Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Heaven is the abode, the treasure-house of righteousness: it is filled with its riches, and no room is left for iniquity to enter. Truth is akin to righteousness — it is her daughter and her image; and when truth has covered the earth, even as righteousness clothes the heavens, this world and that, so long alienated in sympathy, and character, shall be one. Man shall bear the image of God, and earth shall be the reflection of heaven.
I. THE DIVINE PURPOSE. It is to reverse the moral state of things long prevalent among mankind.
1. Falsehood, and not truth, has had the ascendancy in our world, Falsehood has reigned in the regions of philosophy; and a thousand wild chimeras, the offspring of vigorous but wayward genius, have bewildered human minds. Portions of truth, gleams of light, playing amidst widespread darkness, have remained — the results of early impressions, the relies of primitive tradition, and the utterance of those instinctive tendencies and laws of mind, which nothing can completely crush; but error, various, manifold, portentous, gigantic error, has .predominated and reigned.
2. The reversing of this scene forms the purpose unfolded in our text. What we have now been looking at reminds one of Vesuvius after an eruption, when the burning lava has transformed the surrounding region into a sulphureous lake, destroying the field and the garden, the village and the city. But, through the tender mercy of our God, the scene is to be changed; these fires are to be extinguished; a new moral soil, if I may so speak, is to be spread over the desolation of past ages; and then, quickened by the seeds of truth, and watered by the rains of reghteouness, the earth is to yield her increase, truth is to spring up and flourish, and so to clothe this lower world as to make it the counterpart of that upper one.
II. THE PARTIAL REALIZATION OF THIS PURPOSE. The Gospel has not been 1800 years in the world for nothing. Its early triumphs were wonderful. Like an electric shock it passed through the Roman Empire. Superstition felt it; the heathen mythology lost its remaining hold on the public mind. Idolatry felt it, and the images of the gods were forsaken; philosophy felt it, and its vain and delusive speculations were dispelled. A revolution took place unparalleled in the history of the world. The religion of a few poor fishermen overturned the religion of priests, philosophers, and emperors. It altered the destiny of man; it gave a new impulse to the progress of civilization; it infused a fresh and healing element into society; it entered the family, and reformed domestic habits; it entered the region of literature, and shed upon it new light; it entered the halls of legislature, and improved the codes of nations; it entered the royal palace, and taught princes lessons of justice and mercy. Christianity thus strove to embody in man and society the beautiful picture sketched in my text; and to a very considerable extent, through the grace accompanying its proclamation, it realized its object. There were individuals, families, and churches, sanctified by truth, and rich in the fruits of righteousness. In all ages there have been such specimens! Blessed be God, they are numerous in the present day; perhaps more numerous than ever. They are to be found at home and abroad.
III. THE FUTURE COMPLETE FULFILMENT. While man is eager, precipitate, longing to see the end of everything, God is saying, "Wait!" "The end is hot yet; but it shall come." A glorious age of truth and righteousness shall come; the kingdom of Christ, in its power and glory, shall come. "My counsel shall stand; and I will do all my pleasure." Nor is there, after all, any actual deferring or postponement of what God intends to do. God is not putting off what He once purposed to do earlier: He is fulfilling His first intentions; He is following out the original plan. There the intermediate steps were all marked, as well as the final issue. Indeed, the slowness of God's work is only apparent. To us, who dwell upon the surface of the globe, its movements appear extremely slow — nay, it seems entirely stationary. Standing on the deck of our great world vessel, we feel not the motion of the mighty ship as it cuts its way through the infinite ocean of space; and it is only by the careful observation of the stars that we can realize and measure our progress; but in the eyes of God the earth is moving in its orbit with vast celerity, with a speediness of flight which mocks the arrow, and would startle us mortals, who are borne along by it, could we become fully sensible of its rushing pace. So the work of God in this world, for the consummation of the triumphs of truth and righteousness, seems slow to us; nay, sometimes may seem as though it had stopped; but, in the eye of Him who "seeth the end from the beginning," it is swift, though tranquil; rapid like the planets, and like them tending to the accomplishment of its appointed round.
Parallel VersesKJV: Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.