WORK OF REDEMPTION
by Jonathan Edwards
THE SUCCESS OF REDEMPTION FROM THE PRESENT TIME TO THE FALL OF ANTICHRIST.
I COME now to show how the success of Christ’s redemption will be carried on from the present time, till Antichrist is fallen, and Satan’s visible kingdom on earth is destroyed. – With respect to this space of time, we have nothing to guide us but the prophecies of Scripture.
Through most of the time from the fall of man to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, we had scripture history to guide us, and from thence to the present time we had prophecy, together with the accomplishment of it in providence, as related in human histories. But henceforward we have prophecy alone to guide us. And here I would pass by those things that are only conjectured, or that are surmised by some from those prophecies which are doubtful in their interpretation, and shall insist only on those things which are more evident.
We know not what particular events are to come to pass before that glorious work of God’s Spirit begins, by which Satan’s kingdom is to be overthrown By the consent of most divines, there are but few things, if any at all, foretold to be accomplished before the beginning of that glorious work of God. But some think that the slaying of the witnesses, (Revelation 11:7, 8.) is not yet accomplished; and there is a difference of opinion with respect to the pouring out of the seven vials, (Revelation 16) how many are already, or bow many remain to he poured out. A late expositor, indeed, whom I have before mentioned, seems to make it evident, that all are already poured out but two, viz. the sixth on the river Euphrates, and the seventh into the air. I will not now stand to inquire, what is intended by the pouring out of the sixth vial on the river Euphrates that the way of the kings of the east may be prepared, but would only say that it scents to be something immediately preparatory to the destruction of spiritual Babylon, as the drying up of the river Euphrates, which ran through the midst of old Babylon, was what prepared the way of the kings of the Medes and Persians, (the kings of the east,) to come in under the v ails, and destroy that city.
But whatever this be, it does not appear that it is anything which shall be accomplished before that work of God’s Spirit is begun by which as it goes on, Satan’s visible kingdom on earth shall be utterly overthrown. And therefore I would proceed directly to consider what the Scripture reveals concerning the work of God itself, by which he will bring about this great event, as being the next thing to be accomplished that we ate certain of from the prophecies of Scripture.
I. I would observe some things in general concerning it.
1. We have all reason to conclude from the Scriptures, that just before this work of God begins, it will be a very dark time with respect to the interests of religion in his world. It has been so before preceding glorious revivals of religion: when Christ came, it was an exceeding degenerate time among the Jews; and so it was a very dark time before the Reformation. And not only so, but it seems to be foretold in Scripture, that it shall be a time of but little religion, when Christ shall come to set up his kingdom in the world. Thus when Christ spake of his coming, to encourage his elect, who cry to him day and night, in Luke 18:8. he adds, "Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Which seems to denote a great prevalence of infidelity just before Christ’s coming to avenge his suffering church. Though Christ’s coming at the last judgment is not here to be excluded, yet there seems to be a special respect to his coming to deliver his church from their long-continued suffering, persecuted state, which is accomplished only at his coming at the destruction of Antichrist. Then will be accomplished the following passages, Revelation 6:10. "How long, O Lord, holy and true, cost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" and Revelation 18:20. "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles, and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her."
It is now a very dark time with respect to the interests of religion, wherein there is but a little faith, and a great prevailing of infidelity on the earth. There is now a remarkable fullfilment of that in 2 Peter bit 3. "Knowing this, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts." And so Jude 17, 18. "But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time who should walk after their own ungodly lusts." Whether the times shall be any darker still, or how much darker, before the beginning of this glorious work of God, we cannot tell.
