Micah 4:1
In the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it.
Sermons
A New Mount ZionE.S. Prout Micah 4:1, 2
The Gospel AgeD. Thomas Micah 4:1-4
A Missionary DiscourseSketches of Four Hundred SermonsMicah 4:1-5
A Vision of the Latter-Day GloriesMicah 4:1-5
An Emblem of PeaceMicah 4:1-5
Christianity -- its Nature, Diffusion, and EffectsBishop H. B. Bascom, D. D.Micah 4:1-5
Gaining Knowledge of GodE. B. Pusey, D. D.Micah 4:1-5
International ChristianityJ. Llewelyn Davies, M. A.Micah 4:1-5
Mountain Top ReligionA. Maclaren, D. D.Micah 4:1-5
The Established ChurchJohn Cumming, A. M.Micah 4:1-5
The Golden AgeJ. H. Jowett, M. A.Micah 4:1-5
The Gospel AgeHomilistMicah 4:1-5
The Law of the SpiritWilliam R. Clark, M. A.Micah 4:1-5
The Moral Grandeur of the Christian ChurchJ. L. Adamson.Micah 4:1-5
The Promise of God Regarding. His ChurchJoseph Parker, D. D.Micah 4:1-5
The Saviour's KingdomMonday Club SermonsMicah 4:1-5


The threat of Micah 3:12 has been fulfilled. Mount Zion, the glory of the nation on account of its situation, its buildings, its history, and its religious associations (Psalm 48.; 122., etc.), has become as a forest, or as desolate heaps of ruins. But while the prophet gazes through the tears which patriotism and piety bring to his eyes, as in some dissolving view a new vision unfolds itself before him. Instead of a ploughed field and a ruinous mound, he sees an exceeding high mountain, a glorious city, and countless multitudes flocking towards it. It is the new Mount Zion.

I. ITS ELEVATION. There were other hills or mountains that already were or soon would be of note among men, such as the "high places" of a corrupt worship in Judaea and Samaria, the huge artificial hill of Babylon sacred to Belus, the acropolis of Athens, the seven hills of Rome. But this Mount Zion was founded on the summits of the world's loftiest heights, and towered above them all. Thus the mountain is seen to be spiritual and the elevation figurative. It is a vision of "the latter days," of the days of the Messiah, when the new kingdom of God is set up. Because it is "the mountain of the house of the Lord," it is thus exalted. Illustrate from Ezekiel's vision of the "very high mountain" (Ezekiel 40:2), and the sublime conclusion of it, "Jehovah-Shammah" (Ezekiel 48:35; and of. 1 Timothy 3:15). "This mountain of the Church of Christ transcends all laws, schools, doctrines, religions, synagogues, and philosophies, which seemed to rise among men like mountain tops" (Corn. a Lapide, in Pusey). It is "a city set on a hill."

II. ITS CONGREGATION. The prophet sees a stream of worshippers ascending that hill; not an unfamiliar sight in the old days of the literal Zion. But much earnestness is needed to scale this lofty mountain. And it is a miracle of grace that not only the chosen people of God, but "the peoples" of the world lying in wickedness, should be attracted by a Church so lofty and so pure. For, as the prophet watches, he sees strange companies gathering, of varied colours, costumes, and languages - Ethiopians, Chinese from the land of Sinim, and pale-faced strangers from the western isles of Europe. Contrast the mountain-like tower of Babel, man's scheme of unity, issuing in dispersion, and this Mount Zion, God's way of union, attracting a congregation from all kindreds and peoples and tongues (Isaiah 55:8, 9). The prophet hears their language as they encourage one another," Come ye," etc. They thus confess:

1. Their ignorance. "He shall teach us of his ways" - a comprehensive term (Psalm 25:4, 8, 9).

2. Their dissatisfaction. Their old paths had been "broad;" "destruction and misery had been in them. Henceforth they desire to walk in other "paths," in God's way of holiness.

3. Their confidence; that the God of Jacob alone was both able and willing to supply their need. The prophet foresaw what Christ still more clearly predicted (Matthew 8:11, 12), and what we are seeing in these days of missionary enterprise.

III. ITS EMANATIONS. As light and heat stream from the sun, and fragrance from the flowers, so from this new Mount Zion, this city of God, there stream forth the very blessings which the nations need - truth, light, life. It is a Divine power that first draws this congregation towards the Church of Christ (John 6:44, 45). And the blessings they need and receive are summed up in two terms.

