MESSIAH'S KINGDOM FORETOLD.
OCT. 30.--ISA. 11:1-10.
"The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
ONLY those who recognize the typical character of God's kingdom of old, and the typical character of the kingdom of Babylon which overthrew it, are prepared to understand the prophecies: because in the prophecies the affairs of Fleshly Israel and those of Spiritual Israel, and the affairs of literal Babylon and those of mystic Babylon, are so interwoven as to be unintelligible, absurd, from any other standpoint. There are some who fail to recognize antitypical Spiritual Israel, who, nevertheless, distinctly see that the Babylon of old, which perished more than two thousand years ago, was not the Babylon of Revelation--mystic Babylon, --whose surpassing power and greatness were not even dreamed of in the days of the type. Many who distinctly discern mystic Babylon, and her approaching fall, have failed to discern that the natural Israelites were broken off from the root of divine promise made to father Abraham, and that the spiritual Israelites were grafted into that root, and have become heirs of its chief promises and blessings, taking the chief place of the natural Israelites, so that when they are restored, it will be to a lower, an earthly favor. The proper standpoint of view from which the entire plan of God is clear and reasonable takes cognizance of both of these facts.
In our last lesson we considered the Prophet Isaiah at the time when he was commissioned to declare to his people their utter overthrow in captivity, and that but a remnant would remain. There were three distinct climaxes to the complete fulfilment of the message: (1) It was about one hundred and seventy years from the time of his vision and the last year of King Uzziah, before Judah was carried captive to Babylon, from which only a remnant returned seventy years later. (2) The vision and the message were about eight hundred years before the final rejection of Israel by Messiah at his first advent, when only a remnant was accepted into the Gospel age, the house of sons, and the people as a whole were scattered into every nation. (3) Isaiah's vision and message were about 2650 years before the rejection of nominal Spiritual Israel, preparatory to gathering out of the "Israelites indeed," the Royal Priesthood, the holy nation, which, with Messiah as its Head, is now shortly to be invested with divine power and majesty, as the Kingdom of God which shall rule and bless all the families of the earth.
The remnant of natural Israel, delivered from literal Babylon, was but a type of the remnant of God's people now about to be delivered from symbolic Babylon, Christendom, and the fall of literal Babylon, at the hands of Cyrus, was but a foreshadowing of the fall of mystic Babylon as a result of the battle of the great day of God Almighty under the antitypical Cyrus, the Captain of our salvation. And the extravagant language used throughout the prophecies in respect to the fall of Babylon was made extravagant because the divine testimony had reference to mystic Babylon, more particularly than to literal Babylon. Thus have the divine purposes been hidden, and yet declared, throughout the ages.--Compare Isa. 13:1-15with Rev. 17and 18,-- the latter part of Isa. 13evidently referring only to literal Babylon.
In harmony with the above suggestions, it will be found that Isaiah's prophecies repeatedly mingle and commingle the events of his day with the events of our day--God's providences toward his people then, and his subsequent deliverance of them to Babylonian captivity, and his later judgments upon Babylon, all of which were accomplished literally within two hundred and fifty years of Isaiah's vision, are interspersed with declarations respecting Messiah and his everlasting Kingdom, and the blessing of the remnant of Spiritual Israel, and the eventual healing and recovery of all Israel to divine favor. An illustration of this intruding of the Messianic Millennial Kingdom into the prophecies which specially related to natural Israel and the condition of things present in the Prophet's day, is afforded in this lesson; also in chapters 2:2-4; 8:14-18; 9:1-7; 32:1-4; 33:5-24; 52:7-15; 60:1-5; 61:7-11; 65:17-25.
In the prophecy under consideration the Lord pictures natural Israel as entirely cut off, leaving nothing behind but the root of divine promise, and yet he shows that out of this root shall ultimately come all the blessings originally promised to Abraham, and confirmed unto Isaac, unto Jacob, and unto David, the last confirmation reading, "I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father and he shall be my son." (2 Sam. 7:12,13.) [R2372 : page 308] This prophecy seems, indeed, to have a fulfilment in Solomon, but only because Solomon was a type of the greater son of David, who was also the son of God. Solomon indeed built the typical house of the Lord, but Christ, the antitypical son of David and Son of God is now building the true, the antitypical Temple, the Church which is his Body, a temple of the holy spirit, a house of sons. David himself prophetically grasps the truth of this promise, saying, "Jehovah hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from him; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne." (Psa. 132:11.) The Apostle Peter, moved by the holy spirit on Pentecost, refers to this same promise, and definitely applies it to our Lord Jesus.--Acts 2:30.
