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which forms one main feature of those signs by which we are commanded to take warning, and to know that we are come to the last days and the perilous times (2 Tim. iii.).
The kingdom of heaven is prepared in the spiritual region, before it is manifested in the region of sense: the Spirit of God in the regenerate brings them into conformity with the will of God in this present world, to render them sons and heirs ready for receiving the kingdom of God in the world to come. During the course of the present dispensation we walk by faith, not by sight, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. viii. 19), saved by the hope for things as yet unseen (ver. 24). But when patience shall have had its perfect work, the things waited for shall appear: He shall appear for whom our soul longeth, we shall appear with Him in glory; we shall be like Him, for we shall see him as he is; for He cometh to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, in that day” (2 Thess. i. 10).
As preparation for the kingdom of God is now going on secretly in the souls of his children, known only to God and themselves, but effectually bringing them into conformity to the image of God's dear Son, to which conformity they are predestinated in the fore-knowledge of God (Rom. viii. 29); so preparation is also going on, by the secret workings of Satan in the children of disobedience" (Eph. ii. 2) for that kingdom of Antichrist which shall draw or force the whole world into its train; and by its enormity of wickedness will provoke the hot thunderbolts of the Almighty, bringing Him down in flaming fire to take vengeance on the fourth beast, in whom all preceding wickedness is summed up with seven-fold aggravation. He it is for whom the lake of fire is “prepared” (Isai. xxx. 33): he is the first born of hell, the chief tool and victim of the king of terrors. They that come after shall be astonied at his day, as they that lived with him laid hold on horror.” (Job xviii. marg.)
God hath revealed in his word all the main features of the kingdom of Antichrist; not only those which shall be open to sense and to the observation of every one, when the last Antichrist, or wicked one (2 Thes. ii.), shall be manifested openly; but those secret workings which prepare the way for it, beginning even now the kingdom of hell within his followers, as Christ is beginning the kingdom of heaven in the souls of the regenerate. He said to the children of God, “The kingdom of heaven is within you” (Luke xvii. 21): it “cometh not with observation” in this world, or age, but in the next.
These secret workings, which prepare for and usher in the perilous times of the last days, have their beginning in self-love, through which Satan gains a footing, and brings in all the hateful passions enumerated in the black catalogue which follows,
amusing his victims all the while, and keeping them to the last,
ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. iii. 2-7).-On these characteristics of the last times we need not enlarge, as our readers may refer to Mr. Irving's discourses on "The Last Days," published about four years ago. Nor need we enlarge on the Old-Testament predictions in their private and individual application, as it would be only repeating in different phraseology the characteristics given in the New Testament. But we wish at present to direct the attention of our readers chiefly to the several headships of power which are now gathering strength, and to which the unwarned may be ministering; all which power and strength shall in the last days enlist itself in the service of Antichristto shew how the ten kings of Christendom are wrought into one mind, so as to give their power and strength unto the beast (Rev. xvii. 13); and how “the spirits of devils, working miracles, go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” which shall end in setting His glory in the land of the living (Rev. xvi. 14; xix. 19; xx. 3).
In the fourth, or Roman monarchy, all the ten kings merge ; being considered only as several members of one body, all acting in concert, and bound together as one whole. And to the Roman kingdom all other kingdoms of the world are regarded as in abeyance; taking their station subordinate to it, and involved in the judgments which apostasy shall bring upon it.
The kings of Christendom have from their earliest times had a common interest in so many points, that they may justly be considered as forming one commonwealth, in comparison with the rest of the world.
In many of the Eastern dialects, all Europeans are called Franks; and the points of difference we consider so marked, strike not an Asiatic, or, if they do, are of less weight than the more striking points of agreement. In the eye of the Oriental nations, Europeans appear all of the same religion, the same laws, the same advancement in morals, science, and art; all desiring the same things with the same degree of eagerness; and all extolling Europe as the seat of civilization and power. And these several elements of unity will bear a narrower scrutiny than that of a stranger, and still remain of some amount; and what weight they do lose is more than compensated, on close inspection, by the many other bonds of union, which then become visible, in the European commonwealth.
All our readers must have themselves observed this in their several channels of intercourse with the world, and we need only remark on the notorious and undeniable extent to which talent in literature and science is idolized throughout the whole of
Europe ;-an idolatry which renders the scientific man a denizen of every country; which proves an universal passport, a safe conduct, through armed bands of his country's foes.
But the idolatry of talent has gone still further, and abrogated not only territorial and political distinctions, but in a great measure moral distinctions also: witness Byron, Shelly, and Scott.
The stimulus applied to science, and the rapid diffusion of knowledge among all classes of Europeans, has given to this quarter of the globe a preponderance over every other, and is become the most powerful of the secondary causes why every great crisis in Europe should affect the whole world, and may enable the mere reasoner to account for the feverish anxiety which now pervades almost all nations, and the catastrophe which many of them apprehend ; while the Christian knows the just grounds there are for alarm, from the sure word of Prophecy.
The arms and scientific enterprize of England and France have spread the knowledge of European power, not only over that large portion of Asia washed by the Indian Ocean, and watered by the Ganges and Euphrates, but into the heart of Africa also; and European arts and manners are continually gaining ground, as the power they confer becomes known. In all the northern regions of the old world European habits have been long dominant, planted in Russia by Peter the Great, and diligently cultivated by his successors, who saw the ascendancy which European science and art gave them over the vast extent of territory under the dominion of the Czars.
This tacit acknowledgement of European superiority will eventually bring all the world under the operation of those causes which bring down the judgments of God on Christendom, and therefore will bring the judgments upon each of those nations just in proportion to the degree in which they have partaken of the sin: "Be not partakers of her sins, that ye receive
, not of her plagues” (Rev. xviii. 4).
These sins all grow out of idolatry of talent in the generality, and self-idolatry in the few ; making slaves and despots in the several regions of intellect, just as obsequious and tyrannical as the slaves and despots in government, which this state of public opinion is sure to produce. Self-esteem in science is more rigid in exacting an homage, more grudgingly yielded, than any other despot exacts from his slave; and the mind, broken to this homage, has no scruple in transferring the feeling to the ruler of the state, claiming it by a right which is supported by power to coerce and substantial rewards to bestow.' And history has recorded the fact for our learning in the French revolution, where the despotism of Danton and Robespierre and Bonaparte trod close on the heels of the literary and scientific despotism of the Encyclopedists.
Idolatry consists in putting something else than God in the place of supremacy; and the most dangerous form is that which makes reason an idol, as the sin lies in the very thing which should be its corrective. The folly of worshipping idols which men's hands have made, may be demonstrated and exposed, as by Jeremiah and Isaiah: the absurdity of imagining more than one Supreme, the Ruler of heaven and earth, may be deduced from principles of reason—they that have not made these heavens shall perish from under these heavens ;—but when Reason itself becomes the idol, our hope from secondary means is gone; the Omnipotent God, but He alone, can recover that man who is become a god unto himself.
Yet this is the sin which is become almost universal, and which will be universal in the reign of Antichrist, except in that little band whom he shall persecute to the death: a slender band indeed, as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done (Isai. xxiv. 13), two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof (Isai. xvii. 6).
Over-weening self-esteem is the leading and all inclusive characteristic of the last perilous times : men shall be “ lovers of their own selves” (2 l'im. iii.): and self-exaltation is the promise which Satan uses as the master engine to effect his last and mightiest confederacy against the purpose of God as announced in the Gospel, which is self-abasement. Jesus “made himself of no reputation;" He“humbled himself, and became obedient unto death.. wherefore God also hath highly exalted him." And all his disciples must learn of him in this; must humble themselves now, that they may be exalted in God's good time. “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all ” (Mak. ix. 35). “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors: but
shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve ; for I am among you as he that serveth” (Luke xxii. 25).
The sin of the Gentile kings had always been an assumption of independent authority,—the denial of God's supremacy, by making themselves supreme; the allowing themselves to be called Benefactors (as Ptolemy Euergetes), when they were the very reverse of representatives of the only Good One, that is, God. The sin of Israel was of the same kind in demanding a king of Samuel, when the Lord their God was their king. The king of Assyria is punished for calling the power his own, and not held under God (Isaiah x. 12).
And the false confidence of them that trust in Egypt is rebuked on this very ground, that they look not to the Holy One
of Israel, though the Egyptians are men, and not God (Isai. xxxi. 1-3). But the fullest exposure of the nature of the sin, and the best safeguard against it, may be derived from an attentive consideration of the case of 'Tyrus (Ezek. xxviii.); to which we would very briefly point the attention of our readers, leaving the full development of this most instructive portion of prophecy to their own private meditation on the few hints which is all our limits allow us to give.
Tyrus sets forth the true standing of a Christian state, where the king, supreme in the state, represents God, supreme in the universe; king and state both acknowledging the supremacy of the one Lord of all, the King of kings. And the people of such a state should see in their king the representative of God; nothing less, and no more : the representative of our heavenly King, and to be reverenced for the Lord's sake; but only a representative, and not entitled to any reverence independent of God. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers; for there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power ? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good” (Rom. xiii. 1-3). This is manifestly the description of a rightly constituted state, and cannot apply to those oppressors who have caused terror in the land of the living; nor can it apply to the times of the last wilful king, subjection to whose power will end in the lake of fire, and whom all the servants of God must resist even to the death. Nor does it apply to the last state even of Tyrus, but only to the time when Tyrus was perfect in its ways, before iniquity was found in it. For Tyrus is represented in two opposite conditions; first, as the work of God, set by him in his holy mountain, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty'; and then, as corrupted in wisdom and defiled by iniquity, on which account it is cast as profane out of the mountain of God, and becomes a terror among the people (Ezek. xxviii. 19).
The first condition of Tyrus is described as a perfect representation of the government of God; and the king of Tyrus as God's representative or vicegerent. Every image of Scripture which can express conformity to the mind or delegation to the rule of God, is employed in describing Tyrus and its king.
Its constitution was as much the work of God, as the garden which he planted in Eden-revealing his counsels, like the Urim and Thummim in the breast-plate of Aaron-making sweeter melody before him than the sons of Asaph-near to his throne as the cherubim that covered the Mercy-seat--and ever thus near,