1. "The Law. They receive it as a rule of life, as an ideal of daily conduct. It goes forth as a stream of blessing which can turn the wastes of heathen life into a paradise. But more than law is needed:

2. The Word of the Lord. This is a more comprehensive term. It includes the revelation of his will, his mercy and grace, the word of the truth of the gospel." This goes forth with all the attractiveness of a message of mercy (Luke 24:47, etc.), but also with all the authority of a law (Acts 17:30; 1 John 3:23). The preaching of the cross proves itself the power of God. This word of the Lord has free course and is glorified. No wonder that such blessings follow as are described in the following verses. - E.S.P.







The gift of prophecy would have been to its possessor a source of the most exquisite misery if it had been restricted only to the dark passages of human history. But the future had a bright side as well as a dark, and it was as cheering to contemplate the former as it was dismal to apprehend the latter. As the sorrows of the prophets were greater, their joys also were higher than those of ordinary mere In the chapter immediately preceding the text the prophet had announced the future desolation of Zion and Jerusalem. The sins of her priests and princes, he foresaw, would attain such a height of aggravation that the very day itself would, in a manner, be dark over them. But as in the ashes of winter the husbandman can read the glories of spring, the prophetic eye could discern in the ruin of one city the establishment of another more glorious by far. Seine goes on to expatiate with rapture on the glory that was to follow. By "last days" are meant the times of the Messiah, or, in other words, the Christian era. The meaning is, that the Christian dispensation would be the last of all, and that no other economy would be after it. It was an economy that was to last until the end of time. In these "last days" it is foretold by the prophet that "the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills." In a mountainous region, among the multitude of hills that rise one above another in sublimity and grandeur, there is generally one that proudly and preeminently lifts its head above them all. It is seen from a greater distance than any of the others, and towers in glorious majesty over the heights which are allied to it. Under this bold and significant image, the prophet exhibits to us the moral grandeur and elevation of the Christian Church. It was, like the loftiest of mountains in an extensive range, to be visible from afar. A house, or temple, was to be reared on its summit. The Christian religion would surpass every other in majesty, and look down triumphantly on every other system of worship. This prophecy is fulfilled in part. Where is there a creed or system of theology that can compare with it? In the Gospel there is prominence, there is attractiveness, there is conspicuity. The hill of Calvary is more illustrious than the mountains of any land. He who was lifted up there, draws towards Him the eyes of many nations. The language of the prophet implies that, before this mountain could be exalted, there must be a shaking of the hills around. The prediction is to receive its full and perfect accomplishment in days still future — in, if we may so speak, the latest of the last days. Then indeed shall the mountain of the Lord's house rise sublimely above all the hills. There is reason, too, for believing, that just as at the first propagation of the Gospel, so likewise at its universal diffusion, there shall be a series of great and momentous changes in the political world. The great battle of contending principles must be fought out — the old warfare between sense and spirit must be renewed — and a period of intense misery must precede the final adjustment of the question. Nevertheless, truth which is mighty must prevail. At the close of the first verse the prophet intimates the triumph of the Gospel, and the immense number of its converts. "People shall flow unto it." The metaphor signifies that the triumph of the Gospel would be sure and certain, though it looked like a physical impossibility. The nations of the earth are not only compared to a river, but to a river flowing upward. To a certain extent this part of the prophecy has already been accomplished. The success of the Gospel hitherto in the world has been like the flowing of a river up a hill. Nothing, humanly speaking, could have been pronounced more improbable than the conversion of the nations to Christianity. It is the religion of purity; and the hearts of men are naturally unclean. It is the religion of benevolence and peace; but the spirit that is in men lusteth to envy. It is the religion of principle; and the heart of man is naturally disposed to content itself with forms. It were a curious enough question whether the age in which we ourselves live is an approximation to that glorious period of which the prophet speaks. But we dare not with certainty affirm it. While we rejoice in the symptoms of good, it becomes us, before pronouncing a positive judgment on the matter, to tremble at so many prognostications of evil. We may take warning against any fanatical use of this doctrine. The passage is not to be understood literally. The very terms of it intimate as much. The ultimate establishment of Messiah's throne will not interfere with the forms and modes of earthly government. There will be liberty and equality and fraternity. It will not be the grossly misnamed liberty, equality, and fraternity of infidel and republican France. It will be a liberty, not from the salutary restraints of government, but from Satan and the tyranny of evil passions. An equality, not of spoil, plunder, and substance, but of principle and unity of spirit. A fraternisation, not of robbery, under the mask of communism, but of love and generosity, and of men preferring one another in honour.

(J. L. Adamson.)

