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Christianity will be very generally diffused throughout the world. Such, we are led from holy Scripture to believe, will be the magnificent close of the great period of 1260 years.
Without presuming to inquire too curiously into the state of the millennian Church and the nature of the Messiah's earthly reign, it is not difficult to conceive, how materially the face of society would be changed, and how wonderfully the general condition of mankind would be meliorated, were the Gospel cordially embraced and faithfully acted upon, if not abso, ļutely by all, yet by an incalculably great inajority. At present, to say nothing of the huge multitudes involved in the darkness of Paganism or the mists of Mohammedism, the greatest exertion of Christian charity, the most laborious attempt to hope against hope, will leave no conviction in the minds of the truly serious, that even in countries professing the religion of the Messiah the majority are faithful followers of their Lord. We are compelled to acknowledge, by the melancholy testimony of our very senses, that too many have a name that they live, and are dead; that not merely lukewarmness and indifference and a disregard to the spirit of Christianity are
prevalent, but that numbers, in consequence of their actual criminality, can be distinguished from Pagans only by an appellation, in their cases, an empty geographical appellation. Now let us suppose this state of things to be reversed ; let us picture to ourselves either the whole, or nearly the whole, of mankind as being Christians not in word only, but in deed: and we may perhaps form some conception of the nature of the Millennium. What the narrow primitive Church was in spirit and in practice, the immense millennian Church would likewise be. Behold how these Christians love each other, would again become a true remark. Where universal affection prevailed, where selfishness was as much extinguished and evil lusts and passions were as much subdued as among the first believers; wars and dissentions, both public and private, would be no more. Where holiness of conversation, springing from grateful love to God through Christ, was predominant, the various miseries arising from vice and immorality would be unheard of. The world, in a degree, would be brought back to a Paradisaical state; and, when the minds of men ceased to be agitated by bad dispositions, and their bodily strength to be . A 3
undermined by intemperance and excess on the one hand and by poverty and wretchedness on the other, it is natural to suppose, that their lives would be extended to a much longer period than they are at present.
But some perhaps may ask, How can these things be ? To such a question the believer finds it not very difficult to give an answer. It was by an abundant effusion of the Holy Spirit, not by any natural inherent goodness of their own, that the primitive Christians were made to differ from others. It is by the agency of the same Spirit (I speak throughout of his ordinary operations), that every believer of the present day thankfully acknowledges, with Scripture and the Church, that a new heart is created within him. And it is by a yet more abundant effusion of the Holy Ghost both on Jews and Gentiles, as we are expressly taught in prophecy, that the great mass of mankind will truly and effectually be gathered into the fold of Christ in the days of the Millennium. There is no difficulty in conceiving, had it been agreeable to the purposes of the Most High so to have ordered matters, that all men in the apostolic age might have been made like-minded with the primitive believers ;
and that the Gospel might have been universally received, instead of being universally opposed. There is no difficulty in conceiving, that the heart of a Nero or a Diocletian might, through the Spirit, have been as effectually turned to the knowledge and love of the truth, as the heart of a Peter or a Paul. Consequently, there is no difficulty in conceiving, that the Holy Spirit, who was pleased only to operate to a certain extent in the days of the Apostles, may hereafter operate so gea nerally as to render nearly the whole of mankind similar, perhaps even superior, in holiness and genuine piety to the first Christians. All this, I repeat it, may easily be conceived ; for who shall presume to limit the extent of God's operations ? And, whether I be right or wrong in expecting a miraculous interference of the Divine Word, we are certainly led from prophecy to believe, that some such general diffusion of holiness will assuredly take place, and with it (what is indeed its natural consequence) a general diffusion of happiness.
This period, we are taught to expect, will be introduced by the most dreadful political convulsions that the world ever witnessed.' Before “ the greatness of the kingdom under “ the whole heaven,” to adopt the language . A 4
of Daniel, “ shall be given to the people of the “ saints of the Most High," the tyranny of the two little horns must be broken, and the empire of the great Roman beast, in his last form and under his last head, must be dissolved. In the midst of the expiring struggles of God's enemies, the Jews must be restored and converted. And thus at length, when this tremendous tempest shall have exhausted itself, the glorious day of millennian happiness shall dawn upon a long benighted and distracted world.
What part we may be destined to take in these awful events, may well afford matter of anxious anticipation to all of us, more especially when the present situation of Europe is considered with a reference to prophecy. That some prevailing maritime power of faithful worshippers will be chiefly instrumental in converting and restoring a part of the Jewish nation, seems to be declared in Scripture more than once with sufficient plainness : but I am persuaded that your Lordship will agree with me, that we may employ ourselves much more · profitably in labouring to diffuse the knowledge
of the Gospel and to increase among us the number of the truly pious, than in speculating upon the probability or improbability of our