The least of you will become a thousand, and the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time I will accomplish it quickly.
I. THIS IS TRUE HISTORICALLY. Israel found it so. The Pilgrim Fathers found it so. And many Churches have found it so, where there has been loving co-operation and personal consecration. Look how the despised mission work in India grew to a mighty force, despite the satirical review of Jefferies. Look how the native schools, with their slender beginnings, have grown to millions of disciples.
II. THIS IS TRUE CONDITIONALLY. God must be with us! "I the Lord will hasten it." "It is to be in his time." There is no promise to the "little one," whatever skill, energy, or endeavour there may be - only God is with them. When we are on the side of truth, we are on the side of conquest. When we are waiting in disappointed moods, God is hastening on the sure foundation, which he is laying. When we are fascinated with the meretricious glory of the world, we see it laid low and Christ's kingdom established on its ruins. - W.M.S.
A little one shall become a thousand.
I. THE IMPORT OF THE PROPHECY. After a careful examination of the text in connection with the former part of the chapter, I am led to conclude that it refers, primarily and in part, to the time when our Lord appeared as "the Light of men," a "Sun of righteousness" to illuminate a benighted world, and graciously introduced His kingdom and dispensation upon earth: but that the principal and pre-eminent fulfilment of the prophecy is reserved for a future and happier era than men have ever yet witnessed. The slight and partial fulfilment of the prediction in the primitive age seems to have been only a shadowy resemblance of its more complete accomplishment hereafter.
II. AT WHAT PERIOD THE PREDICTION WILL BE FULFILLED. "I the Lord will hasten it in his time" — not before the proper time — but in its season — in due time. We are not justified, by the spirit of out religion, in cherishing an unhallowed curiosity or presumptuous confidence in our attempts to ascertain the purposes of God. It is on the wings of faith and hope, not those of pride and speculation, that the Christian is authorized to soar. Yet whilst a sacred obscurity invests the whole of this mysterious subject, there seems to be ample encouragement given to those who are disposed to pursue their investigations with a devout and docile disposition — with a sober and humble mind.
III. CONCLUDING REMARKS.
1. The certainty of these events.
2. Our duty in prospect of such events.
(1) (2) (T. Sims, M. A.)
(2) (T. Sims, M. A.)
(T. Sims, M. A.)
II. THIS SUCCESS OF THE GOSPEL WAS CERTAINLY MIRACULOUS, and owing chiefly to the mighty operations of the Holy Spirit, and for this plain reason: because the natural and visible causes which concurred to the production of this great effect were not any ways equal to the effect produced. The Gospel of Christ, at its earliest appearance, had all the probabilities in the world against its success: for it was possessed scarcely of any one of those advantages which do most signally recommend a new doctrine, and make it thrive. It had no complying tenets, to soothe men's appetites and passions. It had no encouragement, no protection from the civil power; no force or cunning to uphold it; no men of eminence and esteem to engage on its side. The age which was pitched upon for the discovery of it was more discerning and enlightened, more curious and inquisitive, than, perhaps, any that either preceded or followed it; and therefore the success of this doctrine could not be owing to men's ignorance or supineness. Finally, its promulgators delivered it out not by parcels, as is the way of cunning and designing men; but offered the whole of it to be altogether examined and compared. Nevertheless, though pressed with all these encumbrances, it sprang forth, and made its way into the world by a swift and incredible progress. The inference from hence is plain and indubitable: that a Divine power and virtue certainly went along with it, to supply what was wanting to it upon other accounts.