2. There is no reason from the word of God to think any other, than that this great work of God will be wrought, though very swiftly, yet gradually. As the children of Israel were gradually brought out of the Babylonish captivity first one company, and then another, and Gradually rebuilt their city and temple; and as the heathen Roman empire was destroyed by a gradual, though a very swift, prevalency of the gospel; so, though there are many things which seem to hold forth that the work of God would be exceeding swift, – and many great and wonderful events should very suddenly he brought to pass, and some great parts of Satan’s visible kingdom should hare a very sudden fall, – yet all will not tee accomplished et once, as by some great miracle, like the resurrection of the dead. But this work will be accomplished by means, by the preaching of the gospel, and the use of the ordinary means of grace, and so shall be gradually brought to pass. Some shall be converted, and be the means of others conversion. God’s Spirit shall be poured out first to raise up instruments, and then those Instruments shall be used with success. And doubtless one nation shall be enlightened and converted, and one false religion and false way of worship exploded, after another. By the representation in Daniel 2:3, 4. the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, gradually grows. So Christ teaches us, that the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, Matthew 13:31, 32. and like leaven hid in three measures of meal, verse 33. The same representation we have in Mark 4:26, 27, 28. and in the vision of the waters of the sanctuary, Ezekiel 47:– The Scriptures hold forth, that there should be several successive great and glorious events by which this glorious work should be accomplished. The angel speaking to the prophet Daniel of those glorious times, mentions two glorious periods, at the end of which glorious things shall be accomplished:
"And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days" (Daniel 12:11.)
But then he adds in the next verse, "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days;" intimating, that something very glorious should be accomplished at the end of the former period, but something much more glorious at the end of the latter.
II. I now proceed to show how this glorious work shall be accomplished.
1. The Spirit of God shall be gloriously poured out for the wonderful revival and propagation of religion. This great work shall he accomplished, not by the authority of princes, nor by the wisdom of learned men, but by God’s holy Spirit: Zechariah 4:6, 7. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain, and he shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it." So the prophet Ezekiel, speaking of this great work of God, says, chapter 29:29. "Neither will I hide my face any more from them, for I have poured out my Spirit on the house of Israel, saith the Lord God." We know not where this pouring out of the Spirit shall begin, or whether in many places at once, or whether, what hath already taken place, be not some forerunner and beginning of this pouring out of the Spirit of God, when it is begun, shall soon bring great multitudes to forsake that vice and wickedness which now so generally prevails; and shall cause that vital religion, which is now so despised and laughed at in the world, to revive. The work of conversion shall break forth, and go on in such a manner as never has been hitherto; agreeable to Isaiah 44:3, 4, 5. – God, by pouring out his Holy Spirit, will furnish men to be glorious instruments of carrying on this work; will fill them with knowledge and wisdom, and fervent zeal for the promoting the kingdom of Christ, and the salvation of souls, and propagating the gospel in the world. The gospel shall begin to be preached with abundantly greatness and power than had heretofore been. This great work of God shall be brought to pass by the preaching of the gospel, as is represented in Revelation 14:6, 7, 8. that before Babylon falls, gospel shall be powerfully preached and propagated in the world.
This was typified of old by the sounding of the silver trumpets in Israel in the beginning of their Jubilee: Leviticus 25:9. "Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the day of atonement shall Ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. The glorious times which are approaching, are the church’s jubilee, which shall be introduced by the sounding of the silver trumpet of the gospel, as is foretold in Isaiah 27:13. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcaste of the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem." And there shall be a glorious pouring out of the Spirit with this clear and powerful preaching of the gospel, to make it successful for reviving those holy doctrines of religion which are now chiefly ridiculed in the world, and turning many from heresy, from popery, and from other false religions; and also for turning many from their vice and profaneness, and for bringing vast multitudes savingly home to Christ.
The work of conversion shall go on in a wonderful manner, and spread more and more. Many shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, one multitude after another continually, as in Isaiah 60:4, 5. "Lift up thine eyes round about, and see; all they gather themselves together, they come to thee; thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see and flow together." And so verse 8. "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?" And as the gospel shall be preached to every tongue, and kindred, and nation, and people, before the kill of Antichrist, so we may suppose, that it will be gloriously successful to bring in multitudes from every nation: and shall spread more and more with wonderful swiftness. (See Isaiah 66:7-9.)
