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query —" Is the change of the heavens not synchronous with that of the earth?” the remaining part of it having been already met. His thought seems to be, that during the millennium the holy city, having descended out of heaven from God, will remain in the present heavenlies (this may be so; but if what has been advanced be correct, a portion of it, if we include the wall and gates, and he appears not to have excepted them, will be upon the earth). I would again refer him to 2 Pet. iii. “The heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (ver. 7). “The day of the Lord 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 burned up” (ver.10).
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” (ver. 12). These scriptures seem to me decisive on the point, and to leave no room to doubt that the change of both will be at the same time. Probably a part of our brother's difficulty may consist in the question—“ If the holy Jerusalem descends into the heavens that are, before the change referred to, how can they afterwards be burned
may be as well to meet this, whether we have sufficient light to solve it or not. My own feeling is, that it may be removed to safety, or otherwise preserved by the power of God. Now without pretending to decide, the former seems probable, inasmuch as the apostle appears to have witnessed two descents, namely, that in Rev. xxi. 2, and that in ver. 10, and the latter the first to be fulfilled. The same difficulty arises as to the inhabitants of the earth; but in this case we have not any revelation that I know of, though we know that God will preserve His own redeemed, and there we may well leave it, not seeking to be wise above that which is written, but using diligence to become acquainted with all that is revealed.
In comparing the two visions, which we may call that of the new Jerusalem (ver. 2), and that of the holy Jeru. salem (ver. 10), the differences between them should be
noticed; such, for instance, as the following: " prepared as a bride adorned for her husband," "the bride, the Lamb's wife"; and our brother has remarked of the latter that it is a walled city, but this is not said of the former, I merely suggest this for the consideration of others.
Ver. 3 and 4 seem to indicate that there will be an everlasting distinction between the heavens and the earth; and that, even when the whole work of redemption is accomplished, when our blessed Redeemer “shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied," there will still be the heavenly and earthly portions of the redeemed family, making one glorious creation, in which God's " dear Son” will have the pre-eminence: “ For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones' or dominions, or principalities or powers, all things were created by Him and for Him” (Col. i. 16).
In conclusion, if anything need be said upon the importance of this subject, I would add, that I believe it is of vast importance, not only in point of knowledge,-as such it ought to have a practical effect on our souls,-but being “ written for our learning," it is our duty to study it with prayer for the Holy Spirit's teaching. Nor is this all; for how often do we find that it is in man's ignorance of such scriptures as these that error has established its strongholds, by giving forth a pretended explanation, and finds its security from contradiction in the fact, that there are few or none able to resist the evil by an appeal to the truth. I desire, however, to guard my brethren against the thcught that what I have said is dogmatically asserted; but as an enquirer in the prophetic field, I have endeavoured to state the convictions and thoughts of my own mind, and to those who may read I would say, “ Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”
E. B. [The Editor does not put his sanction on the above paper, by inserting it in “ THE PRESENT TESTIMONY.” There are many points in it which, as matters of interpretation, are more than questionable; but as nothing on the face of it affects fundamental truth, and as it is presented in avowed subjection to Scripture, it is left to the judgment of the reader.-Ed.)
THE prophet Ezekiel had been carried into captivity with the king Jehoiakim, at least, he was one of those made captive at that time, and he habitually dates his prophecies from that period; an important thing to remark, that we may understand the revelations, made to him. For himself, there is no more question either of dates or of kings, of Judah or of Israel. The people of God are in captivity among the Gentiles. Israel is looked at as a whole; the interests of the whole nation are before him. At the same time, the capture of Jerusalem under Zedekiah had not yet taken place, which occasions therevelation of his iniquity, the measure of which was filled up by his rebellion. For Nebuchadnezzar attached value to the oath made in the name of the Lord. He counted upon the respect due to that name, and Zedekiah had not respected it. Thus the first twenty-three chapters contain testimonies from God against Israel in general, and against Jerusalem in particular. After that, the surrounding nations are judged; and then, beginning with chap. xxxiii., the prophet resumes the subject of Israel, announcing their restoration as well as their judgment. Finally, from chap. xl. to the end, we have the description of the temple, and of the division of the land. In chapter i. we find a date which refers to the
of Josiah's passover, but with what intent I do not know. It has been thought that the thirty years relate to the jubilee. On this point I cannot speak with confidence. But other circumstances are very important. The throne of God is not seen in Jerusalem, but unconnected with this city and outside it. God judges the city itself from this throne. The prophecy commences with the description of the throne. We have the attributes of God as the supporters of His throne, under the likeness of the four categories of created beings on earth, the four being VOL, V.PT.III.