The prophets frequently described what they saw with spiritual eyes after the form or fashion of something which could be seen by the eye of nature. The Church will be like a high mountain, for she will be preeminently conspicuous. I believe that at this period the thoughts of men are more engaged upon the religion of Christ than upon any other. The Christian religion has become more conspicuous now than ever it was. The Church will become awful and venerable in her grandeur. There is something awfully grand in a mountain, but how much more so in such a mountain as is described in our text, which is to be exalted above all hills, and above all the highest mountains of the earth. Now the Church is despised; the infidel barketh at her. But the day shall come when the Cross shall command universal homage. The day is coming when the Church shall have absolute supremacy. Now she has to fight for her existence. The day is coming when she shall be so mighty that there shall be nought left to compete with her. Here is the meaning of the text, the Church growing and rising up till she becomes conspicuous, venerable, and supreme. But how is this to be done? Three things will ensure the growth of the Church.

1. The individual exertion of every Christian. We shall indeed see something more than natural agency, but this is to contribute to it.

2. The Church has within her a living influence. This must expand and grow.

3. The great hope of the Church is the second advent of Christ. When He shall come, then shall the mountain of the Lord's house be exalted above the hills. We know not when Jesus may come.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Such is the established Church predicted in ancient prophecy. Compare the similar prophecy in Isaiah

2. In the chapter immediately preceding this passage God denounces the severest and most unsparing judgments upon a guilty people. The text is couched in the language of promise. In order to cheer those on whom God was about to pour many and merited judgments, He gives them — not a precept, which would only depress them; not another threatening, for that might overwhelm them; not an invitation, for that they might not be able to obey — but a promise, causing the future to unbosom rays of light for the comfort of the present. From this prophecy, see that the last days of the Gospel are predicted as the brightest. Divisions and discords have been the history of the visible Church from its cradle downwards to the present hour. Notice the epithet. The Church of Christ is here called "a mountain." This symbol is taken from the fact that the sacred site of the temple at Jerusalem was a mountain — Mount Moriah. It suggests that the Church of Christ shall be exalted above all the obstructions or impediments of the world; principalities and powers bending before it. Notwithstanding then all the difficulties, discords, divisions, heresies, Schisms, errors, misconstruction, and misapprehensions that prevail amid the Church of God, not one of them is retarding in the least degree the ultimate and glorious outburst. The Church is beautifully and suitably symbolised by a mountain. A mountain is a fixed and stable thing. In Scripture strength and stability are represented by mountains. A mountain most suitably represents the varied climacterics of the Church of Christ, from this circumstance, that it is sometimes covered with clouds, and thereby involved in darkness, and swept by the hurricane, while at other times it basks and spreads its bosom before the uninterrupted and meridian sunbeams. This is precisely the history of the Church. A mountain is a place of safety or retreat. The true Church becomes a place of retreat, in which there is found the Rock of Ages, and the shadow of those wings beneath which there is safety. A mountain is a source of streams and rivulets. The dews descend from heaven upon it; those dews collect into streams, which irrigate and refresh the valley below. The Church of Christ is the great preserver of the earth. A mountain is the spot, standing on which we can see to the greatest distance. In this is shadowed one of the great functions which the Church of Christ is meant to discharge, namely, to enable the believer to see the Sun of Righteousness more clearly and distinctly. A mountain was selected in the ancient economy for those who sounded the trumpet of jubilee. And the "acceptable year of the Lord" ought to be proclaimed in the pulpits of every true and apostolic Church. It is predicted that this mountain "shall be established in the top of the mountains." "Establishment" is not to be understood as popularly applied to certain modern Churches. The passage does not mean that the Church is established or built upon Peter. There cannot be two foundations. If Christ be the foundation, there can be no room for another; whatever comes next must be laid upon the foundation, and must be part of the superstructure, and not the foundation. The Church is established on Christ, the Rock of Ages. This is a tried foundation. It is Called "precious." It is called a living rock, and the cornerstone. This foundation is an everlasting foundation.

(John Cumming, A. M.)

Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
II. A DESCRIPTION OF THE CHURCH. Such phrases as "the mountain of the Lord's house," and "Zion," signify, in such connection as this, the Church of God. The visible Church has, from "the beginning, always had an existence; but its boundaries have generally been very limited, and its situation has often been very obscure. But the Church shall be conspicuous to all; as on the top of the mountains. She shall be exalted above the hills. And philosophy, idolatry, superstition, and errors, shall no longer obstruct her view, or obscure her glory. And she shall be established. She has been tossed about by Commotions. One day she shall be no longer oppressed by persecutions, or disturbed by the arm of human power.

II. A DISPOSITION IN ALL TOWARDS THE CHURCH. "All nations shall flow into it." Their movements shall he characterised by friendly cooperation. By a definite and sacred object. By proper intentions and correct views. By right dispositions. By confidence in the excellency of the Divine instructions.

III. THE BLESSINGS RESULTING FROM THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. Taught from above, then, nations generally will own the authority of God, acknowledge His right to judge, and submit to His laws.

