Imatges de pÓgina

installation in his office, investiture in its dignity, and endowment with its power; and therefore it is added, "I will commit thy government into his hand." What was the nature of that government, and how Eliakim should fulfil it, we are not left to conjecture, nor to gather from other hands; for it is immediately added, "He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah." This part of the prophecy doth set forth the office of Christ as "the everlasting Father," or "the Father of the age to come;" as the Jacob and the Israel, the Father of the Twelve Tribes. It represents him as the liberal Householder, ever supplying from his stores the nourishment of his people; as the Scribe well instructed unto the kingdom, who bringeth out of his treasury things new and old; as the Bread of Life come down from heaven to give life unto the world; as the Lamb in the midst of the throne, who shall feed his people, and lead them unto living fountains of water, and wash away all tears from their eyes. Whether the removal of Shebna, to make room for Eliakim, may signify the deliverance of Jerusalem, and its people from those hard oppressors who have so long vexed and spoiled them, to give them into the hand of Him who shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from thenceforth and for ever; or whether, in a more eminent sense still, it may signify the casting out of Satan, who now possesseth the princedom of the world, and from Rome, his chosen seat, hath long wielded a sceptre of darkness and cruelty over both Jew and Christian, I take not upon me to determine; nor is it necessary for our present object, which concerneth not so much Eliakim's predecessor, as Eliakim himself. Nevertheless my idea of the burden, taken as a whole, is this, That after its grievousness had been fully told out in ordinary prophetic terms, the consummation of the woe, and the conclusion of it, and the deliverance from it, are set forth in a personal transaction towards Shebna and Eliakim; in order to teach us, that in a person the miseries of Jerusalem would be consummated, as they had been begun in the person of Nebuchadnezzar, and by a person the deliverance should likewise be wrought out. Nation after nation should drench Jerusalem in blood and misery;

but the hand of a person should determine her final cata.. strophe, and the hand of a person should deliver her from it. The burden of the valley of vision is circumstantial to begin with, personal to end with. Now, these persons who are to contend for Mount Zion,-as the Easterns would say, her evil genius, and her good genius, coming into mortal battle for Mount Zion and Jerusalem,are Lucifer, the son of the morning, who shall pretend to sit on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north, who shall plant the tabernacle of his palace between the seas, in the glorious holy mountain, the personal Antichrist who shall sit in the temple of God, saying, that he is God, and claiming to be worshipped as God; for things very dark, and very evil, the very mystery of hell itself shall yet be disclosed at Jerusalem and at such a time when delusion, and deception, and the false glory of the son of the morning sea'ed upon the hill of Zion, shall have all but consummated the world's ruin, and won the allegiance and the worship of almost all the inhabitants of the earth, then shall the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Seed of David, the Bright and the Morning Star, come down to fight for Jerusalem, and for his holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be delivered, and the yoke of every oppressor shall be destroyed together, and the oppressors themselves shall cease out of the earth. To represent this personal conflict between the Prince of Light and the prince of darkness, which shall conclude these battles of their several servants, is the reason, as I judge, for which this prophecy concerning the valley of vision, is concluded in terms of Shebna and Eliakim: who, according to this idea, will stand as the antitypes of the personal antichrist and the personal Christ; the Papacy being the materials, the members of Antichrist, the mystery of iniquity which hath prepared the world for his appearing; as the true church is the members of Christ, which God doth in continuance fashion until the appointed number, and the full form of the Christ, shall be accomplished. Then shall the personal Antichrist appear, and, gathering his limbs unto him, shall commit himself in open and undisguised controversy for the supremacy of the world; when Christ, gathering to himself his members from under the four quarters of the heavens, shall come to withstand and

overthrow, and for ever chain with linked thunderbolts of fire, in the lake that burneth. But to return to our interpretation:

