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the just judgment of God, or by the one co-operating with the other. And finally, that this is the last and most desperate state of sin, on which Christ himself shall come to take vengeance, when its measure (of which he is the only proper judge) shall be filled up. Then shall this wicked one, whose sin is the same with that of Lucifer, the rival of the Most High; and of Corah, who exalteth himself against the authority of God in his ministers Moses and Aaron, the king and the priest; perish as they did. Satan was cast down, and the flames of heaven followed him. The fire of the Lord came forth, to destroy Corah and his company: and after the like form shall judgment be taken on this man of sin; who is to be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall be revealed in flaming fire.
I will not omit, though it be scarcely necessary to observe after what has been said, that, in detecting the man of sin, we may use the same method as John the Baptist did for discovering the true Messiah, 'when he sent his disciples with this question, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another ? The messengers in this case were bidden to observe, what was done by Jesus Christ, and were assured, that John would thence know for certain, who he'was that did it: the works of salvation would infallibly point out the Saviour. So if we are inquiring after the man of sin, let us but observe what he does, and we shall be sure who he is. Thus for example; if instead of the sacred light of government, we find the sacred right of insurrection; instead of God only wise, the wisdom of man deified and adored in the temple of God; instead of the liberty of serving God, which is the only true freedom, the liberty of disobeying him; instead of that justice and mercy, in which only mart can be like to God; the power of death, the1 delight of the devil, wantonly exercising itself in destroying men's lives; instead of laws for securing property, rapine and sacrilege laying every thing waste; we desire to know, what the true man of sin, whoever he is to be, and whenever he is to come, can do more? If there could be such a thing as an actual incarnation of the prince of the infernal regions, it does not appear what he could do worse. He might perhaps display greater act* of power, as being an angel that excels in strength; but he could not commit greater acts of sin: For, what sins do we know of beyond rebellion, sacrilege, murder, and blasphemy? two of which are more than Lucifer was guilty of when he was cast out of heaven.
Little did we think, twenty years ago, that we should live to see these things fulfilled so nearly as they have been; and in shewing this, I shall have no occasion to invent or to exaggerate: the facts are such as will speak for themselves; and there is scarcely a person here present, who could not say to me what I am about to say to him. We all know, that in the neighbouring country, a direct apostacy hath taken effect. The Christian religion hath been renounced; not negatively, through corruption of manners, or neglect of truth; but positively, publicly, and in 8olemn form. The restraining power of government, and the obligations of law, have not been interrupted and defied, in the fury of tumultuous agitation, but absolutely taken out of the way and abolished. The will of a wicked nation hath been admitted as the only sovereign law now to be obeyed: and while the Gospel teaches, that there is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy, we see a portentous company risen up, who
VOL. IV. Q
take to themselves the sublime denomination of legislators ; not under the authority of God, but in their own right; exclusive of his legislation, and in opposition to his power. And, that nothing may be wanting to the fulfilling of the prophecy, even in the letter, the churches have been shut up from the worship of God, and opened to admit the worship of reason ; an idol unknown to the temples of Pagan antiquity. And what is the reason here intended ? It is the reason of man; that is, of the philosopher or the plow-man ; for the one is as much a man as the other; and where all are equal, as good a man. And what is the reason of man, but the mind of man And what is the mind of man, but man himself; who now, as God, is actually seated in the temple of God to be worshipped. This is what the wisest man living could not have suspected some years ago; and what the most incredulous man cannot now deny: it is published and gloried in before the face of all people: the publication of Christianity itself was not more notorious. Government hath been murdered in the person of their prince; sin and blasphemy of every kind, like wild beasts that have broken their chains, have over-ran the country. No law subsists: the will of sinful man, or of the man of sin, is a law unto itself; and as the apostle once said, that the law was the strength of sin; so now it may be said, the strength of sin is the law ; and there is no other. It is a law, which doth not punish robbery, but ordains it: a law, which doth not protect or save men's lives, but destroys them: and, if it had power according to its will, would not leave one honest man upon the earth. And hereby the man of sin proves himself to be, what the apostle calls him, the son of perdition ; that is, the son of the destroyer, whose name is Apollyon;
the son of that father, who was a murderer from the beginning, and leads all his children to the practice of his own favourite sin; who, in their capacity of legislators, have nothing to render them respectable, but new-invented terrors of torture and bloodshed. The prospect here becomes too shocking to be minutely delineated : every human creature, that has any feeling, must turn away from it with horror; and resolve, that if such be the world now left to us, it' must surely be our duty and interest, to pray to God, that he would put an end to it: or, in the more devout and affecting language of our Liturgy, that he would shortly accomplish the number of his elect, and hasten his kingdom.
As the bee can extract honey from a poisonous flower, so may the Christian, when properly informed, derive comfort from every subject. Every event, whatsoever it may be in itself, is valuable to us, if the consideration of it tends to the confirming and strengthening of our faith: and how can it be otherwise, when we see with our eyes, that God is faithful and true, and that the sure word of his prophecy is daily fulfilling in the world? This brings the truth of the Gospel home to our bosoms, and makes us living witnesses of it. When the wickedness of the Jews brought down the vengeance of heaven upon Jerusalem, the time was fearful and fatal to that people; while Christians considered the whole as an accomplishment of what their Master had foretold, and an earnest of their own approaching redemption. The more wicked this world becomes, the nearer is its end: corruption is never very remote from dissolution. This great subject will have different effects on the minds of different persons; to some of terror, from the avenging hand of God, whom in the moment of licentious- QS
ness they have insulted and defied: to others, of comfort and confidence, from the fulfilling of the Divine promises. The same waters of the flood, which drowned the world, supported that ark which preserved the family of Noah. When the world shall be in its last agonies of sin and perturbation, and men's hearts are failing them for fear; the servants of Christ are commanded to lift up their heads (which have been bowed down under reproaches and persecutions) and to look up, for their redemption draweth ?tigh. That the time is actually come, for the Christians of this generation to lift up their heads, it would be rash to affirm, and perhaps weak to believe: many strange things may intervene: yet thus far, I think, our persuasion may extend with reason: that all the servants of Goc), who now are, or shortly will be, leaving this present world, may go to rest, under an assurance that their separation from the body will he short: a consideration; which to our weak minds, subject to strong impressions from the ideas of time and place, may have its use in lessening the fear of dpath; and it is therefore worth encouraging.
As you have seen, from the prediction of the apostle, that the revelation of the man of sin was an event, to happen before the end of the world; how thankful ought we to be, that it did not happen here: for, that the mystery of iniquity hath long been at work in this nation, cannot be denied: and it would have prevailed, but for that power which letteth, the restraining power of government, which it hath pleased God, of his unmerited goodness still to preserve amongst us. I fear there is too much truth in the assertion, that the first seeds of all this mischief were sown in Britain. Here it was, that reason, now deified in France, was first invested with the right of