Rev. Neil Cameron*
(The entire sermon may be found in The Free Presbyterian Magazine, volume 12, page 325, or in Free Presbyterian Pulpit, page 31).
TEXT: And let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Psalm 72:19.
THIS Psalm has been understood by the Old Testament Church as referring to Christ, and in the light of the New Testament no other opinion is tenable. The last prayer of David is recorded in it, and our text contains the last words of that prayer. He prayed for the coming of the kingdom of God throughout all the nations of the earth. The people of God, like David, plead for the downfall of the kingdom of Satan and the coming of the kingdom of Christ. Such wrestlers with God in secret are few and far between in this poor generation, but the eyes of the Lord are upon them, and His ears are open to their cry. “When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayers.”
But let us consider, as we may be helped and guided by the Holy Spirit, first, What we may understand by the words, ” His glory.” Secondly, let us consider, The petition, “And let the whole earth be filled with his glory,” and the form in which it is expressed.
First, let us consider what we are to understand by the words, “His glory.”
The glory of Christs person should be considered.
The Scriptures with one voice throughout teach that Christ is God. The Gospel according to John begins with a statement of this fact, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” In the Epistle to the Hebrews, we read of the Father addressing Him thus: “Thou art My Son. Thy throne, O God is for ever and ever.”
The Scriptures also clearly teach that He was true man. “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” Again, “And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ is both God and man two distinct natures in one person. Isaiah spake of His glory as the Mediator who is God and man when he said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
The glory of Christ as Prophet, Priest and King must be considered.
Christ has glory as Prophet. As Prophet He revealed the whole mind and will of the Father to man. It was Christ, by His Spirit, that communicated to the prophets under the Old Testament dispensation the truths they declared and put on record. Into these truths they searched, “searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” The counsels and purposes that were in the mind of God were known only to the Three Persons. It was absolutely necessary that these should be revealed, because God purposed to save sinners of mankind. The truth about mans fall; the guilt and misery in which that involved himself and all his posterity; the mercy and love of God in providing a Saviour; the way in which salvation was procured; and the way in which lost men could be made partakers of the salvation purchased by Christ for them; along with the hope of eternal glory, were things which could never enter into the heart of man had not the Son of God taken upon Himself to become the Bearer of these glad tidings to men.
Christ has glory also as the great High Priest. God purposed to save sinners of mankind, and elected them to eternal life; but He, at the same time, appointed the means by which they were to be saved. He made it a condition that His justice should be fully satisfied. In other words, that without shedding of blood no sins should be forgiven. Consequently, He revealed in Eden to our guilty parents the promise of a suffering Saviour. All the sacrifices of the Old Testament dispensation of the covenant of grace, were types of Christ crucified. The great day of atonement with its sacrifices was an eminent type of Christ.
When Christ came as the great High Priest, the Father provided Him with a sacrifice, even the body He prepared for Him. Christ, as our great High Priest, offered Himself without spot to God. He needed not to sacrifice for Himself, for He was sinless. Therefore, He needed only a sacrifice for the sins of the people. The Father laid on Him the iniquity of all His people, and He, by one offering, for ever perfected all them that are sanctified. He finished the work the Father gave Him to do, and He finished it perfectly and for ever
He is now in heaven before the throne of mercy interceding for the remission of all the sins of His people. His intercession for His people is all prevailing, as it is written, “Thou hast given him his hearts desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips.”
Christ has glory as King both over all rational creatures, and over His Church. All power in heaven and on earth has been given Him as Mediator by the Father. He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords on earth; and therefore kings are admonished to be wise and to obey Him for fear His wrath may be kindled against them, and they perish. He has absolute power over all flesh for the good of His Church. Nations may revolt against His kingly authority, but to no avail, only to their own ruin. “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve Thee shall perish; yea, these nations shall be utterly wasted.”
Christ is also King over His own Church. He rules by His Word and Spirit in the hearts of His own people. They obey His voice speaking in the Scriptures, and take it as their only rule for glorifying Him in this World. It was because the people of God refused to obey earthly kings and rulers in their manner of worship and faith that they were persecuted unto death. But Christ promised that not a hair of their heads should be lost. They know that He rules in His providence most holily and most wisely over all His creatures and all their actions, and that no one can do them the least harm unless He permits. The views they get by faith of this King in His beauty and the land that is very far off, cause them to say that all the gilded glory of this world is nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit.
The gospel in its purity is also declared to be the glory of Christ.
The holy law reveals much of the glory of Christ. This glory made the children of Israel fear and quake when the law was given. The Apostle wrote of it: “The ministration of death written and engraven in stones, was glorious,” and again, “For if the ministration of condemnation be glory.” The law of God has much of His glory set forth in its authoritative declarations, and nothing can ever awaken the consciences of men, dead in trespasses and sin, but the voice of Christ in the law.
But Moses, after he beheld the glory of the holy law, desired still to see the glory of God. “And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory . . . And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” This is the glory of the gospel, which is a glory that exceeds that of the law. In the gospel, Gods love, mercy, pity, and graciousness appear. He calls to sinners to turn to Him by Jesus Christ and offers to show mercy, and to forgive sins freely; He throws the gates of mercy open, and calls to whomsoever will to take of the water of life freely. This is what the Apostle Paul calls, “The glorious gospel of the blessed God.”
The ministers of the gospel are called the glory of Christ. This you will see expressed in the words, “If our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the Churches and the glory of Christ.” This is not applicable to all who bear the name of being messengers of Christ, for it must necessarily be restricted to the true messengers of Christ. These are very few among men in our day.
Secondly, let us consider this petition, “Let the whole earth be filled with his glory,” and the form in which it is expressed.
In considering this petition we desire to notice two things: first, that the iniquity with which the whole earth is filled must be removed; and secondly, that the place iniquity now holds shall be filled with the glory of Christ.
First, the iniquity with which the whole earth is filled must be removed. This will appear clearly to every careful reader of the Word of God. In Scripture language, to be a sinner in a state of nature is to be darkness, and to be in a state of grace is light. Now these two elements, light and darkness, cannot exist together the one departs as soon as the other comes. We will divide this darkness into four parts:
The darkness of heathenism must depart before the glory of Christ shall fill the whole earth. This is so self-evident, and both the Old and New Testaments prove it beyond doubt. Its idolatry, its horrid cruelty, and its ignorance of God as both a just God and Saviour, shall be dispelled. This was the effect of the gospel among the heathen everywhere since the beginning of the Christian era.
The darkness of idolatry, superstition, and enmity to Gods truth shall have to be destroyed out of Roman Catholic countries, and from among the followers of the false prophet. It will be by the breath of the nostrils of Christ, that is, by the Holy Spirit, that this great change will be effected. There are really wonderful changes taking place in the most of the countries which have been, till the present time, under the sway of the Pope. In some of these the people seem to be really hating the Roman harlot, while, to our great shame be it said, we in this land seem to be healing the wound which our forefathers gave the Beast at the Reformation. But when the glorious Millennium will come, Babylon will fall, never to rise any more for ever.
The poor benighted Jews will have to be undeceived. They are still as bitter against the gospel of Christ as they were in the days in which Paul declared that wrath had come upon them to the uttermost. But the Word of God promises a bright day yet for the poor Jews, for it says: ” For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?” The time when this glorious change will take place is indicated in the truth which says, “That blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” All true praying people should earnestly plead for these great changes, both among the Gentiles and Jews.
All the Churches designated Protestant will have to turn from their backslidings, idolatry, atheism, hypocrisy, and worldliness before the whole earth shall be filled with His glory. The Protestant Churches almost over the whole earth have departed from Gods truth, in doctrine, form of government, worship and discipline. The Word of God has been brought into doubt, and the men who did so have been raised up to the highest places in churches. Notwithstanding, these false teachers profess faith in Christ, and for the sake of worldly gain act the hypocrite. In worship they have introduced the most of the things which were cast out at the Reformation, and thereby build up the Church of Rome again so that, in the name of Protestantism, almost all the “isms” with which the Church of God was tried in the past have been resurrected by this generation.
All these things will have to be cast out before we can expect His glory to fill the whole earth. When you consider the four divisions we have made of the whole earth, the strong hold that Satan has of each, you will have to conclude that this glorious work is impossible for men to do; but not so on Gods side, for with God all things are possible. Therefore, prayer can be made in faith upon the power and promise of God, that all these obstacles may be removed.
Secondly, the place which iniquity now occupies shall be filled with the glory of Christ. We have an absolute promise and the oath of God, that it shall be so: “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” The explanation of what He means by “the glory of the Lord” is found in these words, “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Then, the knowledge of the glory of Christ as the only Mediator between God and guilty men shall fill the hearts and understanding of all the peoples of this earth. I dont mean mere speculative and brain knowledge, but true saving knowledge. They will believe in the doctrine of His person, and those who teach that Christ is only a man will get none to listen to them, or to believe them. All men everywhere shall know that Christ is God and man, two natures in the one divine Person. They will rejoice in this glorious Person who is equal with the Father, and also, being man, has true fellow-feeling with His people in all their trials. The heathen will burn their images, and cease their heathenish practices; Papists will forsake the Pope, and burn their images, crosses, and altars; Turks will throw away their Koran, and forsake the false Prophet and all his worship; Jews will look to Him whom they pierced, and mourn, being amazed at their former blindness; Protestants will cast out from their creeds and worship all the unscriptural matters they now have; and all these will with one mind turn to Christ as their only Saviour and Hope. They will not listen to men who teach that there are errors in the Bible. The motto then will be, “To the law and to the testimony; if they will not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
There will be no priests then; for Christ will be their only Priest. To Him as the Great High Priest, sinners everywhere will come, looking to the merit of His one offering and blood as that which fully satisfied justice and which can purge the conscience from the guilt of sin. They will consider Jesus Christ as the Apostle and High Priest of their profession.
