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Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. Some suppose, that Satan wished to find the body of Moses, which the Lord had buried, that the Jews might worship it. Others think, that by the body of Moses is meant the Jewish church, as the christian church is called the body of Christ. Yet even Michael did not think a good cause needed any such weapon as a railing accusation, to be employed in its defence. "A memorandum to all disputants never to bring railing accusations into their disputes. Truth needs no supports from falsehood, or scurrility.' Like Michael, we should leave it to the Lord to rebuke the railer. these dreamers, these false teachers, he says, speak evil of those things which they know not; namely, the origin and utility of civil government, that which even protects their own persons and property. How many, both things and persons, had never suffered by slanderous tongues, if they had been better known. But what they know naturally, as brute beasts, by mere natural instinct, they abuse; being slaves to their animal propensities, like the irrational brutes. They violate the dictates even of natural religion. The fault is not in their understanding, but in their depraved wills, and disordered affections, which they choose rather to gratify, than to mortify.
Saint Jude then breaks out into a Wo unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Corè. Like Cain, they are atheistical and profane, haters of their brethren, and slayers of the souls of men. Like Balaam the son of Bosor, who sought to favour Balak, being greedy of present worldly honours, they pervert the word of God, refine away its meaning to suit the inclinations of men, and make a gain of godliness. And like Corah, who opposed Moses as priest, and Aaron as prince, so they oppose the authority of the Apostles of our Lord, and run into presumptions, in which they must assuredly perish as he did. Like Cain, and Balaam, and Korah of old, they are guilty of murder, covetousness, and rebellion, and must expect a like wo to follow them. Again he goes on to denounce the false teachers, in a highly figurative style. He calls them spots in their
feasts of charity, or love-feasts, so much spoken of by the ancient church. These Love-Feasts were in use in the primitive church, until the middle of the fourth century. At first, they were held immediately before the Lord's Supper; but in time, immediately after it. At these feasts, the rich members entertained the poor members, the widows, orphans, and strangers; and all sat down and ate together, in token of a united love. But these hypocritical professors were spots or blemishes upon these feasts, eating and drinking as gluttons and wine-bibbers, without a holy fear and gratitude. He calls them clouds without water, carried about of winds. Formal professors, without active zeal, like clouds, which in a time of drought promise rain, but perform nothing of what they promise; and also ungrounded professors, who being light and empty, and easily carried about, this way or that, as the wind of their passions happens to set, may become a ready prey to each new doctrine. He calls them trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, planted in the Lord's vineyard, yet fruitless; men, who begin in the spirit, and end in the flesh; twice dead, once in the Jewish, and once in the christian vineyard; once before they professed, and once since, by a relapse into their former sins; plucked up by the roots, rooted out on that account, so that there is no more hope of them; now cumbering the ground, and reserved only for the fire. He calls them raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; boisterous, noisy, full of talk and turbulency, with but little sense or meaning; creating much uneasiness to men of better sense, and calmer tempers, and which will in the end but foam out their own greater shame. Lastly, he calls them wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. He does not compare them to the regular and fixed planets, which enlighten their own steady course; but to those baleful and erratic meteors, which lead simple souls astray, by their strange and bewildering gleamings. Like these meteors, these teachers are sometimes here, and sometimes there, so that one knows not, even with much ado, how or where to find or fix them; but to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. If this will not make those ministers, who
corrupt the word of God, and mislead the souls of mankind, tremble, I know not what will.
Saint Jude then brings forward the prophecy of the patriarch Enoch. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed; and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him, as if he were an impostor. Enoch is called the seventh from Adam, to distinguish him from the two other Enochs, one the son of wicked Cain, the other the son of pious Seth. This prophecy was handed down, not by revelation, but tradition. Thus our Lord's coming to Judgment was prophesied, as early as the middle of the Patriarchal Age.
Saint Jude now turns once more, and enlarges on the character of these evil teachers. They are not only murmurers, whom neither God nor man can please, and who are never pleased with their own state; and complainers against Providence, and the civil laws, walking after their own eyes, letting their vicious appetites be their only rule, and thus engendering ungovernable passions; but they are also time-servers and flatterers, with their mouth speaking great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage; pretending to be in admiration at the wisdom or beauty of the great and rich, hoping thereby to acquire money or influence.
But, beloved, Saint Jude now turns back to the christian converts, But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before by our Lord's Apostles. They predicted that, in the last time, in the conclusion of the Jewish polity, these mockers, these sensualists, who are the worst of separatists, because they separate themselves from every branch of the church of Christ, should come. So that your faith should not be shaken, but rather confirmed, by the fulfilment of their prophecy. Therefore, being forewarned, be ye also forearmed, against deceivers. But ye, beloved, build up yourselves in the most holy faith, pray in the divine spirit of prayer, keep yourselves in the love of God, and look to the mercy, not to your im
perfect merits, but to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, for life eternal.
Saint Jude now, having given the converts his fare well advice respecting themselves, offers them his parting counsel, how to treat delinquents. He says, And of some have compassion, making a difference. Be compassionate towards those, who err through ignorance. Make a difference between the weak and the wilful. Reclaim the deluded by the gentle tone of persuasion. Restore the penitent in the spirit of meekness. Be not harsh or severe with such natures. If God has forgiven them, then why should not we? We need his forgiveness, more than they do ours. And others, he says, save with fear, pulling them out of the fire. To such as err through a perverse will, and corruption of heart, preach the terrors of the Lord; hold up the censures of the church, and a future judgment. Pull them out of the fire of sin and temptation, as you would snatch them out of a house on fire. But in so doing, shun all familiarity with them, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Avoid their contagious conversation, as you would a garment spotted by the infectious leprosy. Eschew all that leads to sin, or looks like sin.
Saint Jude now concludes with a sublime Doxology. And surely, whatever subject we have been labouring, it is fittest to end with ascribing glory to God. Let us therefore respond to Saint Jude. Now unto Him, who is able to keep us from falling from the faith once delivered unto the saints, and into the hands of false teachers, who creep in unawares; and to present us faultless — not as those who never sinned, but whose sins are pardoned - before the presence of his glory, now an object of faith, soon to be an object of sense; with exceeding joy, for where there is no sin, will be no sorrow; to the only wise God our Saviour, to Him who alone is wise underivedly, be ascribed the glory of infinite perfection, and the majesty of universal empire, both now and ever. Surely, the God who is as willing, as he is able, to do all this, is worthy of such a high Doxology. Let us then, with Saint Jude, affix to it our hearty, and reverential AMEN.
Rev. xx, 4.
--AND THEY LIVED AND REIGNED WITH CHRIST
[Chiefly condensed from a Treatise upon the same subject.]
WHO has not heard with delight of the thousand years, called the Millennium? The glorious thousand years, when Satan shall be bound in his den, and the saints shall rule on the earth? Millennial glory is the burden of prophetic song; it is one of the grand and leading objects of prediction, from Genesis to Revelation. To bring to view and enforce some of the most important instructions, which God has given us relating to the Millennium, is the object of these Sermons. The subject may be embraced under four inquiries.
I. When will the Millennium commence ?
III. What will be the state of the world during the Millennium?
IV. What duties are inculcated upon us by this subject?
WHEN WILL THE MILLENNIUM COMMENCE? There have been various conjectures and calculations upon this point. But the most common and most natural opinion is, that the Millennium will commence at about six thousand years after the creation of the world. God was engaged six days in the work of creation, and rested on the seventh, and as he sanctified each seventh