An Inquiry into the Times that shall be Fulfilled at Antichrist's Fall, and at the Church's Entry into Her Millennial Rest.
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel."—Mark 1:15.
IT seemed good to the Holy Ghost, that some of Christ's discourses, and those also of his Apostles, should be very summarily mentioned, in the Holy Scriptures. The account of many of them does not contain a record of what was spoken, but a statement of the scope and substance of what they delivered to the church. When the day of Pentecost was fully come; when the Apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance; when Peter had delivered, on that day, a most affecting discourse to the people; when his hearers were pricked in their hearts, and said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" and when Peter had given them counsel suited to their present convictions, it is added, as an account of the sequel of his discourse—"And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation." When Paul revisited the Macedonian churches, the account we have of his labors among them, is stated in the following words: "And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece." The same thing is done with respect to many of Christ's discourses. While some of them seem to be given at great length, as his sermon on the Mount, and his addresses to his disciples immediately before his death, others of them are mentioned in a very general way. Of that discourse which he pronounced in the synagogue of Nazareth, after he had read from Isaiah 61:1,2, a remarkable prediction concerning himself, the following words contain all the account that is given of it: "He began to say to them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth." Concerning that most seasonable and instructive address which he made to two of his disciples, on their way to Emmaus, this is all the Scripture record: "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart, to believe all that the Prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself." Of this, the words of our text are a striking instance. Of the early part of Christ's public ministry, and in his first tour through the cities of Galilee, this is the very summary, yet most satisfactory account of his labors: "Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel." We ought to observe in all this, Divine wisdom and sovereignty. If all Christ's discourses and miracles, with those of his apostles after him, had been recorded at full length, the volume of inspiration would have been so large, that the world's inhabitants, for whose salvation it was revealed, could not have so readily searched it, so clearly understood it, so profitably improved it, nor so easily propagated it, both for the glory of its Divine Author, and for the good of themselves and others. The want of great prolixity in the sacred volume, is no want of perfection; but must rather be considered as a special excellency of the Divine word. This may probably be the design of John's words, with which his Gospel history of Christ is concluded: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." From the summary account which is given of some of those discourses, as well as from those that are recorded more in detail, the church may receive great instruction: so we should say concerning the information which is given in the one, and that which seems to be withheld in the other, "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight."
In the text, there are the following things, to which your attention must be directed:—The information which Christ gives to the people concerning the expiration of the season, which was then coming to an end. The time is fulfilled. The apostle Paul mentions this season, on two different occasions, in the words that follow: "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." And again: "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he might gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and on earth, even in him." This time, as it is mentioned in the text, seems to have a respect to that season, as it should bring to an end that system which existed before it, and establish in its stead the Gospel dispensation. In the former quotation from Paul, this time is considered as the season of those glorious transactions, in Christ's incarnation, obedience and death, by which the former system was set aside, and the meritorious foundation was laid for supporting the economy that should be introduced. The time mentioned in the latter quotation from Paul, contemplates the same season in its effects. The new system having been introduced, and its sure foundation laid, the Lord should, from that very time, begin his glorious work of gathering together in one all things in Christ; a work which he shall carry on till the end of time, and perfect in glory forever. As it is the view given of this time in Christ's words, with which I am now concerned, to it I shall confine myself. Jesus informs the people in his doctrine, that the time was fulfilled. The time which was appointed for the Mosaic dispensation; the time for confining the knowledge and worship of the true God to the seed of Jacob; the time of types and ceremonies in the church of God; the time of the universal reign and prevalence of ignorance, idolatry and wickedness among the Gentile nations; this time was now fulfilled. The time of the church's minority, when her members were children in bondage under the elements of the world, was now come to an end. The time that was to intervene betwixt the giving of the promises and predictions concerning the Messiah, and their accomplishment, in his appearance in our world, is now run out. The seventy weeks mentioned in Daniel are now nearly fulfilled. This is the information which Christ intimated to the people, when he declared to them, The time is fulfilled. Had Christ's hearers understood and believed this information, they would have recognized it as good tidings of great joy unto all people, and would have received the blessed announcement, as Simeon and Anna did, with rapturous delight and triumph.
In the text, Christ gives his hearers further information; and the kingdom of God is at hand. He did not only assure them of the expiration of the foregoing season, and of the abolition of the ceremonial dispensation which belonged to it; but he unfolds to them the nature of the time which was now approaching, and the happy state into which the church should be immediately introduced, "The kingdom of God is at hand." The Gospel kingdom is now to be erected; the Son of God has now come out of Bethlehem Ephratah, and has begun his glorious work for the redemption of men. This work he will completely finish; go to the Father; commission his ambassadors; send his Spirit to the church; establish his kingdom of grace, purity and peace; gather multitudes into its fellowship, and preserve it in the world till the end of time. All this information to Israel is included in Christ's declaration, "and the kingdom of God is at hand." By this intimation, Christ assured the Jews, that the Lord was now about to fulfill that prediction, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed." This important information to Israel was the principal scope of John's message: "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." It was the great design of the early part of Christ's public ministry, which is evident from our text. It was the substance of the apostles' ministry, while their Master was on earth; for from him they received this command, "And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Of the ministry of the seventy whom Jesus also sent out, this was likewise the chief end; for their commission is expressed in these words: "And say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." The design of all those intimations which were made to the Jews by those different persons at different times, was to bring them to be properly affected with those great and astonishing alterations, which God was about to introduce.
The text represents also the duty to which the professors of religion were called, at that important season: repent ye, and believe the Gospel. Be ye exercised in a suitableness to the great change that is to be accomplished. Prepare yourselves for the coming of this kingdom. Be ye ready to welcome, with all your heart, the glorious deliverance. Repent ye. Humble yourselves on account of your sin. Confess to the Lord your transgressions, and look to his mercy for the pardon of your iniquity. Believe the Gospel. Give credit to the truths that are now revealed to you, concerning the coming of the Just One, and that kingdom that he will set up. Embrace the new revelation that is to be made, and submit to the new dispensation which is to be established. By the exercise of faith and repentance, be ye prepared for those great and astonishing operations which God will accomplish before your eyes.
