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first of these, marriage without religious sanction and obligation is facilitated and encouraged by the authority of the legislature. In St. Pancras parish the baptisms are decreased by 600 in the year, and in St. Margaret's, Westminster, by 300. The proportion is still greater in some other parishes; and since the passing of the act for the registration of births, this effect is general. And it is nearly certain that few if any of these numbers of children are baptized elsewhere. The civil ceremony of registering the name and the religious rite of baptism are confounded in the minds of the common people; and they think, when the name is registered according to the provision of the legislature, that every thing is complete.
These acts were a concession to the devilish pretension of reason and liberty, that “no man is answerable for his creed.”
Another rebellion against God, begun in this generation, is the comparative impunity of crime:- the practice of examining the circumstances of crime,--excusing and accounting for it by temptation,-“ the serpent beguiled me :”--the temptations are considered to be too great, especially in political offences -- even to death :— till the command of God is set at naught and denied, that “ Whoso sheddeth man's blood by man shall his blood be shed.” We are not to sin, though under temptation :---and without trial sin would not exist :--- and from every temptation there is an escape.
But let us pass on to a review of that catalogue of offences, by which, St. Paul tells us, the apostacy of the last times shall be characterized. They are contained in the 1st and 2nd Epistles to Timothy. Let us
go through the whole catalogue ; and we shall see how exactly the features of society, and the habits and passions which rule in these times, correspond to each of
In the 4th chapter of the 1st Epistle to Timothy, St. Paul thus prophesies :
“ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils ; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."
I consider, with many others, that this reflects upon the Romish errors; which precede in their rise and growth those of the very last apostacy, as this prophecy preceded that in the 2nd of Timothy, which relates to the final Antichrist. The spirit of error and deceit, and the superstitions borrowed from devils, or the heathen worship, which characterize the Romish yoke, and weave the ensnaring meshes of their net, seem to be expressly pointed out, and prophesied of, in this description. The pious frauds, and false miracles, put forth for the vulgar, in which their teachers themselves do not believe,—these are there expressly designated, as hypocritical lies. Such ministers of the holy things of God must indeed have their minds and consciences cauterized. And their error is not in recommending and encouraging celibacy and fleshly mortifications, but in forbidding to marry, and forcing to abstain by fast
ing according to a set rule; thereby returning back to the flesh from the spirit,- from worship to ceremonial,and tempting to every kind of abuse and evasion, through putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear.
But the 2nd Epistle to Timothy, in the 3d chapter, speaks of another apostacy, of a different and still deeper character; and this is the one which seems to be more particularly applicable to our time. * We will pursue its track, and trace its footsteps in order.
“ This know also, that in the last days (to xatais ý pépéss) perilous times shall come ; for Men shall be lovers of their ownselves— 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-Highminded Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God-Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.
Men shall be lovers of their ownselves.-What so marks and distinguishes the character of the present day as selfishness and self-love ?
It is openly applauded. It is made a virtue of. In moral philosophy, and the rule of human life, the selfish system of morals is the peculiar topic of this era; and has been the most
* Dr. Kett is of opinion, that the 1st Epistle to Timothy applies to the Papal Antichrist; the 2nd Epistle, ch. 3 and 4, to a subsequent Antichrist; and he quotes Mede for this. The 2nd of St. Peter, and St. Jude's Epistle, do neither of them, he says, apply to Papal Antichrist, but to infidelity.-Kelt on Prophecy, vol. i. p. 387, 388.
approved and growing principle and doctrine of the present generation. In political economy, in like manner, the new and approved dogma is, that self-interest is the most sure to direct people right in the adjustments of trade and commerce, and all the mutual moneymaking dealings between man and man. ment the same principle has entered and is prevailing, in the doctrine that people are best capable of governing themselves.
Covetous (Pinapyupos).—This hardly needs illustrating. We are confessedly worshippers of money. Wealth is considered the strength, the palladium of the nation. As often observed, this is the only country in which it is a crime to be poor. Riches are really a virtue. In accordance with this, almost every crime may be expiated by riches ;—therefore every thing may be obtained for money ;--every desire may be accomplished; every ambition achieved ;-every secret may be known ;-and, proverbially, every man in England has his price; for if the money be but enough, every crime is palliated and excused by the greatness of this temptation. So fond are we of money, and so great is our opinion of its merits and power, that paid officers are now esteemed to be better than those who give gratuitous services. Good men, it is said, will be plentiful, if good men are in demand and well paid.
Boasters.—The chief topic of our delight is the dignity of human nature the capability of our attainments :—the rights of man,--and the rights of the
people :—that we are fellow workers with Christ that Christianity is but a step :—that we are just entering upon a new era of invention and discovery, by which we shall carry the world to perfection; and develope the great mystery of religion and liberty, of philanthropy and equality.
Proud (úzepnouvoi).- Besides the last, all are struggling to raise themselves above others, and to climb up out of the rank and station in which they were born; and then to tread down all that remain below them ;-and this is called a useful motive, and necessary spring, and a political virtue.
Blasphemers. - Infidelity has risen out of the lowest into the genteeler classes, and has lost some of its grossness; but it is vended wholesale instead of retail. It now exists, not in individuals, but in classes. Societies are formed and trained to blasphemy and scepticism. No wonder then that blasphemy may be found among the government of the country, and enter into the great assembly of the nation. The use of the words of Pilate, “What is truth ?” by a cabinet minister, in relation to religious differences, as if doubting, it seems, the oneness of Christian truth, has been already noticed. Another member is reported to have said in the House, that “it was as important to preserve men's lives as their souls ; and when millions of money were voted for churches, there might well be a grant for harbours.”
Disobedient to parents (yovsűri áreibens).—This has