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vil rights, or are stigmatized on these accounts, there is that spirit which is not of God. . Wherever one Christian, or sect of Christians, assumes the seat of authority and judgment in the church of Christ, whether they call for fire to destroy those who dissent from them, or only exclude them from their communion and affection, there is a portion of that spirit of Antichrist which has so long opposed itself to the benign principles of the kingdom of the Prince of Peace, has been the cause of so many evils to humanity, and the occasion of making the inconsiderate esteem the amiable religion of Jesus, as a source of mischief instead of benevolence! Alas, how much of this spirit remains amongst us all! How few have learned that * in Jesus Christ circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. But we are assured from the scriptures, that all these usurpations and Antichristian principles will have an end ; and that the gospel will produce the various happy effects which are predicted. The religion of Christians will then no longer consist in t meat and drink, but in righteousness, peace, and joy; the practice of justice, the cultivation of harmony, and the diffusion of happiness The question is, When may we hope to see these predictions accomplished Long have a pious few had their eyes fixed on the promises of God with ardent expectation, and been crying, How long, O Lord, ere thou wilt avenge the blood of thy saints and create Jerusalem a quiet dwelling-place, and 2ion the joy of all the earth 2 Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly s——Behold I come at an hour when ye think not blessed is he that watcheth. Some suppose, that all our inquiries about the time of the accomplishment of the predictions relative to the downfal of Antichristian usurpations and corruptions, which is to prepare the way for the peaceful kingdom of the Redeemer, are in vain. If so, wherefore is it said, Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy 2 Rev. i. 3. . Here is wisdom, let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast, xiii. 18. Though the meaning of the prophecies is necessarily
wrapt up in modes of expression not easily, to be under
stood, as they would otherwise operate against their own accomplishment; yet they may not be absolutely inscrutable; and especially when their accomplishment ap
* 1 Cor. vii. 19. + Rom. Riv. 17.
proaches nearer, and increasing light is cast upon them by the arising of circumstances connected with them. This seems to be intimated by the angel, Dan, xii. 4, 9, 10. But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.—The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.—None of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. The meaning of these words, according to the learned Dr. Lowth, is, “The nearer the time approaches for the final accomplishment of the prophecy, the more light shall men have for the understanding it; for the gradual completion of this and other prophecies shall direct observing readers to form a judgment concerning those particulars which are yet to be fulfilled. From hence we may observe the reason of the obscurity of several prophecies in scripture; and it may be observed, that generally those prophecies are most obscure, the time of whose completion is furthest off. For the same reason, in interpreting the prophecies relating to the latter times of the world, the judgment of the latter writers is to be preferred before that of the ancients, because the moderns living nearer the times when the events were to be fulfilled, had surer marks to guide them in their expositions.” Lowth's Expos. Dan. xii. 4.—9. he paraphrases thus: “Be content with what has been made known to thee: (Daniel) for the fuller explication of this prophesy is deferred till the time of its accomplishment draws near.” The opinion then of this learned commentator was, that God would so dispose things that observing men should, from the signs. of the times, be led to understand the true meaning of those prophecies, relating to the latter times of the world, which had not been before understood, so as hence to foresee the approaching downfall of Antichrist, and those other great events connected with it; and by which means the divine word will be much accredited, men be cured of their infidelity, and God hereby be honoured. My mind has of late been much affected with the appearances of things in the Christian world, and with the occurrences which have, within these few years, burst upon us.Occurrences which are unparalleled in the history of nations. In America a revolution has taken place, which is singular in its consequences, and especially as they concern the state of religion. We have long been told, that if the Christian religion were left unprotected by establishments, and unsupported by emoluments, it would soon be borne down, and all its solemnities forsaken and despised. The experiment has here been made, and fact demonstrates the fallacy of such conclusions. The people are eased of a heavy burden, and pure and undefiled religion flourishes more than ever. Hirelings have withdrawn, but pięty and virtue, charity and union increase, But a few years after this grand event, one of the first nations of Europe, long en-' slaved, and blinded by superstition, at once broke its chains, and tore away the bandages with which Popish priests had bound the eyes of the multitude. Civil liberty had long been forgotten, and, for more than a hundred years, no liberty of conscience was permitted to the insulted people: And as a nation they had for ages been made, by their tyrants, the scourge of all their neighbours. This people have, to the astonishment of the whole civilized world, risen up as in one day, and, in opposition to the combined power of their king, their priests and nobles, have dared to say, We will be free~We will have just and equal laws-No man shall punish, and no man shall be punished but as the law commands—The poor as well as the rich shall be protected— Conscience is the property of God, and every man shall worship his maker as he pleases-We will never make war, but in self-defence, and will embrace all men as our brethren. And this was not the resolution of a few, it was the solemn covenant of twenty-six millions of people. What a phænomenon in the history of man! What an epoch in the history of the church! * But German despots and their creatures, whose existence depends on the ignorance and servility of mankind, fearing the influence of such an example, have been exerting all their power to crush this rising spirit of liberty, and to support the falling Papacy. By whose hand was it that they and their remnant were driven back with loss and shame? His, who maketh the wrath of man to praise him.-Alas! the calamities which opposition to the most benevolent senti. ments has occasioned! The passions of men have been enraged, and in the paroxism of resentment, fear, and de
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* Happy would it have been if the French people had acted up to their first professions! But though their deviations and crimes have excited, not only disapprobation but horror, yet all wise men will distinguish between the guilt of the instruinents, and the rightcousness of that Providence by which the nations are punished for their sins, even whilst the purposes of inercy are accomplishing. Sixth Edition.