IV. THE PERIOD OF THESE GREAT EVENTS, "In the last days." The Church of God has had her days; and these days have been somewhat commensurate with the progress of time, and with the limited or more extended population of the earth. Day of patriarchal Church was a day of small things. But patriarchs and prophets spoke of another day, of other days, which they called the "last days." Evidently the prophet referred to the days of the Gospel. Improvement —

1. Let our spirits be cheered though so few have hitherto embraced real Christianity.

2. We may well be excited to renewed exertions in rendering Divine truth conspicuous to all.

3. Let this prospect call forth the gratitude of all who already participate in the blessings of redemption.

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

Pentecost is the culminating point of Divine revelation. This great event is the focus of all prophecy. The text is not exhausted in its reference to Israel, but stretches forward to the renovation of mankind in the Church by the Holy Ghost.

I. THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT IS AN UNIVERSAL LAW. Adapted to all men, in all circumstances, and in all times. Because it is the announcing of eternal principles, accompanied with Divine power to enforce them.

II. HENCE ITS PREEMINENCE OVER ALL LAWS. It absorbs and expresses the truth of all other laws. All nations recognise it as something higher, deeper, more complete than their previous revelation or religion.

III. MARK ITS EFFECTS.

1. In judgment (ver. 3). It is the conviction of right and wrong, good and evil. It is the conviction that right will be maintained and vindicated, and wrong put down. This must be the foundation of all real moral and spiritual life.

2. In producing obedience (ver. 2). Not mere conviction, but submission.

3. In working love. The real root of obedience. Leading men to mutual respect, and to a care for each other's good.

4. In producing safety and security, This can never be fully attained by mere external law and restrictive measures. The best laws will be obeyed only when men's hearts are in harmony with their requirements. The true way to safety is by the spirit of love and mutual consideration. The great lesson of Pentecost is this, — When love is universal, discord of acts and words and purpose will cease.

(William R. Clark, M. A.)

The sin of the Church had necessitated frequent denunciations and words of warning on the part of God. He had been speaking very tempestuously to His people; He now exhibits the gentler aspects of His character. There is a pause — a calm after tempest; and the sweet birds of promise troop forth with their notes of peace and gladness.

I. THE CHURCH'S HOPE. "In the last days." etc. Who can interpret these words? Not the man of mere dates. The world has not seen its brightest day yet. The light is still struggling — not meridian glory. This world has a rich promise hidden in its heart, like the snow drops of winter — anticipatory of spring. Death is now in the majority. It shall not always be so. The Church, like youth, lives in hope — of brighter days to come — of what it is to be. Thou livest in the infinitive mood!

II. THE CHURCH'S REVIVAL. "And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain. of the Lord...and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths," etc. (vers. 2, 3). Then shall the Church illustrate the fulness of meaning contained in the Saviour's words: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Souls shall be enfranchised, and know the liberty of infinitude, etc.

III. THE CHURCH'S SECURITY. "They shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid" (ver. 4). The history of human progress has been written in fear. "For fear of the Jews" the disciples had to move about cautiously, and assemble in quiet and concealed places. Not until "the doors were shut" could they worship with any sense of security. And through all subsequent ages the history of religious progress has thus been illustrated. In the fastnesses of the wilderness and fissures of the rocks, the low murmurings of sacred song have been heard by God alone, "for fear" of the persecuting hand; as in the days of the Covenanters, Lollards, and others. But behold, the days come — "the last days" — when doors shall be no longer shut, when bolts shall be all withdrawn, every gate thrown wide open, and no barrier intervene between the soul and its perfected liberty.

IV. THE IMPROBABILITY OF ALL THIS. Looked at in the light of the present state of the world, this bright perspective is a dream — an extravaganza — insanity's wild vision. Look at the corruption of the world; look at a Church dying of doctrine; and see whether such a future be probable. Apart from "the Word of the Lord "it is not; but the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it" (ver. 4). What are the improbabilities of a frozen river, or field, in winter? Shall the waters ever flow again, or the field wave its ears of corn again? Yes. What is the guarantee? "The mouth of the Lord" that says: "seed time and harvest, summer and winter, shall not cease." The text speaks of a life flowing upwards "all people shall flow unto it" — to the "top of the mountains." Who ever heard of water flowing upwards, or fire burning downwards? You say to one unacquainted with electricity: "I can send a message to a friend in India, and get an answer in the course of an hour or two." "How utterly absurd," is the reply. There are laws that defy gravitation; a life sublimer than science, and more eloquent than music. Sceptical science says: "This thing cannot be." Faith says: "It shall be, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

Homilist.
The "last days" means the times of the Messiah.

