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of our Lord Jesus Christ.” While men are deceiving themselves with appearances, and, in defiance of previous example, suppose that the promises and threatenings of God will not be fulfilled, they shall suddenly be overtaken by the storm of divine wrath. And as at the fool the heavens and the earth perished, by undergoing an important change, so are they now reserved for ANOTHER CHANGE in preparation for the residence of the Redeemer and for the comfort of men. But while the apostle reminds believers of these glorious predictions of the holy prophets, he also foretels that little attention or credit will be given to them. The mercy and long-suffering of God, that sinners may come to repentance, being imputed to his unwillingness or inability to accomplish these glorious promises, the world will be taken by surprise when the period of their fulfilment shall arrive. • The day of the Lord,”* says the apostle,“ will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat: the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up. Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." 2 Pet. iii. 10–13. It has been supposed that the apostle here predicts the utter destruction of the material world at the coming of Christ. But, strong as the language is, it does not warrant this opinion. The atmospheric heavens shall be dissolved, and their elements shall melt with fervent heat, yet the perishing of the earth in this instance by fire is put in contrast with the destruction effected by the waters of the flood. This, while it overwhelmed the guilty inhabitants and destroyed their works, still left the substance of the earth the same, although much marred by the disruption it occasioned. However great the changes thus made upon its surface, to this the effects of the flood were principally confined.
* Allusion is frequently made in the New Testament to the day of the Lord. The Old Testament prophets have also many predictions concerning the various periods of this eventful “ day." The following passages among others may be consulted. Is. ii. 12. xiii. 6, 9. xxxiv. 8. Jer. xlvi. 10. Ezek. xxx. 2, 3. Joel i. 15. ii. 1. iii. 14. Obad. verses 15, 17. Zeph. i. 7, 14. ii. 2, 3. Zech. xiv. 1.
Still there is much difficulty-equally experienced by millenarian and antimillenarian commentators,-in giving a view of this passage consistent with itself and other Scriptures. The extent of the judgments and the nature of the dispensation predicted by the holy prophets, of which the apostle reminds them, deserve se. rious consideration; still
, the “promise" of new heavens and a new earth, recorded by Isaiah, to which the apostle refers, is, as we have seen, to have its fulfilment at the Millennium,* when the Lord shall“ create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy.” But were the difficulty even greater in human estimation than it is, faith can confidently trust for the fulfilment of God's promise thus explicitly given. Jehovah sometimes manifests
* Dr. Hamilton's confused ideas of the new heavens and new earth have been so ably exposed in the letter addressed to himself in “De. fence of the Students of Prophecy,” as to render unnecessary any lengthened remarks. Still, we may remind him, that the term new is applied in the above prediction of Isaiah to the earth in its Mil. lennial state. When, therefore, he asserts, (p. 278,) that the sacred writers “ have told us, as distinctly as language can express it, that the future habitation of the redeemed is to be a now, that is, another heaven and another earth, with which the present earth and heaven have no connection, and of which they shall form no part,” he only affirms what he ought to prove. The Doctor believes in a coming Millennium, and even quotes part of the above passage from Isaiah to prove its nature. But has not the Lord, by the prophet, in it “ told us, as distinctly as language can express it,” that then He will “create new heavens and a new earth?” And as the apostle expected these new heavens and earth of which he speaks, according to God's promise,
," and as the only promise contained in the Old Testament Scriptures of new heavens and a new earth, is that by Isaiah, it must be to this that he alludes. Yet the Doctor himself will not maintain that this promise is to be fulfilled by the creation of “ another heaven and another earth, with which the present earth and heaven have no connection, and of which they shall form no part.” Nor will be assert that “the heavens" which “ were of old, and the earth standing out of the water, and in the water” before the flood, had no connection with, and formed no part of the heavens and the earth which are now," with which the apostle contrasts them.