These are the things to which the text did primarily refer. I mean, however, to apply it to the things that are coming to pass in our own day; to the coming of the kingdom of God in the glory of her Millennial state; and the following considerations will warrant us in that application.
Many portions of the Old Testament, which predict the church's deliverance and prosperity, and which express the duty of her members concerning them, apply primarily to the Jews' return from Babylon; find their accomplishment, in a higher sense, at the erection of the Christian dispensation; shall be fulfilled, also, when the church shall enter on her latter-day glory, and will be completely perfected in heaven. Our text may also be applied in the same way. There are three periods of the church to which the text, in all its parts, may be applied: the erection of the Gospel dispensation, the introduction of the Millennium, and the season immediately preceding the consummation of all things. Since the ancient Prophets declared to the people the approach of the church's deliverance from Babylon, and called them to those duties which were suited to that time; since Christ and his apostles announced to the Jews the coming of the kingdom of God in her Gospel form, and enjoined on them duties answerable to their state; since it will be the duty and the employment of Christ's servants who shall exist in the church, near the end of the world, to apply those very words to the circumstances in which they shall be placed, saying to the people, All time is now to be fulfilled, and the kingdom of glory will soon be manifested; repent ye and believe the Gospel, that ye may be prepared for judgment and eternity; it certainly must be the duty of Gospel ministers, living near the church's deliverance, and her latter-day glory, to carry this message to mankind, by an application of the text to their present situation:—"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel."
The meaning of Scripture is one; but, as no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation, it is no breach of that unity to apply them to situations and circumstances which correspond exactly with the church's condition, for which they were primarily intended. The denial of this would deprive the saints and the church of God, of much of that direction and comfort which the Scriptures are calculated to give, and which they receive from them. Though there will be no change of dispensation at the latter-day glory, as there was at Christ's appearance in our world, yet there shall be such a glorious alteration in the church's condition, as will warrant the application of the text, to the things which will come to pass in those days. Some Scriptures which refer to the church in one state of things, may, by fair analogy and unforced accommodation, be applied with equal propriety to the church's condition, which is of the same description. At the coming of Christ, a long and dreary time was fulfilled; the kingdom of God did come, and men were called to prepare for that joyful event, by repentance and faith in the Gospel: so at the church's entry into her Millennial rest, a most dreadful period of darkness shall come to an end; the kingdom of God will gloriously appear; and the members of the church must study preparation for the solemn season, by the exercise of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. From these considerations we are authorized to apply Christ's words in the text, to the present circumstances and expectations of the church. If it was the work of John, of Jesus, of the twelve, and of the seventy, at the death of the legal dispensation, and at the birth of the gospel-economy, to proclaim to men, "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the gospel;" it must also be the duty of gospel-ministers, when the decease of Antichrist and the revival of the church are approaching, to sound an alarm on God's holy mountain, by applying these very words to the glorious events.
In the text, according to this application of it, there is information concerning the ending of that time, which God has fixed, and which prophecy has revealed to us: "The time is fulfilled:" The time that must run out before the church can be delivered from her enemies, and advanced to her state of peace and purity: The time that must come to an end before that dreadful and systematic corruption of Christianity, which has been set on foot and maintained by the Antichristian church, shall be put down: The time, during which the Gentiles shall possess the court that is without the temple, and tread under foot the holy city. [Rev. 11.2.] This time shall then be fulfilled.
We have information also concerning the deliverance of the true church, which is the object of all this opposition, and which is depressed during its continuance: "The kingdom of God is at hand." The time of the church's universal extent, glory, purity and peace, is fast approaching. The time when the predictions and promises which relate to the church's happy condition in this world, shall be accomplished, is drawing near. The season of the Lord's answering the prayers of his saints, who have incessantly cried at his throne of grace, "Thy kingdom come," is at hand.
The duty of Christians who are living in the near prospect of this deliverance, is also contained in the text: "Repent ye, and believe the Gospel." Be ye diligently exercised in the duties of religion, and prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.
In discoursing on this subject, it is proposed,
To mention some of those times that shall be fulfilled at Antichrist's fall, and at the church's entering on her Millennial rest.
To describe the happy condition of the church during the thousand years of her glory and purity.
To mention some of those signs which indicate this blessed condition of the church, to be at hand.
To make some remarks on the prophetic numbers of Daniel and John, which are contained in the one thousand three hundred and five and thirty days, mentioned at the end of Daniel's prophecy.
To speak of the Christian's duty at this important crisis:—Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.
I. I am now to mention some of those times that shall be fulfilled at Antichrist's fall, and at the church's entering into her Millennial rest. This time, considered as a period of duration, is one; but, viewed in its characters, may be many. By mentioning some of its most prominent features, I am now to describe it.
