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The danger of not acknowledging, and encouraging,
and especially of deriding, this work.
I HAVE thus long insisted on this point, because if these things are so, it greatly manifests how much it behooves us to encourage and promote this work, and how dangerous it will be to forbear to do so.
It is very dangerous for God's prosessing people to lie still, and not to come to the help of the Lord, whenever he remarkably pours out his Spirit, to carry on the work of redemption in the application of it ; but above all, when he comes forth in that last and greatest outpouring of his Spirit, to introduce that happy day of God's power and salvation, so often spoken of. That is especially the appointed season of the application of the redemption of Christ; it is the proper time of the kingdom of heaven upon earth, the appointed time of Christ's reign ; the reign of Satan as god of this world lasts till then : this is the proper time of actual redemption, or new creation, as is evident by Isa. Ixv. 17, 18., and lxvi. 12., and Rev. xxi. 1. All the outpourings of the Spirit of God that are before this are, as it were, by way of anticipation.
There was indeed a glorious season of the application of redemption, in the first ages of the Christian church, that began at Jerusalem on the day of pentecost ; but that was not the proper time of ingathering ; it was only, as it were, the feast of the first fruits; the ingathering is at the end of the year, or in the last ages of the Christian church, as is represented, Rev. xiv. 14, 15, 16., and will probably as much exceed what was in the first ages of the Christian church, though that filled the Roman empire, as that exceeded all that had been before, under the Old Testament, confined only to the land of Judea.
The great danger of not appearing openly to acknowledge, rejoice in, and promote that great work of God, in bringing in that glorious harvest, is represented in Zech. xiv. 16, 17, 18, 19. “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which come up against Jerusalem, shall even go up, from year to year, to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be that whoso will not come up, of all the families of the earth, unto Jerusalem, to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain, there shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.” It is evident by all the context, that the glorious day of the church of God in the latter ages of the world, is the time spoken of. The feast of tabernacles here seems to signify that glorious spiritual feast, which God shall then make for his church, the same that is spoken of Isa. xxv. 6., and the great spiritual rejoicings of God's people at that time. There were three great feasts in Israel, at which all the males were appointed to go up to Jerusalem : the feast of the passover ; and the feast of the first fruits, ou the feast of pentecost; and the feast of ingathering, at the end of the year, or the feast of tabernacles. In the first of these, viz. the feast of the passover, was represented the purchase of redemption by Jesus Christ, the paschal lamb, that was slain at the time of that feast. The other two that followed it, were to represent the two great seasons of the application of the purchased redemption : in the former of them, viz. the feast of the first fruits, which was called the feast of pentecost, was represented that time of the outpouring of the Spirit that was in the first ages of the Christian
church, for the bringing in the first fruits of Christ's redemption, which began at Jerusalem, on the day of pentecost : the other, which was the feast of ingathering, at the end of the year, which the children of Israel were appointed to keep on occasion of their gathering in their corn, and their wine, and all the fruit of their land, and was called the feast of tabernacles, represented the other more joyful and glorious season of the application of Christ's redemption, which is to be in the latter days; the great day of ingathering of the elect, the proper and appointed time of gathering in God's fruits, when the angel of the covenant shall thrust in his sickle, and gather the harvest of the earth; and the clusters of the vine of the earth shall also be gathered. This was upon many accounts the greatest feast of the three : there were much greater tokens of rejoicing in this feast, than any other : the people then dwelt in booths of green boughs, and were commanded to take the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and to rejoice before the Lord their God : which represents the flourishing, beautiful, pleasant state the church shall be in, rejoicing in God's grace and love, triumphing over all her enemies, at the time typified by this feast. The tabernacle of God was first set up among the children of Israel, at the time of the feast of tabernacles ; but in that glorious time of the Christian church, God will, above all other times, set up his tabernacle amongst me.. Rev. xxi. 3. " And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, 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.” The world is supposed to have been created about the time of year wherein the feast of tabernacles was appointed ; so in that glorious time God will create a new heaven and a new earth. The temple of Solomon was dedicated at the time of the feast of tabernacles, when God descended in a pillar of cloud, and dwelt in the temple ; so at this happy time, the temple of God shall be gloriously built up in the world, and God shall, in a wonderful manner, come down from heaven to dwell with his church. Christ is supposed to have been born at the feast of tabernacles ; so at the commencement of that glorious day, Christ shall be born; then, above all other times, shall "the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, that is in travail, and pained to be delivered, bring forth her son, to rule all nations," Rev. xii., at the beginning. The feast of tabernacles was the last feast that Israel had in the whole year, before the face of the earth was destroyed by the winter ; presently after the rejoicings of that feast were past, a tempetuous season began, Acts xxvii. 9. Sailing was now dangerous, because the feast was now already past." So this great feast of the Christian church will be the last feast she shall have on earth : soon after it is past, this lower world will be destroyed. At the feast of tabernacles, Israel left their houses to dwell in booths, or green tents, which signifies the great weanedness of God's people from the world, as pilgrims and strangers, on the earth, and their great joy therein. Israel were prepared for the feast of tabernacles, by the feast of trumpets, and the day of atonement, both on the same month ; so way shall be made for the joy of the church of God, in its glorious state on earth, by the extraordinary preaching of the gospel, and deep repentance and humiliation for past sins, and the great and long continued deadness and carnality of the visible church. Christ, at the great feast of tabernacles, stood in Jerusalem, and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink : he that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters :" signifying the extraordinary freedom and riches of divine grace towards sinners at that day, and the extraordinary measures of the Holy Spirit that shall be then given, agreeable to Rev. xxi. 6., and xxii. 17.
It is threatened here in this fourteenth chapter of Zechariah, that those who at that time shall not come to keep this feast, i. e. that shall not acknowledge God's glorious works, and praise his name, and rejoice with his people, but should stand at a distance, as unbelieving and disaffected, upon them shall be no rain ; and that this shall be the plague wherewith they shall all be smitten ; that is, they shall have no share in that shower of divine blessing that shall then descend on the earth, that spiritual rain spoken of, Isa. xlir. 3. But God would give them over to hardness of heart, and blindness of mind.
The curse is yet in a more awful manner denounced against such as shall appear as opposers at that time, v. 12. " And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord shall smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem, their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” Here also in all probability it is a spiritual judgment, or a plague and curse from God upon the soul, rather than upon the body, that is intended ; that such' persons, who at that time shall oppose God's people in his work, shall, in an extraordinary manner, be given over to a state of spiritual death and ruin, that they shall remarkably appear dead while alive, and shall beas walking rotten corpses, whilethey goabout amongst men.
The great danger of not joining with God's people at that glorious day is also represented, Isa. Ix. 12. “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted."
Most of the great temporal deliverances that were wrought for Israel of old, as divines and expositors observe, were typical of the great spiritual works of God for the salvation of men's souls, and the deliverance and prosperity of his church, in the days of the gospel ; and especially did they represent that greatest of all deliverances of God's church, and chief of God's works of actual salvation, that shall be in the latter days, which, as has been observed, is above all others, the appointed time, and proper season of actual re