In the prophecy our Lord is not spoken of as the root out of David, but as the root out of Jesse, David's father; because David himself is a type of Christ, his name signifying beloved. Hence also the fact that in [R2373 : page 308] many prophecies our Lord's Millennial reign is spoken of as the reign of David, the reign of the Beloved.
It is worthy of note that the Scriptures, in speaking of the Gentile governments, symbolize them as trees, and their destruction as the cutting down of those trees. Many trees do not sprout again from their roots when once cut down, as for instance, the cedars of Lebanon to which great Babylon was likened. On the contrary, the Lord speaks of Israel as a vine of his own planting; and one peculiarity of the vine is that it seems to thrive the better in proportion as it is pruned. Thus our Lord also speaks of Spiritual Israel, as branches of himself, the true Vine, and declares that the Father prunes the vine to the intent that it may bring forth more fruit. It is said that amongst the vine-growers of Palestine it is customary to cut back the vine clear to the roots yearly, in order to get fresh sprouts therefrom. And so we find that the Lord, with Fleshly Israel, frequently pruned them by disciplines, captivities, etc., cutting off many of the branches, and preserving only a remnant. This process was followed at the first advent in the cutting off of Israel from all further share in the spiritual features of the Abrahamic promise,-- except the remnant which received the Lord, and on this account were granted privileges to become members of the house of sons. (John 1:12.) During this Gospel age the Lord deals with his people not collectively, not as a nation, but individually: each branch is pruned, and every branch is expected to bring forth fruit, or else it will be entirely lopped off.
Here, then, we have the thought of the Lord, expressed through the Prophet, respecting Christ Jesus, our Lord, that he from the time of his baptism and anointing with the holy spirit, became the new spiritual shoot out of the Abrahamic promise, and out of the roots of Jesse. But they greatly err who see in this study our Lord Jesus only, and who fail to recognize the fact that he is the Head of the Church, which is his Body. The true vine is therefore the entire body of Christ, as our Lord explains. (John 15.) This stem or new Vine had its start in our Lord Jesus, and has grown and prospered and had branches which have borne their fruit under the great Husbandman's care in all these centuries of the Gospel age. But neither the Vine nor its fruitage have been specially delightsome either to the Fleshly Israelites or to nominal Spiritual Israelites: on the contrary, our Lord's prophetic declaration has been accurately fulfilled: "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake." Our Lord and the Apostles were hated by the chief religionists of their day, not because they were evil, but because of their faithfulness to God; because that faithfulness, as a light, rebuked, as darkness, the unfaithfulness of those who hated them.
The prophecy does not touch upon our Lord's pre-human existence, nor upon his earliest experiences while coming to manhood, nor need we. It begins with our Lord at the time when he reached manhood's estate, at thirty years of age, when he made his consecration, and was accepted, and the acceptance was sealed by the impartation to him of the holy spirit, of which John bare record. (John 1:32.) From that time onward the spirit of Jehovah rested upon him, and was in him a spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, making him alert in the use of his knowledge in reverence and submission to the divine will. Thus it is written by the Prophet again, "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities." (Isa. 53:11.) While his perfection of being (in that he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners) had undoubtedly much to do with our Lord's obedience to the divine will, yet his knowledge of God, based upon his prehuman existence, had also much to do with his implicit confidence and trust in Jehovah, that his every requirement and condition would be found eventually to be the embodiment of justice, wisdom and love--this knowledge undoubtedly was the main-spring of our dear Redeemer's implicit obedience in all points to the Father's will.
