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[250] From various passages of God's word it would appear that these judgments will fall with special weight upon those who have been unfaithful to that high trust which God commits to men, when he places them as his own representatives in the offices of rulers, magistrates, and ministers. See Ezekiel xxxiii.; xxxiv. Jer. xxiii. 1-3. Malachi ii. 1-9. Isaiah iii. 11-17. Rev. xix. 18. May this awakening consideration have its right influence upon our minds.

It is a dangerous delusion for the church to be anticipating peaceful triumphs, prosperous days of enlarging dominion, and uninterrupted successes, when we may be on the verge of increasing trial and conflict, sorrow and suffering. It is much more safe to be counting the cost and preparing for the cross, and looking to the crown, in the way of patient faithfulness unto death, rather than in the way of an unmingled glow of success. It is true that it is our richest privilege to fulfil the work which God now [251] assigns to his church, (Rev. xvi. 6-13.) and that any special success is a gracious reward for our efforts; but there is considerable danger, (and the author speaks experimentally, having himself often fallen into this snare) of looking only at the bright result, and disregarding the intervening great tribulation, (Dan. xii. 1.) and the hour of judgment. Rev. xiv. 7.

It appears from the prediction of our Lord and his Apostles, that a remarkable mixture of disquietude and peace, agitation and underground movements, yet with freedom from external warfare, and full engagement in works of outward tranquillity, shall mark the time preceding the day of the Lord. (Compare Luke xvii. 26-31; xxi. 25, 27. Matt. xxiv. 36–39; i Thess. v. 2, 3.) "Were it not,” says Mr. Cuninghame, “that we see both sides of the prophetic picture exhibited in the events of the very time in which we live, it would be difficult to conceive the possibility of reconciling things apparently so oppo

tive (said an American secretary of war) to the Indian natives, than the conduct of the conquerors of Mexico or Peru; and the retaining in hard bondage so large a population as American Christians now do! Who can survey these things, or look at the past history of the world, without seeing that the nations of the earth are lying under fearful arrears of guilt, for which there has been yet no adequate repentance on the one hand, nor that open and full retributory justice which such conduct merits from the Judge of all the earth. Penitence, weeping, and humiliation, rather than boasting, high-mindedness, and glorying in ourselves, becomes every European nation at this moment; and to this should be joined a breaking off of our sins by righteousness, and our iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor, that it may be a lengthening of our tranquillity: God's children are engaged in this work in seeking to send his truth through the earth, and to put away eril from us.

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site as a state of terror, dismay, and agitation, on the one hand; and on the other, one of peace and anticipations of peace, and of worldliness. But no attentive observer of the signs of these times will deny that we see before our eyes both these states of mind.”

These things manifestly increase, and lead us to think that this awfully important event is at hand.

What, then, is THE RIGHT STATE OF MIND IN Which God's purposes, as revealed in his word, of events yet to take place, should be viewed?

Let us not view them in UNBELIEF, because Christians differ in the interpretation of unfulfilled prophecy; or because it is perfectly clear that “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover (252] the sea;” let us not lose sight of the prediction that he shall previously "smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.” Isaiah xi. 4, 9. The two are inseparably connected. “Behold! your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense: he will come and save you." Isaiah Xxxv. 4.

Nor let us view the divine purposes, as regulating our political conduct, so as to set aside any clear duty. The path of precept is the path of duty, and the precepts are plain as the noonday. “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.Rom. xiii. 1—4. See also Titus iii. 1, 2. 1 Peter ii. 13-17. “My son, fear thou the Lord and the king, and meddle not with them that are given to change.” Proverbs xxiv. 21. If the Jews were directed in a foreign land, and when among enemies, “Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it,” (Jeremiah xxix. 7.) much more should we seek the peace and welfare of our own beloved country in every practical way. That advice of Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, shews the true secret of national peace: “Break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor, if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.” Dan. iv. 27. It is the more necessary now to insist on this spirit, as some of the peculiar features of the last days are, that men are “false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady and high-minded.” 2 Tim. iii. 3, 4. "They walk in the flesh, after the lust of uncleanness, and despise government, presumptuous are they and self-willed, and are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 2 Pet. ii. 16. Oh, may all professing Christians of every denomiation be guarded by [253] these divine admonitions from the special temptations of these times! Equally may we be guarded from a snare into which men fell

in former ages; as if private Christians had a political part to take in accomplishing God's vengeance, and pulling down what they may conceive opposed to his kingdom.* Whatever may be the office of his saints in judging the world at the second coming of Christ, (1 Cor. vi. 2: Psalm cxlix.) our present duty is confessing Christ, prayer, and holy influence over others, till he do appear personally, and raise us to his glory; our present privilege is mainly that of witnesses to the truth, and sufferers for it; our office is now to "shine as lights holding forth the word of life,” (Phil. ii. 15, by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Cor. iv. 2.

