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most severe conflict with her enemies, just before the dawn of her millennial glory? What has given rise to the well-known maxim, The darkest time is just before day? No doubt this has abundantly been found to be true in its figurative import. The Church, and individuals, have often found it true, in their trials. The severest struggle is often just before relief comes. Recollect the oppressed state of the Church in Egypt; and in the subsequent captivities of Israel. The truth of the above remark was there very manifest. The events which have been supposed to be emblematical of the relief of the Church, at the dawn of the Millennium, favor this idea; for instance, the scene at the Red Sea; and the passing of Israel over Jordan, into the promised land, when that river was overflowing all its banks, in the time of wheat harvest.* This idea has been found true in the greatest and in smaller events. When the devil found he was about to be cast out of the youth brought to Christ, (Mat. ix, 20,) he exerted all his violence upon the unhappy subject. He threw him down, cried out, tore him, yea rent him sore, and left him as dead. The reason is evident; it was his last opportunity. And how natural is the import of the solemn notice from Heaven, Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea; for the devil is come-down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth he hath but a short time. Here Satan's rage increases, as his time to persecute diminishes.
diminishes. Does not the above text decide,
* Gideon and his three hundred men wrought a great deliver. ance in Israel from the vast combined hosts of the Midianites, Amalekites, and children of the east, whose camels and numbers were as the sand of the sea. (Judges vii, 12,--) But this de. liverance was preceded by the breaking of the pitchers, which contained the lights, in the little army of Giduon. How fit an emblem were those pitchers of the followers, particularly of the ministers of Christ! Paul said to the Corinthians, But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us; alluding probably to that very passage in the history of Gideon. Ilow far Christ's earthen vesa sels are to be broken, before the armies of Antichrist shall be vanquished, God only knows. But the severest trials often just precede the greatest deliverances.
what analogy forcibly suggests, that the Church will see most trying scenes, just before her millennial salvation? Or will the analogy of God's usual dealings with his people, fail on that occasion?*
Scripture and analogy seem unitedly to teach, that it may be said of the Church general, at the opening of the Millennium, These are they who came out of great tribulation. And the same thing is indicated in their song of Moses and of the Lamb. The Church will just have been delivered, under the Captain of her salvation, from the most violent assaults of the enemy; as were Israel on the eastern bank of the Red Sea, under the direction of Moses, when they uttered their song of praise.t
It is not to be expected, that the Church will again see such depression, as she saw in the worst times in the dark ages; such smallness of numbers; and involved in such clouds of ignorance! It does not seem probable that she will be forced to return to this state. The present numbers of the Church, and the light which has dawned upon her, seem to forbid it. Perhaps the numbers of true Christians, and the light enjoyed in the Church will never be less than at present; nay, will increase. But can we hope a majority of the people of the Christian world will become graciòus, before the battle of that great day? No doubt a very great majority of them will continue to reject Christ. This is gathered from the predictions which relate to that period. What then may we expect this very great majority of people, rejectors of Christ, will be found to be doing, under all the artful and powerful attacks of Infidelity and licentiousness? and under the attack of that three-fold agency, of the dragon, of Antichrist, and of false religion,* which if it were possible would deceive even the very elect? They will be gathered to the battle of that great day of God Almighty! They will be found rapidly filling up the measure of their sins. Usual restraints will be taken off. Let us break his bands asunder; and cast away his cords from us. The abounding of iniquity will cause the love of many to wax cold, and to indulge violent hatred. Their opposition will rise in proportion to the evangelical light which they reject; as did that of the crucifiers of Christ. This principle of human depravity of hating the more, the more clearly the light shines, will then be found operating to an unprecedented degree; as restraints will be taken off, and things will be found ripening to an unprecedented crisis. This will cause the Jordan of Antichristian violence to overflow all its banks; and to roll its turbid billows, even in the time of wheat harvest, between the tribes of the Lord and their millennial Canaan then in view! In this way the impenitent under the Gospel will be prepared for the awful scenes of judgment, which will burst forth upon them, and accomplish the designs of the battle of the great day. The slain of the Lord, at that period are to be many, from one end of the earth, even to the other end of the earth. And they will prove to be the slain of the Lord, in consequence of being found in battle array against the Lord. And this their battle array will be threatening, as the subsequent judgments will be decisive and awful.