And the same observations are applicable in respect to the Church of Christ--the members in particular of his Body, of which he is the Head. Like their Master, each branch in the Vine is the recipient of the holy spirit, through him--for the anointing oil (typical of the holy spirit) was all poured first upon the head of the high priest and subsequently flowed down over his person. Those who are made partakers of the Lord's spirit have that spirit as the beginning of their new life, for "if any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his." And this spirit of Christ and of Jehovah, coming upon the Body of Christ, from the Head, is to [R2373 : page 309] each (as it was to the head) a spirit of wisdom and of understanding and of counsel and of power; and a spirit of obedience to the Father's will, in proportion as this spirit dwells in them. And herein we see the distinction that our Lord Jesus, being perfected, could receive of the Father's spirit unlimitedly, "without measure," while we who are imperfect, blemished through inherited weaknesses, can receive the spirit only limitedly, by measure--according to the capacity and condition of our "earthen vessel," into which we receive this new treasure. (2 Cor. 4:7.) It is of course a part of our duty and privilege to do all in our power for the repair of the blemishes of the earthen vessels, to the intent that we may receive larger measures of the spirit of holiness, and may be the better able to retain the same.
Suddenly passing from the perfecting of Christ, Head and Body, under the influence of the spirit of the Father, down to the time when these graces which are supplied in this present age (and under which the body of Christ groweth unto a holy temple of the Lord, by the fitting, molding, polishing and fashioning, of each member), shall have been perfected, the next suggestion of the prophecy is the exercise of these graces of the divine spirit by the complete Christ in the Millennial Kingdom--in judging, blessing, correcting and assisting the world of mankind, or so many as will avail themselves of their help, to return to divine favor. The thought is that, as soon as the entire Christ (Head and Body) has been prepared for the work to be done, the work itself will be commenced. It is in full accord with this that the Apostle says that the prophets spake beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and of the glory that should follow.
Not that the sufferings of Christ were completed more than eighteen centuries ago, and the glory failed to follow; but that the sufferings of Christ, which began in our Lord, the Head of the Body, are being filled up or accomplished in all the members of his body, and, as soon as the last member of the Body has been made perfect through suffering, and been fitted for his share in the glory, then at once the glory shall follow, --follow the completion of the sufferings. (Compare Col. 1:24.) It is because there are some members of the Body of Christ still lacking to make up the elect and predestinated number, foreknown of the Lord (Rom. 8:29), that the glory has not yet been ushered in. And fortunate this is for us who hence still have hopes of attaining to this high calling of God in Christ Jesus, to become heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord, to an inheritance incorruptible and never-fading, reserved in heaven for those who shall make their calling and election sure.
The glorified Church, Head and Body, will be so filled with the spirit of Jehovah--his wisdom, his love, his power--that they will be fully qualified to do all the great work which divine love and wisdom has purposed and arranged for, since before the foundation of the world.
Accustomed to the misgovernment, as the Israelites were, and as all mankind since have experienced it, it was necessary that they and all who would appreciate the coming Kingdom, should be given some assurance that the new ruling power would not only have good and wise motives and intentions, but also possess superior power of knowledge and judgment. And this is what is pointed out: that the new King would not need to rely upon the common channels of information in the giving of his blessings, and in administering of his reproofs and chastisements, but will have a super-human endowment of power, by which he shall know the very thoughts and intents of the heart, and need not to judge either by the hearing of the ear nor by the sight of the eye, as must all earthly rulers, however well intentioned. It was proper also that the Israelites and others should know that the new Kingdom would be an absolutely just and impartial one, for their experience had been that the very wisest and best of their kings had been governed largely by selfishness, so that they amassed wealth at the expense of their subjects, and made special friends of the wealthy, and granted them special privileges oftimes at the expense of the poor, the helpless, the despised. Hence, the Lord, through the Prophet, assures us that the special care of the new King will be to administer his office with equity toward all, and that the meek, the backward, the modest, undisposed to press their claims and to assert their rights, will have his special care; likewise the poor, that in the present time find few to sympathize with or to encourage or to help them, shall find in the new King a friend.