I. THE TRUE RELIGION ON THE GOSPEL AGE WILL BECOME A GREAT POWER. The temple was the greatest thing in the religion of the Jews; it was the "mountain" in their scenery. The true religion is to become a mountain. The true religion, where it exists, is the biggest thing. It is either everything or nothing.

II. THE TRUE RELIGION OF THE GOSPEL AGE WILL BECOME UNIVERSALLY ATTRACTIVE. "And people shall flow unto it." "This is a figurative expression, denoting that they shall be converted to the true religion. It indicates that they shall come in multitudes, like the flowing of a mighty river. The idea of the flowing of the nation, as of the movement of many people towards an object like a broad stream on the tides of the ocean, is one that is very grand and sublime" (Barnes). In this period the social element will be brought into full play in connection with true religion,

1. They will study its laws, in order to obey them. "He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths."

2. They will study its laws at the fountain head. "For the law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

III. THE TRUE RELIGION OF THE GOSPEL AGE WILL BECOME POWERFUL TO TERMINATE ALL WARS.

1. Here is the destruction of war. "Beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks."

2. Here is the establishment of peace. "Shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree." Most incredible must this prediction have been to the men of Micah's time; but it will be accomplished, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. If He has spoken it and it does not come to pass, it must be for one of three reasons —

(1)Insincerity; which cannot be entertained.

(2)Change of purpose; which is equally inadmissible.

(3)Unexpected difficulties; which is an absurdity when applied to Omniscience.

(Homilist.)

The true way to conquer temptations is not to fight them in detail, but to go up into a loftier region where they cease to be temptations. How is it that grown men do not like the sweetmeats that used to tempt them when they were children? They have outgrown them. Then outgrow the temptations of the world! How is it that there are no mosquitoes nor malaria on the mountain tops? They cannot rise above the level of the swamps by the river. Go up to the mountain top, and neither malaria nor mosquito will follow you, — which, being interpreted, is, live near Jesus Christ and keep your hearts and minds occupied with Him, and you will dwell in a region high above the temptations which buzz and sting, which infest and slay on the lower levels.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Monday Club Sermons.
The world has always had its dreams of a Golden Age. A better state of things than that which exists, has been felt to be not only possible, but normal, and so men have reasoned that what ought to be, either has been in the old time, or will be in the new. Either as a memory or a hope, this idea has done much to reconcile men to the confusion and contradictions of life. To the vagueness and mist of that human dream Scripture gives the sharpness and substance of fact. It speaks with positiveness. The Golden Age has not passed. Humanity is on the way to the realisation of its long hope. The Scripture idea, however, differs from the human in the importance which it attaches to the spiritual element. The transformations in society, which must precede the ushering in of the golden age, are moral, not material. Betterment of laws, advance in knowledge, multiplication of industrial arts, increase of wealth — these things cannot transfigure humanity. It is the established and recognised sovereignty of Christ and His truth on which the desired blessed ness depends. It is important to emphasise this truth at the present time, when religion is depreciated in the popular estimate. There is a prevalent idea that it is weak and on the wane. It has recently been said that "fifty years hence no one will go to church except for culture." Note that the function of religion is not limited to the regeneration of a single man. It works through the individual, upon the organic life of the race. And it employs varied methods. Sometimes it sparks on the surface of history; sometimes it works out of sight. There is a river in Kentucky that, after unrolling its silver thread through leagues of verdant meadows, suddenly disappears. The earth swallows it up. But though lost to view, its flow is not checked. It channels its way through the hidden rocks; it hollows out the vast halls and the glittering galleries of the Mammoth Cave. It springs the arches of that grandest of cathedrals, and inlays the rocky roof with stars, after the pattern of the heavens. The sculpture of the silent waters outstrips the skill of human artists. The weird and the beautiful, the quaint and the sublime are clustered in groupings, whose impressiveness is eloquent of the wonder workings of the Divine hand. So Christ's religion has its epochs of disappearance from the surface of life. But it works nevertheless, works persistently, works mightily. Divine truth never comes to a standstill. In sight, or out of sight it is forever busy. Standing at the easement of prospect, let us note some of the glories of the coming kingdom.

1. The acknowledged supremacy of the Christian Church (ver. 1).

2. A universal desire to know and obey the truth (vers. 1, 2). Till now, religious truth has had to be carried to men and pressed upon their attention.

3. An adjustment of international relations on the basis of righteousness (ver. 3). The two forces which men have always used for the regulation of international affairs, are diplomacy and war. The cunning of intrigue or the edge of the sword is employed to untangle or cut every knot of dispute. By and by righteousness shall be both the basis and substance of the international code.