spair, the best of causes, the cause of liberty, has been stained by the commission of crimes which afflict a great majority of their own nation, and all the genuine friends of liberty and justice throughout the world. None can contemplate them but with the keenest anguish, except those who are watching for occasions to slander all who resist oppressors. The circumstances of this wonderful revolution, mark it as an event of vast importance, and as probably big with consequences beyond all conjecture. The prophecies respecting the downfal of the Antichristian usurpations, must have their accomplishment in some aera; it may be the present. It is therefore surely worth our while to inquire how far the predictions of God’s word will agree with the rise and progress of known events. Thus it has appeared to me, and the more I examine and think upon the subject, the more I am convinced, that the last days spoken of by God's servants the prophets, are fast approaching; when Bahylon the Great shall come mn remembrance, and God will avenge the blood of his saints, and the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of
the Lord, and of his Christ ; by not only professsing the
religion of Jesus, but by acting under its influence, and copying after his example, who was meek and lowly in heart, and who came, “not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” And this kingdom shall not be a kingdom of anarchy, but a state of things, in which the governors and the governed, and all the different ranks in society, will unite to promote the general good. . It is not impossible that the present shaking of nations should bring about this desirable event. Some however object, that the progress of the French revolution has been marked with too much outrage and blood; and that the persons engaged in it are of a character too bad to admit it to be from God, a . work which he approves, and which he intends as the introduction to those happy days of which the prophets have spoken. - It would not be a very difficult task to prove that those German princes and domestic foes to liberty, who have opposed the emancipation of France from the yoke of royal and priestly tyrants, have been the occasion of almost all the horrors which have been committed, and at their hands will much of the blood be required, which has been, or may hereafter be, shed, in this mighty and interesting struggle, between men roused up by the severity of
their sufferings, to claim the rights they had long been
robbed of, and those continental tyrants who, for ages, have been the scourges of the human race. But granting that the leaders in the French revolution have been as atrociously wicked as represented, this does not, in the slightest degrec, affect our hypothesis. Though many of the instruments which Providence employs may be unworthy characters, and though the extraneous evil connected with the revolution in France may afflict our hearts, and provoke not only our censure, but our indignation, still the great principles of it may demand our homage, and the end to be hoped for, the triumphs of truth and justice over superstition, persecution, and oppression, may excite our joy. Cyrus waded through the blood of kings and armies to plunder the earth, and subject nations to his will; (he spared not children, Isa. xiii. 18.); but we have been taught to venerate his memory, as the servant of God. And why Not because all his exploits, as his, were righteous, but because we have seen the issue, and been informed, that he was made an instrument in the hand of God, to execute his righteous judgments; that it was He who gave nations before him, and made him rule over kings, that Babylon might sit in the dust, and captive Israel go free. What was Henry the Eighth, who began our reformation A monster What were his motives? The gratification of his lusts. What were the means which he employed —How blind is man We only know, that in God dwell the attributes of wisdom, justice, and goodness, but we are incapable of tracing the sphere of their operations. He saw fit to make use of the Jewish rulers, and to direct the worst of human passions, for the purpose of effecting our redemption, by the death of Jesus Christ. Are established systems of superstition and tyranny to be overthrown by a few smooth words of benevolence and wisdom Happy if they could! Are the dragon, and the beasts which have so depopulated the earth for ages, to perish without convulsion Read, —* They have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy. When this period shall arrive there will be much work to do, for the execution of which the meek of the earth are by no means qualified. To censure disorder, to shudder at bloodshed, and to practise mercy is our duty; for neither God's secret counsels, nor his providential judgments,
* Rev. xvi. 6. *