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good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in anity.”ı
But this beautiful and blessed fact we could never know had not onr great Father lifted the vail of futurity, and uttered His voice relative to some “things which shall be hereafter," in the age to come. But this He has done, not to satisfy a prurient curiosity, but to encourage the hearts of His own dear children, amidst the discouragements and depressions incidental to this dispensation of failure.
At present, all that the most spiritual and Christlike Christians can do is to be habitually and prayerfully endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace,” by " esteeming others better than themselves," and "letting that mind be in them which was also in Christ Jesus," "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. iii. 13). This is the destiny of the Church of this age," the Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.” This will be realized “in the New Jerusalem, which is above;" when the Bride shall have been taken up, and shall sit down at the “marriage supper of the Lamb." But “in the age to come," in the Millennium, this unity, the absence of which we now so much deplore, will be the normal condition of the whole Church of
One of the most striking texts which foretells this is in Isa. lii. 8: “ They shall see eye to eye when the
“ The Great Tribulation,” by Dr. John Cuming, p. 433.
Lord brings again Zion.” Nor can there be any question relative to the application of this text to the age to come; for the whole scope, as well as each separate verse, prove it beyond dispute. And this unity will be of His own creating; for the secret of its existence and moral beauty is in the fact that then "all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (v. 10).
In that auspicious day, we think, the Song of Solomon, which is now so often obscure and difficult of comprehension, will be fulfilled, and its recondite allusions made clear; then will the Church of that age indeed be “ like a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariot,” all the units having one will, one purpose, one aim! The allusion is a delicate and beautiful one; but never, till the age to come, will it be verified in fact. But then it will, for each member of that Church will then strive to do His will on earth, “even as it is done in heaven.” And the reason and the proof are here: “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" (Jer. xxxii. 39). And also in Ezek. xi. 19: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you.” 2
Now, here is the secret of the Catholic unity which will obtain in the age to come. “ The expulsive power of a new affection," as Dr. Chalmers used to call the secret of conversion, will be the originating cause of this blessed unity:
i See Lord Congleton's “ The Psalms, New Version, with Notes," pp. 361 and 386.
2 “ Redemption Draweth Nigh,” Dr. A. A. Bonar, p. 333.
“ The God Jehovah reigns,
Let all the nations fear;
And saints be humbled there,
Let earth adore its Lord:
Swift to fulfil His word.
His honours are divine;
For there His glories shine.
How terrible His praise!
In all His works of grace.”
Nor should we forget that the age to come will be ushered in with a higher and grander Pentecost than “this dispensation of the Spirit.” For the words of Joel, quoted and applied by Peter at the Pentecost of the New Testament Church, had but an initial and inchoate fulfilment then; for it was partial and limited in its effusion. But when God shall inaugurate the age to come, in the grand Epiphany of our coming Lord; then will be fulfilled these words in all their grand Catholic literality: “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh,” etc. (Joel ii. 28). Now, how do we know that this was not exhaustively fulfilled at the New Testament Pentecost ? (a) Because the antecedent context, before this verse, describes Israel as restored to, and as dwelling in, their land; and therefore the “afterward" in this verse must refer to the age to come. (6) Because in the former Pentecost it was not true that the Spirit was poured out on all flesh. A few in the apper room only were endued with the Spirit.
But as of those who were so endued it is recorded : "The multitude who believed were of one heart and of one mind” (Acts iv. 32), so we have reason to believe that when Satan shall be bound, and “the Spirit shall be poured out from on high,” “all shall know Him, from the least unto the greatest," and the beautiful circle of fraternal unity shall be unbroken throughout the world.
Thus there will be “a holy Catholic Church,” the dream of the Papists to-day; a theory of ecclesiastical despotism, as anti-Scriptural as it is mischievous and cruel. The blood-stained pages of the Church's history being witness. But here, where there will be neither pride nor ambition sufficient to develope into such arrogance and usurpation, there will be a true unitas fratrum, because this light and knowledge, conduct and character, will all be shaped and moulded by the Holy Ghost, who will really work in the members of that Church “ to will and to do of His good pleasure.” As truly as “they will love Him that begat them, so they will love them who are begotten of Him.” Thus in the earthly Millennial Church, as well as in the New Jerusalem above, " there will be one fold and one Shepherd.”
One result of this will be a condition of social and spiritual joy and felicity, to which we are comparatively strangers. For even when we manifest it in some degree, how short-lived is its continuance, and how
“some root of bitterness springs up to trouble us!” But then all the sweet amenities of social, and all the endearing offices of domestic, fellowship, as well as all the spiritual communions of the Church, will be reciprocated with “joy unspeakable and full of glory," rendering life even on earth, in that age to come, a kind of paradise regained.
And if we are to take the predictions in Isa. lx. 19— 21 to refer to this time, then the age to come will indeed be “days of heaven upon earth ”: “Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself, for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.”
Now, however we take these words, whether figuratively or literally, the time is the same—the age to come, the Millennium; and underlying them is a state and condition of joy and felicity quite anrealized in the present age.
But the prophetic Scriptures are full of such allasions and references, all synchronizing with the age
to come (see Isa. lv. 12, xxxv. 10, xxv. 8, lxv. 19, li. 11; Zeph. iii. 17, et alibi).
6* Arabia's desert ranger
To Him shall bow the knee:
His glory come to see:
Ships from the isles shall meet,
In tribute at His feet.
1 “ Dissertations on the Prophecies,” Bishop Newton, vol. ii.,
., p. 351,