1. The time for exercising secular tyranny over the nations shall then be fulfilled. Scripture predictions warrant us to believe, that the general complexion of civil government, till the time of the church's deliverance shall arrive, will be tyrannical. "Daniel's explanation of Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the great image, chap. 2:36; his own vision of the four beasts, chap. 7:2; and John's visions in his revelation, clearly indicate this state of things. The vision of the king and that of the prophet relate to the same time and to the same objects, and comprehend a period of nearly two thousand five hundred years, from the days of Nebuchadnezzar, when the visions were seen, to the downfall of the Roman Beast, both secular and ecclesiastic. The golden head of the image was the Babylonian Monarchy, which was then in existence; the silver breast and arms, the empire of the Medes and Persians; the brazen belly and thighs, the kingdom of the Greeks; and the iron legs, and the feet and toes of iron and clay, the empire of the Romans. The stone which was cut out without hands, and smote the image on its feet, that part of it which represented the Roman empire in its decline, and then became a great mountain, which filled the whole earth, symbolized the kingdom of Christ. In Daniel's vision, he saw the same objects represented by other symbols. The golden head is, in this vision, represented by a lion with eagle's wings; the silver breast and arms, by a bear, with three ribs in the mouth of it; the belly and thighs of brass, by a leopard, having on the back of it four wings of a fowl; and the legs and feet and toes are symbolized by an extraordinary beast, which was dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly, having great iron teeth, devouring and breaking in pieces, and stamping the residue with the feet of it. This beast was different from all those who were before it, as it appeared at first in the form of a republic, having ten horns, answering to the ten toes which were upon the image in the king's vision. These frightful representations exhibit their arbitrary and tyrannical government over their own subjects, and their unjust cruelty to one another. Every one of them destroyed the empire of the one that existed before him, till all was swallowed up by the devouring beast of Rome. Before John saw his visions, three of those beasts had perished from the earth, and the fourth, or Roman beast, was at the height of its power; and therefore, his predictions were entirely confined to it. Of this beast we have an account: Rev. 13:1-8. John saw it rise out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon its heads the name of blasphemy. It was like a leopard, its feet like those of a bear, and its mouth like that of a lion. It made war on the saints, and overcame them; and power was given to it over all kindreds and tongues and nations. In John's revelations, we find a description also of his ten horns: "And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb:" Rev. 17:12-14. These ten horns are identified with the Roman beast, and their government is arbitrary and tyrannical like his own. All these predictions inform the church of God, that during this long period, the men who shall have in their hands the government of the nations, shall, in their administrations, resemble the lion, the bear, the leopard, and a great monstrous beast, having seven heads and ten crowned horns. The history of mankind represents a full accomplishment of these predictions. It clearly proves that the prophetic picture has not been overcharged, and that every feature in it has been completely fulfilled. Although the violence of the storm may be somewhat broken, as the beast is now in its old age, yet the same spirit continues to actuate it, and as far as its power will permit, the same courses are pursued. The rulers of the earth in general, disregarding the rights, liberties, property, and lives of their subjects, and seeking their own aggrandizement, and the establishment of their own dynasties, pursue such measures of rule, by oppression, persecution and war, as render their administration a source of calamity to men. Were we to take a view of some of the collateral visions in those books, as that of the ram and the he-goat—Dan. 8; the devastations by Alexander's successors—Dan. 11; or the ravages of the Saracens and Turks—Rev. 9; it would further demonstrate that this long and dreary season, from the beginning to the end of it, has been, and will continue to be, a time of injustice, cruelty, tyranny and blood. But shall this sword devour forever? No: the time of its slaughter shall be fulfilled. As the predictions concerning the existence and prevalence of those beasts upon the earth have been exactly accomplished, so the prophecies concerning their destruction, shall be fulfilled in their season. The time will come when the stone "which was cut out without hands, shall smite the image upon his feet of iron and clay, and break them to pieces; when the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold, shall be broken in pieces together, and become as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor, and the wind shall carry them away, that no place shall be found for them; and when the stone that smote the image shall become a great mountain, and shall fill the whole earth." The time will come, "when he that leadeth into captivity, shall go into captivity; and when he that killeth with the sword, shall be killed with the sword." Then the time of secular tyranny over the nations shall be fulfilled.
2. The time of Antichrist's reign in the earth, and his power over the church of God, shall then be fulfilled. The existence and dominion of this enemy are foretold by the prophet Daniel, and by the apostles Paul and John. "I considered the horns," says Daniel, chap. 7:8,21,25, "and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things." "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand, until a time, and times, and the dividing of time?" "Let no man deceive you by any means," says Paul, 2 Thess. 2:3,4; "for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." Two of John's visions of this ecclesiastic beast of Rome, must also be mentioned. He saw it rise, chap. 13:11: "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth, and them that dwell therein, to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed." At the beginning of the seventeenth chapter, another vision of the same object is recorded. "So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness, and I saw a woman sit on a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet-color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications. And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus; and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration." These are some of the predictions concerning the rise, character and conduct of the ecclesiastic beast of Rome. The history of the Romish church, and of the Popes who have been at the head of it, clearly shows, that black and frightful as the representations are, they have not been exaggerated. It is not necessary that every feature in this prophetic drawing, should be found in this beast at his childhood, nor that they should all prominently appear in him in his old age: sufficient certainly it must be, if they are all applicable to him, in the course of his life and actings. His rising up among the ten kingdoms into which the Roman empire was divided; his pretending to be Christ's vicegerent, and the sovereign head of the church on earth; his claim to infallibility in his doctrines and decisions, and his usurping and exercising a power to depose and set up kings, and to dispose of crowns and kingdoms; fulfill many of the things that are contained in these predictions. His hatred of the true church of Christ; the thundering anathemas and violent edicts which he has denounced against her; the cruel persecutions which he has carried on against her members; the dreadful massacres of them which he has contrived and executed; and the bloody wars which have been undertaken and conducted among the nations, on his account, or at his instigation, verify the application to him, of other parts of those prophecies. The worldly wisdom which has been exercised in forming the Antichristian system; the profound policy and dissimulation with which its affairs have been conducted; the support which it has received from the kings of the earth, and the wealth it has gathered from its subjects in every land, prove the same thing. The blasphemous names which he has taken to himself and bestowed on others; the abominable idolatry which he has introduced and established; the gross errors which he has contrived and propagated; the hateful immoralities which he has practised, countenanced, indulged, and pretended to pardon; demonstrate, that as face answers to face in a glass, so do these inspired predictions delineate the abominations of Popery. But the time of his existence and power shall be fulfilled. Those Prophets whom the Lord employed to foretell his rise and reign, predict also his fall and ruin. Concerning the little horn, these are Daniel's words—chap. 7:26:—"But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end." The words of Paul are equally expressive—2 Thess. 2:8,—"And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." In many parts of his visions, John saw the fall of this system presented to him;—one of them only shall be mentioned: "And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great mill-stone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all." Such shall be the end of that lamb-horned, but dragon-mouthed beast, which has successfully propagated error, idolatry, immorality, and persecution on the earth.
