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Lecture I.


1 JOHN iv. 3.

This is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come.

THE Creator of the world is the author of Christianity; and the history of nature bears a striking analogy to that of revelation. When the earth was formed, and the heavens were stretched abroad, and light, life and reason were produced, the Father of the universe blessed his work, and pronounced it good. All was magnificent, lovely and harmonious; a vast theatre for holy deeds. and high enjoyments; where man was to perform his allotted part of good, and reap his recompence of bliss; or be prepared for some still nobler abode in his heavenly Parent's mansion. Soon this sunshine faded into darkness. Evil, both natural and moral, advanced to a conflict, apparently successful, with human virtue and happiness, and gained a triumphant and extensive prevalence. Yet evil is of temporary duration, admitted into the plans of God on

account of the good to which it is subservient, destined to destruction, and to be succeeded by an otherwise unattainable degree of universal felicity. So when the new creation, the moral world of Christianity, was formed, it exhibited a scene of surpassing excellence. There was the light of truth, the life of godliness, the joy of immortality. It was a system of knowledge and devotion, of purity, liberty and benevolence. But no sooner was the gospel widely diffused, than it began to be corrupted. A spurious philosophy transformed its doctrines into mysteries: false shame attempted to wipe away the reproach of the cross, by elevating the lowly prophet of Nazareth to the honours of deification; while avarice and ambition superseded its godly discipline to make way for wealth, splendour, tyranny and persecution. Apostacy in the church, like evil in the universe, is permitted of God for wise and good purposes; its limits are fixed; its termination certain; and its destruction preparatory to the final prevalence of pure religion, the reign of Christ, in truth, peace and piety, over all nations. To illustrate this fact, is the design of the Course of Lectures which has been announced to you. They will exhibit error and evil, rising, prevailing, declining, and perishing, in Christianity, thus leaving room for the free operations of its original principles in destroying evil in the world, and providing for the extent, facility and success of

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