Chapter 05 – The Object of Man’s Existence on the Earth; and His Relationship Thereto – The Government of God
We next enquire, What is the object and design of man’s existence on the earth; and what is his relationship thereto? for all this magnificent world, with its creation, life, beauty, symmetry, order, and grandeur, could not be without design; and as God existed before man, there must have been some object in man’s creation, and in his appearance on the earth. As I have before stated, man existed before he came here, in a spiritual substance, but had not a body; when I speak of a body, I mean an earthly one, for I consider the spirit is substance, but more elastic, subtle, and refined than the fleshy body; that in the union of the spirit and flesh, there is more perfection than in the spirit alone. The body is not perfect without the spirit, nor the spirit without the body; it takes the two to make a perfect man, for the spirit requires a tabernacle, to give it power to develop itself and to exalt it in the scale of intelligence, both in time and eternity. One of the greatest curses inflicted on Satan and his followers, when they were cast out of heaven, was, that they should have no body. Hence, when he appeared before the Lord, and was asked from whence he came, he answered, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job i. 7, and ii. 2.) For this reason he is denominated “The Prince of the power of the air, the Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Ephes. ii. 2.) Hence he exerts an invisible agency over the spirits of men, darkens their minds, and uses his infernal power to confound, corrupt, destroy and envelope the world in confusion, misery, and distress; and, although deprived personally of operating with a body, he uses his influence over the spirits of those who have bodies, to resist goodness, virtue, purity, intelligence, and the fear of God; and consequently, the happiness of man; and poor erring humanity is made the dupe of his wiles. The Apostle says, “The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. iv. 4.) But not content with the ravages he has made, the spoliation, misery, and distress, not having a tabernacle of his own, he has frequently sought to occupy that of man, in order that he might yet possess greater power, and more fully accomplish the devastation. We read, that in our Saviour’s days, there were persons possessed with devils, who were tormented by them; and Jesus and his disciples cast them out. Mary Magdalene was dispossessed of seven. A legion had entered one man, and when commanded to leave, rather than have no bodies, they desired permission to enter those of swine, which they did, and the swine were destroyed. Man’s body to him, then, is of great importance, and if he only knew and appreciated his privileges, he might live above the temptation of Satan, the influence of corruption, subdue his lusts, overcome the world, and triumph, and enjoy the blessings of God, in time and in eternity.
The object of man’s taking a body is, that through the redemption of Jesus Christ, both soul and body may be exalted in the eternal world, when the earth shall be celestial, and to obtain a higher exaltation than he would be capable of doing without a body. For when man was first made, he was made “a little lower than the angels,” (Heb. ii. 7); but through the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he is placed in a position to obtain an exaltation higher than that of angels. Says the Apostle, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1 Cor. vi. 3.) “Jesus descended below all things, that he might be raised above all things.” He took upon him a body, that he might die as a man, and “that through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil.” (Heb. ii. 14.) Having conquered Death, then, in his own dominions, burst the barriers of the tomb, and ascended with his body triumphant to the right hand of God, he has accomplished a purpose which God had decreed from before the foundation of the world, “and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.” Hence man, through obedience to the Gospel, is placed in a position to be an adopted son of God, and have a legitimate right to his Father’s blessings, and to possess the gift of the Holy Ghost. And the Apostle says, that “If the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Rom. viii. 11.) Thus, as Jesus vanquished death, so may we; as he overcame, so may we; and, if faithful, sit with him upon his throne, as he has overcome, and sat down upon his Father’s throne. (Rev. iii. 21.) Thus, man will not only be raised from degradation, but will also be exalted to a seat among the intelligences which surround the throne of God. This is one great object of our coming here and taking bodies.