His glory by putting the faith of his chosen people to the test, in their reception of his promises. To evi- . dence his own power, and to try the faith of the children of Israel, on their leaving Egypt, the Lord caused Moses lead them off the proper route, and to encamp by the sea. In this situation, while entangled by the wilderness, and seeming to have no choice left, but either to perish in the yawning deep or await a no less certain destruction by the hand of their infuriated pursuers, they cried to Heaven for help. But the Lord said unto Moses, “ Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unlo the children of Israel that they GO FORWARD.” This was indeed a trial of their faith. Speak unto them that they go forward, while rolling billows seemed to threaten certain and immediate destruction! But, “by faith, they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, which the Egyptians essaying to do were drowned.” To the primitive disciples the injunction of our Saviour relative to their escape from Jerusalem must have appeared no less mysterious : “ And when ye shall see Jerusalem COMPASSED with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let them which are in the midst of il depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto, for these be the days of vengeance that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Luke xxi. 21, 22. To the disciples it must have appeared a singular advice, that they should make their escape when they saw Jerusalem compassed with armies, rather than at an earlier period. Without faith in the veracity and faithfulness of Him the display of whose omniscience they had often witnessed, and in whose wisdom and goodness they could fully confide, they might have questioned the meaning of the injunction, and refused to avail themselves of the promised deliverance. But the event not only justified the trust reposed, but afforded a glorious display of the Saviour's divinity. The unexpected, and as it appears unnecessary withdrawal of the Roman army, for a short time, afforded the disciples an opportunity of escaping to Pella. In like manner, the full import of the distinct promise of new heavens and a new earth, as recorded by Isaiah, and referred to by Peter, we may not be able yet to perceive, but that they form a blessed preparative, for the Millennial glory, we cannot doubt.
That this world will during that dispensation still be the abode of men in the flesh is expressly foretold. And although it will be a period of unprecedented holiness and happiness, neither sin nor death will be wholly excluded : «The child shall die an hundred years old, and the sinner being an hundred years shall be accursed.”
THE NEW JERUSALEM.
Or the employments of the redeemed while reigning with Christ on earth, and of the nature of their intercourse with mortal men, the Scriptures afford us little information. Repeated allusions are, however, made to the place of their residence. Of this the apostle John was specially favoured with a glorious vision, the account of which is recorded Rev. xxi. xxii. As the new Jerusalem is to be on the new earth, and under the new heavens, that part of the vision which relates to it is introduced to the apostle by a view of these: " And I saw," says he, (Rev. xxi. 1,) “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away: and there was no more [symbolical] sea. And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." This celestial city is designed as the residence of Christ and the redeemed, and comes down out of heaven, where it is previously “prepared” for this purpose. “And I heard,” continues the apostle,“ a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with MEN, and he will dweLL WITH THEM, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." ver. 3. This, we apprehend, is that Second city
seen in vision by Ezekiel, in the Holy Oblation offered to the Lord, in the new division of the Holy Land. He calls it " the Most Holy place," and more frequently “ The City.” There are many coincidences in the account given of it by John with that given by Ezekiel. Of the names of its gates the prophet says, “And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel ;” and he particularizes the respective situations of the different gates by name. (Ezek. xlviii. 31 34.) The New Jerusalem as seen by the apostle has also twelve gates, “and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Isreel.” (Rev. xxi
. 12.) The arrangement of these gates is also precisely the same with that given by Ezekiel : “ on the east, 3 gates ; on the north, 3 gates; on
3 the south, 3 gates ; and on the west, 3 gates.” ver. 13. This City has an attendance enjoyed by no other; for “they that serve the City shall serve it out of all the tribes of Israel;" and a portion of the Holy Oblation is allotted for their maintenance. Ezek. xlviii. 18, 19. Of the New River, to which we formerly referred, (p. 99,) Ezekiel says, “ upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued from the Sanctuary. And the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." Ezek. xlvii. 12, So John also narrates of the New Jerusalem, that “in the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river was there the tree of life [not one tree, merely, since it grew on • either side of the river,' but trees of one species, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month ; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Rev. xxii. 2. How striking is the coincidence !
That the apostle might have a full view of the wonderful City, there came unto him an angel who carried him away“ in the Spirit, to a great and high mountain, and showed” him “that great city the holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of