4. Safety of life and property secured by individual piety (vers. 4, 5). One principal office of organised society is to surround with safeguards the individual man. Barbarism is every man for himself; communism is the rule of the caprice or frenzy of a mob; civilisation is the effort of all for the good of each; and yet the efficient agent in these widely diverse types of society is the same, — brute force. In the coming kingdom individual character is to be the security of society.

5. The elimination of the elements of weakness in society (vers. 6, 7). What is to be done with the dependent and dangerous classes? What society cannot do, God can, and by and by He will. The value of such an outlook as has been now attempted is incalculable. It gives men the inspiration of a great expectation; composure of mind in the midst of discouragements; and the true ideal of life. This blessed consummation, whether near or far off, is not so near but what it needs our help; it is not so far off but what we can make ourselves felt as a force in it. We need to clothe our selves in workman's garments, not in the ascension robes of those who sit down and dream about the second advent.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

"But in the latter days it shall come to pass" The prophet lifts his eyes away to the latter days to gain refreshment in his present toil. He feasts his soul upon the golden age which is to be, in order that he may serve himself in his immediate service. Without the anticipation of a golden age he would lose his buoyancy, and the spirit of endeavour would go out of his work. Our visions always determine the quality of our tasks. Our dominant thought regulates our activities. What pattern am I working by? What golden age have I in my mind? What do I see as the possible consummation of my labours? There is your child at home. You are ministering to him in your daily attention and service. What is your pattern in the mind? What sort of a man do you see in your boy? How would you fill up this imperfect phrase concerning him, "In the latter days it shall come to pass"? Have you ever painted his possibilities? If you have no clear golden age for the boy your training will be un certain, your discipline will be a guesswork and a chance. Our vision of possibilities helps to shape the actuality. There is the scholar in the school. When a teacher goes to his class, be it of boys or girls, what kind of men or women has he in his eye? Surely we do not go to work among our children in blind and good humoured chance? We are the architects and builders of their characters, and we must have some completed conception even before we begin our work. I suppose the architect sees the finished building in his eye even before he takes a pencil in his hand, and certainly long before the pick and the spade touch the virgin soil. That boy who gives the teacher so much trouble, restless, indifferent, bursting with animal vitality, how is he depicted as man in your chamber of imagery? Do you only see him as he is? Little, then, will be your influence to make him what he might be. Let me assume that your work is among the outcasts. When you go to court and alley, or to the elegant house in the favoured suburb, and find men and women, sunk in animalism, trailing the robes of human dignity in unamiable mire, how do you see them with the eyes of the soul? "In the latter days it shall come to pass..." What? To the eye of sense they are filthy, offensive, repellant. What like are their faces, and what sort of robes do they wear in the vision of the soul? Are we dealing with the "might-be" or only with the thing that is? Sir Titus Salt was pacing the docks at Liverpool and saw great quantities of dirty, waste material lying in unregarded heaps. He looked at the unpromising substance, and in the mind's eye saw finished fabrics and warm and welcome garments; and ere long the power of the imagination devised ministeries for converting the outcast stuff into refined and finished robes. We must look at all our waste material in human life and see the vision of the "might-be." Surely this was the Master's way! He is always calling the thing that is by the name of its "might-be." "Thou art Simon," a mere hearer; "Thou shalt be called Peter," a rock. To the woman of sin, the outcast child of the city, He addressed the gracious word "daughter," and spoke to her as if she were already a child of the golden age; her weary heart leapt to the welcome speech. And so we have got to come to our work with visions of the latter days. I am not surprised, therefore, that all great reformers and all men and women who have profoundly influenced the life and thought of their day have been visionaries, having a clear sight of things as they might be, feeling the cheery glow of the light and heat of the golden age. In the latter days the spiritual is to have emphasis above pleasure, money, armaments. In whatever prominence these may be seen, they are all to be subordinate to the reverence and worship of God. Military prowess and money making and pleasure seeking are to be put in their own place, and not to be permitted to leave it. First things first! In the beginning God." This is the first characteristic of the golden age. "And many nations shall come and say: Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths." Then the second characteristic of the golden age is that people are to find their confluence and unity in common worship. The brotherhood is to be discovered in spiritual communion. We are not to find profound community upon the river of pleasure or in the ways of business or in the armaments of the castle. These are never permanently cohesive. Pleasure is more frequently divisive than cohesive. No, it is in the mountain of the Lord's house the peoples will discover their unity and kinship. It is in the common worship of the one Lord. "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." Then the third characteristic of the golden age is to be the conversion of merely destructive force into positive and constructive ministries. No energy is to be destroyed; it is all to be transfigured. The sword is to become a ploughshare; the weapon of destruction an implement of culture. After the Franco-German war many of the cannon balls were remade into church bells. One of our manufacturers in Birmingham told me only a week ago that he was busy turning the empty bases of the shells used in the recent war into dinner gongs! That is the suggestion we seek in the golden age: all destructive forces are to be changed into helpful ministries. Tongues that speak nothing but malice are to be turned into instructors of wisdom. All men's gifts and powers and all material forces are to be used in the employment of the kingdom of God. "They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree." There is to be a distribution of comforts. Life's monotony is to be broken up. Sweet and winsome things are to be brought into the common life. Dinginess and want are both to be banished. There is to be a little beauty for everybody, something of the vine and the fig tree. There is to be a little ease for everybody, time to sit down and rest. To every mortal man there is to be given a little treasure, a little leisure, and a little pleasure. "And none shall make them afraid." And they are not only to have comfort, but the added glory of peace. The gift of the vine and fig tree would be nothing if peace remained an exile. And now mark the beautiful final touches in this prophet's dream: "I will assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out and her that is afflicted." They are all to be found in God's family. "Her that halteth," the child of "ifs" and "buts" and fears and indecision, she shall lose her halting and obtain a firm and confident step. "And her that is driven out," the child of exile, the self-banished son or daughter, the outcast by reason of sin; they shall all be home again. "He gathereth together the outcasts." And along with these there is to come "her that is afflicted," the child of sorrows. The day of grief is to be ended, mourning shall be the thing of the preparatory day which is over; "He shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

