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fact is inconsistent with all the inhabitants of the world being real Christians and eminently holy in the time of the millennium. But this supposed difficulty may be easily solved, and the general and great apostasy accounted for, consistent with the supposition that in the millennium all mankind will be real Christians. Near the end of the thousand years, the divine influences which produced and continued the universal and eminent holiness in the millennium may be in such a measure withheld, as that real Christians will, in their exercises and conduct, sink much below what had taken place before, and indulge a careless and worldly spirit to a great and sinful degree, and become more and more negligent of their duty, especially with respect to their children, and be really guilty of breaking covenant with God in this important point. In consequence of this, their children will not be regenerated and converted, but grow up in a state of sin, real enemies to God and to the truth. And as the world will be then full of people, it will in this way soon become full of wicked men, and the church will be
small. And those who will grow up under the power of sin and Satan, in the face of all that light, truth, and holiness which had taken place through the millennium, and in opposition to it, will naturally arrive to a great and amazing degree of hardness and obstinacy in sin, and become a far more guilty and perverse generation of men than ever existed before, and will be greater enemies to truth and righteousness and the church of Christ; and, consequently, will be united and engaged to banish all these from the earth. The world will have more wicked persons in it than ever before, and all these much more sinful, and engaged in all kinds and ways of opposition to Christ and his cause and people. The church will be on the brink of ruin, just ready to sink and be swallowed up, and the appearance and coming of Christ will be less believed, expected, or thought of than at any other time. Then Christ will be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them who know not God and obey not the gospel.
This apostasy and great wickedness of so many millions of mankind, the number of whom will be as the sand of the sea, and their consequent misery, is an awful dispensation indeed, and is, in itself, an evil infinitely beyond the comprehension of man.
But there is the clearest evidence and the greatest certainty that this instance of evil, as well as all other evil which precedes it, and will succeed it, though it will be endless, will, by the overruling hand of God, be productive of overbalancing good, and is necessary in order to effect the greatest possible good to the universe. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou
restrain.” (Ps. lxxvi. 10.) This event will serve to set the total depravity and the strong propensity of man to the greatest degree of wickedness in a more clear and striking light than it had been or perhaps could be before. That man should apostatize, and so soon arrive to such a high degree of wickedness, after all the light and holiness, and the wonderful goodness of God to man, displayed in the millennium, and in opposition to all this light and grace, and in the greatest abuse of it, join in rebellion against God, and trainple on his authority, truth, and goodness, contrary to the admonitions and warnings from the Word of God; and all faithful ministers and Christians will make a new discovery, and greater than was ever made before, of fallen human nature, and of the great and desperate evil that is in the heart of man, and that it is utterly incurable by any means that can possibly be used, short of the almighty energy of the Spirit of God, by which the heart is renewed, and consequently of the guilt and infinite ill desert of man; which discovery will be of great advantage to the church and kingdom of Christ forever, and necessary for the greatest happiness and glory of it, and the highest honor of the Redeemer.
And this will make from fact a new and greater discovery of the absolute dependence of man on the grace and Spirit of God, to prevent his greatest wickedness and endless destruction, and to form him to holiness and happiness; and of the great and sovereign grace of God in converting and saving lost man, and in bringing on such a wonderful degree of holiness and happiness, and continuing it a thousand years; and that this is all to be ascribed to the sovereign power and grace of God, who has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. When all men shall be righteous and holy from generation to generation for a thousand years, and all the children which shall be born in that time shall appear to be pious and holy as soon as they begin to act, and persevere in this to the end of life, the appearance will be, that mankind are now grown better, and that the evil nature of man is not so great, but he is naturally inclined to obedience and holiness. The sudden and great apostasy which will take place will take off this appearance, and show that the heart of man is naturally as full of evil as ever it was, and that all the good and holiness of the millennial state was the effect of the power of the Spirit of God, and to be wholly ascribed to the infinite, sovereign grace of God; and this discovery will be remembered by the redeemed forever, and improved to the glory of God, to the praise of rich, sovereign grace, and consequently to their own eternal advantage.
* Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” AMEN.
Man is not only made capable of looking forward, but is strongly inclined to do it, and cannot avoid a greater or less degree of thought and concern about futurity, and the good or evil which he shall be the subject of hereafter. These are the objects of all his hopes and fears, and afford great scope for the continual exercise of them, and those affections which attend them; by which he is influenced, more or less, in all his conduct. And though most of mankind appear to confine their prospects chiefly or altogether within the narrow limits of this life, and feel little concerned about that which may take place after they leave this world, yet who is there that will not pronounce this very unreasonable, on the least serious reflection, and consider it as an evidence, among a thousand others, of human depravity?
We are certainly capable of existence in a future state, yea, of continuing to exist without end, - and there is nothing in reason or experience to render this improbable, but much to induce us to believe that this present life is only preparatory to our existing in an endless state hereafter, and that we shall be happy or miserable there, according as we are the objects of the favor of our Maker, or not. Therefore, this our future existence - is the most interesting and important
to us, and demands our greatest and most serious attention and concern, and the highest exercise of our hopes and fears.
It is true, indeed, that when we turn our thoughts to this subject, we at once feel that reason alone will never enable us