The ordinary idea of the method by which the Lord will introduce the Millennium is wholly at variance with all the testimony of the divine Word, in that it presupposes that the world will be converted to the Lord through the efforts of the Church along its present lines of progress, and that thus the world will get better and better, until the full noontide of Millennial blessing [R2374 : page 309] is everywhere spread abroad. According to this idea, the Lord began setting up his Kingdom eighteen centuries ago, and at the same rate of progress it may require, according to the most optimistic view, thousands of years to reach the Millennial degree of blessing. But, according to the facts of the case impartially considered, we can readily see that the Kingdom, which God has promised, could never come as a result of efforts such as have been put forth during the past eighteen centuries. We mention but the one fact, known to all mankind from the published reports; viz., that the increase [R2374 : page 310] of nominal Christian professors annually is small, out of all proportion to the natural increase of the human family annually, so that if every Christian professor of to-day were a very saint, and if the same ratio of conversions continued for a thousand years as at present, or if the number were doubled or trebled, the result, at the end of the thousand years would be a much smaller percentage of professing Christians than now. Those who cannot see so simple a proposition as this are evidently blinded by their love of error--their love of their own theory. Similarly blinded are those who cannot see that only a small percentage of the nominal Christians of to-day are true saints of God, and that, if the whole world were converted to the same degree as the best cities in the most civilized and Christianized countries in the world, it would still not be true that God's Kingdom had come, in the sense that our Lord Jesus taught us to expect it: for in his model prayer he taught us to pray and to expect, not only that God's Kingdom would come, and that it had not already come, but also to expect that, when it shall be fully established, God's will would be done on earth even as it is done in heaven--absolutely, perfectly.
Those who expect the Millennial Kingdom to come as a result of present efforts along present lines, and who believe that the world is gradually approaching that condition by an evolutionary process, should consider the Word of the Lord through the prophet, to the effect that, when Messiah takes the reins of government, his first step will be to judge the poor, and to reprove the rich with equity, in the interests of the meek of the earth. How could this be possible, if equity had already prevailed by a gradual process, so that there were no poor, and no rich, and so that all were meek? Other Scriptures, in harmony with this, show that the very object of the beginning of our Lord's reign is to correct the wrongs that will then be prevailing, and he himself implies that the earth will not be in a faithful and blessed condition at his second advent, by asking the question, whose answer is implied--"When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?"
The Scriptural position throughout is harmonious and consistent. It describes the present time of evil as "the present evil world," in which "the prince of this world" rules, and in which the Lord's people, "the body of Christ," the heirs of the Kingdom, "suffer violence," and that this violence, through suffering persecution, is working out for those who are rightly exercised thereby a preparation for the time when the entire body of Christ, having been thus purified and prepared, will be given the Kingdom under the whole heavens, the said dominion of earth being wrested with force from the prince of this world, and the kingdoms of this world, and bestowed upon the Son by the Father's power, and through the great time of trouble with which this age shall end, and in which the prince of this world will be bound.
The Lord, through the Prophet, shows the means by which the righteous reign of the Messiah shall be inaugurated--the time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, predicted by the Prophet Daniel,-- saying, "He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." It is evident, then, that there will be not only poor, needing assistance and equity, but there will be wicked at the time the Kingdom is established. (Compare Mal. 4:1,6; Rev. 19:15.) The rod of Messiah's mouth signifies the judgments which he has already expressed, and which have very largely gone unheeded by Christendom. We remember his declaration, "He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." Christendom in general has admitted the righteousness of the Lord's Word, but those who attempt to live according to that Word are remarkably few. Consequently, when the time shall come that judgment shall be laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and when this judgment shall begin at the nominal house of God, the nominal system in general will fall--will fall condemned under that Word. Only the faithful few, the Lord's jewels, shall be "accounted worthy to escape those things coming upon the world," when the Lord shall smite the earth, Christendom, the present social order, with the rod of his mouth, when, as elsewhere described, "The Lord shall speak to them in his anger, and vex them in his sore displeasure"--when he shall render vengeance to his enemies, and recompense to those who have known the Master's will and have done it not. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." "Wait ye upon me saith the Lord, for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." And "then will I turn unto the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."*
"Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins,
Faithfulness the girdle of his hips."
The girdle figuratively represents mercy, diligence, service, and the proclamation here is that the Messiah shall be a faithful, a diligent servant of Jehovah, in accomplishing all the work entrusted to his care.
The reference to the change of disposition in the animal kingdom, so that the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the calf and the lion, will dwell in [R2374 : page 311] harmony, is in full accord with the general Scriptural outlines of the "times of restitution of all things." Not only is mankind to be restored, or brought back to his primeval condition of human perfection, and harmony with God, like Adam before the fall (tho with increased knowledge and experience), but the lower animals also, which have shared in the ruin and disorder resulting from the fall, will also share in the blessing and restoration of order to be accomplished by Messiah.
