The Fountain Opened
The Great Gospel Privilege of Having Christ Exhibited to Sinful Men.
Wherein also is proved that there shall be a national calling of the Jews.
By Samuel Willard,
Teacher of a Church in Boston.
I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Cor. 2.2).
Si Christum discis, satis est, si caetera nescis.
If you know Christ well, it is enough, even if you know nothing else.
Doctrine V. There will be a more peculiar opening of Christ as a Fountain of Life, when the Jews shall be called.
In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
That the prophecy contained in this and the foregoing chapter hath a special respect to that nation who were the posterity of Abraham according to the flesh, is generally agreed on by Christians, and acknowledged by their own writers. And that whatsoever earnests [i.e. first fruits] there have been, yet the complete accomplishment of it is still to come.
There are two propositions in this doctrine which may be briefly illustrated, viz.
1. That there is a great and general calling of the Jews yet to come.
2. That when that time comes, there shall be a more peculiar opening of this fountain.
PROPOSITION I. There is a great and general calling of the Jews yet to come.
As there was a time when God rejected them, for the horrible contempt which they cast upon Christ and his Gospel in which they were made a scorn and a reproach to the world, and were dispersed from one end of the earth to another; so there will a time come when there shall be a national return of them to God, and they shall accept of Christ for their Lord and Saviour. The truth of this hath been, and still is denied, and strenuously oppugned by some. And the seemingly long delay of it, hath made many to hesitate about it; and it is not to be wondered at, for Christ predicted, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith in the Earth?” (Luke 18.8). Which some have interpreted to have a respect to the belief of this truth. But there are others who with as great vigor defend it, and have solidly confuted all the pretended pleadings against it; and although it be not a fundamental article of salvation, yet there is so much of consolation arising from it to the people of God, in these dark days of tribulation upon the Church of Christ, that it is worth our while a little to refresh ourselves with the speculation of it. And here let me premise, That this truth is purely of Revelation, and the credit of it depends entirely on the Divine Testimony; we must therefore search the Scriptures if we would know whether it be so. And among many Scripture confirmations of it, give me leave to offer a few considerations, and to make way to this. Observe,
1. There are many texts of Scripture which are to be understood of the Spiritual Israel. The whole mystical body of Christ, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, are frequently called the “Israel of God,” and the “Seed of Abraham.” This must not be denied. For, as God first chose that nation to be “a peculiar people” to himself, so he hath seen meet to put their name upon the Church, even in Gospel times. And there are some places that cannot bear another interpretation. See Galatians 6.16, “Peace be on them, and on the Israel of God.” We are told of a Jew “outwardly,” and one that is so “inwardly” (Rom. 2.28). And in Romans 9.6, “All are not Israel that are of Israel.” Accordingly there are prophecies in which gospel ordinances are represented under legal expressions, but must be spiritually interpreted. Such is that, “In every place incense shall be offered unto my Name, and a pure offering” (Mal. 1.11). And some think that the last eight chapters in the prophecies of Ezekiel are so to be understood.
2. There are promises made to the Jews which did properly refer to their return from Babylon. There was such a return afforded them after their captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, and God before hand gave them many supports, and encouraging promises about it, wherein he prefixed the time when, and the manner how it should be brought about; and there are many discourses in the Prophets which had a proper and direct aim at it. We are therefore told how Daniel, by reading of these prophecies, and making a calculation from them, came to know that time to be near its accomplishment, “I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, etc. that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolation of Jerusalem” (Dan. 9.2).
3. There are predictions of glorious things in the Gospel day that had a special reference to the power and efficacy of the Word in the Apostles times. The bringing in of the Gospel dispensation, and the great changes that were wrought thereby, was a matter of admiration, and was therefore often foretold in the Old Testament. And on this account we are acquainted that these and those things were the fulfilling of such and such prophecies. Particularly, the astonishing giving of the Holy Ghost, appearing in the fiery tongues given the Apostles soon after Christ’s Ascension, of which Peter gives that account, “This is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel,” etc. (Acts 2.16).
4. There are texts of Scripture that have their several degrees of accomplishment. Though there be but one thing that is ultimately designed in them, and till that be brought about they are not completely fulfilled, yet they shall be exemplified in some preludious providences, that shall carry in them a specimen of the same thing, and are, as it were, earnests [i.e. first fruits] of what is to come. And so one and the same word may be said to have been accomplished more than once, though that which it mainly intended is still expected, which might be instanced in divers particulars.
Now from what hath been said, we may proceed to the thing in hand, and in general observe that though there be a mystical sense in some prophecies about Israel, yet they go too far, who would restrain all altogether to this, as those do who deny this doctrine. Yea there is a compound sense in many of these things, and they aim both at the one and the other. And though divers things did refer to the return from Babylon, yet not all, but some look farther. Yea even those that engross that in them, have a longer reach in them, many of them. And though some things had their fulfillment in the days of Christ and his Apostles, yet others had not, but still remain to be brought to pass. And those which then had a beginning have a greater fullness behind. And that the calling of the Jews is one of these will be evident, if we consider:
1. That there is a calling of the Jews mentioned distributively with that of the Gentiles; and therefore it must be literally understood, with respect to that nation, and cannot be restrained to the mystical Body of Christ, which comprehends all of both sorts in it. This is designedly handled by the Apostle in Romans 11. The thing he there aims at, is to shew that God hath not utterly cast off that nation, and he argues it from the reason of their being cast off. “Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid,” etc. (vv. 11-12). He therefore asserts that there will be a time when they shall be restored again to a Church state, and return into favour with God. For which he also brings Scripture evidence, “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved as it is written,” etc. (vv. 25-26). Nor can these things be understood allegorically without violence done to the whole scope of the context.
2. There is a calling of the Jews foretold to be in the days of the Gospel. Their call and return from Babylon was before Christ’s coming in our flesh, but there is another spoken of which is to be after that, and therefore God makes mention of doing it a second time, “The Lord shall set his hand again the second time, to recover the remnant of his people from Assyria, and from Egypt,” etc. (Isa. 11.11-12). And he saith that this “shall come to pass in that day”—which the whole context assures us, is the day of the Gospel after Christ had appeared in our nature. And doubtless, whatsoever was prophesied concerning that people after their return to their land, must look forward. And many things cannot be understood of any but the Gospel day. And such is our text and context, inasmuch as Zechariah was one of these prophets who prophesied to the returned captivity; and the tenor of this particular vision of his points us to the day when Christ had been crucified among them.
3. There is a calling of the Jews mentioned that is to be after they had been rejected, and dissipated, for their despising of Christ. And therefore the casting them off, or unchurching them, and this return of theirs are joined together. Yea the Apostle in the forecited Romans 11 brings this in as a relief against despondency, with respect unto the former, where he purposely speaks of their being cut off, and tells us that they shall be grafted in again. See in particular verses 15-16, and verse 24. This also is the call which our text points to, also evident from Zechariah 12.10 ff. Christ therefore so speaks of their rejection as that which had a limited time, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21.24).
4. There is a national calling of them spoken of. There were indeed many of them effectually called by Christ and his Apostles, and many that believed in those days, “three thousand were added” at one time (Acts 2.41). And “five thousand” at another time (Acts 4.4). Besides many more upon other occasions, “the Lord added daily to the Church such as should be saved” (Acts 2.4). But all this while the nation stood off and did not embrace Christ—that therefore is yet to come. On this account the Apostle in Romans 11, having in the beginning of the chapter proved that they were not utterly cast off, because there were so many called already, proceeds from verse 11 to tell us of a more general return of them, and assures us that it shall be “all Israel” (v. 26). Not as if every individual shall thus be saved but the body of that nation that shall then be living.
5. There are such things asserted in the Word of God concerning this call, as have never yet been accomplished. The happy state of that forlorn nation is so set forth as it never arrived to, after their return from Babylon, till their being cut off from being a people by the Romans. To this we may refer the prophecies in Isaiah 65.17 ff., Hos. 3.4-5, and Zech 12.6-8. Which must needs refer to times yet unfulfilled, for hitherto they are the most scattered, contemptible, and scorned people in the whole World, and have so continued for more than sixteen hundred years.
6. To all let me add that the providence of God towards them is to be adored in that they remain to be a distinct people to this day. Notwithstanding all the calamities that have befallen them, and the horrible dispersions of them upon the face of the Earth, yet they keep themselves a separate people in life, manners, and customs, divers from other nations—which certainly must be for some glorious end designed by the all-wise God. And what shall we suppose it to be, but that which is thus fore signified?
PROPOSITION II. When that time comes, there shall be a more peculiar opening of this Fountain.
