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SECTION THE FOURTH.
SIGNS OF THE APPROACHING DAY OF THE LORD.
These wars and commotions among the nations, &c.-The abounding of religious impostors-A more extensive preaching of the Gospel among the Heathen nations-The depression and spoliation of the Papal see-The sixth vial considered-Kings of the East-The three unclean Spirits like frogs-The invasion of Palestine-A siege of Jerusalem pointed out as the grand crisis of the Divine interposition.
IN these conflicts and predicted movements among the nations upon earth, we are taught by the word of prophecy to trace the near approach of "the great day of the Lord." The dreadful judgments of that day, as executed by the immediate hand of God, will hereafter engage much of our attention. The sufferings however, of mankind during these bloody wars, and these contests of the nations which we have been tracing, I do not reckon among the judgments of "the great day :" they are only a prelude to it; but when they begin to come to pass, they may certainly be contemplated as signs of its approach. These conflicts produce not, immediately, any other effects, than such as we may term the common calamities of mankind; the vanquished
will suffer, and the victors with their blood will purchase renown, and new means of earthly enjoyment to the survivors. But the executed vengeance of "the great day of the battle of Almighty God" will be very different: there will be drawn the sword, not of man; and the judgments upon the nations that have sent forth these armies, will come from a miraculous display of the Divine power, both upon them and upon their armies, and not in the ordinary way of the present providential dispensation. I think the words of our Lord are applicable here: "And ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." And it seems there will be other prognostics of the approach of the great day: "and there shall be famines and pestilence, and earthquakes in divers places.'
These are, indeed, but the usual visitations of a correcting Providence; but their magnitude and the frequency of their occurrence towards the last, may serve for signs and tokens, to warn mankindif they will take warning-of the approach of "the Righteous Judge of all the earth." It is added in St. Luke: "and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven:"* whatever these may be, when they appear the timorous no doubt will fear and tremble and think, in truth at last, that the world is going to be at an end!' and the philosopher, perhaps, will scientifically account for all these phenomena, and lay the world at their ease. This at any rate we know for certain, the world will take
* Luke xxi. 11.
no warning, "for the day of the Lord must so come as a thief in the night. When they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as pain upon a woman with child.”
Another sign which has been pointed out by our Lord, is the abounding of religious impostors, and the striking effects produced by artful deceivers, a sign which has been abundantly manifested in these latter ages. The Mahomedan imposture in the east, and the masterpiece of the deceptions of Satanthe Papacy in the west, have long deceived their multitudes, and trampled upon the ruins of primitive Christianity. But, perhaps, the abounding of seducers, that should arise and deceive many, which should more particularly afford a sign of the near approach of the coming of the Son of Man, must be looked for from that heretical and sectarian spirit, which has been so exceedingly prolific in our day, which, defying all authority and despising all order, has introduced such a diversity of opinions, and so many plausible schemes of doctrine and ecclesiastical polity, that we see the simple beyond measure perplexed and bewildered.
Many ably devised schemes are there indeed abroad in the religious world "to shew signs and wonders to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect." And not only is the Papacy marked for destruction by the word of prophecy, at that day; but seducers, that stand in rather an opposite relation to the Apostolic Church, "They perish in the gainsaying of Corah.' "Such are they that separate themselves, having not the
Spirit." * Some of them are described as "denying the Lord that bought them;" as denying the Son, and by consequence the Father also, as not confessing, "Jesus Christ come into the flesh."† Some “walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government: presumptuous, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities." "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption." Others of a more sanctimonious cast, though they "deny its power," retain a "form of godliness." "Of this sort," says the apostle, speaking of the "perilous times" of the "last days," are they "which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Of these it is, in particular, that he says: "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth," by seeming perhaps, for that to the elect would be most seductive, to produce in the sight of men the most extraordinary effects in conversions, and in the moral reformation of the people, similar to, or more ostensible than, those wrought by the preachers of the truth; yet "they are reprobate"-without a discerning mind "concerning the faith."§ This is their characteristic; and the most charitable in their judgment must acknowledge, that such things are; and are prevailing, more and more. It is not at all improbable, however, that under this guise, the advocates
* Jude, 11.
† 1 John ii. 18. iv. 1, &c. 2 John vii.
of the Papacy will prevail in their seductions of Protestants in these last times; but, there are other sects and associations to which we can have little doubt the description applies.
The preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom in all nations is another sign mentioned by the Lord. This is thus symbolized in the Revelation:
xiv. 6. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water."
This, I have little doubt, is beginning to be accomplished, by the prospered exertions of Bible and Missionary Societies, in their relation more especially to the heathen world. For the proclamation is described to be to the heathen nations, that did not worship the God who made heaven and earth, &c. And though some who took the lead in these societies chose to set their faces against the expectation of an approaching judgment of apostate nations, and of the appearing of the Lord in glory, and deemed it inimical to all missionary zeal and exertion-thinking to prepare a Millennium for themselves, under the present dispensation, each in the extension of his own community and form of worship; not adverting to the Divine maxim, "a house divided against itself cannot stand:" yet, notwithstanding, as their translations of the sacred