The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play upon the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand upon the cockatrice’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain. — ISAIAH 11:6–9
I HAVE formerly, in divers sermons upon this scripture,* declared that it, by way of prophecy, foretelleth what shall be the fruits of Christ’s kingdom under the gospel, shewing that miraculous change Christ should make upon men, shadowed out in this scripture under the similitude of beasts, as lions, wolves, bears, leopards, &c. The sum whereof is, that God will take from us that fierceness, malignity, and bitterness of nature in us, and bring us, in place thereof, to a loving, sweet, mild, and meek society together.
Many things already have been particularly handled out of this text; as,
1. First, from the condition and natural estate of men, wherein they may be called beasts, lions, serpents, &c.
2. And secondly, of that change Christ thereafter makes in us, which indeed is a miraculous change. This was the first thing handled.
First, That in every soul which shall come to heaven there must be a change.
Secondly, You have heard whereof the change must be; not of the substantial parts of a man’s body, but of the corrupt qualities of the mind; or, if you will have it so, of the soul, and all the powers thereof.
Thirdly, I shewed upon whom this change was made—look verse 9; it is made upon the church of God in this world, which in my text is called God’s holy mountain. So also, Heb. 12:22, the church is called the mountain of God.
The fourth thing considered was, by whom this change was made; even by the spring-head of all. From the God of grace it cometh, and floweth to us by Jesus Christ our Lord, who was ‘God manifested in the flesh.’
Fifthly, We inquired then by what means this change is wrought. This we shewed to be by the knowledge of the law, &c. And this is the reason which is added why there shall be no hurt nor destroying in all this holy mountain, because the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea; meaning there shall then be an abundant knowledge, a deep knowledge, and a well-seasoned permanent knowledge, which shall keep every one within their limits, every one knowing his duty, so maintaining a mutual peace in all this holy mountain.
Next, now sixthly and lastly, for ending of this text, I am to speak of the marks of this change; or rather, I may call them, the effects of this change, the certain and infallible signs of the same. Yet look not that here I will undertake to handle a commonplace, and shew unto you all the signs of regeneration; only I will contain myself within this text, contented to shew you those which this scripture affordeth, which whosoever hath, may assure themselves of the rest. Wherein, ere we proceed further in particular, let us first make the general; that is, a taming, a subduing, a taking away of the fierceness and cruelty of our corrupt nature. This throughout the text is the main mark of the change; which will yet be more evident by the particulars.
What meaneth this, ‘that the lion shall lie down with the calf, that the leopard shall lie down with the kid,’ when they shall come from their own kind to another strange generation, as it were? What meaneth this, that they shall trust one another with their young ones? that the lion shall no more prey upon blood, as in times past, but eat straw with the ox? that the serpent shall let the little child play upon the hole of his den? and all these to be so tamed that a little child should lead them, take them, and rule them? What meaneth all this but this,
That it is an eminent and infallible mark of regeneration to have the violence and fierceness of our cruel nature taken away. This is a sure sign; for this look Rom. 1:29, how naturally the heart is filled with all maliciousness and sinful cruelty, which to be subdued and tamed is a special grace; so Gal. 6:7–9, and Eph. 4:17, et seq. There you may see the fruits of the old man to be idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, wrath, strife, sedition, &c.; there you may also read of a change, of a renewing of the new man in love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against whom there is no law. There you may see what a great alteration this change maketh, and what the marks of corruption are.