History, the Nations & the Messiah Prince
By God’s Son all things were created which are in heaven, and which are in earth—things visible and invisible: whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers, all things were created by Him (Colossians 1.16).
Here in this final installment of a three-part introduction to Ancient History, written in 1731, Charles Rollins uncovers the glorious purpose of God’s Son as Mediator and Ruler of the Nations and the path through all of history that God used to prepare us for the rule of His Son.
The Necessity of a Messiah
Besides the visible and sensible connexion of sacred and profane history, there is another more sacred and distinct relation with respect to the Messiah, for whose coming the Almighty, whose work was ever present in His sight, prepared mankind from far, even by the state of ignorance and dissoluteness in which he suffered them to be immersed four-thousand years. It was to show the necessity there was of our having a Mediator, that God permitted the nations to walk after their own ways; and that neither the light of reason nor the dictates of philosophy could dispel the clouds of error, or reform their depraved inclinations.
When we take a view of the grandeur of empires, the majesty of princes, the glorious actions of great men, the order of civil societies, and the harmony of the different members of which they are composed, the wisdom of legislators, and the learning of philosophers, the earth seems to exhibit nothing to the eye of man but what is great and resplendent; nevertheless, in the eye of God, it was equally barren and uncultivated, as at the first instant of the creation by the Almighty fiat. The earth was WITHOUT FORM AND VOID (Genesis 1.2). This is saying but little: it was wholly polluted and impure (the reader will observe that I speak here of the heathens), and appeared to God only as the aunt and retreat of ungrateful and perfidious men, as it did at the time of the flood. The earth was corrupt before God, and was filled with iniquity (Genesis 6.11).
Nevertheless, the sovereign arbiter of the universe, who, pursuant to the dictates of His wisdom, dispenses both light and darkness, and knows how to check the impetuous torrent of human passions, would not permit mankind, though abandoned to the utmost corruptions, to degenerate into absolute barbarity, and brutalize themselves, in a manner by the extinction of the first principles of the law of nature, as is seen in several savage nations. Such an obstacle would have retarded too much the rapid course promised by Him to the first preachers of the doctrine if His Son.
He darted from far into the minds of men the rays of several great truths, to dispose them for the reception of others of a more important nature. He prepared them for the instructions of the gospel, by those of philosophers; and it was with this view that God permitted the heathen professors to examine, in their schools, several questions, and establish several principles, which are nearly allied to religion; and to engage the attention of mankind, by the spirit and beauty of their disputations. It is well know, that the philosophers inculcate, in every part of their writings, the existence of a God, the necessity of a Providence that presides over the government oft the world, the immortality of the soul, the ultimate end of man, the reward of the good and the punishment of the wicked, the nature of those duties which constitute the bond of society, the character of the virtues that are the basis of morality as prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, and such like truths, which, though incapable of guiding men to righteousness, yet they were of use to scatter certain clouds, and to dispel certain obscurities.
Providential Preparation for God’s Son
It is by an effect of the same Providence, which prepared from far the ways of the gospel, that, when the Messiah revealed himself in the flesh, God had united together a great number of nations, by the Greek and Latin tonguesl and had subjected to one monarch, from the ocean to the Euphrates, all the people not united by language, in order to give a more free course to the preaching of the apostles. When profane history is studied with judgment and maturity, it must lead us to these reflections, and point out to us the manner in which the Almighty makes the empires of the earth subservient to the reign of His Son.
It ought likewise to teach us the value of all that glitters most in the eye of the world, and is most capable of dazzling it. Valor, fortitude, skill in government, profound policy, merit in magistracy, capacity for the most abstruse sciences, beauty of genius, delicacy of taste, and perfection in all the arts: these are the objects which profane history exhibits to us, which excite our ambitions, and often our envy. But at the same time, this very history ought to remind us, that the Almighty, ever since the creation, has indulged to his enemies all those shining qualities which the world esteems, and on which it frequently bestows the highest eloquence; and on the contrary, that he often refuses them to his most faithful servants, whom he endues with talents of an infinitely superior nature, though men neither know their value, nor are desirous of them. Happy is that people that is such a case; yea, nor are desirous of them. Happy is that people that is such a case; yea happy is that people whose God is the Lord.