III. CONSIDER WHAT SHIFTS THE ENEMIES OF THE GOSPEL MAKE USE OF, TO EVADE THE FORCE OF THIS PRESSING ARGUMENT. It is true, they will own, Christians multiplied very fast, and the increase of them was, in some sense, miraculous: that is, it was wonderful; as every unusual thing is to those who do not know or consider the causes of it. But to a man, they say, who dares to go out of the common road, and to think for himself, it will appear that there was at that time a set of natural causes on foot, sufficient to account for this effect, without any recourse to a Divine and supernatural agent. E.g. The sufferings of the martyrs made mighty impressions upon men. The purity of the Christian morals was a mighty argument to bring the men of probity and virtue into the interests of the Gospel. The analogy of some of its mystical truths to the doctrines of (then in great esteem) was a very good bait to the men of learning. The distribution of goods which the first Christians made, and their living together in common, was a good reason for many men's embracing that faith which, they were sure, would maintain them. The casual cessation of oracles was immediately turned to the advantage of the religion of Christ, as if that had procured it. And the destruction of the Jewish State contributed greatly to the increase of the Christian numbers; because it seemed to have been foretold by the Founder of their faith: and, therefore, luckily coming to pass about that time, raised a high opinion in men of His Person and doctrine. The causes here assigned were utterly insufficient to produce the event for which they are assigned.
IV. SHOW HOW GREAT AN ADVANTAGE IT IS TO THE CHRISTIAN INSTITUTION TO HAVE BEEN PROPAGATED AFTER SO SWIFT AND UNACCOUNTABLE A MANNER. No other religion ever had so large an increase with so little of human aid.
V. INQUIRE INTO THE TIME WHEN, AND THE MANNER HOW, THIS MIRACLE CEASED, and make suitable reflections upon it with regard both to those who lived then, when this check was given to the Gospel, and to us who live now. The plain answer to the inquiry proposed is that the miracle ceased when the civil power began to declare openly in behalf of Christianity; that is, soon after Constantine came to the throne. For it was no longer a wonder that our religion should thrive and flourish when, instead of bitter persecutions, it met with all manner of encouragements. For a century after Constantine, and upwards, the number of Christians multiplied exceedingly in all the parts of the world in which it had already been planted, and to which the empire of the Romans, or their influence, did extend. For above a century after that, Christianity seems to have been at a stand. But then it declined apace every day; dissensions among Christians grew hot, and their zeal for religion waxed cold. The great honours and endowments which religious princes had bestowed on the Church did too often occasion ambition and luxury in those who contended for them, or possessed them. In a word, all the vices of prosperity abounded, together with the advantages of it. So that the name of Christianity was no longer venerable in the eyes of men; and its holy doctrine, not producing an answerable sanctity of life, made no further impressions upon them. This unhappy opportunity Mohammed laid hold of to set up his religion; which, being suited to the voluptuous manners of the East, and seconded by the power of the sword, made large inroads into Christendom, and tore away entire provinces at once from the profession of the Gospel.
(F. Atterbury, D. D.)
(R. S. Storrs, D. D.)
(R. S. Storrs, D. D.)
