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community at once, opportunity will be afforded to the enemy-and, apprised of his devices, we ought not to think that the opportunity will be neglected—of mingling false fire with holy zeal, for the purpose of throwing discredit upon a work which threatens a speedy overthrow of his empire.
All these great divisions of systematic opposition to the gospel have, where circumstances allowed, been defended by the sword. Christianity, in her first attempts to disenthral the world, met the storms of ten persecutions, protracted through a period of three hundred years.
The false prophet established, and still maintains, his empire by force. It is death to turn from Mahomed to Jesus Christ. And as to Popery, in her dominions, all the wiles and corruptions of idolatry and imposture have been condensed and wielded with infernal wisdom and malignity against the gospel, ever since the apocalyptic kings gave their power to the beast. And when atheism, for a little moment, abolished popery, its terrific power was, at the same moment, directed with indiscriminate fury against Christianity. The Bible was burnt. The Sabbath blotted out. The 'existence of God denied : and death proclaimed an eternal sleep.
The Arian heresy, protected by the sword, wielded against the truth a furious persecution. In Holland, Arminius attempted to enlist both literature and the civil arm for the propagation of his sentiments, and, to some extent, succeeded. At Geneva, the enemies of evangelical sentiment, as appears from recent events, do not rely on charity, and enlightened reason, and liberty of conscience; but upon the civil power, to protect them in their usurpations, and to keep back the truth.
And now, can such varied and mighty resistance be overcome ? Can the earth be enlightened? Can the nations be disenthraled? 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 WIAT 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 armour.
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 anti-christian 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 Anti-Christ. 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 shallcall 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 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 carth 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. Benevolence, like the air, will move to fill up the vacuum. Like the light
* Rey. xix. 17, 18.
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 honour 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 effusion 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 argumenthave 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
If they imitate them, the imitation fails, and they move on. While, often, the chosen vessels of opposition fall under their power-sending 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 the skies pour down righteousness. I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and foods upon the dry ground. It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. And then shall that
wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and with the brightness of his coming.
The judgments which are to shake down antichristian empires, and cast down high imaginations, and lay open the world to the entrance of truth, and the power of the Spirit, are to be closely associated with a new and unparalleled vigour of christian enterprise. Until now, the church will have been the assailed party, and stood upon the defensive : but henceforth the word of command will not be, Stand, but March. The gates of the holy city will be thrown open ; the tide of war will be rolled upon
enemy; and one shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.
The means and efforts for evangelizing the world must correspond, however, with the magnitude of the result. The idea that God will convert the heathen in his own good time, and that Christians have nothing to do but to pray and devoutly wait, is found in no canonical book. It is the maxim of covetousness, and sloth, and uncaring infidelity. We have no authority for saying, what some, without due consideration, have said, that God, if he pleased, could doubtless in a moment convert the whole heathen world without the gospel. It might as well be said, that he can, if he please, burn without fire, or drown without water, or give breath without atmosphere, as that he can instruct intellectual beings without the means of knowledge, and influence moral beings without law and motive, and thus reclaim an alienated world without the knowledge and moral power of the gospel. It is no derogation from the power of God, that, to produce results, it must be exerted, by means adapted to the constitution of things which Himself has established. God has no set time to favour the husbandman, but when he is diligent in business; and no set time to favour Zion, but when her servants favour her stones and take pleasure in the dust thereof. From the beginning, the cause of God on earth has been maintained and carried forward only by the most heroic exertion. Christianity, even in the age of miracles, was not propagated but by stupendous efforts. And it is only by a revival of primitive zeal and enterprise, that the glorious things spoken of the city of our God can be accomplished.
Nor need we be disheartened. We possess a thousand fold the advantage of apostles and primitive Christians for the spread of the gospel. And shall the whole church on earth-shall the thousand thousands who now profess the pure religion-be dismayed and paralyzed at an enterprise which had once been well nigh accomplished by the energies of twelve men ?
But what can be done? It would require ten discourses to answer this question in detail. We can only sketch the outlines of that moral array by which Jesus Christ is preparing to come upon the strong man, and overcome him, and take from him all his armour.
1. There must be more faith in the church of God.
All the uncertainties and waverings of unbelief must be swept away by the power of that faith which is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
Those " scenes surpassing fable," when Satan shall be bound, and an emancipated world shall sing hosanna to the Son of David, must rise up before us in all the freshness and inspiration of
a glorious reality. Such faith, and only such, will achieve again the wonders it wrought in other days.
It has lost none of its power. Again, it will subdue kingdoms, work righteousness, obtain promises, stop the mouths of lions, quench the violence of fire, escape the edge of the sword, out of weakness become strong, wax valiant in fight, and put to flight the armies of the aliens. For this is the victory over the world, even your faith.
2. There must be a more intense love for Christ in his church.
Such love as now burns dimly in the hearts of Christians; a low, and languid, and wavering affection; halting between the opposing attractions of earth and heaven; may answer for standing upon the defensive, but never for making that vigorous onset which shall subdue the world to Christ. Effort will never surpass desire. And as yet our hearts are not equal to those efforts needed for the achievement of victory. They linger and look back upon the world. They hesitate, and slowly, and with a sigh, part with substance in penurious measure. Weight hangs as yet on the wheels of the Victor's chariot ; and never, on earth, as in heaven, will it move,
“ Instinct with spirit,
Attended by ten thousand thousand saints." 3. There must come an era of more decided action, before the earth can be subdued to Christ.
Compared with the exigency, we have not, as yet, the semblance of an army in the field ; and our munitions are yet to be collected. Two hundred souls constitute the entire force, which twelve millions of freemen, cheered and blessed with the light of the gospel, have sent forth to bring the world out of bondage. And yet one half the nation is panic-struck at the drafts thus made upon her resources! What has been done, however, is but mere skirmishing before the shock of battle. Half the subjects of Satan's dark empire on earth, have not heard, as yet, that we have a being. And were none but such feeble efforts to be put forth, he, instead of coming down in great wrath, would keep his temper, and leave the war to his subalterns.
Nothing great on earth, good or bad, was ever accomplished without decisive action. The cause, in the moral world, as really as in the natural, must ever be proportioned to the effect to be produced. And what have we done, as yet, to justify the expectation, that God, by such means, is about to make all things new? Could our Independence have been achieved by such indecisive action as we put forth for the emancipation of the world ? Dear Brethren, we must fix our eye earnestly on a world lying in wickedness : our hearts must be fully set upon its deliverance: our hands must be opened wide for its relief. Not only the ministers of religion must give themselves wholly to this work; but all who prize civil and religious freedom-all who exult in these blessings—must come forth to the help of the Lord against the mighty. And when, to all who are now cheered by the light of revelation, the deliverance of a world in bondage shall become the all-absorbing object, and the concentrating point of holy enterprise, then speedily will the angel descend from heaven, with a great chain, to bind and cast into the bottomless pit him who through so many ages has deceived the nations. But,