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whose infirmities might be increased by the exciting effects of visions, shall have “ dreams," which may tend to guide or enlighten their families in the ways and designs of Providence.“ Young men shall see visions," as did the ancient prophets Jacob, Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, &c., and as the apostles Peter, Paul, and John; that their minds and hearts may be preserved in the expectation of their glorious approaching change, and thus the more effectually to qualify them for promoting the conversion of their brethren.
Joel 111. 15, 16. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion and utter his voice from Jerusalem ; and the heavens and the earth shall shake : but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. See Matt. xu. 24, &c.
Ver. 17. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and then shall no strangers pass through her any more.
This appears to be parallel with the above; and, if they are taken conjunctively, evince that they are the very passages alluded to by Christ, and descriptive of the state of the world previous to his Second Advent.
Ver. 18. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
As wine cheers and comforts the heart of the sorrowful, so the most eminent classes among mankind shall now communicate to their fellow men the delights of true, of practical holiness, and with a power as superior as that of new wine to old. Subordinate states shall also dissemminate spiritual nourishment as that which is afforded to the body by milk;
• Heb.“ Place of repair,” or “harbour."
and the ordinary channels of instruction shall be replete with divine power.
The valley of Shittim was that in which Israel abode when the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. Whoredom often signifies idolatry in Scripture language; so that we may easily conceive why this symbol is used: viz., to give the assurance that Israel shall be reclaimed from every idol,—the idol of Mammon,and every other.
Ver. 19–21. Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed : for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.
Egypt and Edom seem to be here used as typical of the inhabitants of the mystical Egypt and Edom—the enemies of the church, and may, if considered retrospectively from that period, describe the condition of the literal Egypt and Edom, as for many past ages; or, if taken prospectively, may point to the hopeless and foredoomed condition of the former, or mystical, though in different degrees. “ Jerusalem” may signify the united church of Jews and Gentiles, which, it is promised, shall be cleansed from its errors, and from the impurities and imperfections of its worship.
Now will have commenced the security, and, in a degree, the unalterable happiness, of Israel and of the general church of God, which the iniquity of the ungodly cannot avert. “The blood of Christ will effectually cleanse, and the Spirit effectually purify, the hearts of his people," who “shall be willing in the day of his power."
Thus have we traced and arranged the progress of the Restoration and Conversion of the Jews, as presented to us in the holy Scriptures. Yet how little can we know of the mode and detail of those extraordinary operations both of providence and grace, which will be employed to accomplish them! We can have no difficulty, however, to perceive the wisdom and goodness of God in ordaining such a succession of great events, the prophetic view of which, so largely vouchsafed, is calculated to become a sure and unerring guide to the glory which shall follow. This happy era will speedily commence, after the veil which is now uplifting, shall be finally withdrawn from the hearts of our Jewish brethren. The united church of Jew and Gentile will then be prepared as a bride to meet her Lord before his actual advent. See Isai. 1. 26-28.
Finally, we would direct the reader's attention to the language of inspiration by the apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, chap. IX., X., and xi., in conjunction with the marginal references. The study of these portions we particularly recommend as a summary conclusion to the many important passages which have been adduced on this subject. Such as imagine that no Millennial dispensation will take place but what shall result from the gradual extension of the Gospel, will allow that we have approached the utmost confines of probability, with respect to the period in which both this and more than ordinary spiritual influences will be vouchsafed. And yet so little shall the state of the world in general accord with the description of the Millennial state, that we are immediately compelled to relinquish the supposition of a gradual introduction to the Millennium. We are assured that the generality will disregard the miracles of providence and grace, and relapse into a strict resemblance to the cotemporaries of Noah and Lot. Such will be the position of mankind at our Lord's coming. Nothing, therefore, can be more discordant with the assurance that “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.'
Surely, such Scripture evidences should süpersede every preconceived opinion, and all the influences of education and habitual feeling, prejudicial to the belief of a premillenial advent. This will, we trust, appear in the clearest point of view, when we come to consider the actual condition of mankind during the Millennium, or “ reign" of "righteousness," as it is revealed.
The burial of Gog's army takes place at this time, occupying a space of seven years; previous to which period, in whatever manner the Israelites may have worshipped, , we read nothing of their having rebuilt the temple or city, though they may commence this work after the land" has been “cleansed.” That a ritual worship should continue for some years, or till the coming of Elijah, is not improbable; at which time we may consider it to cease. It may be imagined that nothing short of his appearance would be calculated to effect this among the mass of the people. After which, instead of ceremonial rites, will be the pure and spiritual service of God, to which purpose the temple may then be converted. But as to what will or will not take place at this period, or, in what manner, especially as it regards exterior worship, and whether it be before or after the advent of our Lord, we believe to be too mysteriously veiled to admit, as yet, of any satisfactory solution.
COMING OF ELIJAH, AND PREPARATION FOR THE SECOND ADVENT
OF OUR LORD.
In such a day of spiritual excitement and extraordinary manifestation of divine power, as that which the subject of the last chapter discloses,-a day of such unprecedented interest and holy zeal, it cannot be irrational to expect that a prophet of more than ordinary inspiration should appear, to perfect and regulate the due worship of God; and thus to prepare the hearts and understandings of his people, for the “glorious appearing” of their Lord and Saviour. There is nothing contrary to reason that the Lord should send the actual prophet of old, and embody him miraculously in the flesh at such a season: but we think it is more probable that he will raise up another prophet, (such as was John,) who will possess the same ardent, zealous spirit, for the worship and service of God, as Elijah did, and which would supersede the necessity of his again appearing in the flesh. The Lord calls John, Elias, merely for the above reason,—the similarity of his spirit to that of Elijah,—and, therefore, no inconsistency can arise from this appellation being repeated in the person of another. Accordingly, “ the coming of John in the spirit and power of Elijah," may be "a pledge of some