He will teach us of His ways
They do not go to God because they know Him, but that they may know Him. They are drawn by a mighty impulse towards Him. Howsoever attracted, they come, not making bargains with God what they should be taught, that He should reveal to them nothing transcending reason, nothing exceeding or contradicting their notions of God; they do not come with reserves, that God should not take away this or that error, or should not disclose anything of His incomprehensibleness. They come in holy simplicity, to learn whatever He will condescend to tell them; in holy confidence, that He, the infallible truth, will teach them infallibly. They say "of His ways," for all learning is by degrees, and all which all creatures could learn in all eternity falls infinitely short of His truth and holiness. Nay, in all eternity, the highest creature which He has made, and which He has admitted most deeply into the secrets of His wisdom will be as infinitely removed as ever from the full knowledge of His wisdom and His love. For what is finite, enlarged, expanded, accumulated to the utmost degree possible, remains finite still. It has no proportion to the infinite. But even here, all growth in grace implies growth in knowledge. The more we love God, the more we know of Him; and with increased knowledge of Him come higher perceptions of worship, praise, thanksgiving, of the character of faith, hope, charity, of our outward and inward acts and relations to God, the unboundedness of God's love to us, and the manifoldness of the ways of pleasing Him, which, in His love, He has given us. St. Paul was ever learning in intensity what he knew by revelation. "The way of life to Godwards is one, in that it looketh to one end, to please God: but there are many tracks along it, as there are many modes of life"; and each several grace is a part of the way to God.

(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)

The law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem
Immortality, guilt, and danger, are intuitions of our common nature always felt to possess arresting attractive power. Unprepared to throw away the hope of immortality, the question arises: how can we forecast its issues, or determine its conditions? Whither shall we turn for light and guidance? The revelations of Christianity are alone able to solve the mystery. The Bible is the book and the gift of God. The Christian revelation was not intended merely or mainly to gratify the intellectual curiosity and enrich the mind of man, but so to change his nature and reverse his moral condition as to establish him in the final virtue and happiness of heaven. The portion of prophecy now claiming attention relates to the entire of the Christian dispensation.

1. Some of the more distinguishing elements and attributes of the Gospel denominated in our subject, with distinctive significance, the law and Word of Jehovah.(1) The source of its origination is Divine.(2) The great object of the bestowment of the Gospel was the happiness of mankind.(3) The excellence of its matter — the subject matter of its revelations — vindicates the conclusion to which we have arrived.(4) Christianity is a system exhibiting in its nature, evidence, and claims, not only an uncompounded oneness, but a most striking distinctive uniqueness of character. The Gospel appeals to the mind and heart with an illumination and efficacy unknown to any other system, or in any other department of inquiry. It exerts a remarkable influence on the character and destiny of man. It is not more Divine in theory than Godlike in issue.

2. The extent of the provisions of the Gospel, and its corresponding publication. Glance at a few of its provisional adaptations.(1) Christianity stands pledged for the destruction of the great primal curse.(2) Of ignorance and error.(3) Of violence and wrong in the structure and relations of government and society.(4) Of national war and bloodshed.(5) The conversion of the Gentiles ranks high among the provisions of the Gospel.(6) Universal and unmolested brotherhood between man and man, nation and nation, is equally a promise of the Gospel.