2. This pouring out of the Spirit of God will not affect the overthrow of Satan’s visible kingdom, till there has first been a violent and mighty opposition made. In this the Scripture is plain, that when Christ is thus gloriously coming forth, when the destruction of Antichrist is ready at hand, and Satan’s kingdom begins to totter, the powers of the kingdom of darkness will rise up, and mightily exert themselves. Thus after the pouring out of the sixth vial, which was to dry up the river Euphrates, to prepare the way for the destruction of spiritual Babylon, (Revelation 16) the powers of hell will be mightily alarmed, and will stir up themselves to oppose the kingdom of Christ, before the seventh vial shalt be poured out, which shall Rive them a final and complete overthrow. The beloved disciple informs us (verse 13,14.) that "three unclean spirits like frogs shall go forth unto the kings of the earth, to gather them together to the battle of the great day of God almighty." This seems to he the last and greatest effort of Satan to save his kingdom from being overthrown though perhaps he may make as great towards the end of the world to regain It.
When the Spirit begins to be so gloriously poured forth, when the devil sees such multitudes flocking to Christ in one nation and another, when the foundations and pillars of his kingdom are ready to come to swift and sudden destruction, all hell will be greatly alarmed. Satan has ever had a dread of having his kingdom overthrown, and has been doing great works to prevent it, especially since the day of Constantine the Great. To this end he set up those mighty kingdoms of Antichrist and Mahomet, and brought in all the heresies, superstitions, and corrupt opinions m the world. But when he sees all begin to fall, it will rouse him exceedingly. If Satan of old dreaded being cast out of the Roman empire, how much more does he dread being cast out of the whole world!
It seems, in his last great opposition, all the forces of Antichrist, and Mahometanism, and heathenism, will be united, all the forces of Satan’s visible kingdom through the whole world of mankind. And therefore it is said, that "spirits of devils shall go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them together to the battle of the great day of God Almighty." And these spirits are said to come out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast, out of the mouth of the false prophet; i.e. there shall be the spirit of Popery; the spirit of Mahometanism, and the spirit of heathenism all united. By the beast is meant Antichrist; by the dragon, in this book, is commonly meant the devil, as he reigns over his heather kingdom: by the false prophet, is sometimes meant the pope and his clergy; but here an eye seems to be had to Mahomet, whom his followers call the great prophet of God. This will be as it were the dying struggles of the old serpent; a battle wherein he will fight as one that is almost desperate.
We know not particularly in what manner this opposition shall be made. It is represented as a battle; it is called the battle of the great day of God Almighty. There will be some way or other a mighty struggle between Satan’s kingdom and the church, and probably in all ways of opposition that can be; and doubtless great opposition by external force. The princes of the world who are on lie devil’s side shall join hand in hand; for it is said, "The kings of the earth are gathered together to battle," Revelation 19:19. And probably there will be great opposition by subtle disputers and carnal reasoning, persecution, virulent reproaches, craft, and subtlety. The devil now doubtless will ply his skill, as well as strength, to the utmost; and those who belong to his kingdom, will every where be stirred up, and engaged to make an united violent opposition against this holy religion, which they see prevailing so mightily in the world. – But,
3. Christ and his church shall in this battle obtain a complete and entire victory over their enemies. They shall be totally routed and overthrown in this their last effort. When the powers of hell and earth are thus gathered together against Christ, and his armies shall come forth against them by his word and Spirit, in how august and glorious a manner is this advance of Christ with his church described, Revelation 19:11, etc. And to represent how great the victory they should obtain, and how mighty the overthrow of their enemies, it is said, (verse 17, 18.) that "all the fowls of heaven are called together, to eat the great supper given them, of the flesh of kings, and captains, and mighty men," etc. and then, in the following verses, we have distinct account of the victory and overthrow.
