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purpose the divine institutions of the church, but to rouse the world, and arm it against them. Let us bear in mind this is one of the last features of the apostasy in Christian nations.
St. Jude, like St. Peter, goes on to describe this rising apostasy, by the character of its then members :
14. "These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead,' plucked up by the roots. Raging waves of the sea foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."
This nearly resembles St. Peter's description of the same persons, and that neither apostle means to confine his views to the members of the apostasy in that day, is evident from the following quotation, which we have often adverted to before, and which places before us the corrupters of the last day, those that " perish in the gainsaying of Core."
14." And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,"" with his holy myriads, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
St. Jude further characterizes them:
"These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts."
"Prorsus emortuæ, nam &, Tg, indicat interdum omnino, penitus." -1 Thess. ii. 18.-SCHLEUSNER.
Discontented with their condition in life, blaming others, and brooking no restraint; at the same time, also, they boast and threaten, and, when occasion serves, can seduce by flatteries: -
"And their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage."
17. "But, beloved, remember ye the words that were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be workers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts: these are they who separate themselves, sensual,"- or, mere natural or animal men,""having not the Spirit."
Does not this represent the apostasy, in its last stage, as in a state of separation from the church? —a separation which the Spirit of God, the source of all ministerial grace and authority, will not sanction? They are mere natural men; they have no church authority amongst them, whatever they may pretend to.
One only passage remains to be quoted from the apostolical epistles, which takes a very similar view of the Christian's expectations concerning a second advent to what we have seen in Scriptures already examined :—
1 John, iii. 1, 2, 3. "" Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore, the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is and every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
The love of God, as at present manifested to his people, the apostle urges, calls for the most lively gratitude and admiration. To be made the children of God by adoption and grace-to receive the Spirit of adoption
to have the Spirit of God bearing witness with, or to, our spirit that we are the children of God,- this is a gift wonderful indeed; and though unknown, unacknowledged by the world, is the present possession and secret consolation of the people of God.
But they have higher expectations still, connected with the Saviour's appearing. They expect to behold him manifested in glory; and they expect to be made like him, and to appear with him in glory. Agreeably with those wonderful expressions in the prayer of our Lord," And the glory that thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." The world knew not the only begotten of the Father," when he appeared on earth full of grace and truth; for the same reason, St. John tells us, it knows not the adopted children of God dwelling among them, though they, too, reflect something of the grace and truth of the Redeemer. But as he must be manifested so that every eye shall see him, so will there be also a "manifestation" to the world "of the sons of God," in that—now unknown-glory which is to be brought to them at the coming of Christ; who, amidst all his saints, is to appear as "the first-born among many brethren." This is the hope of the spiritual Christian, and as surely as this hope glows in his soul, so surely does it lead to a keen sense of the evil of sin, and of the defilement of corrupt affections; so surely does it animate the renewed mind to aspire after greater conformity to Christ, to cleanse itself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Such are the effects of that doctrine which human wisdom has pronounced to be a doctrine of licentiousness!!
We now come to the last in order of the books of the sacred volume, the Revelation of St. John, which, from its nature and subjects, must require our very particular attention.
Sir Isaac Newton has remarkably expressed himself, speaking of a particular era predicted in the Revelation: "The event will prove the Apocalypse; and this prophecy, thus proved and understood, will open the old prophets, and altogether will make known the true religion, and re-establish it. For he that will understand the old prophets must begin with this; but the time is not yet come for understanding them perfectly, because the main revolution in them is not yet come to pass. In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished, as he has declared to his servants, the prophets; and the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever. There is already so much of the prophecy fulfilled, that as many as will take pains in this study may see sufficient instances of God's providence; but then the signal revolutions predicted by all the holy prophets will, at once, turn men's eyes upon considering the predictions, and plainly interpret them. Till then, we must content ourselves with interpreting what has already been fulfilled."
Sir Isaac Newton further remarks: "Among the interpreters of the last age, there is scarce one of note who has not made some discovery worth knowing; and thence I seem to gather that God is about opening these mysteries," &c.
Such were the encouraging observations of one of the wisest of uninspired men, above a century ago: and, certainly, much successful labour has, since that time, been employed upon the Scripture prophecies: wonderful events, too, have happened in the history of mankind events which, though their sudden and dazzling brightness confused, at first, the observations of expositors, cannot but afford important lights for discovering the true meaning of prophecy, when calmly viewed in a more settled state.
The Revelation, Chapter i. 5-8.
IN St. John's preface to the Apocalypse, the second advent of Christ is plainly recognised as the grand expectation of the church, and as the final object of all prophecy. Speaking of Jesus Christ, he denominates him "the faithful Witness, the first-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth."
"Unto him," he says, "that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."