3. The time of the church's low condition shall then be fulfilled. If the wicked walk on every side when the vilest of men are exalted, it is not to be supposed that Christ's church, at such a time as this, can enjoy prosperity and peace. While both the secular and ecclesiastic beasts exist, practice and prosper, the interests of true religion must be low, and the outward condition of its professors must be afflicted. Accordingly, Scripture predictions represent the followers of the Lamb, at this season, to be "troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed." In these predictions the church is represented by the symbol of a woman, who, having been lately delivered of a man-child, and now is persecuted by the dragon, flies into the wilderness with two wings of a great eagle. There she is nourished by her Lord for a time, and times, and half a time; and is preserved in safety from the face of the serpent. She is also symbolized by two witnesses, prophesying a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth, wearing the black garb of mourners, and the coarse raiment of poverty. She is exhibited as under the power of the little horn, which prevailed against her. She is exposed, through this long season, to the wrath and cruelty of the secular and ecclesiastic beasts, which have all along endeavored, according to their ability and opportunities, to cut her off from the earth. "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." The history of the Christian church, under this period, verifies sufficiently those predictions which foretell her state. During this time, the number of her members has been small; their outward situation, by the oppression and persecution of the enemy, has been uncomfortable; and her testimony, for the glory of her Lord, has been disregarded and opposed. But out of this trying condition, they shall be delivered. "And the kingdom," says Daniel, after he had spoken of the judgment that shall sit upon the horn,—chap. 7:27,—"And the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; and all dominion shall serve and obey him." When she shall be delivered from the power of the little horn; when she shall emerge from the wilderness, finish her witnessing prophecy, and put off her sackcloth, she shall hear that call,—"And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great." This call she will instantly obey; for John immediately "heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready:" Rev. 19:6-8. At that joyful season, the days of the church's mourning shall be ended.
4. The time of Satan's deceiving the nations shall then be fulfilled. The Scriptures assure us, "that this enemy walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Having accomplished the fall of man, by seducing our first parents, ever since that mournful event, he has reigned over the far greater part of the human family. On this account he is designated, "the god of this world; the prince of the power of the air; the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." As he assaults individuals with temptations, that he may direct their personal conduct, and lead them to sin; so he deceives them as societies and nations, by influencing their public deliberations, that he may regulate their important measures. With great success did he deceive the Gentile nations, when he tempted them to erect and submit to tyrannical governments and gross idolatry, which have so long prevailed among them. With equal success did he deceive those nominal Christians, who were the principal instruments in his hand, of forming the Christian religion after the model of the Pagan mythology. When this transformation had far advanced, he next deceived the nations by the revelation of the Man of Sin, "whose coming was after the working of Satan, with all power and signs, and lying wonders; and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, in them that perish." After the erection of this kingdom of darkness, he continued to deceive the nations by causing their rulers to give their power to the beast, and their subjects to wonder after him; to countenance his idolatries, to practice his immoralities, to believe his false doctrines, and to submit to his Antichristian power. He is still deceiving the nations by making them cleave to superstition, error, and various kinds of iniquities, which abound among them. The last deception which he shall practice on the nations, prior to the church's deliverance, will be when that prediction shall be accomplished—"And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet: For they are the spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty:" Rev. 16:13,14. The issue of that battle is declared—chap. 19:20:—"And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him: these both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." This time shall be fulfilled, when the church shall enter into her Millennial rest, according to that vision at the beginning of chap. 20: "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years." An attempt to renew his work, at the expiration of the Millennium, will end in his entire and everlasting ruin. "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever:"—verse 10.
5. The time of the Jews' dispersion among the nations, and of their enmity at christianity, shall then be fulfilled. When the Jewish nation had crucified the Lord of glory; when they had rejected his Gospel, the preaching of which began at Jerusalem; when they had persecuted his apostles and followers; and when they had, in all these things, done despite unto the Spirit of grace; then was that prediction accomplished on them—"My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken to him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations:" Hos. 9:17. At the destruction of Jerusalem, by the Roman army, their final and complete dispersion was accomplished. Then were they entirely driven from their own land, scattered through the earth, and placed in such a situation as rendered it impossible for them to observe their Father's religion, to which they still professed to adhere. Then our Savior's predictions were literally fulfilled on them: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled:" Luke 21:24. Continuing in their dispersion in all quarters of the globe to this day, they are still attached to the typical and abrogated system of Moses, ignorant of their Messiah, to whom all their prophets did witness, and enemies to his religion, which brings glory to God in the highest, peace to the earth, and good will to men. Being without Christ in their present state of unbelief, they are also aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But shall the seed of Jacob abide still in unbelief, and remain as a people, in this low and disorganized state, for ever? The inspired predictions assure us of their recovery. After Hosea had feelingly predicted their dispersion—"The children of Israel shall abide many days without a King, and without a Prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim,"—he triumphantly adds,—"Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days:" chap. 3:4,5. As the Jews have never obtained any deliverance, that can be considered to be a fulfillment of this prediction; as it is Jesus Christ who is David's Son and Lord, both his root and offspring, whom they shall seek; as it is to take place after a long and mournful state of deprivation of privileges, of freedom from gross idolatry, and of suffering many privations; and as the period of its accomplishment is the latter days, we may be assured that this blessed deliverance of Israel is yet to come. Daniel also predicts this important deliverance, and gives a character of the time at which it shall be effected: "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince that standeth for the children of thy people, and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was, since there was a nation, even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." "And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth forever and ever, that it shall be for a time, and times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be fulfilled:" chap, 12:l,7.—The time of unexampled trouble, verse 1, signifies the judgments at the last scene of the vials of wrath; and the Lord's accomplishing to scatter the power of the holy people, verse 7, signifies his bringing his judgments on the Jews, both in their dispersion and unbelief, to a final termination. The complete effusion of the vials, and the restoration of Israel, are so connected, that in verse first, the former is mentioned as a description of the time when the latter shall take place; and in verse seventh, the latter is stated as a mark of the season, when all these things, belonging to the last plagues, shall be fulfilled. Paul likewise predicts the restoration of the Jews, and states the means by which it shall be brought about: "Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy:" Rom. 11:31. The New Testament Scriptures, and the preaching of the Gospel, which belong to the mercy of the Gentiles, shall then be made effectual, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for recovering the posterity of Jacob.
