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That the antediluvians should have lived to such advanced ages as 800 and 900 years, has raised the question whether or not the atmosphere in which our race then lived and breathed could have been the same as since the flood. However that may have been, we find that with the promise of "new heavens," (which we take to mean new atmosphere,) "and a new earth," (which we take to mean this same earth under new conditions,) we have this also promised, "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days, for the child shall die an hundred years old, but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another inhabit, they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble, for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them." (Isa. lxv. 20-23.) From all which we understand, that a short-lived infant, or a man prematurely old, shall among the righteous be no more, that a righteous man dying at a hundred years old shall be accounted a child, while the sinner of a hundred years old shall die, and be accursed. And so shall a force be given to certain passages which our experience of life hitherto has failed to confirm; such as these, "Wicked and deceitful men shall not live out half their days (Ps. lv. 23). "The fear of the Lord prolongeth days, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened" (Prov. x. 27). "Be not wicked, neither foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?" (Ecc. vii. 17). And for a good reason men shall live thus long, and life shall be desirable and enjoyable to them, when the curse shall be removed, which has brought "consumption and fever and inflammation with extreme burning, blasting, and mildew," and in its place blessing abounds "in the fruit of their body, in the fruit of their ground, in the fruit of their cattle, the increase of their kine and the flocks of their sheep, blessed in the city, and blessed in tho field, blessed in their basket and store, blessed when they come in and blessed when they go out." Life itself shall be a boon and a blessing, coveted and desired, for then "the inhabitant (of Zion) shall not say I am sick, but the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity" (Isa. xxxiii. 24). Also we think that with the removal of fell disease from the earth, and with peace and plenty abounding on every hand, the physique of the race will improve with healthy parentage. When health becomes restored to mind, body, and estate, and continued generation after generation, men will not be pained as now with the sight and sense of crippled life. Idiots, imbeciles, lunatics, incurables, deaf, blind, mutes, hideous dwarfs and deformities, we expect will be rarely, if ever found. Such sadness we expect will cease.
7th. In relation to the earth, animal, and vegetable life.
What it will be to have the curse removed from the ground, called by the apostle "the bondage of corruption," we may best learn by considering the consequences involved in the curse pronounced upon it. "And the Lord God said, Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life, thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee" (Gen. iii. 17, 18). This work of the Creator in the production of thorns and thistles, briers and brambles, noxious and extraneous growths, in animal, insect, reptile, and vegetable life, seems a work to be undone by the same power that gave them birth, according to that word, "I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me; I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal" (Deut. xxxii. 39). And when we shall hear Him say, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. xxi. 5), we shall expect to see some things that have been made for curse, unmade for blessing. Hitherto He has called "the locust, the cankerworm, the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, My great army" (Joel ii. 25); but when times of curse shall give place to times of blessing, this great army of His shall be no more. Pests and pestilences shall be no more, for He hath promised His people, saying, "I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Mal. iii. 2). Long, very long, hath it seemed hard upon the fair creation, the animal and the vegetable world, that in pest and pestilence, brier and blight, it should have suffered for man the sinner's sin. But "the creation was made subject to vanity (instability, change, decay), not of its own will, but by reason of Him who hath made it subject in hope, because even the creation itself shall be set free from the bondage of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God; for we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." (See Alford, Rom. viii. 20-22.)
That man should ever have fallen so low in his moral instincts of right and wrong as to inflict torture upon even the lowest order of God's creatures, in pursuit of curious if not profitless inquiry, is the shame of our boasted age of progress and civilisation. If God's tender mercies are over all His works, it ill becomes the sinner to intensify the bitterness of the curse entailed by his sin upon the sinless creature.
