Isaiah 45:21-25 - Homilies By W. Clarkson
Our great hope: a missionary sermon.
The view of the prophet is "exceeding broad." He sees that which is "afar off." He looks across the countries and across the centuries, and he has a more glorious vision than statesman ever pictured, than poet ever dreamed. We look at this—
I. OUR SUPREME HOPE FOR THE HUMAN WORLD . Isaiah has before his mind a time when "all the ends of the earth will be saved;" when "every knee will bow" to God, and every tongue solemnly invoke his holy Name; when men shall "come to him" in adoration and in thanksgiving. This is our heart's most profound desire, our soul's highest hope. We do not want our nation to subdue every other to servitude and subsidy. We do not want our form of faith or polity to swallow up every other form. We do want mankind to know God, to approach him in pure worship, to bless him for his fatherly love, to glory in his goodness, to submit to his righteous sway, to rejoice in him as the One that saves from sin and restores to righteousness. When, beneath every sky, speaking every language, with all possible varieties of custom and civilization, men everywhere shall honour the one holy Lord and rejoice in the same righteous Redeemer, the supreme hope for the world will be fulfilled. But we have to consider—
II. THE DELAY IN ITS FULFILMENT . The Israelites returned from captivity, and entered again on a course of national freedom and Divine worship in the holy place; the Lord "did great things for them, whereof they were glad." But nothing happened then or in subsequent days in Jerusalem or in Judaea which could be said to be a realization of this glorious vision. Jerusalem perished and Israel was scattered, while the prophecy remained unfulfilled. Jesus Christ came and formed his Church; that Church grew and throve, overturning the idolatries with which it contended. It has been making its way in the world, and, during the last century, has made substantial progress. But the world is very far indeed from having attained to the condition which is here foretold. The prophetic word waits to be fulfilled; there is a long delay in the realization of our supreme hope. But let us gladly turn to—
III. OUR CONFIDENCE IN A VICTORIOUS RESULT . It rests on three things.
1 . The triumphs which have been already gained. These are very great, and they are exactly proportionate to the purity of the doctrine which has been taught and the zeal of the Churches which has been shown, With Christ's truth taught as it came from him and from his inspired apostles, and with the Churches of Christ as much in earnest as they have been during this century, the advance will be sure and swift..
2 . The strong word of Divine promise. "I have sworn by myself … that unto me," etc.; "I, if I be lifted up from the earth," etc.; "All power is given unto me … go ye therefore," etc.
3 . The fitness of the gospel of Christ for the necessities of men. It provides:
IV. OUR PRIVILEGE AND DUTY IN RELATION TO IT . Since there is, indeed, such a hope for mankind, since that is to be the final issue of all strife and suffering and toil, let each nation, each Church, each family, each Christian man, see to it that its (his) contribution is forthcoming, so that, when the fields arc ripe, it (he) may have a share in the joy of harvest.—C.
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