6. The time of executing God's judgments on his incorrigible enemies, shall then be fulfilled. Although those calamities are foretold by Daniel, in the triumph of the stone in Nebuchadnezzar's vision; in the judgment that shall sit on the fourth beast and the little horn, in Daniel's own vision; and in his words which are quoted above; yet they are more particularly represented in the visions of John. In them we have more general, and more particular accounts of those judgments. At the sounding of the seventh trumpet, or the coming of the third and last wo, it is said—"And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come. And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail:"—ch. 11:18,19. A most affecting description is given of the same objects, at the opening of the sixth seal, chapter 6th. The same awful scene is exhibited to our view, in the vision of the vintage, at the end of chap. 14th. These fearful calamities are also disclosed in the proclamation of the angel, and in the lamentations of those who beheld them:—chap. 18th. These fearful plagues are further represented by the dreadful battle, an account of which is given in the eleven verses with which the nineteenth chapter is concluded. But the most complete and systematic exhibition of them, is found in John's vision, of the seven angels, who had the seven last plagues, in which was filled up the wrath of God. He saw them, in chap. 15, prepared for their work, coming out of the temple in glorious attire, and receiving seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. In chap. 16, he heard them receive their commission to "go and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth;" and he saw them execute their office in pouring, by an orderly succession, these vials of wrath on the objects which were destined to receive their contents. Now, all those sad calamities shall be wholly overpast, when the church shall be introduced into her prosperous state. No dregs of the vials of wrath shall remain to be poured out, no voices or thunders shall be heard, no lightings shall be seen, no concussions of the earthquake shall be felt, no drops of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath shall be tasted, and no part of the shower of the terrible hail shall fall, when the church has entered into her Millennial rest. Immediately before this happy time, the operations of the wine-press shall be finished; the battle will be fought, and the cries of lamentation and sorrow shall be heard no more; for at Antichrist's fall, the season of judgments shall be ended.
7. The time of heathenish idolatry, and Mahometan delusions, shall then be fulfilled. Many parts of the earth are still subjected to the darkness of Paganism; and many portions of the globe are deluded by the absurdities of Mahomet. The Pagan idolatry and many of its rites, are so irrational and cruel, and the dogmas and pretended revelations of the Prophet of the East, are so gross and ridiculous, that the subjection of any part of mankind to those systems, furnishes a mournful proof of the darkness and corruption of human nature. But this time also shall come to an end. The universal conversion of the nations to Christianity, which the predictions warrant us to expect, assures us that heathenish and Mahometan lands shall be enlightened. The voices in heaven proclaimed—"The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ:" Rev. 11:15. Of the song of Moses and the Lamb, this is a part: "For all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest:" Rev. 15:4. The objects mentioned, are the kingdoms of this world, and all nations. Of them it is said, they shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and his Christ, and shall come and worship before him. The time at which this great change shall be produced on the nations, is also revealed in the prophecy:—At the end of the third wo, and when God's judgments are made manifest, by the execution of them. This exactly agrees with the time of Antichrist's fall, and the commencement of the church's prosperity. The manifestation of God's judgments in their execution, does not only characterize the time of their change, but states also a special mean by which it shall be effected. The complete execution of those judgments will roll stumbling-blocks out of the way of their turning to the Lord, and will so enlighten their minds and impress their hearts, as to dispose them to embrace that religion, of the truth of which, these plagues are a clear confirmation. Pagans and Mahometans constitute the greater part of the world's population, and occupy the larger portion of its surface. It is impossible, therefore, that those predictions can be accomplished, if Pagans and Mahometans continue in their ignorance and unbelief. The Old Testament contains predictions equally clear, concerning the extent of the kingdom of grace, in the latter days: "Arise, O God; judge the earth; for thou shalt inherit all nations:" Psalm 82:8. To inherit all nations as their Creator, Preserver, and moral Governor, is the necessary and essential prerogative of God: it, therefore, cannot be the matter of a prophecy. But to inherit all nations as the God of salvation, he being their God, and they becoming his people through the Mediator, must be the thing intended. Isaiah, when speaking of the mountain of the Lord's house being established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, in the last days, adds, "And all nations shall flow unto it." Isaiah 2:2. Since there are predictions in both the Old and the New Testaments, which foretell the conversion of all nations to the true religion, we may be assured that the time is coming, when heathen and Mahometan nations shall turn to the Lord, and when the idolatry of the one, and the delusions of the other, shall perish from the earth. Besides, the Old Testament mentions places, whose inhabitants shall turn to the Lord,—places which necessarily direct our minds to Pagans and Mahometans. Assyria, Ethiopia and Egypt, are the nations to which I allude. Of two of them it is said, "Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance:" Isaiah 19:25. Of the other it is foretold,—"And Ethiopia shall stretch out her hands unto God:" Psalm 68:31. Since those nations whose conversion is here predicted, are inhabited at present by Pagans and Mahometans, have we not abundant warrant to believe, that, at the latter day, the idolatry of the one, and the delusions of the other, shall come to an end?