Another object that we came here for, and took bodies, was to propagate our species. For if it is for our benefit to come here, it is also for the benefit of others. Hence the first commandment given to man was, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” (Gen. i. 28.) And as man is an eternal being, and all his actions have a relevancy to eternity, it is necessary that he understand his position well, and thus fulfil the measure of his creation. For as he, and his offspring are destined to live eternally, he is not only responsible for his own acts, but in a great measure for those of his children, in framing their minds, regulating their morals, setting them a correct example, and teaching them correct principles; but more especially in preserving the purity of his own body. And why? Because, if he abuses his body, and corrupts himself, he not only injures himself, but his partner and associates, and entails misery incalculable upon his posterity, who are doomed to inherit the father’s misery; and this is not only associated with time, but with eternity. Hence the Lord has given laws regulating marriage and chastity of the strictest kind, and entailed the severest punishment upon those, who, in different ages have abused this sacred ordinance. For example, the curse of Sodom and Gomorrah: and the terrible judgements pronounced against those who should corrupt and defile their bodies, let any one read Deut. xxii. 13-30. And Paul says, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” (1 Cor. iii. 16, 17.) Whoremongers and adulterers shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (1 Cor. vi. 9, 10; and Heb. xiii. 4.) And why? Because man being made a free agent over his own body, that he might exalt himself and posterity, both in time and in eternity, if he abuses that power, he not only affects himself, but unborn bodies and spirits, corrupting the world, and opening the flood gates of vice, immorality, and estrangement from God. Hence the children of Israel were told not to marry with the surrounding nations, lest their seed should be corrupted, and the people turned to idolatry, which would lead to the forgetfulness of God, to an ignorance of his purposes and designs, and cause them to lose sight of the object of their creation, and corrupt themselves; and to the introduction of every other evil, as a natural consequence. But where the order of God is carried out, it places things in a lovely position.
What is more amiable and pleasant than those pure, innocent, endearing affections which God has placed in the hearts of the man and woman, who are united together in lawful matrimony? With a love and confidence pure as the love of God, because it springs from him, and is his gift; with bodies chaste, and virtuous; and an offspring, lovely, healthy, innocent, and uncontaminated; confiding in each other, they live together in the fear of God, enjoying nature’s gifts uncorrupted and undefiled as the driven snow, or the crystal stream. But how would this enjoyment be enhanced, if they understood their destiny; could unravel the designs of God, and contemplate an eternal union, in another state of existence; a connexion with their offspring, commenced here to endure for ever, and all their ties, relationships, and affections strengthened! A mother feels great delight in beholding her child, and gazing on its lovely infant form. How would her bosom swell with ecstacy at the contemplation of that child being with her for ever! And if we only understood our position, this was the object for which we came into the world. And the object of the kingdom of God is, to re-establish all those holy principles.
Chastity and purity are things of the greatest importance to the world. Hence the Prophet says, “Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously; yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? that he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.” (Mal. ii. 14, 15.) Here, then, the object of purity is pointed out clearly; and what is it? that God might preserve a godly seed. St. Paul says, “What? know ye not that he who is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh…. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own.” (1 Cor. vi. 16-20.) And in the next chapter he speaks of the same things which Malachi does concerning a pure seed. “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband, else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”
The legislators of all civilized nations have seen the necessity of sustaining these things, and consequently have passed, generally, very rigid laws for the protection of female virtue, and the support of the marriage contract. Hence Acts have been passed and enforced, disinheriting those who were not born in wedlock. This, in some instances, has produced a salutary effect. Ministers of the various churches have also used their influence, in a great measure, in support of virtuous principles. These have had their effect in assisting to stem the torrent of iniquity. But as the nations themselves have forsaken God, how can they expect to stop this crying evil; for the very legislators who pass these laws are in many instances guilty themselves; and when kings, princes, and rulers, corrupt themselves, how can they expect the people to be pure? for no matter how rigid law may be, corrupt persons will always find means to evade it. And, indeed, so far have these abominations gone, that it seems to be an admitted fact, that these things cannot be controlled; and, although there are laws relative to matrimonial alliances, yet there are some nations, called Christian, who actually give license for prostitution, and all the degradation and misery associated with it. Nor are these things connected with the lower ranks of life