I. He says that the old world magnified masses, the thousands; whereas IN THAT NEW WORLD WHICH CHRIST IS TO BRING, OR RATHER HAS NOW BROUGHT, NOT THE MASS BUT THE INDIVIDUAL IS TO BE THE POWERFUL THING. Imagine if an angel were to come to me to-day to offer to prepare me for the study of ancient history. I say to him, "Will you show me the secret of the old world's greatness?' And in answer he takes me up on a lofty mountain and shows me immense masses. "Do you see that Chinese Empire," he says, "do you see that long line of ancestors going back, back, back further than the eye can see? That is the secret of China's greatness. Do you see that great Indian Continent — that long line of caste going back into antiquity; the thousand? That is the secret of India's greatness, Do you see that Jewish Empire? Do you see that long family tree going back to Abraham, and further back still to the very foundation of all things? That is the secret of Judea's greatness." The old world magnified the thousand. But now let us take another side of it. Suppose this angel came to me and said, "I have come to prepare you for a study of modern history, of the world of Christ's time," and I say, "Well, I should like very much to get a specimen of the difference here. I wish you to show me the secret of England's greatness during the last century (the nineteenth). Let me see, first of all, the secret of England's greatness in mechanical powers." I have not the slightest doubt that in answer he is going to take me at once into the dockyards where the thousand hammers are clanging and all the mechanical powers are at work. Instead of that, to my astonishment, he takes me through to Glasgow; he passes down the Clyde; he comes to Greenock, and he never looks at the shipping; he passes it altogether. He takes me through the streets, turns into a gloomy, narrow entry, climbs the stair, opens the door, and, lo I in a humble room and in a very small crib there lies a delicate infant, and he points to it and says, "That is the secret of England's mechanical greatness.", "What!" I say, "that puny thing that a breath would put out like a candle?" "Yes," he says, "that is the secret of England's mechanical greatness. That is James Watt; that is the one that has taken the place of the thousand." Or suppose I say to him, "I want to see the secret of England's scientific greatness in the last century." I have no doubt whatever that he is going to take me into the laboratories where the thousand workmen are plying with the crucible, the pestle, and the mortar. Instead of that he takes me up to Grantham, into the village school, and there, at the very foot of the class, sits a very dull-looking boy, more distinguished for fighting than for anything else. He says, "That is the secret of England's greatness in science. That is Isaac Newton. That one is going to take the place of the thousand in years to come." Or yet again, suppose I say to him, "I wish you would show me the secret of England's religious greatness in the last century." I have no doubt whatever that he is going to take me into the great cathedrals where the aisles are dark with worshippers. Instead of that he takes me up to a little place called Epworth at midnight, where there is a minister's manse on fire, and they are carrying out a screaming infant from the house. And the angel cries, "That is the secret of England's religious greatness. That is John Wesley, one time to have his screams heard all over England, all over Europe. The one little fire-burned child will in time to come take the place of the thousand." And why is it that I attribute this to Christianity? You might say, "What has Christ to do with this?" It is because if you and I go back nineteen centuries we shall see all Europe sleeping in an egg-shell: a little child; a little child laid outside in a stable. There it lay, holding all Europe in its little breast; its evolutions, its revolutions, its convolutions; its wars and rumours of wars; its cries for bread; its cries for light; its cries for liberty. The One has taken the place of the thousand.
II. The second point of the prophet I take to be this: that IN THE NEW WORLD THAT CHRIST HAS BROUGHT IN, THE GLORY CONSISTS IN THIS, THAT THE ONE INDIVIDUAL CAN PASS BY SYMPATHY THROUGH MYRIAD TYPES OF CHARACTER. One has become a thousand. Let me try to illustrate this by the case of two boarding-schools. I will call the one the boarding-school of the old world, and the other the boarding-school of the new. The boarding-school of the old world says, "Do you see these girls? In a few months you will not know your own little girl from any other. They will all become so like that no one could possibly distinguish the difference between them. The thousand shall become one — thoroughly Chinese." But the second boarding-school, Christ's boarding-school, says, "Will you give me this little girl of yours? She is just now very like other people. There is not much difference; hut I will undertake to send this little girl through My school, and she will catch a little bit of every, body in the now vacant mirror of her mind, she will catch a little bit of every light. Why is it that I attribute this to Christ? It is because Christ Himself is many members in one body. Christ is our Representative before the throne of God. What does that mean? What is a representative before the throne? Why, it is a Member of Parliament. What is the function of a member for Glasgow? He has to take into the mirror of his mind all the different wants of the thousand, and give them due consideration.
