« FöregåendeFortsätt »
may examiné our ways, repent, and reform; that thus the Divine displeasure may be averted, and that constitution, which has secured to this empire fo many blessings, to which most other nations are strangers, may be purified and strengthened, and by these means be continued to our pofterity. I do therefore most fervently pray, that God may fucceed this feeble attempt, and bless us, and all men, with peace.. . Newbury, January 19th, 1793:
I HE kingdom which God was to set up under the Messiah, according to the prophets, was to be a kingdom of righteousness; peace, and joy. Unto us a Child is born—the government shall be upon his shoulder.-Of the increafe of his government and peace there shall be no end. The wolf and the lumb shall feed together. He shall Speak peace to the heathengt who have long been the prey of destroyers, and of one another. If we contemplate the principles of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, they promise fair to produce the enjoyment of all that which the prophets predicted. But where is the effect? The annals of the Christian world, as well as those of the Pagan, discover to us little more than the history of ambition, superstition, and bloodshed. The career of this kingdom began in piety towards God, and in love and peace to all mankind. But systems of error, superstition, and oppression, soon interrupted its progress, and perverted its principles. Christianity has been converted into a system of commerce, and those called the ministers of Christ, have been a corporation of traders, in the souls and liberties of mankind.
Were I to attempt to define the character of Antichrift; I should fay, It is all that which otpofes it felf to the kingdom of Christ, whether it flow from the ecclefiaftical or civil powers. The civil conftitutions of nations, as well as the ecclesiastical, so far as they accord with, or have a tendency to promote, that pride and that ambition which lead to oppression, persecution, and war, are antichristian. Whatever in religion is destructive of union among Christians, which leads to domination over conscience, to hinder free enquiry after truth, or any way oppresses and persecutes men for matters cognizable only by God, is antichristian. Wherever
f Ifa. ix. 6, 7. lxv. 25.
Zech. ix. 10.
there there is intolerance; wherever we find conditions of communion among Christians imposed, which Christ hath not clearly enjoined; wherever creeds and modes of worship are enforced by human power, and men are made to forfeit any of their civil righis, or are stigmatized on these accounts, there is that fpirit which is not of God. Wherever one Christian, or feet.of Chriftians, af. fumes the seat of authority and judgment in the church of Christ, whether they call for fire to destroy those who dissent from them, or only exclude them from their communion and affection, there is a portion of that spirit of Antichrist which has fo long opposed itself to the benign principles of the kingdom of the Prince of Peace, has been the cause of so many evils to humanity, and the occasion of making the inconsiderate esteem the amiable religion of Jesus, as a source of mischief instead of benevolence! Alas, how much of this spirit remains amongst us all! How few have learned that t in Jesus Christ circumcifion is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God
But we are allured from the scriptures, that all these usurpations and antichristian principles shall have an end; and that the gospel shall produce the various happy effects which are predicted. The religion of Christians shall then no longer confist in I meat and drink, but in righteousness, peace, and joy; the practice of justice; the cultivation of harmony, and the diffusion of happiness.
The question is, When may we hope to see these predictions accomplished ? Long have a pious few had their eyes fixed on the promises of God with ardent expectation, and been crying, How long, O Lord, ere thou wilt avenge the blood of thy faints, and create Jerufalem a quiet dwelling place, and Zion the joy of all the earth? Come, Lord Jefus, come quickly!-- Behold I come at an hour when ye think not ! blessed is he that watch th.
Some fuppofe, that all our inquiries about the time of the ac. complishment of the predictions relative to the downfal of Antichrist, which is to prepare the way for the peaceful kingdom of the Redeemer, are in vain. If fo, wherefore is it said, Bleffed is" he. that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy ? Rev. i. 3. Here is wisdom, let him that hath understanding count the num?> of the beast. xiii. 18. .
+ 1 Cur. vii. 19.