only; wantonness and voluptuousness go hand in hand, and revel unchecked in courts, among the nobles and kings of the earth. The statesman, the politician, and the merchant, the mechanic and the labourer, have all corrupted themselves. The world is full of adultery, intrigues, fornication, and abominations. Let any one go to the masked balls in the principal theatres in Paris, and he will see thousands of people of both sexes, impudently, shamelessly, and unblushingly, manifesting their lewd dispositions. Indeed, debauch and wantonness bear full sway, not to speak of the dens of abomination that exist elsewhere. London abounds with unfortunate beings, led on by example, seduction, and misery, to their fallen, degraded condition. The same thing exists throughout England, France, the United States, and all nations. Hence millions of youth corrupt themselves, engender the most loathsome diseases, and curse their posterity with their sin, who, in their turn, rise up and tread in the corrupt steps of their fathers. Not to say anything of the thousands of lovely beings whom God designed for companions of man in time and in eternity, and for raising up a pure offspring, who are corrupted, degraded, polluted, fallen, poor, miserable wretches; outcasts of society, insulted, oppressed, despised, and abused; dragging out a miserable existence; led on from one degree of degradation to another, till death, as a friend, closes their wretched career, and yet without hope. Thus, man that was made pure, in the image of his Maker, that could stand proudly erect as the representative of God, pure, and uncontaminated, is debased, fallen, corrupt, diseased, and sunk below the brute creation; a creature of lust and passion, and a slave to his unbridled appetites. I write plainly on this subject; and I do it because it is a curse to the world, and God will have a reckoning with the nations for these things. In vain, then, men legislate on these matters: the nations have corrupted themselves, and these things are beyond their control. Men must be governed by higher, and purer motives than merely human enactments. If the world understood its true position, and the eternal consequences to them and their seed, they would feel different. They would feel that they were eternal beings; that they were responsible to God, both for their bodies and spirits. Nothing but a knowledge of man’s fall and true position, and the development of the kingdom of God, can restore him to his proper state, restore the order and economy of God, and place man again in his natural position on the earth.
Having spoken of man as an eternal being, we will now examine what relation he has to this earth; for it is the government of God that we wish to keep our minds upon. This earth is man’s eternal inheritance, where he will exist after the resurrection, for it is destined to be purified and become celestial. I know that this position is considered strange by many, because it is generally supposed that we are going to heaven; that heaven is the final destination of the righteous; and that when we leave this world, we never return. Hence Wesley says—
“Beyond the bounds of time and space,
Look forward to that heavenly place,
The Saints’ secure abode;”
and this is an opinion generally believed by the Christian world.
We shall therefore commence by enquiring, Where is heaven? Can any one point out its location? I would remark, that it is a word of almost unlimited signification; nevertheless we will investigate the matter a little. We read, that in the beginning “God created the heavens and the earth;” and furthermore, that he called the “firmament heaven.” From the above we learn, that the heavens were created by the Lord, and that the heavens were created at, or about the same time as the earth, and that the firmament is called heaven. We are further told concerning the firmament, that “God separated the waters that were below the firmament, from those that were above the firmament.” Hence, when God destroyed the world with a flood, “He opened the windows of heaven;” when the rain ceased, he “shut the windows of heaven.” Now, a word on this firmament; Where is it? “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” We find out, then, from the foregoing, that the firmament is called heaven, viz., the heaven associated with this earth; and that the firmament is the place where the birds fly, and the rain falls from heaven; and the scriptures say, that Jesus will come in the clouds of heaven. (Matt. xxiv. 30. Mark xiii. 26.) But there are other heavens: for God created this heaven, and this earth; and his throne existed before this world rolled into existence, or the morning stars sang together for joy; for “Heaven is God’s throne, and the earth is his footstool.” Solomon says, “The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.” This heaven is veiled from mortal vision; spirits abound, but we cannot see them; and angels hover there, but to us are invisible, and can only be known or seen by the revelation of God. Hence Paul says, he “was caught up into the third heaven.” Stephen “saw the heavens opened, and Jesus sitting on the right hand of God.” Where this revelation exists, there exists without the removal of the body a perfect knowledge of things as they are known to God, so far as they are revealed. Thus, when John was on the Isle of Patmos, he says, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and What thou seest write in a book.” (Rev. i. 10, 11.) Then commenced the revelation. It was the same also with Stephen. From this we gather, that there is a veil that obscures the heavens from our sight; but when that veil is removed, and our vision is enlightened by the spirit of God, then we can gaze upon the glories of the eternal world, and heaven is opened for our view.