In this victory, the seventh vial shall be poured out. It is said, Revelation 16:16. of the great army that should be gathered together against Christ: "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon;" then it is said, "And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done." Now the business is done for Satan and his adherents. When this victory is obtained, all is in effect done. Satan’s last and greatest opposition is conquered; all his measures are defeated; the pillars of his kingdom broken asunder, and will fall of course. The devil is utterly baffled and confounded, and knows not what else to do. He now sees his antichristian, Mahometan, and heathenish kingdoms through the world, all tumbling down. He and his most powerful instruments are taken captive. Now that is in effect done, for which the church of God had been so long waiting and hoping, and so earnestly crying, to God, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true."
The angel who set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the earth, lift up his hand to heaven, and swore by him that liveth for ever am! ever, etc. that when the seventh angel should come to sound, the time should be no longer.-And now the time is come; now the seventh trumpet sounds, and the seventh vial is poured out, both together; intimating, that now all is finished as to the overthrow of satan’s visible kingdom on earth. This victory shall be by far the greatest that ever was obtained over Satan and his adherents. By this blow, with which the stone cut out of the mountain without hands shall strike the image of gold, and silver, and brass, and iron, and clay, it shall all be broken to pieces. This will be a finishing blow to the image, so that it shall become as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor.
In this victory will be a most glorious display of divine power. Christ shall therein appear in the character of King of kings, and Lord of lords, as in Revelation 19:16. Now Christ shall dash his enemies, even the strongest and proudest of them, in pieces; as a potter’s vessel shall they be broken to shivers. Then shall strength be shown out of weakness, and Christ shall cause his church to thresh the mountains, as in Isaiah 12:15. – "Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing-instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff." And then shall be fulfilled Isaiah 42:13-15.
III. Consequent on this victory, Satan’s visible kingdom on earth shall be destroyed. When Satan is conquered in this last battle, the church of Christ will have easy work of it, as when Joshua and the children of Israel had obtained that great victory over the five kings of the Amorites. When God sent great hail-stones on their enemies, they had easy work of subduing the cities and country to which they belonged. So it was also after the other great battle that Joshua had with a great multitude at the waters of Merom. After this glorious victory of Christ and his church over their enemies, the chief powers of Satan’s kingdom. they shall destroy that kingdom in all those cities and countries to which they belonged. After this the word of God shall have a speedy and swift progress through the earth, as it is said, that on the pouring out of the seventh vial, "the cities of the nations fell, and every island fled away, and the mountains were not found," Revelation 16:19, 20.-When once the stone cut out of the mountain without hands had broken the image in pieces, it was easy to abolish all the remains of it. The very wind will carry it away as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor. Because Satan’s visible kingdom on earth shall now be destroyed, therefore it is said, that the seventh vial by which this shall be done. shall be poured out into the air; which is represented by Scripture as the special seat of his kingdom; for he is called "the prince of the power of the air," Ephesians 2:2. Now is come the time for punishing leviathan, that piercing serpent, of which we read in Isaiah 27:1.
"In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword, shall punish leviathan the Piercin serpent, even leviathan, that crooked serpent, and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea."
Concerning this overthrow of Satan’s visible kingdom on earth, I would show wherein it will chiefly consist, with its extent and universality.
1. I would show wherein this over throw of Satan’s kingdom will chiefly consist. I shall mention the particular shines in which it will consist, without pretending to determine in what order they shall come to pass, or which shall be accomplished first, or whether they shall be accomplished together.
(1.) Heresies, infidelity, and superstition, among those who have been brought up under the light of the gospel will then be abolished, and particularly deism, which is now so bold and confident in infidelity, shall be driven away, and vanish to nothing. All shall agree in the same great and important doctrines of the gospel,
"And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one." (Zechariah 14:9.)
Then shall he abolished all superstitions modes of worship, and all shall cordially agree in worshipping God in his own way: Jeremiah 32:39. "And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them."
