That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven…
Heaven and earth are to be restored to each other as well as to Him. The knowledge of God and the sanctity which have come to us in this world of conflict and sin are to flow into the great stream of pure angelic life; and the joy, the strength, the wisdom, and the security, alike of angels and of men, will be indefinitely augmented. As yet, we and they are like countries so remote or so estranged from each other that there has been no exchange of material or intellectual treasures. What the poverty of England would be if we had been always isolated from the rest of the human race we can hardly tell. It is by the free intercourse of trade, and the still freer intercourse of literature, that nations become rich and wise. Sunnier skies and more luxuriant soils give us more than half our material wealth, and we send in exchange the products of our mines and the works of our industry and skill. From sages who speculated on the universe and human life in the very morning of civilization, from poets whose genius was developed in the ancient commonwealths of Greece, our intellectual energy has received its most vigorous inspiration; and our religious faith is refreshed by streams which had their springs in the life of ancient Jewish saints and prophets, and of Christian apostles who lived eighteen centuries ago. What we hope for in the endless future is a still more complete participation in whatever knowledge and love of God, whatever righteousness, whatever joy, may exist in any province of the created universe. Race is no longer to be isolated from race, or world from world. A power, a wisdom, a holiness, a rapture, of which a solitary, soul, a solitary world, would be incapable, are to be ours through the gathering together of all things in Christ. We, for our part, shall contribute to the fulness of the universal life. To the principalities of heaven we shall be able to speak of God's infinite mercy to a race which had revolted against His throne; of the kinship between the eternal Son of God and ourselves; of the mystery of His death and the power of His resurrection; of the consolation which came to us in sorrows which the happy angels never knew; of the tenderness of the Divine pity which was shown to us in pain and weariness and disappointment; of the strength of the Divine support which made inconstancy resolute in well doing, and changed weakness and fear into victorious heroism. And they will tell us of the ancient days when no sin had cast its shadow on the universe, and of all that they have learnt in the millenniums of blessedness and purity during which they have seen the face of God. The sanctity which is the fruit of penitence will have its own pathetic loveliness for righteous races that have never sinned; and we shall be thrilled with a new rapture by the vision of a perfect glory which has never suffered even temporary eclipse. Their joy in their own security will be heightened by their generous delight in our rescue from sin and eternal death, and our gratitude for our deliverance will deepen in intensity as we discover that our honour and blessedness are not inferior to theirs who have never broken the eternal law of righteousness. Our final glory will consist, not in the restoration of the solitary soul to solitary communion with God, but in the fellowship of all the blessed with the blessedness of the universe as well as with the blessedness of God.
(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: