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multiplicity of creeds; no wonder they revive extinct heresies, and exhausted topics of discussion and controversy, over and over again; no wonder they and we are
Ever learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, these also resist the truth : men of corrupt minds (xateplapjeyou tov voy-out of their senses), reprobate (Geoxipos, perversi, inepti, judicii expertes) concerning the truth. -Men's minds are distracted and distorted by their science and learning: their wisdom and their knowledge it hath perverted them; their attention and opinions are hurried backwards and forwards, and carried away by every wind of doctrine, and every new theory and every new study and discovery and invention,-till there is nothing settled, nothing is solid, certain, or respected, but all is doubt, and change, and the mystery of uncertainty, according as St. Peter and St. Jude predicted it, “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried away with a tempest, to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever." *
As St. Paul in his first epistle to Timothy seems to glance particularly at the Roman Catholic errors, and in the second epistle at the characters of the passing age, so St. Peter and St. Jude appear to carry the description on to the final consummation of those forms of evil, which are now rapidly progressing towards their
* I reserve the subject of the darkness of the coming age, to a future Essay.
perfect growth and development. The description at present needs but to be read, and the application even now will be only too plain, after the illustrations of St. Paul's epistle to Timothy which have been given. But it is evident that it is capable in many respects of a still closer application.
*“ There shall be false teachers, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them;
(Jude.—“Ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.)
Many shall follow their own pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of:
“Through covetousness, shall they with feigned words make merchandize of you :
“Chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities :
(Jude.—“ Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh,despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities:) —
Speak evil of things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption :
(Jude.-—“ These speak evil of those things which they know not) :
Sporting themselves in their own deceivings :“Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin :
* 2 Pet. ch. ii.
Beguiling unstable souls :“ An heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children ; which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteous
(Jude.—“ Woe 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 Core) :
“ The dumb ass-forbad the madness of the prophet :
“ These are wells without water; clouds that are carried away with tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever :-
(Jude.-—“ Clouds are they without water; carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth; without fruit; twice dead; plucked up by the roots :
Raging waves of the sea :-wandering stars : to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever) :
Speak great swelling words of vanity : “ Allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those who were clean escaped from them who live in error :
“ While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption :
" It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is prophesied to them according to the true pro
verb, “The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.'
(Jude.—“ Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands 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.
“ These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words : having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
“They told you there should be mockers in the last time, who would walk after their own ungodly lusts.
“ These be they who separate themselves; sensual; not having the spirit.”)
I will conclude this sketch and recapitulation of the signs of the coming of the last times of national degeneracy and apostacy, by quoting Mr. Bickersteth's apprehensions and warnings upon the same subject in his Treatise on Baptism.
“ I cannot conclude this subject without adverting to a deeply interesting and affecting consideration-the danger of national apostacy in our country. The general tendency of public measures, for a considerable period, has been to throw open the government of the country to persons not holding the great and essential doctrines of the Gospel. At the settlement of our English constitution in 1688, Papists and persons denying the doctrine of the blessed Trinity were expressly excepted from favour. The pure form of
Christianity maintained by our Church was generally viewed as most accordant with the word of God, and therefore most calculated to promote social happiness; and thus the Church of England, which holds all the great truths of the Gospel of Christ, was sanctioned, established, and everywhere through the land nationally maintained. Dissenters from conscientious scruples, but holding the main truths of the Gospel, were not merely tolerated but encouraged in all the good they sought to effect, as a really valuable auxiliary to a Church establishment.—Luke, ix. 49, 50, Papists, and idolaters, and Socinians, as not holding the head, and Jews as rejecting Christ, were discouraged. Thus our constitution was truly scriptural. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, were nationally acknowledged and honoured. His blessing has been marked in our national elevation, peace, preservation and prosperity.
“ But our national profession of these things has become, in the lapse of time, exceedingly formal. Step after step has been taken to weaken it. The Protestant character of our government has been cast off, by Socinians and Papists having been admitted to share in that power which Christ has entrusted to us (Matt. xxviii. 18; John, xix. 11), as a Protestant nation, for his kingdom and glory. Step after step is taken in marriages, in baptism, in education, to dissever the Church of England from the nation. Attempts have been made to admit the Jews into our government, and so wholly throw off its Christian character. Step after step is taken in the maintenance of Papal priests and Papal schools, at home and in our colonies, to break down our national testimony to God's truth as set forth in our national religious testimonies.
“ This, however, is but one part, though a very awakening symptom indeed of our tendencies to apostacy. The whole character of our population, in its prevailing features, is of