Again, let us not view the divine purposes in CARELESS INDIFFERENCE, as if we had no concern in them; we have the deepest personal interest in them; nor yet in FANCIED SUPERIORITY, as if we, by our clear discernment, could discover what was hid from others; nor yet in a DOGMATISING SPIRIT, as if, having had an inspired guidance to discern, we had then a divine commission to denounce God's judgments on the world, in our own view of those judgments; nor, once more, in HOPELESS DESPONDENCY, as if nothing but scenes of misery were before us.

[254] God's purposes should also' NOT BE KEPT BACK and concealed from our fellow-men, who, immersed in the business and cares of this world, give far too little time to the study of God's word. It is our clear duty to confess the truth, and the ministers of God are more especially watchmen on the watch-tower, and bound to discern the signs of the times, and to give notice to their people of God's purposes, as revealed in his word, and developing in his providence. This is the more important, as these truths are very valuable in giving power to the ministry of the word, and making it effective to the conversion and salvation of men, and to the edification of the church. Nothing is more calculated to arouse men from the slumber of indifference, nothing more adapted to alarm the infidel in his desperate career, nothing more suitable to enable the servant of Christ to bear up against the scoff and banter of evil men, than a firm conviction of the great truths revealed in the prophetic word. The doctrine of the second coming of Christ,

* It might seem almost needless to give such a caution, but when we read the attempts of the fifth monarchy men, the Dedicatory Epistle of even Du Plessis to our King James, and the defence of it by Rivetus; or when we look at the times of the great rebellion, and even at the spirit which seems to animate some who profess religion in the present day, who can think this caution unreasonable? There is an awful mixture of profession of religious principles, among the Chartists in our country, with the very spirit of the last lawlessness.

is indeed exposed to the peculiar scorn of men, as it was specially foretold that it would be. 2 Pet. iii. 3; Jude 18. And yet this doctrine is, I am persuaded, of immense value in meeting all the difficulties through which the church has to pass in these last days, and enabling her to bear the trials to which she may be exposed.

The Jewish nation, we are expressly told, though the word of God was read every sabbath day in the synagogues (Acts xv. 21,) through ignorance of that word, crucified the Lord of glory. Acts iii. 17, 18. St. Paul says, “They that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath day, [255] they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” Acts xiii. 27. Oh may we then be warned not to be ignorant of the voices of the prophets; lest we make an irremediable mistake about his second coming, thinking it at a distance, instead of preparing for its approach.

It is remarkable, that the very command to attend to the subject of prophecy, is accompanied with the forewarning that it would be scoffed at, as if to arm the Christian who studies this important part of divine truth, against the peculiar snare to which he would be exposed. Just before the apostle gives his awful account of the day of the Lord, he says, your pure minds by way of remembrance, that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last day scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” 2 Peter iii. 1—4.

But let us consider more particularly the state of mind desirable for us with reference to ourselves and to others.

Notice first, the stATE OF MIND WITH REFERENCE TO OURSELVES. The sanctifying power of these truths is an important part of their value; and on this the scriptures dwell much. The general improvement is given in these words, by St. Peter: "What manner of persons ought ye to be, in all holy conversation and godliness? Seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless: and account that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation.” 2 Peter iii. Our Saviour gives also most solemn instruction. "Take heed to yourselves, lest [256] at any time your hearts he overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares; for as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch, ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that

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shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke xxi. 34-36.

But this subject will be farther noticed in the concluding reflections.

THE RIGHT STATE OF MIND, and the way in which we should speak of these things RESPECTING OTHERS, is also of considerable importance. It is beautifully set before us in two striking examples, both previous to judgments upon corrupt and fallen churches.

The first example is that of JEREMIAH. Search through his prophecies and his book of Lamentations, and observe his faithfulness, his tenderness, his sympathy, his diligent attention to his office, and his spirit of prayer and zeal for the good of his country, and his triumphant faith in a happy ultimate issue. You cannot read his prophecies without seeing his FAITHFULNESS, in distinctly announcing the divine judgments, amidst the opposition of his own kindred and neighbours, (Jer. xi. 21,) according to the commission given him, (Jer. i. 17–19.)

How expressive his feelings of TENDERNESS! “Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughters of my people!” Jer. ix. 1. “Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease; for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow." Jer. xiv. 17.

How strong are his expressions of SYMPATHY! "My [257] bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried.” Jer. iv. 19. How earnest are his EXPOSTULATIONS with those who refused to repent and turn to God! (Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eyes shall weep sore and run down with

Jer. xiii. 15–17. His diligent ATTENTION TO HIS OFFICE, and desire to turn off, if possible, the impending ruin in the midst of all his expectations of judgment, is very striking. "As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee; neither have I desired the woeful day, thou knowest.” Jer. xvii. 16. (See also chapters xxxviii. xlii. &c.) His SPIRIT OF PRAYER for his country is quite affecting. "O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy

tears."

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