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for the preservation of the mere police from outward violation, such would be his statement of inward purity, all is well! Yea, he would enlarge upon the flourishing state of religion among us: he would point to the many new churches that have been lately built, and are building: he would speak of the universal philanthropy by which the world is now influenced, instead of that narrow and contracted system of faith by which our fathers were known: he would dwell with delight in the enumeration of the many societies which are formed, where men of the most opposite tenets in theology now meet and amalgamate, having made a sacrifice of all party spirit to the liberal principle of converting the world, and being determined that the doctrine of election shall be for ever buried in the common grave of superstition, and universal redemption be carried throughout the whole habitable earth.
And it is worthy the closest attention of the Lord's people, while it is yet more immediately meriting their thanksgiving to God, how every feature which designates the portraits of those persons hath a correspondent testimony in the word of God. Paul, in several of his epistles marks their more prominent characters; Peter follows in the same delineation; but John and Jude, who both lived to see them spring up before their ministry ended, have given a large statement of them in the close of their inspired writings; 1 John and Jude throughout. And as the highest and most unanswerable proof to what age of the church those sent servants of the Lord referred, and the very persons to whom their predictions pointed, it is remarkable, that they have dwelt more fully on those great and distinguishing doctrines of our most holy faith which those men despise, namely, the Godhead of our most glorious Christ, and the Person and ministry of God the Holy Ghost. And yet more, as if that not a single shade of their character should be wanting, the apostle Jude in particular describes them
as great sticklers for morality and the precepts of the gospel, while making light of him and his finished salvation by whom alone the church is saved; " their mouth (saith Jude) speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage." And he sums up at once their description, in declaring them" sensual, having not the Spirit !" This last mark, is a decisive mark for the clear discrimination of character, which, while it acts like fire, to prove the faith once delivered unto the saints as the pure gold in the furnace, it becomes such an ordeal as no tinsel of the unregenerate can bear. Hence, all professors of what denomination soever among men who enter not by this door into Christ's sheepfold, but climb up some other way, shrink from the doctrine of our total apostacy by the fall, and aim to set up a righteousness of their own before God: they substitute the form of external holiness for the inward regeneration of the heart by the Holy Ghost, and as the Lord himself described the pharisees in his day, (and they are the same in our's), “they make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within are full of extortion and excess. And the same divine authority assigns the cause," all their works they do for to be seen of men,” Matt. xxiii. throughout. Hence the pompous statements of alms-giving and alms-gathering, for the supposed calling of the Jews, and the conversion of the heathen. Matt. x. 9. Hence the apparent zeal of more love to mankind than God himself, in attempting to save whom God hath not saved, and even the people against whom the Lord hath said "he hath indignation for ever!" Malachi i. 1-4. And hence also, by an anomaly peculiarly descriptive of the present day, not a few go forth and compass sea and land to make one proselyte, of whom, without a breach of christian charity it is to be feared, who are not in the true regeneration of the heart proselyted themselves.
But if the statement from the mere professor void of vital godliness, would be to this amount in answer to the question-" Watchman! what of the night?" what would be the information given by those whom the Lord himself hath stationed as watchmen on the walls of Zion? Isa. Ixii. 6. Happily for all such who desire to be found faithful, the Lord hath already furnished them with words of his own, so that they cannot err. "What (saith the prophet) shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the Lord hath founded Zion; and the poor of his people shall trust in it," Isa. xiv. 32. Here then is the never-failing security, which the Lord hath made for every situation of his church and people, during the whole time-state of their continuance on earth, and under the most desolate circumstances that any redeemed and regenerated child of God can be placed in. First," that the Lord hath founded Zion." Here is an everlasting assurance, against which" the gates of hell can never prevail. And secondly, the "poor of his people shall trust in it :" so that the Lord undertakes both for himself and his people. As the Lord said by Jeremiah ages since, "I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from me,” Jer. xxxii. 40. I beg the church of our most glorious Christ not to lose sight of this almighty promise, in which Jehovah saith, "I will not;" and the same Almighty Promiser saith," they shall not;" while I now, in presenting my new year's lovetoken to the Lord's people, proceed to answer, and upon scripture ground, what appears the truest that can be made to the question-" Watchman! what of the night ?"
If ever a period existed since the reformed church through sovereign grace emerged from popery, marked with peculiar and aggravated circumstances of night,
the present is the one. In the supposed meridian of gospel light, the land in relation to divine truth is as Job (in his language of emphasis) hath stated it, “a land of darkness as darkness itself, and of the shadow of death without any order; and where the light is as darkness," Job x. 22. The glorious doctrines of grace, in the defence of which our forefathers shed their blood, and sacrificed the dearest earthly friends rather than suffer an iota of them to be called in question, are now seldom heard from the pulpits, and equally disregarded in the society even of those who profess the gospel. Not a few of those of whom it might have been hoped "better things, and things which accompany salvation," have not found courage to stem the torrent; and seem to have forgotten, that in standing up for the faith it is God's cause, and not their own only, in opposing the tide which is running through the land against it. And while these glorious and momentous truths, in which the stability of the church, and the present and everlasting welfare of the people are combined, are thrown into the back ground as obsolete and unnecessary, new fangled opinions are arising daily, and the press is made to groan under the burden of publications, which threaten to exterminate the pure and discriminating doctrines of the gospel from the earth. I have now before me the proposal of forming a novel institution to pass over the grand mysteries of faith, and to estimate the truth of christianity by the standard of reason only.' And one of those champions for human intellect, who blows a louder blast from his horn of contention than his fellows, hath asserted in a recent pamphlet, that 'Paul had no such commission as he professed; that his enterprize was a scheme of personal ambition; and that his system of doctrine is fraught with mischief.' Had the prophet Jeremiah, when directed by the Holy Ghost to write the fifth chapter of his prophecy, an eye to such a day as the present, (I pray the regenerated
child of God to read it throughout, and under divine teaching to judge for himself) had he, as a prophet, ordained unto the nations, (Jer. i. 5.) such a prophetical perspective to "the last days and the perilous times?" And if he had under such impressions, could he have said more to the solemn purpose than he hath said in the close of that chapter? "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophecy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof ?"
But one enquiry more yet remans to be considered as involved in the question, " Watchman! what of the night ?" And with some of the Lord's people, who will perhaps have followed me in a general consent to all my former statements, this will be as important as any, namely, what time of the night is it in the present hour? And how near are we, in the opening of the new year, to the completion of the prophecies, which respect the killing of the two witnesses? Rev. ii. 7, 8. Indeed, indeed, this is a question I have no ability to answer; neither do I believe that the Lord hath communicated it to any one of his people. Carnal, unenlightened men there have been in all ages of the church who, from the presumptuous reasonings of the human mind, have formed their own conclusions from the political hemisphere of the world, and not from the state of the church; and many of this complexion have confidently stated the exact period, yea, some of them mistaking the form for the power of godliness, (2 Tim. iii. 5.) and calculating from the general profession of the day, that this is the golden era of the church, have leapt over the solemn event in " the slaughter of the witnesses," as a matter of small moment, or already passed, and in the vanity of their mind have declared that the millenium is begun. But blessed be God, the taught of God have not so learned Christ. Very solemn