When persons are taken from the earth, and hid from our view, it is said they are gone to heaven. Hence it is said, that Elijah went by a whirlwind into heaven, (2 Kings ii. 11.) And it is also said of Jesus that “while he blessed them he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” (Luke xxiv. 51.) But it is the destination of the Saints that we have to do with; and on this I would remark, that there are many glories, and man will be judged according to his deeds. “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for as one star differeth from another star in glory, so also is the resurrection.” (2 Cor. xv. 41, 42.)
It would not comport with my object at the present time to enter into the whole of the details of this subject. I would briefly remark, however, inasmuch as I am now talking of man’s body, that there is a place called “Paradise,” to which the spirits of the dead go, awaiting the resurrection, and their reunion with the body. This was an old doctrine of the Jews. Paul, too, “was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words.” (2 Cor. xii. 4.) John says, “to him that overcometh will I grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Rev. ii. 7.) This Paradise, however, is not the place for resurrected bodies, but for departed spirits: for Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “To day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” (Luke xxiii. 43.) Two days after this, and after the resurrection of his body, Mary was looking for the Lord, and he appeared to her: he said to her “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (John xx. 17.) We learn here, then, that Jesus went to Paradise, with the thief on the cross, in spirit; but that he had not been with his body to his Father.
We will now speak of heaven, as a place of reward for the righteous. Daniel, in speaking of the resurrection, says, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Dan. xii. 2.) Jesus says, those who have forsaken all and followed him, “shall inherit everlasting life” (Matt. xix. 29.)
There is also a Book of Life spoken of. Paul speaks of some whose names were written therein. (Phil. iv. 3.) John also refers to the same things: he says “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life.” (Rev. iii. 5.) Again, John, in speaking of the New Jerusalem, says, There shall not enter into it anything that worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Rev. xxi. 27.) From this it would appear, that those who obey all the commandments of God, and have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, shall finally enter into the New Jerusalem. Jesus again says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am sat down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. iii. 21.) This, then, is the heaven, as far as I can conceive, that people expect to go to.
We will now try to find out its location. Above we have noticed that the saints are to have everlasting life, that they are to be with Jesus, and also in the New Jerusalem. We have now to enquire, Where Jesus’s kingdom will be, and Where will be the place of the New Jerusalem. Daniel says, “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, 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.” (Dan. vii. 13, 14.) Here, then, we find Jesus coming to establish a kingdom. Where is that kingdom? The Scriptures say, that all nations, languages, and tongues shall serve and obey him. Where do those nations, languages, and tongues exist? The answer is, on the earth. We will next enquire, Where the saints will be. Daniel says, in the 27th verse, “And the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.” Here, then, we find Jesus reigning under the whole heaven with his saints, and all nations, dominions, and powers, serving him. I noticed above, that those who overcame would be with Jesus, and with him have everlasting life. Zechariah speaks of a time when there will be a great assemblage of people against Jerusalem; after God’s ancient people, the Jews, shall have been gathered there, and the Lord himself shall come forth to their defense. He says, “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof, toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal; yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come and all the saints with thee. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one.” (xiv. 3, 4, 5, 9.) Here we find that Jesus is to come, and all his saints are to come with him. And that the Lord is to be King over all the earth. The question again arises, Where will Jesus reign with his saints? the answer is, upon the earth. Again, we will refer to the revelations of John. He says, “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God …. and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years,” (Rev. xx. 4.) And if we wish to know Where they will reign, we will again let John speak: “For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. v. 9, 10.) It is not necessary to quote more on this subject; it is so plain that he that runs may read. I know that there are those who will tell us that this is not the final destination of the saints. I would here remark, that a great many events will take place in regard to the renovation of the earth, which it would be foreign to my subject at the present time to detail. I would state, however, that when the earth shall have become pure, if people suppose that they will then inhabit a heaven, not on the earth, they are mistaken; for if we have the good fortune to have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and to enter into the New Jerusalem, we shall in that very New Jerusalem have to descend to the earth. Methinks I hear persons saying, What! shall we not, then, stay in heaven? Yes—in heaven; but that heaven will be on the earth; for John says, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were past away (purified by fire and become celestial), and there was no more 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. And I heard 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. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. xxi. 1-4.) Here, then, we find man’s final dwelling place is the earth; and for this purpose it was first created, and it never will fulfil the measure of its creation until this shall take place. Nor will man ever attain to the end for which he was created, till his spirit and his body are purified, and he takes his proper position on the earth.