(2.) The kingdom of Antichrist shall be utterly overthrown. This dominion has been much brought down already by the vial poured out on his throne in the Reformation, hut then it shall be utterly destroyed. Then shall be proclaimed, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen." When the seventh angel sounds, "the time, times, and half a time, shall be out, and the time shall be no longer." Then shall be accomplished concerning Antichrist the shines which are written (Revelation 18) of the spiritual Babylon, the idolatrous Roman government, that has for so many ages been the great enemy of the christian church, first under heathenism, then under popery.-That proud city which lifted herself up to heaven, in her pride and haughtiness; that cruel, bloody city, shall come down to the ground. Then shall that be fulfilled,
"For be bringeth down them that dwell on high, the lofty city he layeth it low, he layeth it low, even to the ground, he bringeth it even to the dust." (Isaiah 26:5)
She shall be thrown down with violence, like a great millstone cast into the sea, and shall be found no more at all, and shall become a habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. Now shall she be stripped of all her glory, and riches, and ornaments, and shall be cast out as an abominable branch, and shall be trodden down as the mire of the streets. All her policy and craft, in which she so abounded, shall not save her All the strength and wisdom of this great whore shall fail her, and there shall be none to help her. The kings of the earth, who Wore gave their power and strength to the beast, shall now hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire, Revelation 17:16.
(3.) Satan’s Mahometan kingdom shall be utterly overthrown. The locusts and horsemen in the 9th of Revelation, have their appointed and limited time set them there and the false prophet shall be taken and destroyed. And then-though Mahometanism has been so vastly propagated in the world, and is upheld by such a great empire -this smoke, which has ascended out of the bottomless pit, shall be utterly scattered before the light of that glorious day, and the Mahometan empire shall fall at the sound of the great trumpet which shall then be blown.
(4.) Jewish infidelity shall then be overthrown. However obstinate they have been now for above seventeen hundred years in their rejection of Christ, and however rare have been the instances of individual conversions, ever since the destruction of Jerusalem-but they have, against the plain teachings of their own prophets, continued to approve of the cruelty of their forefathers in crucifying Christ yet, when this day comes, the thick vail that blinds their eyes shall be removed, 2 Corinthians 3:16. and divine grace shall melt and renew their hard hearts, "and they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness as one that is in bitterness for his first-horn" Zechariah 12:10, etc. And then shall the house of Israel be saved: the Jews in all their dispersions shall cast away their old infidelity and shall have their hearts wonderfully changed, and abhor themselves for their past unbelief and obstinacy. They shall flow together to the blessed Jesus, penitently, humbly, and joyfully owning him as their glorious King and only Saviour, and shall with all their hearts, as with one heart and voice, declare his praises unto other nations.
Nothing is more certainly foretold than this national conversion of the Jews, in Romans 11. There are also many passages of the Old Testament which cannot he interpreted in any other sense, which I cannot now stand to mention. Besides the prophecies of the calling of the Jews, we have a remarkable providential seal of the fulfilment of this great event, by a kind of continual miracle, viz. their being preserved a distinct nation in such a dispersed condition for above sixteen hundred years. The world affords nothing else like it. There is undoubtedly a remarkable hand of providence in it. When they shall be called, that ancient people, who alone were God’s people for so lone a time, shall be his people again, never to be rejected more. They shall then be gathered into one fold together with the Gentiles; and so also shall the remains of the ten tribes, wherever they be, and though they have been rejected much longer than the Jews, be brought in with their brethren. The prophecies of Hosea especially seem to hold this forth, that in the future glorious times of the church, both Judah and Ephraim, or Judah and the ten tribes, shall be brought in together, and shall be united as one people, as they formerly were under David and Solomon, (Hosea 1:11; etc. – Though we do not know the time in which this conversion of Israel will come to pass; yet thus much we may determine by Scripture, that it will be before the glory of the Gentile part of the church shall be fully accomplished; because it is said, that their coming in shall be life from the dead to the Gentiles, (Romans 11:12, 15.)
(5.) Then shall also Satan’s heathenism 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. But then the heathen nations shall be enlightened with the glories 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. Then shall the joyful sound be heard among them, and the Sun of righteousness shall arise with his glorious light shining on those 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, have lain thus in a miserable condition, under the cruel tyranny of the devil, who has all this while blinded and befooled them, domineered over them, and made a prey of them. Now the glad tidings of the gospel shall sound there, and they shall be brought out of darkness into marvellous light.
