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and great increase of beresy, and the relaxed discipline of the church, and diminished zeal of persecution, far too indulgent to the heretical maxim “I will have mercy and not sacrifice,” (152) will be looked upon by popish bigots as a sufficient method of accounting for the judgments fallen on holy church.-Her mercy had been too much, and her faith too little, in not wholly extinguishing the witnesses, the enemies of God and the saints, when they were yet in their power.
If we admit such an idea of the oeconomy of God, in the vouchsafement of prophetic revelation, and the subsequent fulfilment of the prophecies, each in its appointed season, by means of natural causes, and by an easy preparation of events to come, and a gradation almost imperceptible from one link of the continued chain to the next: if, above all, we admit the great aptitude of mankind to interpret the prophecy and its accomplishment consistently with their respective prejudices and several favoured hypotheses; we may then expect that the world will proceed on to the end of all things very much in the same manner as it has hitherto done, for the greater part. The wicked and perverse shall continue to do wickedly; “and none of the wicked shall understand. But the wise shall understand.” (153) And the same idea is intimated by St. John, after his description of the happy and holy millennium ; for such it will indeed be to the candid and sincere followers of God. But “be that is unjust, let him be unjust still, faith the spirit; and be which is filthy, let bim be filthy still ; and be that is righteous, let bim be righteons still; and be that is holy, let him be holy still." (154) which is a strong intimation that whatever vouchsafements of divine revelation shall at various times be given to the world; or whatever evidence of its truth by prophecies fulfilled, such will still be the result, and mankind will only receive them consistently with their genius and disposition, and the cultiva
of these Ship Owners and Merchants in the ocean of popery, upon the loss of the great mart of their spiritual wares and merchandise of “soul of men.” Rev. xviii. 13.
(152) Matthew xii. 7.
tion and bent which has been given to it by education and habits of thinking.
The accomplishment of the prophecies will, in no instance, be so notoriously manifest and overpowering, in evidences of the finger of God, as to render void and nugatory the obedience of faith. For faith is the present evidence of things not seen with bodily eyes. By faith we give full and implicit credit to the word of God, concerning things which are yet remote from the apprehension of sense, and only objects of religious hope. And it is declared by the apostle, even in the primitive times, when miraculous and visible evidences of the truth of christianity were not unfrequently set before the eyes of mankind, that with respect to the hope that is in us, we must walk by faith, and not by fight, (155) and prepare ourselves to wrestle not only with opposition from the hostile prejudices and interests of mankind, but with powers unseen, and of which we know not certainly their nature, nor opportunities of assault,
nor the extent of the privilege permitted to them for the trial of our obedience. (156)
Let difficulties then remain in the adjustment of the prophetical times; and suffer the ingenuity of expositors to settle them, with not a little discordancy, each according to his favorite hypothesis: and permit obscurity to be scattered by the hand of the divine artificer himself, over the times and seasons which he willeth to keep in his own power: yet still the great and principal lines of truth and certainty are distinguishable by all ingenuous minds, and none but the perverse and wilfully blind can easily mistake them. The scoffer and the sceptic will find matter in divine mysteries to carp at still, and the advocates of popery an handle whereby to hold fast tenaciously the traditions of their infallible church still, the subtle sophistry of jesuitical reasoners will continue to bewilder still, and the thick film of a satanical delusion to overspread the eyes of the worshippers of the beast still ; even after the beast bimself, and the false prophet both, shall have gone into the perdition prepared for them,
(156) Ephes, vi. 12.
For St. John's description of the highest state of perfection on earth, to which religion and faith will ever be advanced, still calculates upon the indestructible permanency of evil, though it may admit in a great degree of strong coercion, and a separation from good, the type of heaven and hell, for a great length of time. Righteousness and peace may indeed reign within the happy walls of the New JERus ALEM, yet without the pale of the church at that time, and unaffected by the almost general conversion, and by Christs entire conquest of all his enemies, there still remain “dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth
and maketh a lie.” (157)
(157) Rev. xxi. 8.-xxii. 15.-Compare these texts with Rev. ix. 20, 21, and xvi. 1 I. and we shall see to what sort of torcerers &c. the allusion here is made. These are our old friends of holy church still alive and hearty, after their principals have totally disappeared Such is the unconquerable inveteracy of popish bigotry! The idolaters mentioned, may allude to some remainder of heathen idolatry, that of the papalians being a spiritual whoredom. And it is probable that conversion may not embrace all the globe. The insurrection of the Gogians and Magogians at the end of the Millennium is an additional proof that the promised reign of righteousness at that time is to be received with some limitation.