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tine, was advanced to the throne of the Roman empire, Satan and his votaries were deprived of all power, civil and ecclefiaftical, and Chriftianity became the eftablished religion of the empire, (Rev. xii. 1.-5 and 7.-9.) Satan baffled in his first attempt, directed his violence, în à more hidden manner, against the church as a community, endeavoured to corrupt her in her government, doctrine and ordinances, that these might prove deftructive to the spirit of her feed, even when they multiplied in appearance. For this purpose, he excited church-members to divifions and herefies, and filled the governors of the church with a worldly spirit, intent on selfgratification. He proved fuccessful by this artifice against the great body of profeffed Chrif tians, for he raised within the visible church that huge Coloffus of defpotism, the Roman hierarchy, standing upon the legs of ambition and avarice. To preserve the true church of Chrift in this imminent danger, God withdrew her into the wilderness, that is, diffolved her external ties, that fhe fhould not be vifible as a community; while at the fame time he preferves the individuals of her offspring, by his word and Spirit. In this fituation, "fhe is fafe "from the face of the ferpent."
This prophetic representation serves to elucidate feveral circumstances respecting the church
in our times, which viewed without this light furnish a handle to the enemies, and stagger the faith of the friends of real religion.
Our adverfaries account the vifibility of their church as a community from the apostles days, a demonstration of its being the true church; while they ask us with triumph, where was your church before Luther? The prophecy
furnishes a direct answer. The true church of Chrift ought to be invisible as a community for a period of 1260 years, and during all that time, a harlot, pretending to be the spouse of Jesus Chrift, ought to propagate her idolatries fuccefs fully and extensively throughout the world.
The divifions among proteftants have been urged by their adverfaries as an argument against them; and the ineffectual efforts of learned and pious men to unite them into one community, have proved ftumbling blocks to the faith of fome of their friends. But by the prophetic reprefentation, matters ought to be as they are. Had Proteftants united together into one fociety, the church of Chrift would be visible as a community, which, during the currency of the 1260 years, would flatly contradict the prophecy; but the feveral Proteftant churches having no connection with each other, in government and ordinances, like the ancient church, they conftitute only individual members of the univerfal
universal church, which, as a body politic, is invisible now, as it was in the tenth century.
While the prophetic representation should reconcile us to a certain degree of feparation among proteftants, during the currency of the 1260 years it ought to remove wholly the violence of party fpirit, and every degree of bitterness and rancour which proteftants have too frequently fhewed to each other. A violent party spirit is founded on this principle, that thofe who poffefs it are the true church of Chrift. Hence they argue, that those who separate from them are fchifmatics or heretics, and therefore ought to be treated as "heathens and publicans." But the ground of this reasoning, according to the prophecy, is false; no particular church or party now on earth may claim the exclufive privileges of the univerfal church; whoever does, acts the part of a daughter, ufurping the place of the mother, and requiring that fubjection of her fifters which the law of God does not require.
That the feveral Proteftant churches have confiderably declined from their original purity, is a truth which will be readily acknowledged by those who are acquainted with real religion; yet it is a circumstance which we might have expected, from the prophecy. God has promised to preserve his elect uncorrupted as individuals, but that promife extends not to communities
munities. The univerfal church, as a community, is invifible, in order to be "fafe from the "face of the ferpent." Which implies, that when a member of the univerfal church becomes visible as a fociety, fhe fhall not be fafe, but be corrupted more or lefs by the fame artifices which overwhelmed the great body of profeffed Christians, and raised among them the antichrif tian hierarchy.
Now, focieties may feparate from thofe already established ad infinitum, but the spirit of Antichrist will pervade all; a spirit of ambition and covetoufnefs in the rulers, of fenfuality and hypocrify in the members, will in fome degree infect every community, during the currency of the 1260 years. But when these come to a period, the univerfal church fhall again become visible as a community, extended over the whole earth, "clear as the fun, fair as the moon, and "terrible as an army with banners."
Of future Events which fhall take Place betwixt the prefent Period and the founding of the feventh Trumpet.
I PROCEED now to explore the regions of futurity. Regions covered with a gloom impenetrable to human forefight, but rendered vifible by the light of truth.
O Thou who art the Father of Lights, who giveth wisdom to those that ask it, feeing Thou haft deigned to reveal things future, for the confolation of Thy church and people, "make dark"nefs light before me, and the crooked places ftraight," in exploring what Thou haft revealed. Guard me against the illufions of fancy, and the bias of paffion, and grant me the entrance of Thy Word, which giveth light.
There are two remarkable events to be ac
complished within the 1260 years of Antichrift's reign, a gradual wafte of his kingdom, and the death of the witneffes. The former is progreffive; it has already commenced, and runs coeval with the remaining years of this period. The latter coincides with the close of it.