It is promised, that heathenism shall thus be deathbed 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, Jeremiah 10:11. and that he will utterly abolish idols, Isaiah 2:18. – Then shall the many nations of Africa, who now seem to be in a stale but little above the beasts, and in many respects much below them, be visited 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 great part is covered with barbarous ignorance and cruelty, be every where 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 every where to the Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed Saviour of the world. So we may expect it will be in that great and populous part of the world, the Fast Indies, which are now mostly inhabited by the worshippers of the devil. Then the kingdom of Christ will be established in those continents which have been more lately discovered towards the north and south poles, where men differ very little from the wild beasts, except in impiety. The same will be the case with respect to those countries which have never yet been discovered. Thus will be gloriously fulfilled Isaiah 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 verse 6, 7.)
2. Having thus shown wherein this overthrow of Satan’s kingdom will consist, I come now to observe its universal extent. The visible kingdom of Satan shall he overthrown, and the kingdom of Christ set up on the ruins of it, every where throughout the whole habitable clothe. Now shall the promise made to Abraham be fulfilled, That in him and art his seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed and Christ now shall become the desire of all nations agreeable to Haggai 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 Isaiah 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, 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 Isaiah 14:22. 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,
"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." (Daniel 7:27.)
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, it was represented as Satan’s being cast out of heaven to the earth, Revelation 12:9., but it is represented that he shall be cast out of the earth too, and shut up in hell. Romans 20:1,2, 3. This is the greatest revolution by far that ever cane to pass: therefore it is said in Revelation 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, Revelation 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, 2 Thessalonians 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 Daniel 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. The dispensation is so much greater and more universal, and so more like the day of judgment, which respects the whole world. The great spiritual resurrection of the church of God accompanying it, resembles the general resurrection at the end of the world more than any other. (See Revelation 20:4.)
Terrible judgments and fearful destruction shall now be 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, obstinate heretics, and other enemies of Christ, terribly destroying them, with remarkable tokens of wrath and vengeance. More especially will this dispensation be attended with terrible judgments on Antichrist; the cruel persecutors who belong to the church of Rome, shall in a most awful manner be destroyed; which is compares to a casting of Antichrist into the burning flame, Daniel 7:11. and to casting him alive into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, Revelation 19:20.
Then shall this cruel persecuting church suffer those judgments from God, which shall be far more dreadful than her persecutions of the saints, agreeable to Revelation 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 hail-stones from heaven upon them, every one of the weight of a talent, as it is said on the pouring out of the seventh vial, Revelation 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 he that treading of the wine-press spoken of, Revelation 14:19, 20.
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 has been continued, excepting some short intermissions, from the resurrection of Christ to this time; but now shall a final end be put to her suffering stale. 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, Revelation 20:3. for as the times of the church’s rest have been hut short, before the long day of her afflictions ale at an end; so whatever affliction she may suffer after this, will be very short. In every other respect, the day of the church’s afflictions and persecution shall now come to a filial end. The Scriptures, in many places, speak of this time as the end of the suffering state of the church. So Isaiah 51:22. "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 be proclaimed to the church, Isaiah 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 inquiry is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins", Also Isaiah 54:8, 9. and 60:20. belong to this time. "The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended." And so Zephaniah 3:15.
"The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out shine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more."
The time 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 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: Isaiah 36:17. "Like as a woman with child that draweth new the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord." (See Isaiah 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 Isaiah 42:10-12.) and praise shall not only fill the earth, but also heaven. The church on earth, and the church hi 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 beaver:
Revelation 18:20. "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her." See how universal these praises will be in Isaiah 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 the I9th chapter of Revelation.
The 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; the old heavens and the old earth shall in a greater measure pass away, and the new heavens and new earth be 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 till Antichrist is fallen, and Satan’s visible kingdom on earth is overthrown.