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Christian world, which attends the rise and progress of Antichrist. This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come; q.d. This know, over and above what I before predicted concerning the Papal apostasy: This event is to be subsequent to that; viz. in the last days. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they, who creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts; ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres (the Pagan magicians of Egypt) withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth; men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. Here we have a striking description of the malignant passions of men let loose from the restraints of Religion, and of a good education; as was to be the case in the last days, or in the reign of Infidelity. Even these characters, after they have fixed their characteristic of Infidelity, may adopt some trite form of godliness; having found the necessity of it, for their existence in the world; or to cover their enormities, and propagate their sentiments with more fatal effect. And their clandestine operations in the propagation of their principles, are strikingly hinted, by their creeping into houses; as well as their fair, philosophical pretensions, as learners; ever learning: and the corrupt, rep robate state of their hearts is described, and their utter. hostility to the truth.
Of the same characters Peter thus writes; * Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days, scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they are willingly ignorant of;
*2 Peter iii, 3.
that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. There have ever been men of this infidel cast. But in the last days there is to arise a generation of them, whose influence and audacity are to be such, that they are spoken of as though suci men never before existed. Piter proceeds to note their wilful ignorance of the deluge, and of the future judgment. He exposes the falsehood of their premises; and the sophistry of their reasonings. All things had not continued as they were from the beginning. But what if they had? This would be no ev. idence that they will always so continue. Bu: God had once controlled the laws of nature, and deluged the world, in judgment on an impious generation; notwithstanding that these scoffers deny it; and may ransack the bowels of the earth, to give plausibility to their denial. And the same lord of God, which predicted the deluge, has predicted the coming of Christ, which these scoffers deny. As the former was fulfilled, so will be the latter. Peter, in his second Epistle, 2d chapter, gives a farther description of this Power of infi. delity, and its impious agents;* in which are the
* Peter does not here expressly give information when the Power of infidelity and licentiousness, which he predicts, shall arise. But in his descriptions, it is most manifest, that whatever, primary or partial fulfilment they might receive, in the different ages of the world, they were to receive their principal accom. plishment in the terrible Power of the last days. For Peter's descriptions perfectly harmonize with the other predictions respecting this Power. And in the other predictions generally, we learn when the event is to be accomplished; that it is in the last days, or just before the Millenium. Peter, in his first Epistle, bad given express information, that the time of the abom. inable characters which he had described, was to be in the last days. And he here gives sufficient evidence, that the characters described are the same, not only by the sameness of this description with the other descriptions of Antichrist, but by informing, that they bring upon themselves swift destruction; and that their
following characteristics: Privately bringing in damnable heresies; denying the Lord who bought them; and bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through cov. etousness shall they with feigned words make merchan. dise of you; -whose judgment now of a long time linger. eth not; and their damnation slumbereth not. forces this latter idea of their impending ruin, by men. tioning the ruin of the old world, and of Sodom and Gomorrah. He then proceeds in noting the various traits of their character; such as, Walking after the flesh; despising government; presumptuous, self willed; not afraid to speak evil of dignities; having eyes full of adultery; beguiling unstable souls; possessing hearts ex
ercised with covetous practices; cursed children; who have forsaken the right way, and gone astray; following the way of Balaam. Balaam went to curse the people of God. These follow him. They are also wells without water; clouds carried with the tempest; they speak great, swelling words of vanity; promising liberty, while they themselves are the servants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same he is brought into bondage. Liberty is their darling theme; while corruption is the origin, and slavery the result of their principles.
Jude fills his Epistle with lively descriptions of this same Power of infidelity, and of the scoffers of the last days. He speaks of the characters, that he was about to describe, as being before of old ordained to this condemnation. Here we find a clue to direct us in the inquiry who they are. In the original it is, of old fore. written to this judgment; alluding, no doubt, to the ancient predictions written by the Prophets concerning this Power. Much was forewritten, or predicted in the ancient prophecies, concerning this terrible Power of the last days; particularly in the passage in Dan. xi, 36, already noted; and in other passages mentioned in the third chapter of this Dissertation. But the minor events of the Gospel period were not of old forewritten, or predicted in the Prophets.
judgment lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not; expressions, which must be viewed as relating to the battle of that great day of God Almighty, in which the short reign of Antichrist is to terminate. When we consider this, and view the descriptions given by Peter in the light of the various predictions of Antichrist, especially those given in Jude, wemust be convinced, that though this chapter in Peter may have had many partial fulfilments, it will receive its particular fulfilment in the rise and progress of Antichrist.
The agents of Antichrist, the propagators of his sophistical principles, will be found like wandering stars, spread over the Christian world. Perhaps these warnings, given by the Apostles to the churches, have reference to these agents of Antichrist, who propagate his sentiments, as well as to the characters who first gave him birth. Jude describes them, Ungodly men, crept in unawares, denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Here is the notable characteristic of Antichrisi: Denying the Father, and the Son: Deny. ing that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: speaking marvellous things against the God of gods; and disregarding him, who was anciently the desire of women. Jude, verse 14, affords another clue for our guidance in our researches concerning the character and the period of the subjects of his description, by quoting a prophecy of Enoch, the seventh from Adam; who, he informs us prophesied of these very men, saying; Behold the Lord cometh, with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all
, that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. Here we are taught by the Holy Ghost, that the wicked Power, of which we here have warning, is the Power to be in existence, when the Lord shall come to destroy his enemies; meaning, no doubt, primarily, his coming in the battle of the great day of God, preceding the Millennium; that it is their great wickedness, and hard speeches against him, in his people, which will be the immediate occasion of that dreadful judgment; and that their wickedness and ruin are to be so signal, that they were expressly noted in the prophecy of Enoch, who lived seven or eight hundred years before the flood. How striking, that this precious fragment of primitive prophecy, should be preserved for fifty centuries, to designate, with other scriptures, the period and ruin of Antichrist! Jude, as did Peter, notes the signal ruin of ancient most inveterate enemies of God, (of infidels in Israel, of Sodom, and of the rebel angels) as an emblem of what is just ready to be executed on these enemies of Heaven and earth, when they shall make their appearance. He then proceeds to recapitulate some of their characteristics noted by Peter, in his aforementioned 2d Epistle, 2d chapter. And he adds to them such as the following; filthy dreamers; going in the way of Cain; and perishing in the gainsaying of Korah. Cain hated and slew his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother's were righteous.* Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, wiih their impious company, rose against the order of religion and government established in Israel; and perished under the immediate avenging hand of God. These will perish in like manner. This affords evidence, that the characters described are the agents of Antichrist: For he is thus to perish. The description proceeds: Clouds without water; raging waves of the sea; foaming out their own shame; wandering stars; to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever: Murmurers, complainers; speaking evil of things, which they know not. As they are wandering stars, (i. e. carrying on their operations in different countries,) they murmur and complain, under some sly pretence, against whatever impedes their purposes. Having men's persons in admiration because of advantage; i. e. flattering the tools, and cringing to the more important agents of their cause.
Verse 17; But, beloved, remember 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 times, who would walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they, who separate themselves, sensual, having not the spirit. Here the persons described are identified with the scoffers of the last days, predicted by the other Apostles, Paul and Peter, in the passages above noted: and the Church is called upon
*] John iii, 12.