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The peculiarity of the epistle of Jude is, that it deals with the general and comprehensive principles of all apostasy, or departure from God, instead of dwelling exclusively on any particular feature of evil by which it may be characterised. And solemn indeed is the reflection that all these principles will find their field of action in that sphere where grace at first recorded its triumphs, and which should have been consecrated to holiness and to God! “If the light that is in thee become darkness how great is that darkness!” There is no middle position between being espoused to Christ, as “ a chaste virgin the true character of the church-and being allied to the

66 great whore ” of Christendom's corruptions, “the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth."

Hence, in giving the moral characteristics of the “men who had crept in unawares," he says, with a woe unto them,, they have “gone in the way of Cain, and run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core”! Thus associating their principles with every form of corruption which God will judge. For in Cain is presented the first apostate amongst men, in the way of infidelity and hatred of righteousness. Balaam is the selected example of corruption in religion for reward. Core is the head of revolt.

But, though Cain stands as the illustration of the infidel heart and ways of man, under the evil spirit of infidelity, and necessary hatred of righteousness, yet, as may be clearly seen in the example, these may consist with the self-chosen forms of a religion that excludes the recognition of sin in the presence

of God, and reliance for acceptance on the blood of atonement.

Balaam stands in scripture in bad pre-eminence, as a man who used his character as a prophet to gain the rewards of the powers of the world, and against the true people of God. He would have used the revelations of God to this end, if they could have been brought into such subserviency; but, in the failure of this, his heart, set upon " the wages of unrighteousness," directly uses, for the ends of corruption, the light he had in the ways of God. Memorable and instructive are the words to the Church in Pergamos—" thou hast there them that

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hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”

“ The error of Balaam for reward”—“ having men's persons in admiration because of advantage" — and,

through covetousness shall they, with feigned words, make merchandise of you”-are exponents of evil that need no eye of a seer to give them their application.

As to “ the gainsaying of Core,” it will be seen, in the history, that it is no intrusion into ecclesiastical functions, by one who had no ostensible call to them, as it is often viewed by those who are prone to see all scripture through the medium of an established order; for Corah was a Levite-of the very tribe and order set apart to sacred offices.

Corah alone is mentioned in this gainsaying; but “ Dathan and Abiram, with two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, and men of renown,” were joined in this rebellion against Moses and Aaron, of which Corah was the instigator.

And thus will it be found, at last, that the corrupt ecclesiastical power, as “the false prophet,” will be the evil adviser and instigator of the beast and his armies, in the final rebellion against the kingly and priestly authority of Christ; of which, the rebellion and judgment of Corah is given as a type.

6. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them : for he is Lord of lords and King of kings” (Rev. xvii. 14). " And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse and his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. xix. 19, 20).

This is the result, when the issue is joined at last, between Him who "shall sit as a priest upon his throne, “

" and the last daring usurper of his rights, in the person of him who " has said in his heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:

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I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the North : I will ascend above the height of the clouds : I will be like the Most High.”

But spiritual blindness, by whatever cause induced, can alone hinder the perception of this character of evil, as pervading, in a greater or less degree, the entireness of the ecclesiastical arrangements of Christendom. The intrusion into the prerogatives of Christ, by the assumption of a sacerdotal character and lordship over the conscience in the papal usurpation, asks no comment. Corah, dissatisfied with his Levitical service, seeks to invade the office of Aaron, who was “the priest of the

, Lord,” and to be equal with “ Moses, who was king in Jeshurun."

But, in the Church of England, while its accredited doctrines are in entire antagonism with the horrid dogmas of Rome, can it be concealed or denied, that the sin of Corah covertly lurks in its priestly assumption, and in its royal headship? Nay, further, wherever simple and evangelic ministry puts on the form, or asserts the prerogative, of priestly authority, lording it over God's heritage," there is the incipient working of Corah's sin.

In correspondence with this general character of the epistle, is the association of " these dreamers, who defile the flesh," with Israel's destruction in the wilderness, after the people had been saved out of the land of Egypt (ver. 5); with the apostasy of the angels—the characteristic of which is given in the expressive words" who kept not their first estate" (ver. 6); and, also, with the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the judgment that followed their natural apostasy, in the corruption of the flesh (ver. 7). With such beacons has the Spirit of the Lord planted the downward course of the apostasy of the present dispensation. Reasons for

contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints," and warnings against the danger of the Church's not keeping" her first estate," are thus drawn from every range that apostasy has ever taken ; while heaven, earth, and the realms of darkness, are cited as witnesses of the true judgment of God that must follow in its wake.

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The immediate moral features that are dwelt on, and expanded in their action through the epistle, are given in the fourth verse- -“ turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness”—unholiness of practice with a profession of grace—and denying (not as a point of doctrine, but practically), the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Master or Lord.a

From these principles flow, legitimately, insubjection to all constituted authority ; for grace, and subjection to the authority of Christ, are the only curb to the wantonness of man's self-will. And if men fancy, and would teach, that, by " despising dominion (or authority], and speaking evil of dignities,” they exalt themselves, the Christian is taught how to estimate these things, by the spirit in which an archangel” owns the authority of his Lord.

“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear; clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead [dead naturally, and dead after a profession of life], plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”' Spots in your feasts of charity, " alas ! tells us where this evil began. And when it is said, “ Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these,” we learn, that in the very place where the evil arose there its judgment will fall. Nor is the 19th verse any exception to this—" these be they which separate themselves, sensual, not having the spirit.” For it should be observed, that the words do not indicate the action of schismatics; nor even, as it is said in the Epistle of John, “they went out from us." The general condition of the Church was now so low, that they could remain, and “ mark themselves off, or distinguish themselves," as the expression is. But, with this assumption of separation, and claim to superior sanctity, they are declared to be “ natural men, not having the Spirit;" in contrast to that which characterises the true

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saint, who is a “ spiritual man;" and in contrast with the only spring of holiness, as beautifully presented in the 20th verse — " But, ye beloved, building up your

“ selves in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

But I now turn to the blessed encouragements, amidst the evil, presented in the commencement and the close of the epistle. Nothing can exceed their preciousness. The address of the epistle (ver. 1) is, “ to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, called.Thus presenting God's calling and power in connexion with their association with Christ, as the true and abiding and only ground of their security; while, at the same moment, it places them (ver. 2) in connexion with the very spring-head, of mercy, peace, and love.

In verses 14 and 15, Enoch's prophecy is given, not more as a token of warning against the evil on which he predicts that judgment will fall, than as a stay to the faithful, in the certain knowledge, that, as the evil is seen rising to its flood-mark, so certainly will the power of Christ's judgment be interposed to put it down.

Verses 17 and 18 recall the minds of the faithful the “ beloved ”—to the concurrent testimony of " the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,” concerning these days of evil, for a confirmation of their faith; than which nothing can be more gracious, as showing that nothing is occurring unforeseen.

But, besides this, the characteristics of the evil would by no means be complete, without this concurrent testimony; consequently, the warnings and encouragements for the last days” would be incomplete, if confined to the features of this epistle.

The second of Thessalonians presents, amongst other delineations, " the mystery of iniquity," and the man

“ of sin;" from whose delusions, and the deceivableness of unrighteousness,” there is no escape, but in “receiving THE LOVE of the truth."

The second of Timothy gives the moral characteristics of “ the last days" and the “ perilous times,” in the

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