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This LECTURE is now brought down to that point, from which, possibly, ye expected me to set out. But, in the entrance on an argument, new to many persons, and misunderstood by most, it seemed'expedient to take a wide compass. The true scriptural idea of the subject, was to be opened, at largen; the general argument from prophecy, enforcedo ; the method of the prophetic system deduced, and further illustrated in a view of the prophecies more immediately respecting the Christian church p; Of these prophecies, those concerning Antichrist, or the apostasy of Papal Rome, were to be cleared of all prejudices and objectionsq; and the principles, 'on which the Apocalyptic prophecies, in particular, are to be explained, proposed and justified?: It was, further; necessary to bespeak your attention to the argument from the Apocalyptic prophecies, especially, concerning Antichrist, by shewing the several presumptions there are of its forces;
in-Serm. I. II. III.
(o Serm. IV.
and by setting before yoć the uses, to which Sennox this wholé inquiry may be applied'
This preliminary course, then, though it has been tedious, will not be thought improper, if it may serve, in any degree, to prepare and facilitate the 'exécution of the main design, which is, To intèrpret and apply particular prophecies : A work, of labout indeed; but
" not unpleasant in itself; and (if carried on with that diligence and sobriety, which are, in reason, to be supposed) capable,' I think, of affording to fair and attentive minds the fullest satisfaction,
The season, I know, may be thought un
SEASON , favourable to such an attempt. For the main stress must be laid on prophecies, about which Christians themselves are not agreed, at a time when the number of those persons is supposed to be very great, and increasing every day, who are not easily brought to acknowledge the reality of any prophecies.
This last would be an unwelcome considération, if the fact were certain; I mean, if the
, present state of religion were altogether such
SERMON as some, perhaps, wish, and as others too
easily apprehend, it to be. But I hope, and believe, it is not; the truth of the case, so far as I am able to form a judgment of it, being
2 no more than this. A few, fashionable, men make a noise in the world, and thiş clamour, being echoed on all sides from the shallow circles of their admirers, misleads the unwary into an opinion, that the irreligious spirit is ụniversal and uncontroulable. Whereas, the good and wise, are modest and reserved : having no doubt themselves concerning the foundation of their faith, they pay but little regard to the cavils, which empty or corrupt men throw out against it. They either treat those cavils with a silent contempt; or, they lament in secret the libertinism of the age, without taking any vigorous measures to check and
oppose it. Besides, they rarely come into what is called, free company and they are too well employed, and at the same time too well in
formed, to hearken after every idle publication, on the side of irreligion. si
For these, and the like reasons, the number of true believers is overlooked; or thought to be Tess considerable than, in fact, it is, and would presently be known to be, if a just estimate were taken of them.
5. Let me then, under this persuasion, express SERMON myself in the spirit, and almost in the words, of an ancient apologist - Let no man itoo
66 *“ hastily despair of the cause, we are now
pleading. When we stand up in its defence, " there are those who will lend an ear to us. « For, whatever the vain, or the vicious may s pretend, the prophetic writings are not fallen 956 so- low in the esteem of mankind; but that " there are numberless persons of good sense 6 and serious dispositions, who wish to see the 16. truth of the Gospel confirmed by them'; and
are ready to embrace that truth, when fairly 5 set before them, and supported by the clear 36 evidence of historical testimony and well-in** terpreted scripture.'
5. Such is the language, which fań not afraid to hold to the desponding party among us. But should my confidence, or my candour, transport me too far, should even their apprehensions be ever so well founded, the zeal of those, who preach the Gospel, is not to abate,
24. u. Verum non est desperandım. Fortasse, non cunimus Burdis. Nec enim tam in malo statu Ķes est; ut desint sanæ inentes, quibus et veritas placeat, et monstratum sibi rectum iter et videant et sequantur.
"Lactant. 'Div. Inst. 1. v. p. 417. ed. Sparke.
SERMOK but to exert itself with new vigour under" so
discouraging a prospect. If there be a way left to strike conviction into the hearts of unbelievers, it must probably be, by pressing this great point of prophetic inspiration, and by turning their attention on a miracle, now wrought, or ready to be wrought before their eyes. - Or, let the event be what it will, our duty is to illustrate the word of prophecy, and to enforce it; to withstand the torrent of infidelity with what success we may, and, if it should prevail over all our efforts, to make full proof, at least, of our sincerity and good will.
In the mean time, it becomes all others to retain and cultivate in themselves a respect for the prophetic writings; which either are, or, for ány thing that has yet appeared, may be divine. To treat them, without the fullest conviction of their falshood, with neglect and scorn, is plainly indecent, and may be highly criminal and dangerous.
Josephus tells us, that, in the last dreadful ruin of his unhappy countrymen, it was familiar with them, to make a jest of divine things, and to deride, as so many senseless tales and juggling impostures, the sacred oracles of