There is something to be done in that day, which was never before done in this regard. And that must be with regard to the manner and degree of the manifestation and application of it. We may take a brief account of this affair in the following conclusions:
1. That there are happy times predicted for the Church, after her wilderness estate shall be over. As there was a time, when after God had brought his people out of Egypt, they went through the wilderness in order to their glorious settlement in Canaan, so we are told of the Gospel Church, that soon after its being called it should go into the wilderness, and be there for a prefixed time. “The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (Rev. 12.6). But God hath promised to it in this world a more glorious conspicuous state after these days are ended, and this is celebrated in the four last chapters of that book [Rev. 18-22]. And this by some is supposed to be aimed at in Canticles 8.5, “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” It being a thing that shall be very surprising to all that shall observe it. Hitherto also may that have a special reference, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, Oh City of God” (Psal. 85.3).
2. That these glorious things have not as yet befallen it in their complete accomplishment. I dare not deny but that there are some things spoken in the Scriptures concerning the Church of God that must be referred to the Triumphant state of it, and it would be a delusion to apply them to its Militancy. There must also be an allowance made for our supposing the Spirit of God, who condescends to speak to us in our own language, to use hyperbolical expressions and set forth the better condition of the Militant Church upon Earth, with words borrowed from the state of Glory to which it shall at length arrive. But we must not think that he goes about to delude us with flourishing promises, and then put us off with low and little performances. There have indeed been wonderful accomplishments for the Church in these latter days, peculiarly since the beginning of the Reformation; but these are little in comparison with the things foretold to be brought to pass. We are therefore to look for a transcendently greater glory behind, and making hast to appear. Who shall read Isaiah 60 throughout, and particularly from verse 18 to the end, and Isaiah 11.6, etc. with many other prophecies of a like import? He must confess that there is more yet to be expected.
3. That these days are to be contemporary with the Calling of the Jews, and the fullness of the Gentiles, and the destruction of Anti-Christ. In what order these shall be brought about, I dispute not; but God will doubtless prepare the way to the destruction of the Man of Sin who stands in the way, by giving an enlarged commission for the preaching of the Everlasting Gospel, which shall call his out of Babylon, and convince the Great Ones of their egregious folly in giving their power to the Beast and provoking them to re-assume it. Which preaching shall also call in the nations of the World that at present are unconverted; by which the Jews shall likewise be affected, and persuaded to come in with them unto Christ These things to be sure will be closely connected, and one of them follow upon the other. The Apostle tells us, “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, till the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11.25), and, “As ye in times past have not believed God, yet now have obtained mercy through their unbelief, even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy, they may also obtain mercy” (Rom. 11.30-31). And now it is that these blessed days shall commence: and therefore when the Whore is judged, great salvations come in, and the Jews are brought in, together with the Gentiles to celebrate it with their Hallelujah’s (Rev. 19.1-6). And now shall the Sealed Ones, both of the Jews and Gentiles appear in their lustre.
4. That the happiness of those times will be mainly spiritual. Not but that there will be an external glory then afforded to the Church of God; that is the time when God will say to Zion, “arise and shine” (Isa. 60.1). Then will that prediction be fulfilled in Isaiah 2.2, “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” And that, “the mountains shall bring forth peace to the people” (Psal. 72.3) and, “In his days shall the righteous flourish and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.” (Psal. 72.7). Then shall Satan be bound, and the haters of God shall feign obedience, and his enemies lick the dust. Then will that be understood and experienced, “There shall be no more a pricking brier unto the House of Israel, nor any grieving thorn,” etc. (Ezek. 28.24). But the great glory of these times will be that grace will then flourish, and holiness abound. Christ told Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18.36), and holiness will mainly difference that from all else. It is therefore said of these times, “In that day there shall be upon the bells of the Horses, Holiness to the Lord,” etc. (Zech. 14.20-21).
5. The spiritual felicity of those days will flow from the more full opening of Christ the Fountain. For,
1. All spiritual good derives from Christ. We have none in us naturally. As he purchased for us all that we have, so he confers it upon us, it is “of his fulness that we receive” (Job. 1.16). What therefore he gives, we derive from him, and therefore our increases are proportionable to his communications to us. If he withholds from us, we wither and go to decay, but if he shall influence us liberally, we shall flourish.
