« НазадПродовжити »
as, in every thing, wholly different from all the kings who had appeared in our world, inasmuch as War had been the uniform type of their times, while that of his would be PEACE. They foretell that his name shall be “ THE PRINCE OF PEACE,” and that of “the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end :"* that he shall be a man of extraordinary and unparalleled attainments, piety, and humanity : “ The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity, for the meek of the earth : and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”+ Your lordship will not fail to contrast the character here drawn with the exhibitions of the vulgar royalty of the earth. The fact, as it relates to the character of the mass of rulers, is but too truly set forth in the awful words of the prophet Daniel to the despot of Babylon :-" The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”+
The Scriptures of the prophets, in reference to the coming King, teem with attestations to his truth, purity, fidelity, justice, benevolence, and compassion.
Let us now inquire into the manner, in which, according to the Hebrew authors, this sovereign was to come to his kingdom. The facts of its anticipated
* Isa. ix. 7.
+ Ib. xi. 2–4.
I Dan. iv. 17.
history are set forth with a sublimity of conception, and a splendour of expression, which throw everything merely human into obscurity. The prophet, adverting to the rising of the Persian, Grecian, and Roman monarchies, and their fall, thus brings forward the subject of the last monarchy, with its celestial King: “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the ANCIENT OF Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the
wool : his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him : thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. -I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the SON OF MAN came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the ANCIENT OF Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, and nations, and languages, should serve him : his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."*
How does this passage strike your lordship? To what shall it be likened ? What expectations those sentences excite! Was there ever kingdom like this kingdom ? How worthy is the Sovereign whose character has just been sketched of such a throne! It is meet that his reign should be at once universal and perpetual. In these two features how unlike it is to every thing of the kind that has existed amongst men !
Let us next consider the international results of the
* Dan. vii. 9–14.
government of this wise, and righteous, and pacific King. In what state does he find the nations when he ascends the throne? Their study is war! Their chief employment is mutual destruction! What is the first act of the new Sovereign? On this point, the prophet is full and explicit :-“He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people.” Why? for what shall he rebuke them? For their bloodshed! How will the nations receive his rebuke? “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."* The entire current of the feelings of nations will be at once and for ever reversed. How immense the power which will suffice to work such a revolution ! Mankind will reflect with wonder on the change, and will ascribe it to its
proper cause ;—not to mere secular education ;not to infidel philosophy ;—not to wise legislation ;not to any thing but its true source. It will be the theme of intense and delightful discussion to the historians and philosophers of future times. “Come," they will say, “come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder ; he burneth the chariot in the fire."+ In those days there will be wide-spread havoc among the munitions of war. Walls, bulwarks, forts, fleets, all the instruments of defence and murder-all, all will be destroyed !
Let us now, my Lord, look at the social aspect of the nations under this altered economy. The state of
* Isa. xi. 4, &c.
of Psa. xlvi. 8, 9.
things is portrayed under figures the most beautiful and affecting. “The wolf also 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. And the cow and the bear shall feed ; their young ones shall lie down together ; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den; they shall no more hurt nor destroy.” What a picture of innocence! What emblems of transformation among the most untoward and barbarous characters and classes ! From this harmony will result a happiness never previously known on earth. The same writers exult in the anticipation of those glorious days of peaceful joy, and thus summon the universe to celebrate the goodness of the heavenly King :-“Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. 0 let the nations be glad and sing for joy : for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase ; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.”+ “The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
What times will those be, my Lord, in which these things shall be brought into actual existence! What a change will come over the legislation of our world, and over the spirit of man! Hitherto, in all lands, through all time, the multitude has always been despised,
* Isa, xi, 6-9.
of Psa. lxvii. 3—7.
I Psa. xxxvii. 11.
neglected, oppressed. Government, at once perfectly free, and wholly righteous, is a thing unknown in our world. Cruel despots, of all states, small and great, have only thought of themselves; and wherever an aristocracy has sprung up, its main study has been to imitate, and combine with, the chief ruler in despoiling and enthralling the millions! Laws have seldom been framed from any other motive, than to promote the supposed benefit of those who made them. And then as to war, it hath always been a double curse—a curse both to the victor and to the vanquished. The eyes of the Jewish writers were open to all the aspects of bondage and of slaughter. In their writings there is an all-pervading spirit of justice, humanity, and compassion, wholly unknown to the literature of Greece and Rome. This is a fact, my Lord, as remarkable as it is unaccountable, upon any other principle than that which Christians assign. The bulk, indeed, of those heathen authors who have written of liberty, slavery, and legal wrong, appear always to have written with the dread of the despot's sword and the spear before them. They wrote as they thought-in fetters! The exceptions, such as Tacitus, and one or two more, only confirm the rule: and even where he and others spoke as freemen of freedom, their regards were not directed to the masses of mankind. They had no conception of lifting up the spirits of the prostrate millions, by providing them with intellectual and moral culture. They sought nothing, and deemed nothing desirable, beyond immunities and privileges for the wealthier classes of society.
One of the most extraordinary and peculiar features of the new kingdom, according to the Jewish authors,