In the first account of the lower animals, furnished us in the Scriptures, there is nothing to imply that they were wild, vicious and at enmity with mankind; on the contrary, the implication is that they were all thoroughly in subjection to the perfect man. We may reasonably suppose that when, under the influence of the sentence of death, mankind gradually lost more and more of the image of God originally possessed, he at the same time lost his power over the lower animals. The nature of the power possessed by the perfect Adam may still be imperfectly traced in the superior powers of certain of the fallen race in controlling the brute creation. Thus we see that some men can exercise mental force and control, not only over wild horses, but also over the most ferocious beasts of the jungle, so that they are known as horse-tamers, lion-tamers, serpent-charmers, etc. Adam was declared by the Lord to be the king of the earth, and as such he was recognized by the brute creation. (Gen. 2:19,20.) After mankind had lost the original mental power to control the lower animals, a warfare sprang up between them, in which mankind has been obliged to pit force against force, having so largely lost the power of mental control. The restoration of mankind to that condition which was lost through sin implies naturally, therefore, a restoration of the brute creation to primeval conditions, such as are suggested in the prophecy before us. The same thought is conveyed in the statement that "A little child shall lead" or control the wild beasts when brought into their proper relationship with mankind.
All of the foregoing, and, indeed, the entire Scripture testimony, shows that the heavenly rest and blessing which God has in reservation for mankind in general is earthly. It would be utterly and wholly unnecessary to change the disposition of the brute creation, if mankind were to be changed to another nature, and to become as the angels. Other prophecies speak of mankind in the restitution condition as perfect human beings, of the earth and adapted to the earth, and tell us that in the perfect condition they shall sit every man under his own vine and fig-tree, with none to molest or make him afraid, and that they shall long enjoy the work of their hands. These promises, which are the lights of the world's hope during the Millennial age, have nothing whatever to do with the hope set before the Gospel Church of this age--a heavenly hope, the realization of which, our Lord and the apostles assure us, will require that all who would attain to it must of necessity be changed from animal to spiritual bodies, from weakness to power, from human nature to spiritual nature; because flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
The difficulty with many is in the failure to discern that the Kingdom of God per se consists of our Lord Jesus and the Church--the little flock, to whom it is [R2375 : page 311] the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom. These constitute the royal or reigning class or family of God. The world of mankind in general shall at first be the subjects of this spiritual kingdom, and afterwards become citizens or members of it, to the extent that they come into harmony with its rules and regulations, and are accepted back into reconciliation with God, and thus again become his children through Christ. Thus it is that the Scriptures declare that when this Kingdom shall be set up it will be but a small stone, a little flock, which in the end of this age shall, with divine power, smite the dominion of earth, and crush it to dust in the great time of trouble. (See Dan. 2:34,35,44,45.) But after crushing present institutions under and connected with the prince of this world, God's Kingdom will not remain small, but will gradually expand, until it shall fill the whole earth. This is the holy mountain mentioned in the prophecy under consideration, a mountain being a symbol of a kingdom. Nothing shall be permitted to do violence or work injury throughout all God's holy kingdom, as a result of its establishment. Love shall be the law, and divine power shall be the force which will enforce that law, and all who will not conform thereto shall be "cut off from among the people," as the Lord has declared through the Apostle. (Acts 3:23.) How evident it is that this Kingdom has not yet come, when we see that so far from love being the rule of mankind, selfishness is the rule, individually and nationally, and that there are many influences of evil, hurting and destroying throughout the world to-day. This is an evidence that God's kingdom is not yet set up, and hence we continue to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
The power by which the Lord shall accomplish the blessing of mankind, after he has crushed the power of evil and established the reign of righteousness is stated to us in this prophecy--it is to be by the spread of a knowledge of the Lord. The Apostle assures us (1 Tim. 2:4) that it is the will of God that all men shall come to a knowledge of the truth that they may be saved. He assures us that there can be no salvation without knowledge (Rom. 10:14,15), consequently the knowledge of the Lord being very limited throughout this [R2375 : page 312] Gospel age, only comparatively few of earth's millions have come to such a knowledge of him as to permit them to exercise faith in God, and in the great sacrifice and pardon for sin which God has provided in Christ. But the fact that few in the present life have come to this knowledge shall not in any degree thwart the divine plan, nor make the death of Christ on their behalf of no avail, for the Lord assures us that in due time the true light of the world, Jesus, shall lighten every man that cometh into the world--this includes all the heathen, all those of imbecile mind, who could not grasp the truth, and all the infants who die without a knowledge of the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved. God has thus made ample provision, first, in the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord, and secondly, in the Millennial age which he has provided through him, in which the knowledge of the Lord shall be caused to fill the whole earth.