2. There have been the gradual communications of this good to the Church and People of God in all generations. This fountain hath been and continueth opened to some or other of fallen men from the beginning; and the manifestations and operations of it have been sometimes more, sometimes less—but there will be more of it than ever in these days. Yea it will then arrive to a fullness, not of absolute, but comparative perfection.
3. The glory of these days, in regard to the fullness of the opening of this fountain, will be seen in two things:
1. In respect of light. This shall be the evening of the Gospel day, of which we are told, “It shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark; but it shall be one day, that shall be known to the Lord, not day nor night; but it shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light” (Zech. 14.6-7). The shadows will fly away and then shall that word be accomplished and take place, “The Earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the Sea” (Hab. 2.14). Then shall all differences in judgment between God’s People cease, and that be fulfilled, “Then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent” (Zeph. 3.9).
2. In respect of efficacy. The virtue of this fountain shall then appear abundantly; the pardoning and sanctifying influence of it shall be to admiration, “Every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live” (Ezek. 47.9). The Spirit will then mightily accompany the dispensation of the Gospel, and conversions will not be so rare and dubious as now they are, nor the lives of Christians so barren, but then will those prophecies have a wonderful accomplishment (Isa. 12.15; 35.10). These are some of the precious things to be expected in that day.
USE I. This doctrine affords matter of great consolation to the Children of God under the present evil days.
And truly the promise and faith of these days have given great light and comfort to God’s Children in former times, under the darkest distresses that they met with—how much more may it now do so to us in these times of “great searchings of heart”? [Jud. 5.16]. If we look on the present state of Christianity in the world, it appears with a black face, and if we stint our speculations here, it will sink us in despondency; but let us look forward, and we may gather abundant refreshment. Consider then:
1. There are better times yet to come. It is night at present, and the terrors of it are apt to affright us; but the day will break, and let us refresh ourselves with that consideration, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psal. 30.5). God hath said, “The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous” (Psal. 125.3). And the Psalm resolves, “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion” (Psal. 102.13); and, “The Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance” (Psal. 94.4). The whole Creation groans for this day, and we ought to live upon the hope [thereof] (Rom. 8.19, 23). Nor need we to fear whether it shall be accomplished, for God hath engaged in it; and we are told, “The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9.7).
2. It will not be long before these days commence. Although we cannot tell the day, or month, or year when that time shall be, yet we are fully assured that it is hastening. We are told in the Apostles’ days, “Yet a little while and he that shall come, will come and will not tarry” (Heb. 10.37). How many of the preliminary predictions, of things that were to intervene and make way to it, have already received their fulfilment? And we may expect that God will make a short work of it when it draws nigh its accomplishment. Nor need the present face of things, though dismal, affright us; or make us think it afar off, for how often is the darkest part of the night just before the day breaks? And therefore the Church acknowledgeth, “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like those that dream” (Psal. 126.1).
3. Let us then much ponder of the happiness of those days, and refresh our weary spirits therewithal. The thing is sure, determined, and cannot fail. Let then our faith give a present substance to the things thus hoped for, and our meditation feed itself comfortably with them. Let us for this end consider with great delight of the things that are then to be expected:
Then shall the Jews come over to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they have abjured (Zech 12.10). “Then will they ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward” (Jer. 50.5), then “their graves shall be opened” (Ezek. 37), and they shall pay homage to their Lord Redeemer. Then shall the Gentiles be called in plenty; then will that word take place, “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee” (Psal. 22.27). And that, “It shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, ye are the Sons of the Living God” (Hos. 1.10). Then will God gloriously accomplish that promise, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psal. 2.8). Then will the Sun of Righteousness appear in his Meridian brightness and dispel the mists of ignorance, errour, and superstition. Then will that prayer of the Church be answered, “That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health to all nations” (Psal. 67.2). Then will all the differences in the Church of Christ be adjusted, and their contentions will cease about the different ways and modes of worship, which at present not a little disturb the Church’s tranquility, “In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one” (Zech. 14.9). Not any more shall the noise of hammers and axe be heard in the building of God’s Temple [1 Kings 6.7]. It will be a very peaceable and flourishing state of the Church, when there shall be neither adversary nor evil occurrent [1 Kings 5.4]. And shall not the belief of these things revive our fainting spirits, and make us to wait patiently through these dreary hours of trouble?
USE II. We also have here a rule by which to judge of the times.
