And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares…
An obvious reflection which occurs to us, when reading this prediction — or at least which is likely to occur to anyone not well acquainted wire Scripture — is, that the effect of the Gospel, going forth from Zion and from Jerusalem, seemed from the very first to be quite the opposite of this prediction. How can it be said that the effect of the Gospel has been to introduce a universal peace, when it seems man fest from history that it has introduced universal disturbance and confusion? Our Lord Himself, when on earth, by His ministry and life, only led to a universal conspiracy against Him; and when He ascended to His glory, and His disciples began to preach in His name, it was the signal for general confusion. As that Gospel advanced, it was the signal for more savage opposition, till every part of the Roman empire was stained with the blood of Christ's followers, till everywhere there was a universal warfare among menu between those who were the advocates of the old system, and those who proclaimed the new. At length, when the empire was conquered, it was only to be the occasion of still wider and more sanguinary disturbances. Many as had perished through popular fury, or by legal interference, during the three first centuries, multitudes more perished, as the indirect consequence of the Gospel in after ages. When the Roman empire was shivered by the shock of barbarian invaders, and the feudal kingdoms of Europe rose in its place, in each of those kingdoms the castle of the noble frowned defiance upon the castle of every good and great man; the wars between neighbouring nations became interminable; and when at last the monarchies were consolidated, and the great modern monarchies rose out of that confusion, it was only to see in every page of history an interminable war. fare between Christian nations. So that, for instance, in our own frontiers, the Border warfare between Scotland and England was almost interminable; and yet these were Christian nations; and the Christian nations of France and England were termed hereditary foes, and there was not a monarch of Europe that did not join in some sanguinary strife, to please a minister, or to gratify his own ambition, or for some vain pretence, as corrupt as it was often false. But this has not been the only way in which this prediction appears to have been perpetually frustrated — for there have actually been sanguinary wars that have arisen from no other cause than religion. The wars of Bohemia and the Low Countries, and the civil wars of France and many other countries which long raged in the hearts of nations, for no other cause than a difference in Christian doctrine, seem to be a contradiction of the prophecy in our text, beyond all apology. And even when the disturbances of nations have not risen to actual warfare, how lamentable have been the cruelties exercised over a profession belief in Christianity! See the dukes of Savoy soaking the valleys of Piedmont with the blood of their best subjects; see the rage of the Roman Catholic persecutors exhibiting itself in the massacre of St. Bartholomew; view the remorseless Dragonades in the south of France; see the many enormities which were perpetrated in our own country during the reigns of Henry the Seventh and Eighth, and Charles the First and Second. Carry your views to the northern parts of this island, and there see Claverhouse and his companions reeking with the blood of the guiltless Covenanters; cross the Channel, and see the Roman Catholics of Ireland massacring thousands of Protestants because they were Protestants, and the equally bloody return secured to them by the iron-hearted and relentless soldiers of Oliver Cromwell. So that everywhere massacre and misery have followed the introduction of the Gospel. Is this the fulfilment of the promise — "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more"?
1. Let us first notice, that the Gospel is not responsible for the acts of its enemies, — and in all the cases I have named its friends might still be like sheep in the midst of wolves. They might "be wise as serpents, harmless as doves," and yet all this slaughter might take place under the name of religion. They have been the enemies of the Gospel, and not its friends, who have thus manifested such savage cruelty and unprincipled cupidity towards their fellow men.
2. And let us notice, in the next place, that the prediction in our text was manifestly not to be fulfilled immediately; it was to take place "in the last days" — and those "last days" have not yet transpired.
(B. W. Noel, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
WEB: He will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.