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half. Many such showers they have had since Adam's fall; and though they have an intermission of the exquisite pains, they are not well yet; the clouds will return after the rain. But the day will come when they will be quite well, and fairly delivered, and never groan more. What is clear from the scriptures in this nice point, I shall briefly lay before
you, and a more curious inquiry is not fit for the pulpit.-With this view, I shaŭ inquire,
I. When this delivery of the creatures is to come to pass.
II. What delivery shall they then get ?
III. Confirm the doctrine of the creatures' de. livery.-And then,
IV. Lead you to the practical improvement of the subject. We are, then,
I. To inquire when this delivery of the creatures is to come to pass.
God, that has appointed a set time for every thing, has also appointed the precife time for the delivery of the groaning creation; and this is plainly revealed to be at the end of the world. For then is that time, Rom. viii. 19. 21.; fo Rev. xx. II. “ And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled; and there was found no place for them." The apostle Peter is very express, that then they shall have their bearing shower, as it were, the sharpest ever they had, but it is the last. 2 Pet. iii. 10. “ But 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 alfo, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up. Ver. 13. “ Neverthelefs, we, according to his
promise, promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” They have been in their pangs ever since Adam fell, and will not be delivered till then. When that pericd shall be, I know not; but it is plain the world is come to its old age. The heaven and earth, that beautiful garment, is grown old, as the plalmift foretold long ago,
Pfal. cii. 6.; therefore it cannot be very long ere it will be changed. She that hath had many
children is waxed feeble; I mean, our mother earth. It is evident she is not so fruitful as she was; neither do her fruits yield such nourishment as sometimes they did, they are both fewer and weaker ; hence ftill less and weaker bodies.. And why fo with the earth, but because the hea. vens are in the same condition, and afford not such influences as formerly, in the vigour of their youth? It is observed by astronomers, that the sun shineth more dimly, and appeareth more seldom than be. fore, being much nearer to the earth than in ancient times. So much the nearer, so much the less influence, as appears by comparing summer and winter, the mid-day and evening ; so that the mighty giant, having so long run his race, begins also to wax feeble. It is long since our Lord said he would come quickly, Rev. xxii. 20. And most of the prophecies of the holy fcripture are already fulfilled. All the seals are opened. Six of the trumpets are already blown. In the time of the seventh, the mystery of God is to be finished, and the world to end, Rev. x. 7. And there is no doubt but it is long since it began to found. der this trumpet are contained seven vials; and if these were poured out, then time is no more. There seems to be two of these vials past, and that we are now under the third, expecting the fourth. So that there will be but four of them to come.
And it is very agreeable to the dispensations of providence, that the nearer the end, the motion will be the quicker ; as in the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah, before their respective captivities, 2 Kings, xv. 16. & 23. and downwards. Thus, without dipping further, it is evident we are far advanced in the last times, and that the world is in its old, if not decrepit age; and at the end is the delivery. We now proceed,
II. To inquire what delivery the creation shall then get. The creature conceived vanity and misery from the time of Adam's sin, then they shall be delivered of that burden, with which they have been so long big, Rom. viii. 20. 21. Now, according to what I before said on the first general head, we may soberly explain here.
1. They shall fully answer their end, I mean not the very end for which they were created at first, for some of these are inconsistent with the state of glorified saints : i Cor. vi. 13. “ Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats, but God shall destroy both it and them.” But whatever is their end, they shall fully answer that, God shall have his glory by them; and if he design any benefit to man by them, they shall not be plagued by vanity therein, Rom. viii. 20. 2 Pet. iii. 13.
2. They shall be freed from all that evil that cleaves to their nature now by reason of man's fin. For now they have undergone a fad alteration, but then they shall undergo another. They shall be changed: Psal. cii. 26. “ They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed." And that it shall be to the better, is evident from Rev. xxi. 1. “ And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the firit earth were passed a. way, and there was no more fea.”
like * The author has, in this part of his manuscript, several notes in short hand, which the tranicriber could not decypher, from the want of which this part of the subject is not so complete.
3. They shall no more be abused by finners ; they shall never more serve the luft of any man whatsoever, Rom. viii. 21. They shall then be recovered, the groaning creature rescued, never to fuffer a relapse any more. However the lufts of the wicked may then be, they must prey upon their own bowels, but they shall get no more of the creation to feed them.
4. They shall serve God's enemies no longer. Their long captivity shall then be at an end : Rom. viii. 21.
The sun shall no more beitow one beam of its light on an ungodly wretch, nor shall the face of the earth bear him any longer. One drop of water to cool the tongue, shall no more be at his service. Then they iliall bid an eternal farewell to the masters they served so long against their will.
5. All their misery, which was brought on them by man's sin, shall then be at an end. They have shared long with man in his plagues,
but then they will get the burden off their back, Rom. viii. 21. The eating of the forbidden fruit cast them into a fever, they have groaned under it ever since ; but then they shall get a cool, and never relapse more. Now, as to the way this shall be brought to pass, the scriptures are clear in two things :
(1.) That the world shall all go up in flames at the last day, which we call the general conflagration : 2 Pet. iii. 7. “ But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judge
ment, and perdition of ungodly men.” The ac postle is very particular on this, in the roth verse: “ But 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 burnt up.” The visible heavens by these means shall pass away with a great noise. What a fearful noise would there be in a burning palace ! what a noise, then, must there be arising from a diffolving world! the elements of air, water, and earth, shall be melted down like metal by that fire; the habitable earth shall be burnt up, with the works therein ; men's works, cottages, palaces, castles, towns, and cities; God's works, all the creatures therein, birds, beasts, plants, trees, filver, gold, coin, &c.
(2.) That upon the back of this conflagration, there shall be new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, as in 2 Pet. iii. 13. This John sees, Rev. xxi. I. To this purpofe the psalmist speaks, telling us that the heavens and the carth shall be changed, which is quite another thing than to be annihilated. So the apostle Peter calls it only a diffolution, 2 Pet. iii. 11. And to this agrees what he says of melting by fire, which, we know, does not annihilate, but only purges the metal from dross.
So far the scripture clearly goes. But what particular creatures shall be renewed in the new earth, their actions, properties, and uses, I will not inquire into these things. It is certain that some creatures came in after fin. Anah found mules in the wilderness, as he fed the afles of Zibeon his father, Gen. xxxvi. 24. The day will discover these things. But when one considers the world was made to be a looking-glass, wherein to behold