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II. I now come to speak of the great apostasy there should be towards the close of this period, and how imminently the church should be for a short time threatened by her enemies. And this I shall do under three particulars.
1. A little before the end of the world, there shall be a very great apostasy, wherein great part of the world shall fall away from Christ and his church. It is said in Rev. xx. 3, that Satan should be cast into the bottomless pit, and shut up, and have a seal set upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled ; and that after that he must be loosed out of his prison for a little
And accordingly we are told, in the 7th and 8th verses, that when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and should go forth to deceive the nations, which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog. Which seems to show as though the apostasy would be very general. The nations of the four quarters of the earth shall be deceived'; and the number of those who shall now.turn enemies to Christ shall be vastly great,,
as the army of Gog and Magog is represented in Ezekiel, and as it is said in Rev. xx. 8, that the number of them is as the sand of the sea, and that they went upon the breadth of the earth, as though they were an army big enough to reach from one side of the earth to the other.
Thus after such an happy and glorious season, such a long day of light and holiness, of love, and peace, and joy, now it shall begin again to be a dark time. Satan shall begin to set up his dominion again in the world. This world shall again become a scene of darkness and wickedness. The bottomless pit of hell shall be opened, and devils shall come up again out of it, and a dreadful smoke shall ascend to darken the world. And the church of Christ, instead of extending to the utmost bounds of the wồrld, as it did before, shall be reduced to narrow limits again. The world of mankind being continued so long in a state of such great prosperity, shall now begin to abuse their prosperity, to serve their lust and corruption. This we learn from Luke xvii. 26, &c.
2. Those apostates shall make great opposition to the church of God. The church shall seem to be imminently threatened with a sudden and entire overthrow by them. It is said, Satan shall gather them together to battle, as the sand on the sea shore ; and they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city. So that this beloved city shall seem just ready to be swallowed up by them : For her enemies shall not only threaten ber, but shall actually have gathered together against her; and not only so, but shall have besieged her, shall have compassed her about on every side.
There is nothing in the prophecy which seems to hold forth as though the church had actually fallen into their hands, as the church had fallen into the hands of Antichrist, to whom it was given to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. God will never suffer this to be again after the fall of Antichrist ; for then the day of her mourning shall be ended. But the church shall seem most imminently threatened with utter and sudden destruction.
3. Now the state of things will seem most remarkably to call for Christ's immediate appearance to judgment. For then the world shall be filled with the most aggravated wick.. edness that ever it was. For much the greater part of the world shall have become visibly wicked and open enemies to Christ, and their wickedness shall be dreadfully aggravated by their apostasy. Before the fall of Antichrist, most of the world was full of visibly wicked men. But the greater part of these are poor Heathens, who never enjoyed the light of the gospel ; and others are those that have been bred up in the Mahometan or Popish darkness. But these are those that have apostatised from the Christian church, and the visi. ble kingdom of Christ, in which they enjoyed the great light and privileges of the glorious times of the church, which shall be incomparably greater than the light and privileges which the church of God enjoys now. . This apostasy will be most like the apostasy of the devils of any that ever had before been : For the devils apostatatised, and turned enemies to Christ, though they enjoyed the light of heaven ; and these
will apostatise, and turn enemies to him, though they have en joyed the light and privileges of the glorious times of the church. That such should turn open and avowed enemies to Christ, and should seek the ruin of his church, will cry aloud for such immediate vengeance as was executed on the devils when they fell.
The wickedness of the world will remarkably call for Christ's immediate appearing in flaming fire to take vengeance on them, because of the way in which they shall manifest their wickedness, which will be by scoffing and blaspheming Christ and his holy religion ; and particularly, they will scoff at the notion of Christ?s coming to judgment, of which the church shall be in expectation, and of which they will warn them. For, now doubtless will be another fulfilment, and the greatest fulfilment, of 2 Pet. iii. 3, 4. “ Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For, since'the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” They shall be in no expectation of the coming of Christ to judgment, and shall laugh at the notion. They shall trample all such things under foot, and shall give up themselves to their lusts, or to eat and drink, and wallow in sensual delights, as though they were to be here forever. They shall despise the warnings the church shall give them of the coming of Christ to judgment, as the people of the old world despised what Noah told them of the approaching flood, and as the people of Sodom did when Lot said to them, “ The Lord will destroy this city.” Their wickedness on this account will cry aloud to heaven for Christ's appearing in flaming fire to take vengeance of his enemies; and also because another way that they shall exercise their wickedness will be in the wicked design and violent attempt they shall be engaged in against the holy city of God, against that holy city, wherein lately, and for so long a time, so much of the religion of Christ had been seen. They shall then be about to perpetrate the most horrid design against this church.
And the numerousness of the wicked that shall then be, is another thing which shall especially call for Christ's coming : For the world will doubtless then be exceeding full of people, having continued so long in so great a sate of prosperity, with, out such terrible desolating extremities, as wars, pestilenceš, and the like, to diminish them. And the most of this world, which shall be so populous, will be such wicked contemptuous apostates from God. Undoubtedly that will be a day wherein the world will be by far fuller of wickedness than ever before it was from the foundation of it. And if the wickedness of the old world, when men began to multiply on the earth, called for the destruction of the world by a deluge of waters, this wickedness will as much call for its destruction by a deluge of fire.
Again, the circumstances of the church at that day will also eminently call for the immediate appearing of Christ, as they will be compassed about by their blasphemous, murderous enemies, just ready to be swallowed up by them. And it will be a most distressing time with the church, excepting the comfort they will have in the hope of deliverance from God : For all other help will seem to fail. The case will be come to the last extremity, and there will be an immediate need that Christ should come to their deliverance. And though the church shall be so imminently threatened, yet so will Provi. dence order it, that it shall be preserved till Christ shall appear in his immediate presence, coming in the glory of his Father with all his holy angels. And then will come the time when all the elect shall be gathered in. That work of conversion which has been carried on from the beginning of the church after the fall through all those ages, shall be carried on no more. There never shall another soul be converted. Every one of those many millions, whose names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world, shall be brought in; not one soul shall be lost. And the mystical body of Christ, which has been growing since it first þegan in the days of Adam, will be complete as to number of parts, having every one of its members. In this respect the work of redemption will now be finished. And now the end for which the means of grace have been instituted shall be obe tained. All that effect which was intended to be accomplish, ed by them shall now be accomplished.
THUS I have shown how the success of Christ's redempe tion has been accomplished during the continuance of the Christian church under the means of grace. We have seen what great revolutions there have been, and are to be, during this space of time ; how the great wheels of providence have gone
round for the accomplishment of that kind of success of Christ's purchasë, which consists in the bestowment of grace on the elect: And we are, in the prosecution of the subject; come to the time when all the wheels have gone round ; the course of things in this state of it is finished, and all things are ripe for Christ's coming to judgment.
You may remember, that when I began to discourse of this third proposition, viz. That from the resurrection of Christ to the end of the world, the whole time is taken up in procur. ing the success and effect of Christ's purchase of redemption, I observed, that the success of Christ's purchase is of two kinds, consisting either in grace or glory; and that the suco cess consisting in the former of these, is to be seen in those works of God which are wrought during those ages that the church is continued under the means of grące ; and that the success, consisting in the latter, will chiefly be accomplished at the day of judgment.
Having already shown how the former kind of success has been accomplished, I come now, in the second place, to the latter, viz. that kind of success which is accomplished in the bestowment of glory on the church, which shall chiefly be be. stowed on the church at the day of judgment. And here I would mention two or three things in the general concerning this kind of success of Christ's purchase.