« ForrigeFortsæt »
SERMON Providence, over all opposition, till it obtains
a firm and permanent establishment; till the Saints reign (not in a fanatical, but in the sober and evangelical sense of that word, reign) in the earth e; till the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
So far, then, as these prophecies appear to have been completed, they reconcile us to that disordered scene, which hath hitherto been presented to us; and give repose to the anxious mind, in the assured hope of better things to come. The worst, that has happened, was foreseen; and the best, that we conceive, will hereafter come to pass. Thus, the reasonable expectations of men are answered, and the honour of God's government abundantly vindicated.
IV. The last use, I shall
is that which immediately results from the study of the Apocalyptic prophecies concerning Antichrist ; I mean, the support that is hereby given to Protestantism against all the cavils and pretensions of its adversaries.
For, if these prophecies are rightly applied to Papal Rome, and have, in part, been sig
€ Rev. v. 1o.
f Ibid. xix. 6.
nally accomplished in the history of that Sermor church, it is beyond all doubt, that our communion with it is dangerous ; nay, that our separation from it is a matter of strict duty. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plaguess -- are plain and decisive
. words, and, if allowed to be spoken of that church, bring the controversy between the Protestant and Papal Christians to a short issue.
I know, the advocates of Rome pretend, that, not a sense of duty, but a spirit of revenge operates in the minds of Protestants, when they affect to lay so great a stress on the Apocalyptic prophecies. “ Reward her, even as
. she rewarded you h”—is, they say, another of their favourite texts, by which they take themselves to be as much obliged, as by that which they so commonly alledge for quitting her communion. It is not, therefore, to cover themselves from the imputation of schism, but to authorize the vengeance, they meditate against us, that we are stunned with the cry of Antichrist and Babylon i.”
g Rev. xviii. 6.
h Rev, xviii. 4. i M. de Meaux : L'Apocalypse avec une explication, Avertisement aux Protestants, p. 303, &c. Par: 1690.
To this charge, I can only reply, That, if any Protestant writers have put that sense on the words - reward her, as she rewarded you
they must answer for their own temerity and indiscretion. They, who understand themselves, and the language of prophecy, disclaim the odious imputation. They say, That they neither admit the lawfulness of persecution in any case, on the account of religion, nor have the least thought of instigating the Christian world to any sanguinary attempts against the Papacy. What the event may be in the councils of Providence, is another consideration: But they neither avow, nor approve those principles, which tend to produce it. They, further, insist, That the two passages under consideration, though, both of them, expressed in the imperative form, require a very different construction : That the language of prophecy seems very often to authorise what it only foretells ; and to command that which it barely permits : that, therefore, the sense of such passages is to be determined by the circumstances of the case; that, where obedience is lawful, there the preceptive form may be admitted ; but, where it is not, there nothing more is intended than the certainty of the event : That this distinction is to be made in the present case; for that Christianity doth not
allow vindictive retaliations, or holy wars, for SERMON the sake of religion, and that offensive arms taken
in the cause of God (how confidently soever some have justified their zeal by the authority of the Jewish Law, ill-applied) are abominable and antichristian: Whence we rightly conclude, that — reward her, as she rewarded you -- are words not to be taken injunctively; while those other words out of her, my people — expressing nothing but what it was previously our duty to do, are very clearly to be so taken.
that the context in the two places alledged, justifies this distinction. Come out of her, my people. Why? That ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye
receive not of her plagues. The reason is just, and satisfactory. Reward her. Why? No reason is assigned, or could be assigned consistently with the spirit of the Christian religion : It only follows, as she has rewarded you — words, which express only the measure, and the equitable grounds of the allotted punishment, not the duty of Christians to inflict it,
I return, then, from the confutation of this cavil (the most plausible, however, as well as invidious, which the wit of Rome has started
on this subject) to the conclusion, before laid down, That the completion of the Apocalyptic prophecies in the Papal apostasy, if seen and confessed, affords an unanswerable defence and vindication of the Protestant churches.
This conclusion, that the POPE IS ANTICHRIST, and that other, that the SCRIPTURE IS THE SOLE RULE OF CHRISTIAN FAITH, were the two great principles, on which the Reformation was originally founded. How the first of these principles came to be DISGRACED among ourselves, I have shewn. in another discourse k. It may now be worth while to observe, in one word, through what fatal mismanagement thự latter principle was even generally DISAVOWED and DESERTED,
When the Reformers had thrown off all respect for the Papal chair, and were for regulating the faith of Christians by the sacred scriptures, it still remained a question, On what grounds, those scriptures should be interpreted. The voice of the church, speaking by her schoolmen, and modern doctors, was universally, and without much ceremony, rejected, But the Fathers of the primitive church
k Sermon VIII.