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tion of Jerusalem, when, no doubt, Satan hoped to involve the Christians in the general ruin, several de. ceivers assumed the name of Christ, and drew away many after them : it is plain that in some way, these pretensions will again be put forth ; and we have reason to look steadily at that which is already written, Jest any seeming revelation, contradictory to what is given to be our guide unto the end of the world, should be contrived, to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. The general expectation, prevailing more and more throughout the church, of our Lord's promised coming, will doubtless furnish the cunning adversary with additional means of annoyance and destruction. Already, and for centuries past, has he proclaimed, “ Behold! he is in the secret chambers !” to the eternal loss of unnumbered souls who, believing the lie, have worshiped an idol enclosed in a box, upon the Popish "altars; deifying the senseless paste in Christ's stead, and perishing in their sin. Literally and distinctly is a “false Christ” held forth for public worship, by the “false prophets” of Rome, to this day ; and no one is justified in questioning the express fulfilment, to the letter, of all that our Lord has foreshown. Here, too, there is warrant enough in the Old Testament to satisfy the most incredulous. When the king of Israel was to be enticed to battle at Ramoth Gilead, where he fell, a “ lying spirit” possessed the whole company of his prophets, so that they all predicted his success, in the name of the Lord. He, “who was a liar from the beginning,” put into their mouths this unauthorized prediction ; even as he tempted the old prophet of
Bethel to deceive the man of God who came out of Judah : and in like manner the Jewish people were continually transgressing through the perfidious words of their ungodly teachers, saying, “Peace, peace,” where there was no peace.
There seems to be a prevailing belief among Christians, that the enmity of the last day will break forth in the form of open, outrageous infidel defiance of God and his Christ; and so it probably will to a great extent: but surely not exclusively so: Satan will not wholly give up his old craft of forging God's name and authority for deeds most desperately subversive of His laws, and insulting to His majesty. “ That old serpent” retains the desig- . nation, and, no doubt, the deep, subtle plausibility which it implies, to the very moment when an elect angel lays hold on him, and binds him, and shuts and seals him up,
66 that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” Rev. xx. 3. And again, “When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth,” (verses 7, 8.) Such considerations would render us more watchful against forms of error, creeping with serpent-like guile into the Church itself, and stealing on the unguarded points of the citadel, where, as no open enemy is descried, no adequate defence is prepared.
The extraordinary movement that, some ten or twelve years since excited universal attention, when the Scotch Church in London was considered to be the scene of miraculous manifestations of divine power, wore very much the aspect of a preparatory maneuvre of the enemy. Some things took place that it is very hard to account for, without admitting the aid of a supernatural power; and to suppose that power to have been of God is impossible, when we remember with what an awful heresy it was connected. That party set up indeed a “ false Christ -a Christ compounded of Popish and Socinian errors, a blasphemous counterfeit of Him who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. The manner of bringing in this perilous deceit, was exceedingly like what the Scripture leads us to expect of Satan's latter-day devices; and it is remarkable, that just as the Lord placed an evident barrier to stay the farther spread of this delusion, another masked battery against the truth of Christ's gospel, subversive, at once, of His atoning and His mediatorial all-sufficiency, was opened at Oxford, and has worked, and is working to the same end with the Irvingite heresy, only with a different kind of assumption. In the former attempt, the gospel was to be set aside by a new revelation, accompanied with attesting signs and wonders, as from the hand of its Almighty Author: under the latter system, men claim a power, in virtue of the commission delivered to the apostles, of new modeling all things: thinking to change times and laws,” (Dan. vii. 25,) after the manner, and on the same ground as the Papacy, that convicted child of the devil: and into which the whole thing will probably soon resolve itself, in the face of all men. These small droppings are at once a potent and a sam. ple of the coming shower; and we shall do well so to regard them, and to take timely shelter under the shadow of the immovable rock.
The distinguishing mark of Satan's false Christs is, that they are only half Saviours; man is, in some way, to make up the deficiency: and so, seeking to be justified by the law, he falls from grace-Gal. v. 4. Satan well knows how sure is that word, which received its primary accomplishment on the day of Pentecost. “ It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered ”—Joel ii. 32; and when the final “ great and terrible day” shall draw near, he will put forth all his subtlety to deceive men, that they may call on some name which can afford no deliverance, like Baal's priests ; or, as did the sons of Sceva, call unbelievingly on Him who is nigh to help only when the prayer is breathed from the lip of faith.
Nor is his craft in this matter confined to the exhi. bition of something manifestly different from the truth : there is a way of preaching even the pure doctrines of the Bible, that will in a great measure neutralize their effects. The apostle could declare, “we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord;" and so they did, as we may perceive from the recorded sermons of these first inspired teachers, in the book of Acts: the sum and substance of their discourse was,
6 Flee from the wrath to come. They showed the terrors of that wrath, and they held forth Jesus Christ as the only refuge from it; as they told of his death and resurrection, his power in heaven and in earth, and the certainty of his coming to judge and to reign. “Be it known to you,” was their proclamation to the Jews, be that through this man is preached unto you the for giveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts xiii. 38, 39. To the Gentiles they declared, “ To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever be. lieveth in him shall receive remission of sins;” (Acts X. 43 ;) and this mode of preaching is according to the mind of God: He owns it, and blesses it; and by its simplicity, which in the wisdom of this world is called foolishness,
,” he saves them that believe. 1 Cor. i. 21. There is nothing Satan dreads more than a ministry of this stamp; accordingly he draws men away from the homely backward path, fills them with no. tions of their own sufficiency, persuades them that originality is a great gift, much to be coveted, and that intellect is the right door to men's souls. He points out here a Paul, there an Apollos, and in another pul. pit a Cephas: whose respective hearers presently discover, each that his own minister is the
model of all that a minister ought to be, and his style of preaching precisely what is most needed. Hence we hear whispers among the separating congregations, not of conscience-stricken sorrow for sin, not of awakened praise for salvation, not of deep desire for the continued presence of him who has been (or ought to have been) visibly set forth crucified among them; but “What a splendid discourse! How great Mr. was to day! What eloquence, what imagery, what clear views he takes ! Certainly our pastor has no