III. As a result of these points, the course of the old world has been still, stagnant, unprogressive; whereas IN THE NEW WORLD WHICH CHRIST HAS BROUGHT IN THINGS ARE TO MOVE WITH TREMENDOUS SPEED. "I the Lord will hasten it in its time" (R.V.). We commonly read it that God will hasten the time of its coming. I understand it to mean that there are times of acceleration, times when everything with double quick march; times when you take up the newspaper and find the unexpected has happened. This is what I understand, an accelerated progress; "The Lord will hasten it in its time. ' I wonder if there is any man here between eighty and ninety years old? If there is, that man has seen more events than all the history of the Chinese Empire from the beginning up till now! Think what he has seen. He has seen wings of steam — the steamboat; then he has seen wings of fire — the railroad; then wings of light — the telegraph; then wings of sound — the telephone. Aye, and he has seen something more than that; he has seen physical wings of memory — the phonograph. He has seen the voice bottled up in jars, and carried across the Atlantic. He has seen greater things than these. He has beheld social changes of the most momentous type. He has seen the institution of the rights of man; he has seen something greater still — the institution of the rights of woman. He has seen the bursting of the fetters of the slave; he has seen the birth of charity. It has been a world of wondrous acceleration. The power that can pass through these thousand changes must be Divine. You tell me that Christianity has not lived so long as some of the Eastern religious; that Buddhism, Brahmanism, and Parseeism have lived longer than Christianity. Yes, so they have; it is easy to be steadfast in a stagnant pool. "Better thirty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay. The power of my Lord's religion is not its duration, it is the fact that its duration, such as it is, has been against tremendous odds. It is that the one has been battling ever with the thousand.
(G. Matheson, D. D.)
I the Lord will hasten it in his time.
(A. L. Stone, D. D.)
(A. L. Stone, D. D.)1. Time tests the principles of human conduct.
2. Time is the test of friendships.
3. Time tries his tests upon character.
4. God even commits His own vindication to time.
(A. L. Stone, D. D.)
1. It may seem too difficult to be brought about, and therefore may be despaired of; but the God of almighty power hath undertaken it. I, the Lord, will do it, who can do it, and who have determined to do it.
2. It may seem to be delayed and put off so long that we are out of hopes of it; but, as the Lord will do it, so He will hasten it; will do it with all convenient speed — though much time may be passed before it is done, no time shall be lost; He will hasten it in its time, in the proper time, in the season wherein it will be beautiful.
( M. Henry.)
PeopleEphah, Isaiah, Jacob, Kedar, Nebaioth, Tarshish
PlacesCity of the Lord, Ephah, Kedar, Lebanon, Midian, Nebaioth, Sheba, Tarshish, Zion
TopicsChief, Clan, Families, Hasten, Least, Mighty, Nation, Quickly, Smallest, Strong, Swiftly, Thousand
Outline1. The glory of the church in the abundant access of the Gentiles.
15. And the great blessings after a short affliction
Dictionary of Bible ThemesIsaiah 60:15-22
LibraryOctober 16. "Whereas Thou Hast Been Forsaken and Hated, I Will Make Thee a Joy" (Isa. Lx. 15).
"Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, I will make thee a joy" (Isa. lx. 15). God loves to take the most lost of men, and make them the most magnificent memorials of His redeeming love and power. He loves to take the victims of Satan's hate, and the lives that have been the most fearful examples of his power to destroy, and to use them to illustrate and illuminate the possibilities of Divine mercy and the new creations of the Holy Spirit. He loves to take the things in our own lives that have …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
Walls and Gates
The Sunlit Church
The Morning Light
Marvellous Increase of the Church
22D DAY. An End of Weeping.
Second Sermon for Epiphany
Rev. Mr. Nichols's Address.
The Birth of England's Foreign Missions
The Last Days of the Old Eastern World
Athanasius under Julian and his Successors; Fourth and Fifth Exiles. Feb. 21, 362, to Feb. 1, 366
That the Grace of Devotion is Acquired by Humility and Self-Denial
The Restoration of Israel is Only Made Possible by the Second Advent of Christ.
The General Spread of the Gospel
Twentieth Day for God's Spirit on the Heathen
The Temptation of Jesus
The Order of Thought which Surrounded the Development of Jesus.
The Quotation in Matt. Ii. 6.
The Extent of Messiah's Spiritual Kingdom
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