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to bę obeyed : and while the gospel teaches, that there is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy, we see a portentous company risen up, who take to themselves the sublime denomination of legislators; not under the authority of God, but in their own right; exclusive of his legislation, and in opposition to his power. And, that nothing may be wanting to the fulfilling of the prophecy, even in the letter, the churches have been shut up from the worship of God, and opened to admit the worship of reason ; an idol unknown to the temples of Pagan antiquity. And what is the reason here intended? It is the reason of man ; that is, of the philosopher or the plow-man; for the one is as much a man as the other; and where all are equal, as good a
And what is the reason of man, but the mind of man! And what is the mind of man, but man himself; who now, as God, is actually seated in the temple of God to be worshipped. This is what the wisest man living could not have suspected some years ago ; and what the niost incredulous man cannot now deny: it is published and gloried in before the face of all people: the publication of Christianity itself was not more notorious. Government hath been murdered in the per
son of their prince; sin and blasphemy of every kind, like wild beasts that l ave broken their chains, have over-ran the country. No law subsists: the will of sinful man, or of the man of sin, is a law unto itself; and as the apostle once said, that the law was the strength of sin; so now it may be said, the strength of sin is the law; and there is no other. It is a law, which doth not punish robbery, but ordains it: a law, which doth not protect or save men's lives, but destroys them: and, if it had power according to its will, would not leave one honest man upon the earth. And hereby the man of sin proves himself to be, what the apostle calls him, the son of perdition; that is, the son of the destroyer, whose name is Apollyon ; the son of that. father, who was a murderer from the beginning, and leads all his children to the practice of his own favourite sin ; who, in their capacity of legislators, have nothing to render them respectable, but new-invented terrors of torture and bloodshed. The prospect here becomes too shocking to be minutely delineated: every human creature, that has any feeling, must turn away from it with horror; and resolve, that if such be the world now left to us, it must surely be our duty and interest, to pray to God, that he would put an end to it: or, in the more devout and affecting language of our Liturgy, that he would shortly accomplish the number of his elect, and hasten his kingdom.
As the bee can extract honey from a poisonous flower, so may the Christian, when properly informed, derive comfort from every subject. Every event, whatsoever it may be in itself, is valuable to us, if the consideration of it tends to the confirming and strengthening of our faith : and how can it be otherwise, when we see with our eyes, that God is faithful and true, and that the sure word of his prophecy is daily fulfilling in the world? This brings the truth of the gospel home to our bosoms, and makes us living witnesses of it. When the wickedness of the Jews brought down the vengeance of heaven upon Jerusalem, the time was fearful and fatal to that people; while Christians considered the whole as an accomplishinent of what their Master had foretold, and an earnest of their own approaching redemption. The more wicked this world becomes, the nearer is its end: corruption is never very remote from dissolution. This great subject will have different effects on the minds of different per
sons; to some of terror, from the avenging hand of God, whom in the moment of licentiousness they have insulted and defied ; to others, of comfort and confidence, from the fulfilling of the Divine promises. The same waters of the flood, which drowned the world, supported that ark which preserved the family of Noah. When the world shall be in its last agonies of sin and perturbation, and men's hearts are failing them for fear; the servants of Christ are commanded to lift up their heads (which have been bowed down under reproaches and persecutions) and to look up, for their redemption draweth nigh. That the time is actually come, for the Christians of this generation to lift up their heads, it would be rash to affirm, and perhaps weak to believe: many strange things may intervene: yet thus far, I think, our persuasion may extend with reason; that all the servants of God, who now are, or shortly will be, leaving this present world, may go to rest, under an assurance that their separation from the body will be short: a consideration, which to our weak minds, subject to strong impressions from the ideas of time and place, may have its use in lessening the fear of death; and it is therefore worth encouraging
As you have seen, from the prediction of the apostle, that the revelation of the man of sin was an event, to happen before the end of the world; how thankful ought we to be, that it did not happen here : for, that the mystery of iniquity hath long been at work in this nation, cannot be denied : and it would have prevailed, but for that power which letteth, the restraining power of government, which it hath pleased God, of his unmerited goodness still to preserve amongst us.
I fear there is too much truth in the assertion, that the first seeds of all this mischief were sown in Britain. Here it was, that reason, now deified in France, was first invested with the right of making its own religion; which, in other words, is a right of being its own God: and modern atheists have only carried that right to the point, to which it has always been tending, under the management of our deists. The lights and sanctions of religion can be only from God: if from man, then he is God to himself. This doctrine, in fairer words, was first started amongst us : and so was that other, that there is no power
of government but from the power of the people. Here did that doctrine arise in the last century; and the murder of a king, with a sacrilegious plun