The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid…
I. THE MEANING OF THIS PROPHECY. What is meant by the wolf, the leopard, and the rest of the creatures here mentioned? Christ shall come to make the world so happy, that princes and people, the mighty and the meaner sort; the violent, and they that have no power, or no will to resist; the soldier, and the peaceable countryman; the waspish people, and they that are of a sweet disposition, shall all be brought under the same discipline, and submit to the same laws; not to hurt or molest one another, but to promote the common good of the whole body to which they belong.
II. THE TRUTH OF IT; or, that it was exactly fulfilled in our Lord and Saviour.
1. It was the apparent design of our Saviour's coming to make such a happy accord among men.
2. The nature of His religion is such as is apt to produce this effect which He designed. This will be evident to everyone's satisfaction who will seriously weigh these three things.
(1) The principles of His religion, together with the ways and means whereby these principles were established in men's minds. He taught them that there is but one God, the disbelief of which had set the world at such enmities one with another as they confessed was among the deities. He revealed Him as His and their Father, full of kindness and goodwill to all His children; which St. Paul thought a bond so strong and a motive so efficacious that it concludes the great heap of arguments whereby he persuades Christians to unity of the spirit and peace (Ephesians 4:6). They are taught to worship this one God, by one Mediator alone. He sent His apostles to baptize all nations into one simple faith (Ephesians 4:5). The world was to be governed and judged by one common law, and that not the law of Moses, but the plain rules of righteousness, sobriety and godliness. (Ephesians 2:14, 19). All, both Jews and Gentiles, were indifferently endued with one and the same Spirit.
(2) The precepts of His religion. Exact justice (Matthew 7:12). Mercy. Meekness and patience. To bless our enemies and do them good, which hath a strange power in it to charm and conquer even the most fierce and barbarous natures. He would have us contented with such things as we have: which evidently destroys that envy, emulation, and ambition, from whence no small stirs and confusions arise in the world. In questions about matters of liberty, He charges those that are satisfied, not to despise such as are not; and those that are not satisfied, not to judge those that are (Romans 14:3). In all manner of differences which are apt to arise among us, He would have "the peace of God rule in our hearts," so that having this umpire there, we should rest in the determination of what will make most for peace. He instructs likewise our behaviour in our several relations, teaching husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, pastors and people, to demean themselves so to their mutual satisfaction, as to take away the cause of all discord, not only in families and parishes, but in the larger societies of Church and State. The root and foundation of all these our Lord hath laid in much humility and charity.
(3) The obligations He laid upon men to receive these principles and observe these precepts. His doctrine excels that of the best philosophers, who taught many excellent lessons, but could not enforce them with such an assured hope of immortal life or fear of eternal death as our Saviour and His apostles have done.
3. This effect was actually produced in those that heartily embraced His religion (Acts 4:32; 2 Corinthians 8:3, 4). It is to be hoped that the time is coming when Christianity will end, as it began, in abundance of truth and peace, by a right understanding of the will of God and a hearty submission thereto. Let every soul of us do his part that the place where he lives may be in peace — princes and governors, ministers of the Gospel, etc.
(S. Patrick, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.