That the order of Divine providence will be changed in relation to creatures whose nature it now is to prey upon one another is manifest from several Scriptures. "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed, their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox" (Isa. xi. 6, 7). And from the following verse it is shown that the venomous reptiles shall be rendered harmless, even to playfulness. The same creative spirit that hath "garnished the heavens, hath also formed
the crooked serpent, but in these we have only seen parts of His ways, for how little a portion is known of Him ?" (Job xxvi. 13, 14). He who formed the creatures as they are, could as soon re-form them, answerable to the purpose of another age. The new creation doubtless will appear in all its plenitude of glory, and infinitude of form and colour, developing new forms of beauty and odours of fragrance. What new varieties of bloom and fruit, to us as yet unknown, may not be given to man by Him" who giveth us richly all things to enjoy." Whether" the trees for meat" shown to Ezekiel, and the tree of life" shown to John are identical, or a counterpart on earth of that in heaven, is not clear; but certain it is, that both speak of them as bearing fruit monthly, and the leaf thereof for medicine. John expressly tells us "the tree of life 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). Ezekiel describes the trees he saw as trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, it shall bring forth new fruit according to its months; the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." (Ezek. xlvii. 12). If here we have a tree bearing fruit monthly, a fresh manner of fruit every month for meat, and leaves ever green, never fading, for medicine, it will indeed be a new variety. And all" because the waters of the river issued out of the sanctuary, for everything liveth whithersoever the river cometh." How much of fact and how much of figure is here,--again we must say, the day will declare. But it is interesting to observe that the waters of this river are represented as affecting the sea commonly understood to be the Dead Sea, or Lake Asphaltites, and covering the site of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Smith's Dictionary of the Bible we find he has this passage in his description of The Salt Sea: "the usual and perhaps the most ancient name for the remarkable lake which to the Western world is now generally known as the Dead Sea. In Ezek. xlvii. 8, it is styled The sea,' and distinguished from the great sea,' the Mediterranean (verse 10). Its connection with Sodom is first suggested in the Bible in 2 Esd. v. 7, by the name of Sodomitish Sea.' In the Talmudical books it is called both the Sea of Salt' and the 'Sea of Sodom.' With all the brilliancy of its illumination, its frequent beauty of colouring, the fantastic grandeur of its enclosing mountains, and the tranquil charm afforded by the reflection of that unequalled sky on the no less unequalled mirror of the surface,with all these, the prevalent sterility, and the dry burnt look of the shores, the overpowering heat, the occasional smell of sulphur, the dreary salt marsh at the southern end, and the fringe of dead driftwood round the margin, must go far to excuse the title which so many ages have attached to the lake, and which we may be sure it will never lose."
May we ? We are inclined to think that when the days come that we have now under consideration the very name of Dead Sea
will die. For what do we read by the spirit of prophecy placed on record these many years? "These waters issue out towards the east country, and go down into the desert (of Judah), and go into the sea, which being brought forth into the sea the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass that everything that liveth which moveth whithersoever the river shall come, shall live, and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither, for they shall be healed, and everything shall live whither the river cometh. And fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim, they shall be a place to spread forth nets, their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea (Mediterranean) exceeding many." (Ezek. xlvii. 8-10.) Surely such a deposit of life will not continue to be called The Dead Sea!
One Lord, and his
So much then for Millennial blessedness. name one. The knowledge of the Lord covering the earth as the waters cover the sea. Satan bound and saints free. Truth springing out of the earth, and Righteousness looking down from heaven. Swords beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks; the art of war forgotten in the arts of peace abounding. The wolf and the lamb feeding together, and the lion eating hay like the bullock. The days of men like the days of a tree, and long enjoying the work of their hands, for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord and their offspring with them, and it shall come to pass that before they call He will answer, and while they are yet speaking He will hear; for the tabernacle of God shall be with men, and He will dwell with them, they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God. And this for a thousand years!
O scenes surpassing fable, and yet true,
Scenes of accomplished bliss; which who can see,
And clothe all climes with beauty; the reproach
Laughs with abundance; and the land, once lean,
Exults to see its thistly curse repealed.
The various seasons woven into one,
And that one season an eternal spring.
The garden fears no blight, and needs no fence,
For there are none to covet; all are full.
The lion, and the libbard, and the bear,
Graze with the fearless flocks; all bask at noon
Of the same grove, and drink one common stream.
Lurks in the serpent now; the mother sees,
In the heart
To stroke his azure neck, or to receive
COWPER'S" Winter Walk at Noon."
VII. THE LOOSING OF SATAN AND HIS FINAL RUIN.
But the seventh chiliad of time as the day of man's rest will have its evening too. When the seventh day is recorded as God's day of rest, it has for its limit no morning no evening. His time for rest or work has no limit. When "God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth" it was not His beginning but theirs; when He rested from all His work which He had made He ceased not from work, but only in that particular. Ever working, ever resting. Watts nobly sings,
Thy throne eternal ages stood
Eternity with all its years
Stands present in Thy view,
Our lives through various scenes are drawn,
While Thine eternal thought moves on
But Earth and Time, as the scene and space of man's work and man's rest, will, with its seven-thousandth year, we believe, complete its history and reach the limit assigned to both by the Creator, so far as revealed in His word. Hence we read of the closing in of this day of millennial glory with shadows dark and deep, though happily of brief duration, termed a little season. For the Dragon, that Old Serpent which is the Devil and Satan, is bound only "until the thousand years should be fulfilled, and after that he must be