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As this is applied, by the Holy Spirit himself, to that extraordinary dispensation of primitive Christianity which commenced with the day of Pentecost, we need not seek for a further exposition. The expression “all flesh” may, indeed, create some difficulty; but we must confine the universality of the expression by the subject and the facts. The Spirit was poured on all sorts and descriptions of human beings: even a miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost rested, not on the priests or special messengers of Jehovah alone, or on their kings and elders, but, as the amplification of the prophet which ‘follows,' shows, on both sexes, on all ages, on every condition of mankind. This, the account given us in the Acts of the Apostles of the effusion of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost fully explains to have been the case with respect to these extraordinary and miraculous gifts, which were vouchsafed when the great Comforter on that day publicly took possession of his charge and office.
And the same rule HE is pleased to follow still in the pouring forth of his ordinary though more important influences, in his sanctifying of the elect people of God. What happened on the day of Pentecost, indeed, was only a more visible display and indication of the commencement of that dispensation which was to continue to the end. For though, in a way less subject to the observation of man, the Holy Ghost,-then first personally sent from the Father, was to carry on his supernatural operations in the hearts of the people of Christ, until his second coming: and these heavenly influences which illuminate, and sanctify, and gladden the heart with holy joy, are still, in this sense, poured out on “All flesh.” Persons of each sex, of all ages, in every condition of life, are visited by this heavenly inspiration, not to dream dreams or see visions, indeed, but “to give them” the knowledge of salvation in the remission of their sins, to enable them to make their calling and election sure, to reveal to them “things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive,” “the things which God has prepared for them that love him.” This mission of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, was one event to take place “before the great day of the Lord should come.” Another event to take place was great political changes, attended with destructive wars and devastations, among the rulers and nations of the earth, to an extent unknown before. This is symbolized, as usual, by changes in the heavenly bodies: —”
30. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, Blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, Before that great and terrible day of Jehovah come.
This is as much as to say, the subversion of the governments and empires of the world—the world as it concerns the people of God-must take place before the emphatic day of Christ shall arise. The Gospel-day, therefore, was not this great and emphatic day. The fourth empire was then in meridian splendour; but the great and terrible day of Jehovah awaited the removal of the governing powers of the earth. The Jewish subordinate authorities which remained may be considered as included in the prediction; but the greater and higher authorities of the Roman empire which then governed the world, are the proper subjects of the symbol. These, as the event has shown, have been removed in various portions and at various times. And after great changes, and revolutions, and torrents of blood have been shed, and many pillars of smoke have arisen, as the signals of devastation, the sun and the moon, the imperial and delegated authorities of the Roman world, are not yet extinct. Connected, however, with their final extinction, as we have learned before, is the coming of the promised Redeemer in his majesty. But during all this period—from the day of the outpouring of the Spirit unto “this great and terrible day”—
* Isaiah, xiii. 9, &c.; xxiv. 19, &c.; xxxiv. 4; l. 2, 3; li. 16; lxv. 17, &c.
is the gracious dispensation of the Gospel of Christ described as follows: —
32. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered,
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be a deliverance, as Jehovah hath said;
And among a remnant whom Jehovah shall call.
“Shall be deliverance,” or, “ that which shall' escape from the common destruction;” and not only shall this take place in Zion, but also among a number of “survivors” from a common destruction among the Gentile nations. So St. Paul applies this text, in the tenth chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. Here, then, is a plain prediction of the Gospel cali, and of the salvation of a remnant of all nations, in the midst of a troubled and unsettled world; and such is the present dispensation of the kingdom.
There follows in order a prediction as plain of the restoration of the Jews, and of all the wonders consequent thereon, which have been so often the theme of prophecy:—
1. For, behold, in those days and at that time, When I shall bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, 2. That I will assemble all the nations, And will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat.
And I will enter into judgment with them there respecting my people and my inheritance, Israel,
Whom they scattered among the nations, and have divided my land;
3. Ay, they cast lots for my people, and gave a boy for food," And sold a damsel for wine to drink.
The valley of Jehoshaphat is, by some, supposed to be the valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives: others suppose an allusion to the signification of the word Jehoshaphat, “Jehovah judgeth,” and that it may signify any valley which shall be the scene of the awful visitation.
Who “all the nations” are, that scattered Israel and divided their land, is sufficiently plain: the enemy from Chittim, the nations of the Roman world. They carried the remnant of Israel into their last captivity, and they are every where spoken of as the objects of this last judgment.
The prophecy proceeds to complain of the conduct of some neighbouring nations at the season of Israel's calamity, who acted on a principle of revenge, and would expose themselves to the vengeance of the God of Israel:
4. And what have ye also to do with me, O Tyre and Sidon, And all the borders of Palestine 7
* See Simon in nym.
Are ye for making retaliation upon me?
But if ye make retaliation upon me,
Soon and swiftly will I bring your retaliation on your own head.
. For ye took my silver and my gold,
And brought my beautiful and precious things into your mansions:
. And the sons of Judah, and the sons of Jerusalem,
. Behold, I will raise them up from the place, Whither ye have sold them, And I will bring again your retaliation on your own head:
. And I will sell your sons and your daughters Into the hands of the sons of Judah;
And they shall sell them to the Sabeans,
If we are right in our application, this “retaliation”
refers to something yet to come. It may mean the removal of the inhabitants of these countries, to make room for the restored Israelites. The expression “to sell,” we may observe, is frequently used by the sacred writers in a figurative sense. May not this have some connexion with what is predicted respecting Tyre, Psalm xlv., and Isaiah, xxiii. 18?
9. Proclaim ye this among the nations;
Sanctify war, rouse the valiant,
10. Beat your ploughshares into swords,
And your pruning hooks into spears;