Everyone is ready to make his remarks on the times that he lives in, and which pass over him, and to judge of them whether the days are good or evil. The generality of men take their measures from the observation of outward Providence. If there be outward peace and plenty, they call them happy days; if outward distress and trouble, they call them evil. But we have a better rule, and more safe for Christians, and that is to judge according as this fountain is opened amongst us. The more of Christ that a people enjoy, the happier are they, and the less he is known and acknowledged in his great design of Mediatorship, the greater is the infelicity of such a people. And by this rule I believe the times are evil in the most places that are called Christian—inasmuch as it is a day wherein the greatest number of those that should preach the doctrines of Christ, of Redemption, Justification, Sanctification, and Eternal Life to be obtained by him, and so to be the instruments of opening the Fountain to men, do rather endeavour to obscure them by perverting the great Doctrine of Justification by his righteousness alone, and confounding New Covenant obedience with mere morality, or a legal righteousness. How contrary are these things to those which will be the glory of the times of refreshment!
USE. III. For Exhortation to the People of God in two particulars.
1. Be exhorted to pray much and earnestly for the conversion of the Jews. This duty seems to be too much neglected in these days; and possibly one great reason of it is because the belief of this article runs so low in the Christian world. Be we then roused up to this duty! And there are these considerations which are very profitable for this end:
1. The thing is a matter of faith, and so it calls for prayer. It as a truth not to be doubted of, since God hath given us the assurance of it in his Word, and we ought to “receive his Testimony,” and thereby “set to our seal that God is true” (John 3.33). Now the things that we believe, because God hath promised them, and which are future, are such things as are proper for us to pray for. They are good in themselves, and worth the desiring; and the strength of prayer is in this belief. Yea this is the way in which God hath said that he will communicate the good promised to his people, “I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them” (Ezek. 36.37).
2. They once prayed for us, we therefore owe this duty to them. There was a time when “God only knew them of all the families of the earth” [Amos 3.2]; the Gentiles were “far off” [Ezek. 11.16; Zech. 6.15; Eph. 2.13]. Then they prayed that we might be brought in to Christ’s fold. Psalm 67, among others, is a prayer of the Church of the Jews on this account. Surely then it is but a due requital for us to pray for them.
3. Their miserable condition calls for it. They be objects of compassion, and every tender heart cannot but condole them. Nor is it like to be better with them till the happy day of their conversion cometh. And well may we use a like expostulation which Christ, the Angel of the Covenant once did for them of old when in distress, “O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem; against which thou hast had indignation” (Zech. 1.12).
4. The benefit which shall come with their conversion to the Gentile Churches, is our great encouragement to importunity in it. There was no little advantage by their casting off, but the Apostle assures us that their grafting in shall be transcendently more, Rom. 11.15. “If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11.15). Surely then we pray for ourselves when we pray for them; and one would think that interest would not lie.
5. These happy times are to be ushered in by prayer. God is well pleased in our praying for them, “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee” (Psal. 122.6). And he hath told us that such a spirit shall be preparatory to that happy day, and help to bring it in, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isa. 62.6-7). When therefore God shall pour out such a spirit of prayer on his people in this regard, it will be a blessed prognostic of that glorious time hastening.
2. Let it encourage all that are godly to leave their children behind them with faith and comfort. We are some of us going off the stage, and are very solicitous what shall become of ours when we are gone. There are many saddening considerations that appear in our view, which do sometimes fill us with perplexity; but let such as fear God look through and beyond the present discouragements, and comfort themselves with such thoughts as these. Not only do we leave our children to a good God, a Covenant keeping God, whose truth and faithfulness we may safely rely upon, but it is comfort for us to think that that day is not far off. And though we may not live to see the dawnings of it, yet our posterity may see the breaking of it, and partake in the happy benefits that it shall bring to the Church of God. To nourish our faith with the contemplation of the glorious dispensations which there shall be in that day, when God will bring his Church out of darkness into light, and take them out of the horrible pit, and set their feet upon the Rock [Psal. 40.2]. And then to remember, that the children of the faithful have a special interest in the blessings of that day, according to the promise, “All thy children shall be taught of God, and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isa. 54.13). Let us then in faith do our duty to them while we live, and when we die, let us rejoice in this hope, that there are better times coming on, when God shall bring back his peoples’ captivity. When he who cannot lie, will give being to that precious Word in which he hath made us to hope, “God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there, and have it in possession: the seed also of his servants shall inherit it, and they that fear his Name shall dwell therein” (Psal. 69.35-36).