The prophets of God, in every age, have looked forward to this time; and while many considered them to be fools, they were laying for themselves an eternal foundation: they looked with scorn upon the gaudy baubles that fascinated foolish and corrupt man: they could not yield to his chicanery and deception; but with the fear of God before their eyes, and a knowledge of the future, they stood proudly erect, in a consciousness of their innocence and integrity; despised alike the praise and powers of men, endured afflictions, privations, and death; wandered in sheep skins and goat skins, destitute, tormented, and afflicted, for “they looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Heb. xi. 10.) Hence Job says, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (xix, 25, 26.) Man naturally clings to this earth; there seems to be something inherent in his nature that draws and binds his affections to the earth; hence he strives all that lays in his power to possess as much land as he can reasonably obtain; and not always honestly, but wars have been waged for the acquisition of territory, and the possessions of the earth. But what avails it all without God! So far from benefiting man, it is an injury, if obtained by fraud; for he has got to pass that test which none can avoid. And if circumstances here give him the power over his brother, when he leaves this world and appears before God, he goes to be judged for that very act of oppression; and the thing that he so anxiously desired to obtain in this world is his curse in the next. An honourable desire for property is not wrong; but no man can have a lasting claim unless it is given him of God. Lands, properties, possessions, and the blessings of this life, are of use only as they are sanctified, and have a bearing on the world to come. There have been hereditary laws established in England, and I believe in other countries, securing landed possessions to the eldest son, or heir. This has originated from the above feeling; and partly from the customs of the ancient Israelites, as recorded in the Scriptures; and families through this means seek to perpetuate their names. They may do this for a season; but if man rightly understood his true position, he would have a brighter object in view. The Scriptures tell us, “that every good and perfect gift comes from God;” that a man can receive nothing but what is given him from above. Men have conquered, and taken, bought and sold, the earth without God. But their possessions will perish with them; they may perpetuate them by law for a season to their descendants, but the Saints of God will finally inherit the earth for ever, in time, and in eternity. Abraham held his possessions on a very different footing from the above. The Lord appeared unto him, and made a covenant with him, and said, “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger. All the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession.” (Gen. xvii. 8.) This covenant was an eternal one; yet Abraham did not possess the land, for Stephen says, “he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on.” (Acts vii. 5.) And Paul says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Heb. xi. 8-10.) Here, then, we find land given to Abraham by promise, a land that he did not possess; but he will do so, “for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” He looked forward to the redemption of his seed, the establishment of the kingdom of God, and the inheritance of those blessings eternally. If any one doubts this, let them read the xxxi. chapter of Jeremiah, and the xxxvi. to xxxix. chapters of Ezekiel; wherein it is stated that Israel is to be gathered to their own land, that it is to become as the Garden of Eden, and to be no more desolate. Ezekiel speaks of the resurrection of the dead, and the coming together of the bones, flesh, sinews, and skin, of a living army; of the uniting of the nations of Judah, and Israel, in one; and in consequence of the great development of the powers of God, the heathen would be filled with astonishment; and finally, that God’s tabernacle should be planted in their midst for evermore. Then let them read from the xlvii. to the last chapter of Ezekiel; and they will find an account, not only of the restoration of the Jews, and ten tribes, but that the land is actually divided to them by inheritance, in their different tribes, according to the promise made thousands of years before to Abraham. In the 13th and 14th verses of the xlvii. chapter, he refers to this, and says, “Thus saith the Lord God, This shall be the border whereby ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel: Joseph shall have two portions. And ye shall inherit it, one as well as another; concerning the which I lifted up mine hand to give it unto your fathers; and this land shall fall unto you for an inheritance.” Thus we find that the promise unto Abraham concerning territory will be literally fulfilled. Again, I would refer my readers to the fourteenth chapter of Zechariah. I would then turn their attention to the sealing of the twelve tribes mentioned in the seventh chapter of Revelations, where there are twelve thousand out of every tribe sealed; and then ask, Where are these to reign? The answer is, on the earth; together with those who have “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, out of every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue.” Jesus says, “Abraham saw my day and was glad.” What! was he glad to see his people scattered, dispersed, and peeled; Jerusalem trodden under foot, the Jewish nation, temple, and polity destroyed, and his seed cursed upon the face of the earth; or was it the second coming of Jesus, when they would be restored, Satan bound, the promises made to him, and to his seed fulfilled, and misery and sorrow done away; for according to the testimony of Paul, “all Israel shall be saved.” Abraham’s views concerning land and possessions were not the same as those entertained by men in our day; they were not only temporal, but eternal; and if the world was under the guidance of the same God as Abraham, they would be governed by the same principle; and anything short of this is transient, temporary, short lived, and does not accomplish the purpose of man’s creation.