united in one, at least, the four heads of these categories. These symbols are nearly the same as those used by the pagan inventors of idolatry to represent their gods. Formal idolatry began with a figurative personification of the attributes of God. These attributes became their gods, men being impelled to worship them by demons, who governed them by this means, so that it was these demons whom men worshipped — a worship that soon degenerated so far, that they set up gods wherever there was anything to desire or to fear, or that answered to the lusts which inspired these desires or these fears. Sentiments which the demon cultivated also, in order to appropriate to himself the worship due to God alone. Now, these attributes belonged to the only God, the Creator, and the head of all creation; but whatever their power and glory might be in action, they were but the supporters of the throne on which the God of Truth is seated. Whatever instruments He may employ, it is the mighty energy of God that manifests itself. Intelligence, strength, stability and swiftness in judgment, and, withal, the movement of the whole course of earthly events, depended on the Throne. Majesty, government, and providence, united to form the throne of His glory. But all the instruments of His glory were below the firmament; He whom they glorified was above. It is He whom the heathen knew not. This throne of the supreme and sovereign Lord God is seen in Chaldea-in the place where the prophet then was-among the Gentiles. But it is no longer seen at Jerusalem in connection with the land, consequently, the voice of God speaks to Ezekiel as to a
son of man”; a title that suited the testimony of a God who spoke outside of His people, as being no longer in their midst, but, on the contrary, was judging them from the throne of His sovereignty. It is Christ's own title, looked at as rejected and outside of Israel, although He never ceases to think of the blessing of the people in grace. This puts the prophet in connection with the position of Christ Hiniself. He would not allow them to call Him the Christ (Luke ix.), for the Son of Man was to suffer. In testimony and example, aş to his prophetic relation, the same thing happens in
God is rejected, His prophet takes this place, with the throne, to judge the whole nation, and especially Jerusalem, announcing at the same time (to faith) their re-establishment in grace. He is sent from the Lord to a rebellious people, to say, The Lord has spoken, whether they would hear or not. The judgment would make it known that a prophet had been among them. His first testimony is composed of lamentations, and mourning and woe; nevertheless, the communication of the word of God is always full of sweetness, looked at as a revelation from Him, and as taking place between God and man.
Some important principles in the relations of God with Israel are developed in chap. iii. But we have yet to notice a feature that characterises the book of Ezekiel, comparing it with that of Jeremiah. The latter addresses himself immediately to his contemporaries, that is to say, to the people of God, in a testimony which, making its way through the bruised and wounded heart of the prophet, exhibits the marvellous patience of God, who up
to the last moment invites His people to repent
It is not thus with Ezekiel. He announces that which necessitates the judgment. He is sent, indeed, to Israel, but to Israel in a hardened condition. His mouth is shut as to the people; he is not to rebuke them. He may communicate to them certain declarations of the Lord at a suitable time, when the Lord opens his mouth to make them understand that there is a prophet among them; but he does not address himself directly and morally to the people, as being still the object of God's dealings. The Lord reveals to him the iniquities that oblige Him to cast off His people, and no longer to act towards them on principles of government established by Himself, as with a people whom He acknowledged. It is, on God's part, a setting forth of Israel's conduct as the occasion of the rupture of their relations with Him. the same time, certain new principles of conduct are revealed. I speak of part of the prophecy which relates to Israel; for there are also sundry judgments upon the Gentiles, and a description of the future state of the land, as well as of the temple-a state which the