any more. And not only shall all the members of the church now be gathered together, but all shall be gathered unto their head, into his immediate glorious presence, never to be separated from him any more. This never came to pass until now.
At the same time, all wicked men and devils shall be brought before the judgment seat of Christ. These shall be gathered to the left hand of Christ, and, as it seems, will still remain upon the earth, and shall not be caught up into the air, as the saints shall be. The devil, that old serpent, shall now be dragged up out of hell. He, that first procured the fall and misery of mankind, and has so set himself against their redemption, and has all along shown himself such an inveterate enemy to the Redeemer. Now he shall never more have anything to do with the church of God, or be suffered in the least to afflict or molest any member of it any more forever. Instead of that, now he must be judged, and receive the due reward of his deeds. Now is come the time which he has always dreaded, and trembled at the thought of, the time wherein he must be judged, and receive his full punishment. He who by his temptation maliciously procured Christ’s crucifixion, and triumphed upon it, as though he had obtained the victory, even he shall see the consequences of the death of Christ which he procured. For Christ’s coming to judge him in his human nature is the consequence of it. For Christ obtained and purchased this glory to himself by that death. Now he must stand before that same Jesus whose death he procured, to be judged, condemned, and eternally destroyed by him. If Satan, the prince of hell, trembles at the thought of it thousands of years beforehand, how much more will he tremble, proud and stubborn as he is, when he comes to stand at Christ’s bar!
Then shall he also stand at the bar of the saints, whom he has so hated, and afflicted, and molested. For the saints shall judge him with Christ, 1 Cor. 6:3, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” Now shall he be as it were subdued under the church’s feet, agreeable to Rom. 16:20. — Satan, when he first tempted our first parents to fall, deceitfully and lyingly told them, that they should be as gods. But little did be think that the consequence should be, that they should indeed be so much as gods, as to be assessors with God to judge him. Much less did he think, that that consequence would follow, that one of that nature which he then tempted, one of the posterity of those persons whom he tempted, should actually be united to God, and that as God he should judge the world, and that he himself must stand trembling and astonished before his judgment seat. But thus all the devils in hell, who have so opposed Christ and his kingdom, shall now at last stand in utmost amazement and horror before Christ and his church, who shall appear to condemn them.
Now also shall all Christ’s other enemies be brought to appear before him. Now shall the wicked proud scribes and Pharisees, who had such a malignant hatred of Christ while in his state of humiliation, and who persecuted Christ to death, those before whose judgment seat Christ was once called and stood, as a malefactor at their bar, and those who mocked him, and buffeted him, and spit in his face. Now shall they see Christ in his glory, as Christ forewarned them in the time of it, Mat. 26:64, 65. Then Christ was before their judgment seat. But now it is their turn. They shall stand before his judgment seat with inconceivable horror and amazement, with ghastly countenances, and quaking limbs, and chattering teeth, and knees smiting one against another.
Now also all the cruel enemies and persecutors of the church that have been in all ages, shall come in sight together. Pharaoh and the Egyptians, Antiochus Epiphanes, the persecuting scribes and Pharisees, the persecuting heathen Emperors, Julian the apostate, the cruel persecuting Popes and Papists, Gog and Magog, shall all appear at once before the judgment seat of Christ. They and the saints who have in every age been persecuted by them, shall come in sight one of another, and must confront one another before the great Judge, And now shall the saints on their glorious thrones he made the judges of those unjust kings and rulers who have before judged and condemned them, and cruelly put them to death. Now shall those persecutors behold the glory to which they are arrived whom they before so cruelly despised and so cruelly used. And Christ will make those holy martyrs as it were to come and set their feet on the necks of their persecutors. They shall be made their footstool.
Thus wonderfully will the face of things be altered from what used to be in the former times of the world. Now will all things be coming to rights.