Excerpt from Christian Missions and the Social Ideal: A Sermon Before the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, at the Seventy-First Annual Meeting, Held in Lowell, Mass., Oct. 5, 1880
By a new heaven and a new earth we are to understand the whole race of mankind, morally and spiritually renewed. The passing away of the first heaven and the first earth signifies that the present divided and hostile condition of the races of men shall give way to a universal reign of peace and good will. And in the striking picture of a world in which there is no more sea is assured to us the mastery of all natural forces as well as all moral and Spiritual, so that man kind shall no more be kept from coming together into that brotherhood of love in which they cannot but believe, and for which they instinctively yearn.
The sea offered only images of terror to the mind of those to whom St. John wrote. It bounded the known world. They peopled with direful fancies the regions which lay beyond its distant rim. Meaning by the word sea the Mediterranean, with which they were chieﬂy conversant, it would suggest to them ideas of distance and separation long and perilous voyages, which would not bring them to friends, but to savage and hostile tribes.
No doubt all these ideas were in the mind of the rapt seer when he used his beautiful image. He is carried forward by the Spirit of God into the time when Christ shall be the universal King. It is the glory and blessedness of that day which his vivid figure paints. He means to say that a time is coming, in the history of our world, when the dominion of man over nature shall be complete, the sea even not blocking the pathways of his love; when he shall regard no place as the abode of mys tery or danger; and when that separation, difficulty of access, and hostility which now divide the nations from one another, and of which the sea is a striking symbol, shall give place to an easy, brotherly, and uniformly delightful intercourse among all the inhabitants of our globe.
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