Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

A large proportion of the Apocalypse of John respects this grand apostacy, and the corrupt community in which it was accomplished. He describes it with great variety of expressions. On some accounts it is represented under the form of a city, on others of a beast, and on others of a woman sitting upon a beast. That we might be at no loss to distinguish it on its appearance, it is intimated that it should not be so much a civil as an apostate ecclesiastical power : it is a harlot, opposed to the bride, the Lamb's wife ; and that it should greatly abound in wealth and worldly grandeur : The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls ; that its dominion should not be confined to its own immediate territories : Power was given it over all kingdoms and tongues and nations ;that its authority should not be derived from its own conquests, but from the voluntary, consent of a number of independent king: doms to come under its yoke : The kings of the earth have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast ;that it should be distinguished by its blasphemies, idolatries, and persecuting spirit: Upon her were the names of blasphemy. They should make an image of the beust, and as many as would not worship the image of the beast were to be killed. And the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints ;—that its persecutions sbould extend to such a length as for no man to be allowed the common rights of men, unless he became subject to it: No man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name ;-that its power should continue for a time, times, and half a time, forty and two months, or one thousand two hundred and sixty days ; during which long period God's witnesses should prophesy in sackcloth, be driven as into a wilderness, and, and as it were, slain, and their bodies lie unburied ;-finally, that they who gave it an existence, should be the instruments of taking it away: The kings, or powers, of the earth shall hate the whore, and burn her flesh with fire. Whether all or any part of this be falsehood, let the history and observation determine.

It has often been observed, that the prophecies of the Messiah were so numerous and explicit, that at the time of his appearance

* Rev. xi. xii. xvi.

there was a general expectation of it, not only in Judea, but in all the neighbouring nations, and is not the same thing observable at this time, of the fall of Antichrist, the conversion of the Jews, and the general spread of the gospel ?

Once more : The sacred writers have predicted the opposition which Christianity should encounter, and described the characters from whom it should proceed: In the last days, say they, perilous times, shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures, more than the lovers of God. Again : There shall be mockers in the last time, who shall walk after their own ungodly lusts ; filthy dreamers, who defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.* Let Mr. Paine, and other Infidels, consider well the above picture, and ask their own consciences, Is this a falsehood ?

Bishop Newton, in his Dissertations, has clearly evinced the fulfilment of several of these and other scripture-prophecies; and has shown that some of them are fulfilling at this day. To those Dissertations I refer the reader. Enough has been said to enable us to determine which production it is that deserves to be called “a book of falsehoods,”-the prophecies of scripture, or the Age of Reason.

* 2 Tim. ii. 1-4. Jude.

CHAPTER II.

THE HARMONY OF SCRIPTURE WITH TRUTH, EVINCE) FROM ITS

AGREEMENT WITH THE DICTATES OF AN ENLIGHTENED CONSCIENCE, AND THE RESULT OF THE CLOSEST OBSERVATION.

If a brazen mirror were found on some remote, uninhabited island, it might be a doubtful matter how it came thither; but if it properly reflected objects, there could be no doubt of its being a real mirror.

The Bible was written with the professed design of being profitable for reproof ; nor was there ever a book so adapted to the purpose, or so effectual in its operation in disclosing the inward workings of the human mind. Thousands can bear witness, from experience, that it is quick and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Its entrance into the mind gives light : and light which discovers the works of darkness. Far from flattering the vices of mankind, it charges, without ceremony, every son of Adam with possessing the heart of an apostate. This charge it brings home to the conscience, not only by its pure precepts, and awful threatenings, but oftentimes by the very invitations and promises of mercy; which, while they cheer the heart with lively hope, carry conviction by their import to the very soul. In reading other books, you may admire the ingenuity of the writer; but here your attention is turned inward. Read it but seriously, and your heart will answer to its descriptions. It will touch the secret springs of sensibility ; and if you have any ingenuousness of mind towards God, the tears of grief, Vol. III.

16

in a way

mingled with those of hope and gratitude, will, ere you are aware, trickle from your eyes.

To wbatever particular vices you may have been addicted, bere you will discover your likeness; and that, not as a comic representation on the theatre, which, where it reclaims one person by shaming him out of his follies, corrupts a thousand; but

that will bring conviction to your bosom. Come see a man which told me all things that ever I did : Is not this the Christ? Such was the reasoning of the woman of Sama. ria; and who could have reasoned better? That which makes manifest must be light. But this reasoning is applicable to other things, as well as to the Messiahship of Jesus. No man can forbear saying of that book, that doctrine, or that preaching which tells bim all that ever he did, Is not this the truth? The satisfaction afforded by such evidence approaches near to iutuitive certainty ; it is having the witness in ourselves.

Should it be objected, that though this may satisfy our own minds, yet it can afford no evidence to others ; I answer, It is true, that they who shun the light cannot be supposed to possess that evidence of its being what it is, as those who have come to it that their deeds may be made manifest; yet even they, if at all acquainted with the Bible, must be aware that the likenesses which it draws are, in a considerable degree, their own. It is not to se rious Christians only, that the gospel is a mirror. Many who never look into that perfect law of liberty from choice and delight, so as to be blessed in their work, but only glance at it in a transient and occasional way, yet perceive so much of their own character in it, as to be convinced that it is right, and that they are wrong. The secret conviction of thousands who beard the word, and do it not, resembles that of Pharaoh, The Lord is righteous, and I and mny people are wicked. The impressions of such people, it is true, are frequently short in their duration : like a man who seeth his natural face in a glass, they go away, and straightway forget what manner of persons they are: but the aversion which they discover seriously to resume the subject, places it beyond all reasonable doubt, that, let their hearts be as they may, the scriptures have commended themselves to their consciences. They have felt the

« AnteriorContinuar »