* Possibly all the predictions, which indicate the fiery trials of Christ's witnesses, may relate only to his witnesses on the old Roman earth, or within the present compass of the empire of the last head of the beast. For that seems to be the theatre of the events of many of the predictions of the Apocalypse. And no doubt some of Christ's true witnesses are there, notwithstanding that those regions are so enveloped in Atheism. Wheth. er the predictions of the depressions of the people of God in the last days, under the reign of Antichrist, will primarily be fol. filled upon the few followers of Christ who may be found in the old Popish countries, the event will decide.
God in mercy grant, that the calamities may be no more extensive! But I do not feel satisfied, that the prophecies do not give them a far wider extent. The Church of the restored Jews in Palestine is surely included in the last struggle. And we have much reason to apprehend that the great body of the Christian Church will be involved in trials under the reign of Antichrist.
+ Exodus xv.
Ye friends of the kingdom of Christ; how interesting are the times, into which it has been our lot to fall? We behold the last head of the Pagan Roman beast; the deadly wounded head healed; and the beast, that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, presented before our eyes! This is mystically the head, that crucified our Lord; and in ten bloody persecutions, endeavored to banish primitive Christianity from the world! And his eventual object now will be, war with the Lamb; (Rev. xvii, 14;) war with the saints; (Rev. xiii, 7;) persecution of the woman; (Rev. xii, 13;) to make war against him who sitteth on the horse; (Rev. xix, 19;) to fulfil the deeds of the antitype Antiochus; (Dan. xi, 31–35;) to make war against the witnesses; (Rev. xi, 7;) and to fulfil the distressing things against the Church, predicted by Christ in Mat. xxiv, Mark xiii, and Luke xxi, as noted in this section. This may not be the present motive of Antichrist. While forming his vassal kingdoms, his object will appear to be more political. But the above are objects predicted to be eventually accomplished by him, and by men of his spirit. These things are interesting to us. have peace in our day; and we may see the reverse. Let us not be greatly disappointed, if we are called to meet sore trials!
When these days are found opening upon us, are not the following sacred injunctions emphatically applicable?
“Watch ye; stand fast in the faith; quit you like "men; be strong. Be strong in the Lord, and in the “power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, "that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the "devil.-Take unto you the whole armor of God, that “ye may be able to withstand in the evil day; and having "done all, to stand. Stand therefore having your loins "girt about with truth; and having on the breastplate "of righteousness; and your feet shod with the pre“paration of the Gospel of peace. Above all, taking "the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,
We may “which is the word of God: Praying always, with all "prayer and supplication in the Spirit; and watching "thereunto with all perseverance, and supplication "for all saints. Seek the Lord all ye meek of the "earth,--seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may “be ye may be hid in the day of the Lord's anger. “For as a snare shall it come on all who dwell on the “face of the earth. Ye are not in darkness, that that “day should overtake you unawares.
Exhort one an“other, and so much the more as ye see the day ap"proaching Take heed that no man deceive you. “Watch ye therefore, and pray always; that ye may “be accounted worthy to escape all these things, that “shall come to pass; and to stand before the Son of "man."
What matter of gratitude and joy, that we are not left in darkness relative to the termination of the trials of the Church under the tyranny of Antichrist! Though she will for a season be depressed, yet God will be near, and will regard her as the apple of his eye. And she will eventually rise; and the enemy will sink. The first reign of the Imperial head of the Roman beast closed in his being wounded to death. And the second, his present reign,
will close in his going into perdition. This will be inconceivably more terrible and decisive than the first catastrophe. Concerning the first, in the revolution under Constantine, we read, (Rev. vi, 12, to the end,) And I beheld, when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a figtree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heavens departed as a scroll, when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath