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FROM THE PRESENT TIME TO THE FALL OP
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 surmised by some from prophecies of doubtful interpretation, and 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. 11:7, 8, is not yet accomplished; and there is a difference of opinion with respect to the pouring out of the seven vials, Rev. 16, how many are alrea. dy, 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 pour. ed out but two, the sixth on the river Euphrates, and the seventh into the air. I shall not now 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 might 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 of which we are certain from the prophecies of Scripture.
I. I would observe some things in general con: cerning 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 exceedingly degenerate time among the Rerlemption
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, Luke, 18:8, he adds, “Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?” Which seems to denote a great prevalence 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 by his corning at the destruction of Antichrist. Then will be accomplished the following passages.
Rev. 6:10. How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth ?" Rev. 18: 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 little faith, and a great prevalence of infidelity on the earth. There is now a remarkable fulfillment of 2 Pet. 3: 3. “Knowing this, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts." And 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. It is probable from the Scriptures, 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 show that the work of God will be exceeding swift, -and many great and wonderful events will very suddenly be brought to pass, and some great parts of Satan's visible kingdom suddenly 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 the conversion of others. 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, Dan. 2:3, 4, the stone cut out of the mountain without hands gradually grows. So Christ teaches us that the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustardseed, Matt. 13:31, 32, and like leaven hid in three measures of meal, ver. 33. The same representation we have in Mark, 4: 26, 27, 28, and in the vi.
sion of the waters of the sanctuary, Ezek. 47.- The Scriptures foretell several successive great and glorious events by which this glorious work shall be accomplished. The angel, speaking to the prophet Daniel of those glorious times, mentions two periods, at the end of which glorious things shall be accomplished. Dan. 12:11. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” But Then he adds in the next verse, “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days;" intimating that something very glorious should be accomplished at the end of the fornier period, but something much more glorious at the end of the latter.
II. I now proceed to show how this glorious work shall be accomplished.
1. The Spirit of God shall be gloriously poured out for the wonderful revival and propagation of religion. This great work shall be accomplished, not by the authority of princes, nor by the wisdom of learned men, but by God's Holy Spirit
. Zech. 4:6, 7. “ Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art 'thou, O great mountain ? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain, and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” So the prophet Ezekiel, speaking of this great work of God, says, chap. 39 : 29, “ Neither will I hide my face any more from them; for I have poured out my Spirit on the house of Israel, saith ihe Lord God." We know not where this pouring out of the Spirit shall begin, or whether in many