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THE UNIVERSAL PEACE OF THE AGE TO COME.
HIS is one of the most beautiful features of the
great coming age. During all the long historic ages we have had wars and rumours of wars; and have yet, with all our boasted advance of science, " march of intellect," and vaunted progress, the world growing old in crime. And to-day we have larger standing armies, larger and more destructive implements of war, and still louder and louder whispers of “ and rumours of wars,” reminding us of those solemn and prophetic words of the ancient seer, who personates the Almighty, “I will overturn, overturn, overturn, till He shall come whose right it is, and I will give it Him ” (Ezek. xxi. 27).
And to this climax of iniquity, and great universal war, all events are tending; the gathering of Armageddon, “the battle of the great day of God Almighty,” when, through that victorious crisis, " the kingdoms of this world shall become the sovereignty of our God and of His Christ," all national and international events are rapidly hastening with accelerated momentum. This is marked by statesmen and politicians, as well as by theologians and religionists. The late Lord Beaconsfield said, not many years before his decease: “There are agencies at this moment
which are preparing a period of great disturbance.”I And the Rev. J. Guinness Rogers, B.A., says in the Congregationalist: “We are in the presence of one of the most dangerous theories as to the rights of property, and they evidently have a fascination for numbers.” And the present chairman of the Congregational Union, Dr. Parker, in his inaugural address, 1884, said : “Still the appalling facts remain, a daily appeal to Christian attention; still the little child dies in the fætid room ; the reeling drunkard staygers to his bed of straw ; ruined womanhood cries for vengeance; pale hunger dies in silence; discontentment plots the downfall of society; bold blasphemy drowns the plea of timid prayer; still the darkness lengthens its deadly shadow, and still the pit widens into a gloomier abyss; and in the face of facts which are their own eloquence I venture to contend that the only force equal to the overwhelming occasion is a sanctified heart, a love like Christ's own, a compassion large and soft as the pity of God.”
We could have wished to have whispered, when we read these words, Dr. Parker, “ Believest thou the prophets ?” They would lift the vail, and shew thee "what shall be hereafter.” Well, and what is it? Why, it is this: “The morning cometh, and also the night?” (Isa. xxi. 12). For there is no sure and certain remedy for this sad state of increasing unrest, and turbulence, and agitation, and war, but the second glorious Advent of the Prince of peace; who, according to the predictions of the beautiful Millennial Psalm, xlvi., “maketh wars to cease anto the ends of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and catteth the spear in sander; He burneth the chariot in the fire!” What terrific and victorious words ! But what follows ? Why, this restful and pacific prediction, which can never be realised until He come and “take unto Himself His great power and reign, but will certainly be realised in that day: "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations (illvegur, Sept.); I will be exalted in the earth:”—a prediction which can never be fulfilled till “the Lord is King over all the earth;” and the words of the prophet, Isa. ix. 6, shall be literally verified: “The government shall be upon His shoulders."
i Vox Dei, p.5, Preface.
Let us notice a few out of the multitude of those predictions which speak of the age of universal peace:
In Isa. ii. 4 we read, referring to the Ruler in the coming age: “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.”
Now who can mistake these words, either as to their import, or their chronology? As to their import, they can but refer to the Prince of Peace, “who will reign in Jerusalem and before His antients gloriously.” As to their chronology, they can refer to no other time than, when “God will set His King on His holy hill of Zion” (Psa. ii. 6). Again, in Micah iv. 2, about fifty years later, this prophet speaks thus: “And He
shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; 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.
What an auspicious day! what a pacific era! what weary, restless spirit, looking round on the whole creation which groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now," does not ejaculate the prayer: “How long, O Lord, holy and true?”—“Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” Further, in Hosea ii. 18 we read, “And in that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground; and I will break the bow, and the sword, and the battle-axe out of the earth, and I will make them to lie down safely.” Now no one who studies the context will doubt that this prediction synchronizes in the time of its fulfilment with that in Isaiah and Micah, the age to come.
In Zech. ix. 10, more than 200 years later still, we read words which have a marvellons correspondence, both in their spirit and literality: “And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle-bow shall be cut off: and He shall speak peace unto the heathen (nations 'edvôv Sept.); and His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth." How wonderfully does this prediction, in its very words, correspond to that glowing description given by David in Psalm lxxii., wherein he gives utterance to predictions which had an inchoate fulfilment in the person and reign of Solomon; but shall have their complete and exhaustive fulfilment in the age to come (see ver. 8. with the whole context).
Then, if we pass over the long interval of about 600 years, and sit down with the exiled John, in the seagirt isle of Patmos, we shall hear, among the voices which spake to the beloved disciple, uttering their pregnant and prophetic words: “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (xix. 6). “And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords” (ver. 16). “And I saw another angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand; and he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him a 1,000 years, and cast him into the bottomless pit and shat him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more till the 1,000 years should be fulfilled" (xx. 1—3).
Now here is the secret of making wars to cease to the end of the earth, as we read in Psa. xlvi. Satan, we think, is the exciting cause of all war and turbulence, and so long as he is permitted to range to and fro in the earth-as during the past Hebrew ages, and also during the “times of the Gentiles,” he is—he will not fail to give rise to wars and rumours of wars; for he is in this evil age both “the god of this world," and