3. The agency and means by the operation and instrumentality of which the Gospel was to go forth from the place of its first publication, and, disdaining all locality, diffuse itself among the nations. Providence will prepare the way. Divine influence will prepare the heart. Divine truth — the Bible — shall be the grand exclusive instrument. The spread of the Gospel will receive its direction from the purposes, and its impulse from the energy of heaven, while the pulpit, press, social inter. course, and the force of example, shall secure its acceleration.

4. What will be the effect of the whole? An incalculable enlargement of the Church, both in extent and influence — a boundless multiplication of its numbers and blessings. Consider also its more distinctive influence upon —

(1)The mind;

(2)The morals;

(3)The movements, of the world.Christianity is identified with the growth and the glory of the ages. Her work cannot be retarded. The indestructible elements of rejuvenescence and immortality found in the Gospel will secure the triumph and multiply the conquests of Christianity, until the empire of sin is destroyed, and death is swallowed up in victory. It is reserved for Christianity to realise the fable of the bird of Jove; grasping the thunder of heaven in her hand, and spreading her wings from sunrise to the oceans of the West, she throws her shadow over the world; and the laurels of peaceful triumph and imperishable glory shall encircle her brow when the wreath of the Caesars shall only be remembered as the badge of crime.

(Bishop H. B. Bascom, D. D.)

And He shall judge among many people, etc
The time of which the prophet speaks has evidently not yet arrived. Let us assume that what the prophet saw was a real purpose of the Lord, a purpose which might be worked out gradually or suddenly, quickly or after a long interval, but distinct in its character and practical in its effects — that peace amongst the nations was, and therefore is, in the counsels of the eternal God. Looking at the prophecy in this light, we ought not to be slow to admit that a very real progress has been made towards the prophet's goal. Compare what the world is now with what it was before Christ came, and the difference as regards the peaceable enjoyment of life is immense; and the improvement is everywhere associated with Christian civilisation. History does not leave us without hope, or mock the encouragement to be drawn from such prophecies as those we are considering. In this prophecy the peace is set forth as a result produced by an antecedent cause. The nations are described as agreeing together to go up to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach them His ways, and that they may walk in His paths. In modern words, it is through an increasing prevalence of the authority of justice, through the growth of an international sentiment recognising Christian obligations that international peace is to be looked for. We need not wonder that the prospect of universal peace is still remote, when we consider how slow a progress has been made in international morality. There must be a morality between nations as well as a morality between persons. A biblical ideal of true concord amongst the nations has been beckoning on mankind through the ages, though men have been slow to pay it due homage. But it is probably in accordance with the laws of appointed development that the sentiment of international obligation should be of late growth. Family duty seems to come first. Some think that duty to the clan, or larger family, takes precedence even of that. Then follows duty to the chief, or sovereign, or nation, and to fellow members of the same community. Personal duty towards persons of a different race and country and tongue is felt later and less strongly. But perhaps that which waits to the last to be felt is the duty of a nation as a body to other national branches of the great family of man. The theory of international duty is not altogether a simple matter. A man is certainly not so free to give up the interests of his country as he is to give up his own private interests. Our country is a sacred name, including nearly all that is dear to us. Is patriotism selfish? No. But there may be a selfish taint in it. Experience and the common sense of mankind bear witness that it is not impossible to reconcile the due moral sentiment of the small circle with the due moral sentiment of the larger. A man may love his family, and yet feel that it would be a shame to him to push its interests to the detriment of other families of his people. A man may be ardently patriotic, and may not the less wish well to other countries. In all moral perplexities resulting from an apparent conflict of obligations, our wisdom is to go forward tentatively and in faith, following after the better ideal, yielding to the nobler instinct. Micah lifts us up to the higher international atmosphere towards which we ought to aspire. He shows us nations persuaded and constrained into mutual peace by a common reverence for the righteous and merciful God. These nations have been chastened by the judgments and rebukes of God, so that they have learnt not to abuse their strength for wrong doing, but to use it rather for the righting of the injured and the help of the weak.

(J. Llewelyn Davies, M. A.)

Upon the plains of Waterloo there stands a great bronze lion, forged from the captured guns of Britain's foes in 1815. The beast's mouth is open, and seems snarling through his teeth over the battlefield. When I saw it last, one spring noonday, a bird had built its nest right in the lion's mouth, twining the twigs of the downy bed where the fledglings nestled around the very teeth of the metal monster, and from the very jaws of the bronze beast the chirp of the swallows seemed to twitter forth timidly the tocsin of peace. It was the audacity of hope. May it be prophetic!

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