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unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day awn, and the day-star arise in your hearts. 1 Pet. i, 19. Ve say the most important, because we can have no ertain knowledge of future events, but as it pleases God to reveal them to us, and had he not led us to xpect at a particnlar period the blessing which we are considering, we should have no sufficient ground of assurance that we might confidently look for it. We do not speak of a precise year, or many years, more or less. We pretend not to predict particular times, or the seasons which the Father hath put into his own power; (Acts i, 7.) but the general result has been revealed by Him; He has shewn us that it shall be proclaimed, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever. Rev. xi, 15. And he has also further revealed, for the use of the church, various particulars respecting precise periods of time which the wise shall understand. Dan. xii, 10. For instance, many of the prophecies of Scripture are chronologically arranged, and one of the ultimate earthly events predicted, is the universal extension of the Redeemer's kingdom: (Dan. vii, 27, 28; Rev. xx, 4, 5.) it is an event therefore which is yet to take place. A grievous apostacy was predicted. The Son of Man was not to come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. 2 Thess. ii, 3. The witnesses were to prophesy a thousand, two hundred, and threescore days, (i, e. 1260 years,) in sackcloth. Rev. xi, 3. That apostacy we have seen take place; and in the ordinary lapse of time, the 1260 years cannot be far from closing, if they have not closed. The word of God, therefore, encourages the most cheering and lively hopes, as to the future state of the church. Intervening trials and judgments may
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undoubtedly be looked for;* but all will be well y righteous, and glorious and happy will be the iss the church. Though there may be differences of IT OL points, the great body of learned Protestant com tors, as Mede, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishops Ner Halifax, Hurd, and Horsley, Mr. Scctt, Mr. Faber, many others, agree in their sentiments respecting speedy approach of those three leading events eminently mark the period of the conversion c world, viz.—the downfall of popery, the destructe the Mahomedan imposture, and the conversion of Is and Judah.†
The SIGN OF PROVIDENCE corresponds with of prophecy. There have, it is true, at differ periods, been bright hopes of this blessed day. Int apostolic age, when the gift of tongues, and the p of miracles were bestowed on the church, Christia
See Cooper's Crisis, the 3d Edition, a work justly claire serious attention; for whatever difference of opinion there be on the interpretation of the specific prophecy expla ned,TM practical tendency of the work, as it respects the duties of t present times, makes it peculiarly edifying and seasonable.
+ Mr. Douglas speaks thus with reference to prophecy«Prospects the most cheering may be overcast, and the progres of improvement at once arrested by one of those sudden revol tions which mock all calculation, both in their arrival, and in their resalts; but though in matters merely political, suc changes in the state may baffle the fairest conjectures which proceed upon the supposition of the continuance of national prosperity, yet, in the expectation of religious improvement, we have more certain ground to rest upon. We know not whether God intends the stability of particular nations; but we know that he makes all revolutions subservient to the introduction of his own kingdom, that the appointed years of delay are now elapsing and that the time to favour the Gentiles is at hand." He afterwards says, " According to the sure word of Prophecy, allowing for the variety of interpretation, before the oak which was planted yesterday shall have reached its full maturity, the whole earth shall have become the garden of the Lord."
Sir Isaac Neva
such rapid progress, that the blessing then began Ce expected. In the time of Constantine, when the er of the Roman empire was given to the cause of st, then it seemed not unlikely that his religion ld be every where received. And at the reformawhen the pure light of truth again burst forth with aitive splendour, and rapidly spread throughout ope, there seemed another hope that it might reach farthest limits of the earth. But the fulness of time 3 not come. The period foretold by Daniel and St. in had not been completed, and the present era preits far more solid and scriptural reasons why we y hope that this event is not far distant.
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The heathen world, in all its vast extent, is more and ore opening to the efforts of Christians, preparing to elcome, and in many parts earnestly desiring Chris“an labourers; and those in authority in heathen lands "ave greatly promoted missionary undertakings. Chrisian nations have every where a growing intercourse vith, and a preponderating influence over, heathen nce of opinations. To Christian countries God has given vast Prophecy ex political power, and most power to those nations, such andesas Britain and America, where his religion is purest,*and rence to whom he has at the same time given zeal to labour cast, and in his service. This zeal has been manifested in the eir arris Protestant Church by the formation of about forty ely politi
* Strong marks of the purity of a Church are-its bigh reverence for the Holy Scriptures; its close adherence and unqualified submission to the word of God; and its zeal to spread the Gospel. Cecils says, "Take the Church of Rome-what a glorious church was the Church of Rome! but when? when it followed human imaginations in religion? No! it was a glorious church when the Apostle wrote his Epistle to the Romans its faith sounded throughout the world. Thus was it, too, among Protestants, when they first separated from the
distinct religious institutions, chiefly within the last thirty years, raising nearly £500,000 a year for diffus ing divine knowledge.
God has also given to Christian nations new facilities to communicate his truth. While the principle general education has been recognized, the new systea of mutual instruction, with its ramifications, in infant and adult schools, first spreading in our own country is now diffusing itself with extended blessings through the heathen world. The printing press * now seems it some degree, to meet the want of that which distguished the apostolic age, the gift of tongues, and new improvements give to that vast engine for diffusing divine truth an increasing power of immense advantage. Modern inventions come in to aid intercourse among the nations, and the progress of the Gospel. Each fresh discovery in arts and in science pays tribute to the Saviour, and facilitates his work. A state of general peace, almost through the world, and of outward rest from its various enemies, gives the church every advantage for exertion.
superstition of Rome, and followed the word of God instead of human imaginations; in purity and zeal they walked with God, and glorified him on the earth; they triumphed not in their lives only, but in their deaths at the stake: but see them following vain imaginations, and however they might reflect on the Papist's superstition, the Papist might pity them for denying the Lord that bought them." See his Sermons.
Fox in his Acts and Monuments, dwells at some length on the importance of printing,--"hereby tongues are known, knowledge groweth, judgment increaseth, books are dispersed, the Scripture is seen, &c. &c. By this printing, as by the gift of tongues, and as by the singular organ of the Holy Ghost, the doctrine of the Gospel soundeth to all nations and countries under heaven: and what God revealeth to one man is dispersed to many, and what is known in one nation is opened to all." Page 650, edition 1610.
If we take also a very cursory review of the progress of missionary efforts, it may well lead us to lively hope. Remember the torpor and death on this subject fifty years back; remember the accounts formerly given of the innocence and happiness of various heathen countries, and observe the change of feeling now!
The actual state of the heathen is so generally known among Christians, as to refute all that infidels and others have alleged, of the simplicity, excellence, and purity of man without the Gospel, and to excite greatlyenlarged feelings of sympathy and compassion for their real darkness, and wickedness, and misery. The cause of missions now excites an interest among all those who have any pretentions to the name of Christian. Such a missionary feeling has been roused, that several hundreds of Christians have in the last thirty years rejoiced to leave their country, and have devoted their lives to labour for the conversion of the heathen. The means employed by the societies which have been formed are various and extended-such as the preaching of the Gospel in heathen languages; the translating, printing, or circulating of the Scriptures, in one hundred and fortytwo different tongues or dialects; the instruction of many tens of thousands of heathen children; the introduction of female education; the forming of many seminaries and colleges for training up native teachers; the calling forth from obscurity of numbers of estimable men, qualified by eminent and peculiar gifts, and employing them in a high and holy work, each in spheres suited to his talents. Never before could that promise, Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased, (Dan. xii, 4.) be said to be so amply and extensively realized as it is in the present day. It is peculiarly verifying by events continually taking place.
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