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be overcome? Can the earth be enlightened? Can the nations be disenthralled? Can the whole creation, which has groaned and travailed together in pain until now, be brought out of bondage into glorious liberty? Yes: all this can be done, and will be done. Our next inquiry then is,
BY WHAT Means SHALL EVENTS SO DESIRable be ACCOMPLISHED?
First-By the judgments of Heaven, in which the Son of Man will come upon the strong man armed, and take away his armor.
Secondly-By the universal propagation of the Gospel; before the light of which, idolatry, imposture, and superstition, will retreat abashed. And,
Thirdly-By frequent, and, at last, general revivals of religion; giving resistless power to the Gospel, as it is preached to every creature.
Then will come to pass that which is written. Great voices will be heard in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ: as the voice of many waters, and of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
It is manifest from prophecy, and clearly to be anticipated from the existing state of the world, that great commotions and distress of nations will exist, antecedent to the spiritual, universal reign of Christ on the earth. Some have supposed that these calamities will fall alike upon the church and the world; that as yet the witnesses are to be slain; and that, for three years at least, Christianity will seem to be blotted from the earth. Whereas, manifestly, the
judgments which are to precede the glory of the latter day, are to fall almost exclusively upon antichristian nations. And if the witnesses are yet to be slain, they are to be slain in the street of that great city, which, spiritually, is called "Sodom and Egypt"-prophetic symbols, which have been understood to designate countries subject to the dominion of Antichrist. The very struggle to suppress vital Christianity in papal countries, called the slaying of the witnesses, may be, and probably will be, the result of moral causes now in powerful operation. Science, and commerce, and the progress of evangelical religion, are fast apprising mankind of their rights, and awakening the desire of civil and religious liberty. And this slaying of the witnesses may be the last struggle of those despotisms, to arrest the march of truth and freedom. It may be the collision between light and darkness-between despotism and liberty-which shall call out the kings of the earth to the battle of the great day of God Almighty; when He, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, on whose head are many crowns, and whose vesture is dipped in blood, shall smite the nations with the sword that goeth out of his mouth, and rule them with a rod of iron, and tread the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God; when the angel standing in the sun, shall summon the fowls of the heavens to the supper of the great God-to eat the flesh of kings, and of captains, and of mighty men.*
But without attempting a minute exposition of prophecy, nothing is more plainly revealed, than the
Rev. xix. 17, 18.
visitation of the earth with unparalleled judgments and revolutions, preparatory to that state of light and peace which is to bless the world. So long as Satan can wield the power of despotic governments against the truth, he can hold his goods in peace. But these defences a Stronger than he will take away, when, in awful judgments, He shall come upon him. He shall overturn, and overturn, until He, whose right it is, shall reign. The day of vengeance is in his heart, because the year of his redeemed is come. The foundations of the earth do shake; the earth is utterly broken down; the earth is clean dissolved; the earth is moved exceedingly, the earth shall reel to and fro; and the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth; and they shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit; and shall be shut up in the prison. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun shall be ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great.
One of these moral earthquakes has already shaken Europe to its centre; and the thunderings and heavings of the unquiet earth proclaim, that one wo is past, and behold, another wo cometh quickly.
When these systems of physical resistance are destroyed, then will the time have come to extend the institutions of the Gospel throughout the world. Bc
nevolence, like the air, will move to fill up the vacuum. Like the light from its great fountain, it will fly to cheer the nations who sit in darkness. And having no resistance to encounter, but the simple power of error, the conflict will be but momentary, and the victory complete. This also is in accordance with prophecy: for immediately after the downfall of Babylon is announced, all heaven breaks forth in ecstasy, saying, Let us rejoice and give honor to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. The church of Christ is called his bride; and the conversion of the nations to Christianity and to God, the day of her espousals.
That this glorious victory is to be consummated by the special influence of the Holy Spirit, is equally manifest. The simple presence of Christianity would no more convert the heathen, than it converts those where it already exists. Were every family on earth now blessed with a Bible and a pastor, these, without the effusions of the Spirit, would not maintain upon the earth an uncorrupt nominal Christianity, for one hundred years. Revivals of religion are alone adequate to the moral reformation of the world. All other means-science, legislation, philosophy, eloquence, and argument-have been relied on in vain. The disease is of the heart, and they reach it not. But revivals touch the deep springs of human action, and give tone and energy to the moral government of God. They multiply families that call upon the name of the Lord and train up children in his fear; and churches, constrained by the love of Christ to propagate the Gospel. They elevate the standard
of liberality, and augment the capital which is consecrated to the renovation of the world, and the importunity of prayer which secures its application and efficacy. They multiply the host of evangelical ministers and missionaries. They repress crime, and purify the public morality, and breathe into legislation and the intercourse of nations that spirit of the Gospel, which shall banish wars, and introduce peace upon earth and good-will towards men. They pour day-light upon darkness, and destroy, with a touch, the power of sophistry. Hence nothing is so terrible to the enemies of evangelical truth as revivals of religion, because nothing is so irresistible. If they oppose them by violence, they move on. If they misrepresent them, they move on. If they ridicule them, they move on. If they imitate them, the imitation fails, and they move on. While, often, the chosen vessels of opposition fall under their powersending panic and rage through the ranks of the enemy. It is owing to this power of revivals, that they are every where, by the wicked, so much spoken against; and all the infirmities of humanity, which attend them, gathered up with such exultation, and urged as confirmation strong, that they are the work of man, and not the work of God. It is reserved, therefore, for revivals of religion to follow in the train of the means of grace with increasing frequency and power, until a nation shall be born in a day. This also is predicted.-Who art thou, O mountain, before Zerubbabel? Thou shalt become a plain. Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord. Drop down ye heavens from above, and let