Eliakim being thus instated in Shebna's place, and occupying it with fatherly care over the people, doth further receive commission from the king, in these words, which our Shepherd appropriates in the text: "And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder: so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open" (Isai. xxii. 22). The key is to this day in our kingdom the symbol of the office of the lord chamberlain of the king's household, who wears it embroidered on his raiment; and denotes his right to open and to shut every chamber, without exception and without reserve, Our Lord, in the days of his flesh, claimed to himself the possession of these keys, and, upon the occasion of his noble testimony, gave them unto Peter, in these words, which cast light upon the subject before us: "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. xvi. 17-19). This same power of binding and loosing, of remitting and of retaining sins, giveth he to the church generally (Matt. xviii. 18), and to all the disciples (John xx. 23). The reason why he gave it to Peter alone is, that Peter alone had as yet confessed him to be the Christ, and proved himself to be taught of the Father. The power is one proper to man, so` wrought in by the Father as to make him to know the very mind of God; being in truth God expressing through the creature his right to remit sin, or to retain sin; to open the kingdom of heaven, or to shut it. The church is the habitation of God's mind, the voice of God's word, the hand of God's power. Peter alone is not this; nor Paul alone; nor what is called the priesthood alone; but any, and every member of the church is this agent of God, representative of God for knowledge, for judgment, and for

power. I mean to say, not that any one member of the church is God completely manifested; this honour belongeth to the Head only; but that it is of the definition of a member of the church, that he is an expression of some of the virtues or powers of God,-as it is written, "That ye should shew forth the virtues of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." Now God is not in nature, but above nature; and therefore, if the church in her various memberships is to disclose and discover God, her words and works must be not within but above nature: otherwise, however good they be, they are only works discovering a good man, but not a good God. There is no way of taking them out of this ambiguity, and shewing them to be works of the very God, but by the addition to their goodness of the quality of the supernatural. Goodness belongs to us as redeemed men goodness, within the limits of nature, and in the course of nature, belongs to us as men, whose nature Christ hath redeemed from the law of evil-doing, into the law of well-doing. How shall this presence of a redeemed man be distinguished from the presence of very God in man? They are of God, when, besides being good, the actions are also supernatural. Their being supernatural would not alone prove them to be of God; for there are two supernatural kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, to distinguish between which, there is no criterion of mere power or magnitude of power; for what is above nature cannot be measured in its degrees by natural means: the only criterion is that of good and evil, of which every man should be a judge, of which indeed man is the proper judge, forasmuch as he is the only creature who hath the knowledge at once of good and evil. These keys of the kingdom of heaven, which Christ endoweth his church withal, every member of it, and no member to the exclusion of another (and therein lies the hideous usurpation of the pope, not in having taken infallibility, but in having taken it all to himself, which is the endowment of the church in virtue of her being the body of Him who is infallibly true), do therefore signify power in the Spirit, through the energy of God to speak the forgiveness and remission of sin to whomsoever we are directed to speak it, and so to open the door of heaven, which only openeth upon the

righteous and the clean. Now Christ, the Man, Christ, as man, hath received all judgment in this matter: and he, not Peter, is Porter of the celestial city, to open, or not to open, as seemeth to him good: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name have cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. vii. 22, 23). This dignity which the Son of Man hath attained unto, he divideth with his people, and keepeth up, through the discernment of spirits, and the healing of diseases, and other gifts, a continual ministry on the earth of that judgment which shall for ever include within, or exclude the sons of men from without, the celestial city. And by holding fast in our faith, and full before our eyes, this attribute of our risen Head, we do receive power to exorcise spirits, and to heal diseases, which our Lord taught us to be the same with remitting sins, and otherwise to open, and to shut the gates of the kingdom of heaven. Alas! how little he is honoured by his church, as the possessor and bestower of this power of the keys; and how near upon blasphemy, if not very blasphemy, will these things which I have written seem to many pious minds, whom, verily, I am loth to offend, and would not offend, if I could speak the truth without offending: but ignorance deep and dark, which Satan would now seal for ever and stamp as light, hath sitten down upon the spirit of the Protestant church, from which, if she be not roused, there is nothing for it, but that she should part asunder, one portion to infidelity, and the other to the Papacy, which hath kept the forms of all truth, and made them the lures and baits to draw wealth and power to Rome, and Rome's hoary hierarch. I would, as a man of equal orders in the church with any other man, deliver the truth from such ignominious and diabolical uses, and make it once more to be glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good will among the children of men.

This power of the keys, Christ claimeth for himself, not only over the kingdom of heaven, but also over hell and death: "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Rev. i. 18). This refers, as its connection

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