Then, rulers shall become very useful to the Church of Christ. “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth.” Nowadays, when kings visit one another they forget God, spend the time in sin, and bring wrath upon themselves and on their subjects; but at that time kings will think it their business to honour Christ, and to do what they can to advance His interests in the world. The people in every kingdom of the whole earth will become the willing subjects of the Lord, and there will be the fulfilling of the Scripture, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
At that time, the gospel of Christ in its purity will spread over the whole earth. There is a very promising thing taking place in our day the Word of God is being spread among the heathen with extraordinary diligence and success. The heathen are also being taught to read Gods Word for themselves. This is true in every part of the inhabitable earth. Great pains are being taken to translate the Bible into the languages of the heathen; and what is very extraordinary, this is done, in many instances, by men who hold unsound views on inspiration. In any case the Word of eternal life is being put into the hands of our fellow-sinners in Africa, India, China, and so on, with great diligence. This is very hopeful, for God says of His own Word, “It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” So we may expect the rich harvest of the Millennium to be reaped from the sowing of the seed of the kingdom. It seems to us that the lands which have had the gospel for ages, and despised it, are most likely to be the last parts of the whole earth that shall be filled with the glory of Christ.
When the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of the gospel there will be but one fold and one Shepherd then. All false doctrine, false ways of worshipping God, and false ways of Church government will disappear, and the Church will be governed according to the Presbyterian order set forth in the New Testament. In the family, God will be worshipped morning and evening, and in secret by each member of these families. The people will be gathered together into congregations and Churches, and will joy in going up to the House of God. Every pulpit will be occupied with a minister full of the knowledge of the glorious gospel of the grace of God, as it is written, “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering, for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts.” May the Lord hasten it in its time.
Let us now consider the form in which this petition is expressed, “Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.”
The word “let” is sometimes in Scripture equivalent to a command: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” It is a word which says, as it were, “Ask ye me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the works of my hands command ye me.” You will find Daniel using language to this effect when he prayed, “O Lord hear; O Lord forgive; O Lord hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake.” Jacob had the same holy boldness: “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” With regard to this petition, “Let the whole earth be filled with his glory,” we think David had the same faith in the promise of God; and therefore wrestled with Him with the same holy boldness. There have been many of the Lords people since then who in faith sought the greatest blessings, just as Esther took courage to ask no less than the presence of the king himself at the feast, and also the lives of herself and her people. “If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request.” Such prayer is taking the kingdom of heaven by violence not the presumption of the graceless.
This word “let” is also used in Scripture as equivalent to getting leave to do a thing. “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace.” This sets forth the willingness with which the Lord permits His people to approach Him, and with which He receives them, and how ready He is to grant their requests put forth in the name of Christ. “Let me hear thy voice” leave is given to approach Him. Especially this is true in the things which concern His glory and the salvation of men in the world.
The word “let” also indicates a rebuke. “Refrain from these men and let them alone” this was a rebuke to the enemies of the Apostles, and it is a rebuke to all the adversaries of the cause of Christ. It is a rebuke also to devils to stand aside and let the glory of Christ fill the whole earth. So God can at any moment command His enemies to stand aside. He will bind Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit for a thousand years and say to His enemies among men, “Why persecute ye me?”
There are about four thousand years since this prayer was put up, and you may say that it is not answered yet. Yes; but do you not remember that it is written, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” You would not think four days too long to wait for the answer to your prayer. The prayers of the Lords people will certainly be answered, insofar as that may be in accordance with the Lords will. And this prayer is in accordance with His promise and oath. Therefore, let us pray, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
* The Rev. Neil Cameron (1854-1932) left the Church of Scotland and began studying for the ministry of the Free Church in 1886. After that Church passed the infamous Declaratory Act of 1892 he joined the newly-formed Free Presbyterian Church, where he was a preacher and leader of the highest calibre. He was minister of St. Judes Free Presbyterian Church, Glasgow, from 1896 until his death.