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it is certain was at that time the city of Rome. This prophecy also has come to pass.
Further, it was prophesied, that this Antichrist should reign over peoples and multitudes, and nations, and tongues, Rev. xvii. 15; and that all the world should wonder after the beast, Rev. xiii. 3. This also was verified in the church of Rome. It was foretold that this Antichrist should be remarkable for the sin of pride, pretending to great things, and assuming very much to himself: (2 Thess. ii. 4.) That he should eralt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped. So Rev. xiii. 5. And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies. Dan. vii. 8, 20, the little horn is said to have a mouth speaking very great things, and his look to be more stout than his fellows. This also was verified in the Pope, and the church of Rome.It was also prophesied, that Antichrist should be an exceeding cruel persecutor, Dan. vii. 21. The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them: Rev. xiii. 7. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. Rev. xvii. 6. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. This also came to pass in the church of Rome.-It was foretold, that Antichrist should excel in craft and policy: Dan. vii. 8. In this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man. And ver. 20. Even of that horn that had eyes. This also marks the church of Rome. It was foretold, that the kings of Christendom should be subject to Antichrist; Rev. xvii. 12, 13. And the ten horns which thou sawest, are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet, but received power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. This also came to pass with respect to the Romish church.
-It was foretold, that he should perform pretended miracles and lying wonders: 2 Thess. ii. 9. Whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders. Rev. xiii. 13, 14. And he doth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth, in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast. This also designates the church of Rome. Fire coming down from heaven seems to have reference to their excommunications, which were dreaded like fire from heaven.--It was foretold, that he should forbid to marry, and to abstain from meats: 1 Tim. iv. 3. Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving. This also is exactly fulfilled in the church of Rome.It was foretold, that he should be very rich, and arrive at a great degree of earthly splendour and glory: Rev. xvii. 4. And the woman was arrayed in purple, and scarlet colour, and decked with
gold and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand. And so chap. xviii. 7, 12, 13, 16. What can more expressly describe the church of Rome?It was foretold, that he should forbid any to buy or sell, but those that had his mark: Rev. xiii. 17. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. This also is fulfilled in the church of Rome.- -It was foretold, that he should sell the souls of men, Rev. xviii. 13, where, in enumerating the articles of his merchandise, the souls of men are specifically mentioned as one. Is not this also exactly fulfilled in the same church ?-It was foretold, that Antichrist would not suffer the bodies of God's people to be buried: Rev. xi. 8, 9. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city,-and they shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. How literally has this come to pass with respect to the church of Rome!I might mention many other things, which were foretold of Antichrist, and show that they were fulfilled most exactly in the Pope and the church of Rome. How strong an argument is this, that the scriptures are the word of God!
II. From what has been said, we may learn what the spirit of true Christians is, viz. a spirit of suffering. Seeing God has so ordered it in his providence, that his church should for so long a time be in a suffering state, yea, often in a state of extreme suffering, we may conclude, that the spirit of the true church is a suffering spirit, otherwise God never would have ordered for it so much suffering; for doubtless God accommodates the state and circumstances of the church to the spirit that he has given her. No wonder therefore that Christ so much inculcated upon his disciples, that they must deny themselves, and take up their cross if they would follow him.
And what spirit has the church shown and exercised under her sufferings? She has actually, under those terrible persecutions through which she has passed, rather chosen to undergo those dreadful torments, and to sell all for the pearl of great price; to suffer all that her bitterest enemies could inflict, than to renounce Christ and his religion. History affords a great number of remarkable instances, sets in view a great cloud of witnesses. This abundantly confirms the necessity of possessing a spirit to sell all for Christ, to renounce our own ease, our own worldly profit, our honour, and our all, for him, and for the gospel.
Let us inquire, whether we are of such a spirit. How does it prove upon trial? Does it prove in fact that we are willing to deny ourselves, and renounce our own worldly interest, and to pass through the trials to which we are called in providence? "Alas, how small are our trials, compared with
those of many of our fellow Christians in former ages! and I would on this occasion apply that in Jer. xii. 5. If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? If you have not been able to endure the light trials to which you have been called, how would you be able to endure the far greater trials to which the church has been called in former ages? Every true Christian bas the spirit of a martyr, and would suffer as a martyr, if he were called to it in providence.
III. Hence we learn what great reason we have assuredly to expect the fulfilment of what yet remains to be fulfilled of things foretold in scripture. The scriptures foretel many great things yet to be fulfilled before the end of the world; but what great difficulties seem to be in the way? We seem at present to be very far from such a state as is foretold in the scriptures; but yet we have abundant reason to expect, that these things, however seemingly difficult, will be accomplished in their season. We see the faithfulness of God to his promises hitherto; how true he has been to his church, and how he bas remembered his mercy from generation to generation. We may say concerning what God has done hitherto for his church, as Joshua said to the children of Israel, Joshua xxiii. 14. That not one thing hath failed of all that the Lord our God hath spoken concerning his church; but all things are hitherto come to pass agreeable to the divine prediction. This should strengthen our faith in those promises, and encourage us, and stir us up to earnest prayer to God for the accomplishment of the great and glorious things which yet remain to be fulfilled.