8. The time of the mixture of Antichristian corruptions with the constitutions and administrations of Protestant churches, shall then be fulfilled. In the prophecies of Jeremiah, concerning ancient Babylon, which was a type of Popery, called Babylon the Great, we have the following prediction, which applies to the latter, as well as to the former: "Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the Lord, which destroyest all the earth; and I will stretch out my hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain. And they shall not take a stone of thee for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate for ever, saith the Lord:" chap. 51:25,26. After the destroying mountain of Babylon the Great has begun to shake and totter, and after the fire of Divine judgments has begun to consume its foundations, which commenced at the Protestant reformation, stones have been taken from her both for corners and foundations in other ecclesiastical buildings. But after the Lord has completely rolled down this mountain from the rocks, and, by the fire of his judgments, at the time of the end, has reduced it to a burnt mountain, none shall ever after take from it a stone for a corner, or a stone for foundations. The former of these, is the present situation of Protestant established churches. They have broken off from Babylon the Great; but as she is not yet rolled down from the rocks, and made a burnt mountain in her final destruction, they have taken from her stones for corners and foundations. At the Reformation, the Protestant churches retained, both in their constitutions and administrations, many corruptions which had their origin in Popery. Instead of improving by time, experience, and the increase of light, they have, in some things, rather deteriorated. The Popish corruptions which have been admitted into the constitutions of these churches; the Popish errors which are found in the doctrine of many of their members; the superstitious rites and ceremonies which belong to their modes of worship; the Antichristian laws which regulate their government, and the Popish usages which are practised in their exercising the censures of God's house, are dishonoring to Christ, hurtful to the church, and grieving to serious Christians, both within and without their communion. These corruptions will continue, there is too much reason to fear, till Antichrist's fall; but when that system shall be rolled down from the rocks, and be made a burnt mountain, and when the church's Millennial glory shall commence, every one of them, with the system which gave them existence, shall pass away for ever.
9. The time of mournful divisions among the professors of true Christianity, shall then be fulfilled. The Popish corruptions which are retained in the churches of the Reformation, have been the cause of those divisions which have subsisted between them and the different bodies of dissenters. Conscientious scruples about approving and practicing those corruptions on the one side, and a refusing to let them go, or a rigorous enforcement of them on the other, have caused the greater number of those separations from the churches that are established by law. As these corruptions have been the cause of divisions between dissenters and the churches on the establishment, so they have also been the mean of producing that disunion which subsists among the dissenting bodies themselves. The different views which have been entertained of the corruptions of Popish origin, by the bodies of dissenters, have divided the dissenting churches from one another. The contention between dissenting bodies has sometimes been so sharp, and the alienation of affection from one another so great, that they appear to have had more aversion at the cause of one another, than at the corruptions of that church, from which they have separated, on nearly the same grounds. In Popish corruptions, by which the truths, institutions and laws of Christ are opposed, it is very easy to find the mournful cause of all those divisions which exist among the professors of true Christianity. By those contentions and separations, the Reformed churches at the present time, are like God's ancient people—"when Manasseh was against Ephraim, and Ephraim against Manasseh, and they together were against Judah." But this mournful time shall also be fulfilled. The causes of division shall be removed at Antichrist's fall, and the divisions themselves shall cease. When the church shall enter into her Millennial state, she shall enjoy that precious and most desirable blessing, which is contained in that promise—"The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim:" Isaiah 11:13.
10. The time of unprovoked and offensive war, with all its ruinous effects, shall then be fulfilled. The whole time of Antichrist's reign, especially the season of pouring out the vials, has been, and will continue to be, a time either of actual war, or of the nations groaning under its dismal consequences. Wars which have been undertaken and prosecuted, as they generally are, to gratify the resentment, to humor the pride, to increase the power, the territories, and the wealth of the rulers of the earth; to support false religion; to prevent the progress of reformation, and to fasten the yoke of oppression more firmly on the necks of the human race; bring great guilt upon a nation, and expose its population, of whatever degree, to the Almighty's wrath. In the formation of armies, great injustice is done to the young and the simple, by depriving them of their liberty, tearing them from their relations, and inuring them to habits of irreligion and profligacy. In the march of armies, injustice is often done to the persons and property of the peaceable inhabitants, and destruction marks their path. In the operations of armies, in battles, or in besieging fortified towns, what desolations are brought on the dwellings of men; what sufferings are endured by those who survive and pine away in their wounds; what blood is shed; how many lives are taken away, and what a multitude of immortal souls is despatched in a moment to God's tribunal! By the reduction of armies, which have been collected for the purposes of war, it often happens that those who have, by a military life, contracted habits of wickedness, spread among those, in whose neighborhood they take up their residence, the poisonous infection of the most degrading and destructive immoralities. These wars have a mournful tendency to increase national antipathies, to augment national debt and public burdens, and to give to the dispositions and character of men a ferocious quality. Besides all this, how dreadful is that responsibility to the God of the whole earth, which those who contrive and determine, and those who voluntarily conduct such shocking scenes, bring upon themselves! But this dark and dismal time of war, of blood and slaughter among the nations, shall be fulfilled, when the kingdom of God shall come. At that happy time, that prediction shall be accomplished,—"And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people," by pouring on them the vials of his wrath; "and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more:" Isaiah 2:4.
11. The time of Antichrist's wickedness, and of God's long-suffering patience with those transgressors, shall then be fulfilled. As the judgments of the vials are the punishment of sin, the time of their effusion, as well as the times going before, will be a season of abounding iniquity. When the Lord brought on the inhabitants of the earth the waters of the flood, "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." When Judah was carried into captivity in Babylon, "the chief of the priests and the people had transgressed very much after the abominations of the heathen, and had polluted the house of the Lord, which he had hallowed at Jerusalem. They had mocked God's messengers, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy." When the Lord brought on Jerusalem a sore and enduring destruction, "the Jews had killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and had persecuted the apostles; they pleased not God, and were contrary to all men, forbidding them to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved; and, having thus filled up their sin, Divine wrath came upon them to the uttermost." As it was in the days of Noah, of Zedekiah, and of the Jews, so shall it be with Antichrist at the effusion of the vials. The angel of the waters said, when the third vial was poured out,—"Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy." At the effusion of the fourth vial, it is said, "And men blasphemed God, who hath power over these plagues, and repented not, to give him glory." A similar account of them is given, when the fifth vial is poured out: "And they blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds." When the vials are finished, the same account is given: "And men blasphemed God, because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." While the vials are in progress they continue to blaspheme, and when the last and most destructive judgment is inflicted, they, like some hardened criminals among men, shall die and go into perdition in the very act of blaspheming the God of heaven. Long has Divine patience and forbearance been exercised with that woman, whose name is Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the Earth; but the time of her wickedness, and of his long-suffering with her, shall then come to an end. The angel who came out from the altar, and had power over fire, shall then utter a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God. And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine-press, even unto the horse-bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs."
