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SERMON those crimes, which Christianity, as such,
holds most opprobrious, the crimes of tyrannic dominion, of persecution, and even Idolatry ; and lastly, now subsisting in the world, though with evident symptoms of decay, after a long reign, whose rise and progress can be traced, and whose duration, hitherto, is uncontradicted by any prophecy: Put, I say, all these correspondent marks together, and see if they do not furnish, if not an absolute demonstration, yet a high degree of probability, that apostate papal Rome is the very Antichrist foretold. .
At least, you will admit that these correspondencies are signal enough to merit your
attention, and even to justify your pains in looking further into so curious and interesting a subject. Ye will say to yourselves, That the prophecies concerning Antichrist deserve at least to be considered with care, since in so many striking particulars, they appear, on the face of them, to have been completed.
This conclusion, it is presumed, is a reasonable one: And the end of this discourse will be answered, if ye are, at length, prevailed upon to draw this conclusion.
USES OF THIS INQUIRY INTO
Rev. xxii. 7.
Behold, I come quickly : Blessed is he that
keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
BEFORE we engage in a work of time and
a SERMON difficulty, we naturally ask, “ CUI BONO, to what considerable end and purpose, are our labours to be referred?"
Although it may, then, be presumed, that enough hath been said on the prophecies to: excite a reasonable desire of looking further
SERMON into them, and even to produce a general per
suasion, that they have been, or may be, understood; yet, it may quicken your attention to this argument, and support your industry in the prosecution of it, to set before you the
result from a full and final conviction (if such should be the issue of your inquiries), That these prophecies are not intelligible only, but have, in many instances, been rightly applied, and clearly fulfilled.
These uses are very many. I shall collect, , only, two or three of the more important, for your consideration.
Though every period of prophecy be instructive, that which takes in the great events and revolutions, which have come to pass in the Christian Church, is, for obvious reasons, more especially interesting to us, who live in these latter
of the world.
Of the numerous predictions, contained in either Testament, which, it is presumed, respect these events, the most considerable by far, because the most minute and circumstantial, are those of St. John in the Revelations ; which treat professedly of such things as were
to befall the servants of Jesus a, from the prophet's own days, down to that awful period, when all the mysterious councils of God, in regard to the Christian dispensation, shall be finally shut up in the day of judgment. To these predictions, then, a more particular attention is due, the rather because they have been fulfilling from the time of their delivery - behold, I come quickly — and, above all, because a blessing is pronounced on those, who keep, that is, who observe, who study and contemplate, the sayings of this book.
Assuredly, then, this study will be rewarded with signal benefits. · And one sees immediately :
I. In the first place, that no small benefit must arise to those, who admit the completion of these prophecies, so far, I mean, as the tenour of the book makes it probable that they have been completed, from the awful sense, which this conviction must needs give them of the Christian dispensation itself.
That this dispensation, ushered in by so long a train of prophecies, should still be
a Rev. i. 1.
Sermon attended by others, through all the stages and
periods of it; that secular empires should rise and fall, unnoticed, as it were, by the Spirit of God, while the kingdom of his Son is so peculiarly distinguished, and its whole history, in a manner, anticipated, by the most express predictions: that Jesus should be, as he says of himself, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end b, of all God's religious dispensations to mankind: that his first coming, or personal appearance in the flesh, should be signified from the foundation of the world, and from time to time more explicitly declared in a variety of successive prophecies, till the great event, at length, fulfilled them all: and that, together with this event (the foundation of others, still more illustrious) his second coming, in the future and gradual manifestations of his power (for they were to be gradual) should be distinctly marked out, and duly accomplished, in the fortunes of the Christian church, or of that kingdom, which he came to erect in the world; while this subject, and no other, engaged the ultimate attention of all the prophets : There is, I say, in this scheme of things, something so astonishingly vast, something so much above and beyond the attention that was
b Rev. ii. 8. xxi, 6.