The Success of Redemption from the present Time to the Fall of Antichrist.
I COME now to show how the success of Christ's redemption will be carried on from the present time, till Antichrist is fallen, and Satan's visible kingdom on earth is destroyed.— With respect to this space of time, we have nothing to guide us but the prophecies of scripture. Through most of the time from the fall of man to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, we had scripture-history to guide us; and from thence to the present time we had prophecy, together with the
accomplishment of it in providence, as related in human histories. But henceforward we have prophecy alone to guide us. And here I would pass by those things that are only conjectured, or that are surmised by some from those prophecies which are doubtful in their interpretation, and shall insist only on those things which are more evident.
We know not what particular events are to come to pass before that glorious work of God's spirit begins, by which Satan's kingdom is to be overthrown. By the consent of most divines, there are but few things, if any at all, foretold to be accomplished before the beginning of that glorious work of God. But some think that the slaying of the witnesses, (Rev. xi. 7, 8,) is not yet accomplished; and there is a difference of opinion with respect to the pouring out of the seven vials, (Rev. xvi.) how many are already, or how many remain to be poured out. A late expositor, indeed, whom I have before mentioned, seems to make it evident, that all are already poured out but two, viz. the sixth on the river Euphrates, and the seventh into the air. I will not now stand to inquire, what is intended by the pouring out of the sixth vial on the river Euphrates, that the way of the kings of the east may be prepared; but would only say, that it seems to be something immediately preparatory to the destruction of spiritual Babylon, as the drying up of the river Euphrates, which ran through the midst of old Babylon, was what prepared the way of the kings of the Medes and Persians, (the kings of the east,) to come in under the walls, and destroy that city.
But whatever this be, it does not appear that it is any thing which shall be accomplished before that work of God's spirit is begun, by which, as it goes on, Satan's visible kingdom on earth shall be utterly overthrown. And therefore I would proceed directly to consider what the scripture reveals concerning the work of God itself, by which he will bring about this great event, as being the next thing to be accomplished that we are certain of from the prophecies of scripture.
I. I would observe some things in general concerning it. 1. We have all reason to conclude from the scriptures, that just before this work of God begins, it will be a very dark time with respect to the interests of religion in the world. It has been so before preceding glorious revivals of religion; when Christ came, it was an exceeding degenerate time among the Jews and so it was a very dark time before the Reformation. And not only so, but it seems to be foretold in scripture, that it shall be a time of but little religion, when Christ shall come to set up his kingdom in the world. Thus when Christ spake of his coming, to encourage his elect, who cry to him day
and night, in Luke xviii. 8, he adds, Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Which seems to denote a great prevalency of infidelity just before Christ's coming to avenge his suffering church.-Though Christ's coming at the last judgment is not here to be excluded, yet there seems to be a special respect to his coming to deliver his church from their long-continued suffering, persecuted state, which is accomplished only at his coming at the destruction of Antichrist. Then will be accomplished the following passages, Rev. vi. 10. How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? and Rev. xviii. 20. Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her.
It is now a very dark time with respect to the interests of religion, wherein there is but a little faith, and a great prevailing of infidelity on the earth. There is now a remarkable fulfilment of that in 2 Pet. iii. 3. Knowing this, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts. And so Jude, 17, 18. "But beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts." Whether the times shall be any darker still, or how much darker, before the beginning of this glorious work of God, we cannot tell.
2. There is no reason from the word of God to think any other, than that this great work of God, will be wrought, though very swiftly, yet gradually. As the children of Israel were gradually brought out of the Babylonish captivity, first one company, and then another, and gradually rebuilt their city and temple; and as the Heathen Roman empire was destroyed by a gradual, though a very swift prevalency of the gospel; so, though there are many things which seem to hold forth that the work of God would be exceeding swift,-and many great and wonderful events should very suddenly be brought to pass, and some great parts of Satan's visible kingdom should have a very sudden fall,-yet all will not be accomplished at once, as by some great miracle, like the resurrection of the dead. But this work will be accomplished by means, by the preaching of the gospel, and the use of the ordinary means of grace, and so shall be gradually brought to pass. Some shall be converted, and be the means of others conversion. God's spirit shall be poured out first to raise up instruments, and then those instruments shall be used with success. And doubtless one nation shall be enlightened and converted, and one false religion and false way of worship exploded, after another. By the representation in Dan. ii. 3, 4.