12. The time of the Lord's trying the faith and the patience of his saints, shall then be fulfilled. After John had seen the vision of the beast that rose up out of the sea; after he had foretold his persecution of the saints, and had predicted his destruction, he adds—"Here is the patience and faith of the saints:" Rev. 13:10. Here is the object which shall exercise the saints' patience in sufferings, and their faith in the threatening of his ruin, and in the promise of their deliverance from his power. During the time of Antichrist's reign, their patience and faith shall be tried; but when he shall fall, that season of trial shall come to an end. The nature of the Antichristian system; the violence with which it has been maintained and propagated; the sufferings of the church under its power; its long continuance; the threatenings concerning its destruction; the promises of the church's deliverance, and the deferring of this hope, furnish abundant opportunities for the trial and exercise of the patience and faith of the saints. The system of Popery being of such a nature as to corrupt and oppose every thing in true Christianity; its precious doctrines; its simple and spiritual worship; its Divinely instituted government, and its pure and purifying censures; the existence of it in the world, must be a great trial to the saints' faith and patience. The introduction, the support, and the propagation of it, having been carried on with such a high-hand, and with such extraordinary success, must also have been, and still continues to be, a distressing trial to their faith and patience. The church's sufferings in various ways, under its power and cruelty, have so severely tried their patience, that nothing but a strong faith in God through Christ by the promise, could have prevented the saints from fainting, in this day of adversity. The long continuance of this system, adds to the church's trials. It is not like the twenty years of the Ark's partial concealment in Kirjath-jearim, which all the house of Israel accounted long, and lamented after the Lord; nor is it like the captivity of Judah for seventy years in Babylon; but it must continue, from its beginning to its ending, for the long period of one thousand two hundred and sixty years. The threatenings of its destruction, and the promises of the church's deliverance and prosperity, furnish ample scope for exercising the faith of the saints. In the fulfillment of those predictions there may be such seeming delays, as will induce them to cry, in the language of the souls under the altar, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth." The Lord assures his people of deliverance; he intimates to them the manner of its approach; he unfolds their duty; and he declares their happiness and danger in those words—"Behold, I come as a thief: blessed is he that watcheth," in the exercise of faith and patience, "and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." When Antichrist shall fall, and when the church shall come out of her wilderness, and shall enter into her pleasant land; then shall all those trials of her faith and patience come to an end; and she shall say, Thou hast tried me and hast brought me forth as gold.
I shall now conclude this discourse by mentioning some reflections from this part of the subject.
1. From it we may be convinced of the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, and the truth of the Christian religion. I have had occasion to mention several prophecies, which are contained both in the Old and New Testaments; and men have both seen and felt their accomplishment. The book that contains them, must have been written therefore, by the inspiration of God. While the Lord claims it as his peculiar prerogative, "to declare the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done;" He challenges all pretenders to deity, to "show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may see that ye are gods." Has Jesus plainly foretold the dreadful slaughter of the Jews, their complete dispersion among all nations, and the occupation of their city and land by a different people; has the Lord, by the component parts of a human body, represented to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream, the four secular monarchies which should successively rule and oppress the earth for more than two thousand years, and enabled Daniel to recover and explain the vision; did he double and diversify the vision, in another vision, concerning the same objects, to Daniel himself; did Paul foretell the rise, the character, and the conduct of the man of sin, the son of perdition; did John predict the rise, continuance, and actings of both the secular and the ecclesiastic beasts of Rome; have all these predictions been circumstantially fulfilled in the providence of God; and has nothing that has the smallest resemblance to these prophecies, ever appeared among men since the world began; and on account of all this, are not we abundantly warranted to believe, to embrace, and to improve the Bible, as an infallible revelation of the will of God to men, for their everlasting salvation? To these prophetic witnesses to the truth of Divine revelation, it were easy to bring forward many more, especially those which relate to the Redeemer himself, and to his Gospel kingdom; but those which have fallen in our way, when prosecuting this part of the subject, may certainly be sufficient. O, how how irrational and inveterate must that enmity at the Scriptures be, which compels men to wrestle through those obstacles that are mercifully placed to obstruct their entry and progress on the rugged and destructive paths of infidelity! What abundant reason have those who believe the Scripture, to rejoice in the word of God, and to say, every time they peruse it, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth!
2. This subject informs us, that it is vain to expect either temporal or spiritual prosperity among the nations, till the word of God and the Gospel of our salvation shall, by the power of the Spirit, subdue the earth. Till the weapons of our warfare, which are not carnal, but mighty through God, pull down the strong-holds, cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; the hurt of the Redeemer's church will not be recovered. All these times that have been mentioned, are fulfilled only at Antichrist's fall: it must therefore be evident, that while he exists, they will be continued. Evil and perilous times shall be the lot of the church and of the world, while the Popish system remains on the earth. Till the dawning of the Millennial day of light and purity, times of a quality opposite to those, cannot be introduced. The defiling nature of Popish errors, idolatry and immoralities, renders this impossible. The execution of judgments on men will be continued while that system exists; and, therefore, permanent prosperity and peace, either in our temporal or spiritual concerns, are not to be expected. One scene of judgments shall come to an end, only to make way for the entrance of another equally distressing; the truth of which is now verified in our sorrowful experience. Let us beware then of seeking or promising to ourselves great things; for the Lord will yet bring evil upon all flesh.
3. The absolute need which the nations have of civil, as well as ecclesiastic reformation, is evident from this subject. In the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation, we have an account, first of the secular, and afterwards of the ecclesiastic beast. They both united in blaspheming God, in corrupting religion, in persecuting the church, and in enslaving men. Popish abominations could neither have prevailed nor continued, without the support of the secular beast; nor could he have maintained his tyranny over the nations, without the aid of the ecclesiastic monster. They have gone hand in hand; they have co-operated cordially in the execution of their unrighteous designs, and have, by the unity of their operation, succeeded in their gigantic enterprises. The corruption, therefore, exists both in the civil and ecclesiastic departments. At the fall of Antichrist, civil and ecclesiastic rulers shall cordially unite in promoting the good of nations, and the prosperity of the church. When the Jews returned from Babylon, there were, at one time, Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor of Judah; and, at another time, Ezra the priest, and Nehemiah the Tirshatha, who co-operated cordially in the work of the Lord. It shall be so, when the church is delivered from Babylon the Great. At that blessed day, ministerial "angels shall fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to the men that dwell on the earth." And the ten horns which John saw upon the Beast, "these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate, and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire."
4. From this subject we may clearly see the nature of the times in which we live. Antichrist still exists; many of the Kings of the earth are yet giving their power to him; and every part of his system is in full operation. All the times which shall be fulfilled and come to an end at his downfall, must therefore be still in existence. We live in times of secular tyranny and ecclesiastic domination,—when the Church is low,—when Satan is deceiving the nations, and when the Jews are yet scattered and in unbelief; while God's judgments are falling upon men, and heathenish idolatry and Mahometan delusions are prevailing in the world; when the Reformed Churches are defiled with Popish corruptions; and when divisions prevail among the lovers of the Lord; when the nations are still learning war; when God's patience is still exercised to his Antichristian enemies, and the Church's fiery trial is continued;—both as to sin and danger, our times, therefore, must be evil and perilous. Christians have great reason to adopt the exercise of David: "Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast:" Psalm 57:1. And to say with Paul, "I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there; save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me." Let us all endeavor to add, with him,—"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy:" Acts 20:22-24.
5. That Popery is ruinous to mankind, and will prove the destruction of those civil dynasties which support it, must be very evident from this part of our subject. It is ruinous to the temporal, but especially to the spiritual concerns of men. It detains them under slavery, and spiritual bondage. It keeps them in ignorance; it involves them in idolatry; it encourages them in sin; and it exposes them to Divine wrath. The threatening which is denounced against its incorrigible votaries, is dreadful. "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his right hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:" Rev. 14:9,10. It will be the ruin also of the kings of the earth. "And I beheld then," says Daniel, "because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame." It is not said, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake, it was broken and destroyed; but because of its words the beast himself out of which it grew, the Roman Secular tyranny by which it was supported, was slain, and his body, with this horn in its head, and all the other horns among which it sprung up, was destroyed, and given to the burning flame.—The blasphemy, idolatry and wickedness of Popery, shall be the cause of ruin to the kings on the Roman earth. With this prediction, several parts of John's visions do perfectly agree. The capture and destruction of the beast and the false prophet, or Antichrist, who was signified by the little horn, are not the only effects of the great battle between Christ and Antichrist; but we are assured, that, as the consequence of it, "All the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, shall eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great: Rev. 19:18. All this misery shall overtake them, because they have been partakers of her sin; and shall, therefore, receive of her plagues:—Rev. 18:4. Their great sin against God, and the principal cause of his judgment on them, are found in their giving their power to the beast, by making the existence and profession of his religion essential to their civil constitutions, and its support and prosperity a chief object of their administrations. By the one, they devote their power to Antichrist; by the other, they exercise it for him. Oh that the Kings and Judges of the earth knew their sin and danger, in giving any countenance or support to this mystery of iniquity! and that they would "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and they perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little: Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."
6. The happiness of the church in her Millennial state, is evident also from what has been said. Since all these times shall then be fulfilled, the church will be prosperous and joyful. Those things which shall be removed at that time, being the very bane of all civil and religious society, the church must be blessed when they shall depart from the earth. None of those evils shall then remain; for Antichrist having fallen, their time shall be fulfilled. The happiness of the church, on the removal of those evils, must be very great. There shall be nothing to hurt nor to destroy, in all God's holy mountain. Though this is only the negative part of her prosperous state, yet it is both necessary and very considerable. The spiritual salvation of believers comprehends a deliverance from those evils to which they were exposed, as well as the enjoyment of those blessings to which they are advanced; so shall it be with the church at that happy time. She shall be delivered from those evils under which she has long groaned, and shall be advanced to the enjoyment of those blessed privileges which are provided for her. The part of the subject which has been discussed, unfolds the former; and that part of it on which we are next to enter, may give us some view of the latter. In the mean time let us seriously consider the church's distress and danger while those evils are continued, and her happiness and safety, when the time of their existence shall be fulfilled; that by searching the Scriptures, meditation, prayer and religious conference, we may be prepared both for suffering according to the Divine will, and for rejoicing at the prospect of those glorious things which are spoken concerning the city of God.
1. The civil magistrate's supremacy over the Church—the Consubstantiation of the Lutherans,—the Anti-Scriptural Episcopacy of some of them—the civil power of the Lords spiritual,—their formal Liturgies,—their kneeling at the Lord's Supper—their using the cross in Baptism—the Anti-Christian Law of Patronage,—their substituting pecuniary fines, instead of public censure—their deposing from the ministry some of Christ's faithful servants,—and their acquittal or slightly censuring of those who have taught the most pernicious errors—are some of the Popish corruptions with which Protestant churches are contaminated. These are the evils which assimilate our Churches to the Popish system, and not the personal imperfections of some weak and uninformed Protestants—imperfections which have been of late most injudiciously contrasted with the constitutional abominations of the Church of Rome.