Nor are we to suppose that this will be merely a little sprinkling of knowledge, such as has come to a very limited portion of the world of mankind here and there in spots during this Gospel age. The Lord's people have received these showers of grace and truth, and sometimes appropriately sing and pray for more abundant showers for their refreshment, but the Lord's provision for the world of mankind in general, under the Messianic Kingdom, during the Millennial age, is that this knowledge of his shall be world-wide, and ocean-deep, so that none shall thereafter be able to plead ignorance or any other excuse for failure to avail themselves of the grace of God in Christ. Hence again it is written by another prophet, that whosoever dies in that age will die not for Adam's sin, but for his own sin; because the death of Christ has cancelled the Adamic condemnation, and has thus secured to every member of the human family a full, impartial opportunity for eternal life through faith in the Redeemer and obedience to his requirements. The Apostle says of the Jews that they are blinded; that a vail is over their hearts, that they cannot see, and he points us to the fact that in God's due time this vail of ignorance shall be removed from Israel, and that they shall be saved from their blindness, and "shall obtain mercy through your mercy"--shall obtain mercy at the hands of elect spiritual Israel, the Body of Christ, now being selected, which will then be in power, as the kings and priests to bless and judge the world in righteousness. (1 Cor. 6:2.) Similarly, the same Apostle assures us that the god of this world is exercising a blinding influence upon the whole world of mankind (2 Cor. 4:4), and the prophets point us to the time when Satan shall be bound, and when all the blind eyes shall be opened, and when the vail of the covering of ignorance shall be destroyed from over the face of all the people, that all may look, with the eyes of their understanding, upon him who was pierced, and through whom all may have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The last verseof our lesson points us to the Millennial day, and seems to suggest another root of Jesse, as connected with the blessing of the Gentiles, and as an ensign or standard for all the people to pattern after. We understand this to signify that after the spiritual seed of Abraham and David has been exalted to the Kingdom glory, then an earthly seed, out of the same root, shall come into prominence in connection with the heavenly, and be the agent and representative of the heavenly Kingdom in the blessing of the world of mankind. The Apostle Paul in Rom. 4:16, seems to imply that while Christ and his spiritual Church of the Gospel age are the seed of the promise, nevertheless there is another subordinate seed, which shall be used of the Lord in the blessing of mankind. This latter seed seems to be referred to also in Heb. 11:39,40, where the Apostle, after mentioning the faithful worthies of the past as approved unto God, most positively states that they are not of the Gospel Church, not, therefore, of the Kingdom class per se, but that they, nevertheless, having obtained a good report through faith, will receive a share in the original promise, and be participants in the work of blessing the Gentile world, but not with or as a part of the Church, "God having provided some better thing for us [the Messianic body] that they without us should not be made perfect." Under the ministration of the spiritual Kingdom, the ancient worthies, restored to human perfection, shall not only be the princes, the representatives of the spiritual, invisible, Kingdom, but shall also be the grand ensigns or standards set up before mankind, as illustrations of what all mankind may attain unto, if they will render faithful obedience to the laws of the Kingdom--the conditions of the New Covenant.
Whence but from heaven could men unskilled in arts,
In various ages born and various parts
Weave such agreeing truths? Or how or why
Should all conspire to cheat us with a lie?
Unasked their plans, ungrateful their advice,
Starving their gains and martyrdom their price.
It is, indeed, very generally supposed that the souls of good men, as soon as they are discharged from the body, go directly to heaven: but this opinion has not the least foundation in the oracles of God. --John Wesley.
There is not one place of Scripture that occurs to me, where the word death, as it was first threatened in the law of innocency, necessarily signifies a miserable immortality of the soul, either to Adam, the actual sinner, or his posterity. --Dr. Watts.