I cannot conclude this subject better than by giving a quotation from P. P. Pratt’s “Voice of Warning.” “By this time we begin to understand the words of the Saviour, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ And also the song which John heard in heaven, which ended thus: ‘We shall reign on the Earth.’ Reader, do not be startled: suppose you were to be caught up into heaven, there to stand with the redeemed of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and join them in singing, and to your astonishment, all heaven is filled with joy, while they tune the immortal lyre, in joyful anticipation of one day reigning on the earth; a planet now under the dominion of Satan, the abode of wretchedness and misery, from which your glad spirit had taken its flight, and as you supposed, an everlasting farewell. You might perhaps be startled for a moment, and enquire within yourself, Why have I never heard this theme sung among the churches on earth? Well, my friend, the answer would be, because you lived in a day when people did not understand the Scriptures. Abraham would tell you—you should have read the promise of God to him, (Gen. xvii. 8,) where God not only promised the land of Canaan to his seed for an everlasting possession, but also to him. Then you should have read the testimony of Stephen, (Acts vii. 5,) by which you would have ascertained that Abraham never had inherited the things promised, but was still expecting to rise from the dead, and be brought into the land of Canaan to inherit them. Yes, says Ezekiel, if you had read the xxxvii. chapter of my Prophecies, you would have found a positive promise that God would open the graves of the whole house of Israel, who were dead, and gather up their dry bones, and put them together, each to its own proper place, and even clothe them again with flesh, sinews, and skin, and put his spirit in them, and they should live; and then, instead of being caught up to heaven, they should be brought into the land of Canaan, which the Lord gave them, and they should inherit it. But, still astonished, you might turn to Job; and he, surprised to find one unacquainted with so plain a subject, would exclaim, did you never read my xix. chapter, from the 23rd to the 27th verses, where I declare, I wish my words were printed in a book, saying, that my Redeemer would stand on the earth in the latter day, and that I should see him in the flesh, for myself, and not another; though worms should destroy this body! Even David, the sweet singer of Israel, would call to your mind his xxxvii. Psalm, where he repeatedly declares that the meek shall inherit the earth for ever, after the wicked are cut off from the face thereof. And last of all, to set the matter for ever at rest, the voice of the Saviour would mildly fall upon your ear in his Sermon on the Mount, declaring emphatically, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ To these things you would answer, I have read these passages, to be sure; but was always taught to believe that they did not mean so, therefore I never understood them until now. Let me go and tell the people what wonders have opened to my view, since my arrival in heaven, merely from having heard one short song. It is true, I have heard much of the glories of heaven described, while on earth, but never once thought of their rejoicing in anticipation of returning to the earth. Says the Saviour, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; if they will not believe them, neither would they believe, although one should rise from the dead.'”[A]
[Footnote A: Pp. 48-50. Seventh Edition; Liverpool: F. D. Richards. This is an excellent work, and well worthy of any one’s perusal.—J. T.]
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Source: Chapter 5 of the The Government of God, by John Taylor (1852)