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SERMON XII...

The Grand Conflagration.

REV. XX. 9.

And fire came down from God out of Heaven, and de

voured them.

TT has been observed before, that when Satan fhall be I loosed from his prison, he will make his last grand onset against the Church of God; first, by deceiving the unwary nations, who were grown lukewarm ; and then he will infuse a persecuting spirit into them, or allure them, through the hopes of grandeur and conqueft, into a dread. ful rebellion--which will prove the final overthrow, both of the deceiver and the deceived ; so that neither Shall be able to make the fmallest effort, from henceforth, for ever.

2. MEAN-Time there will be a drawing together of the faints, and Jerusalem, I have said, will be the royal city of all the earth, called the beloved city: for it seems highly probable, that those places which exhibited the furprising scene of an abased Creator, will be the grand theatres of his millennial glory. The beloved city will

be

be of vast extent, no doubt, and still greater will be its fuburbs and connected environs, called the camp of the saints. It is very likely the saints may be apprized of the storm gathering against them, and may-attempt something in the way of self-defence, which may occasion their drawing together. But here it may be said, as on a former occasion, The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace *. For whilst Satan and his combined army, like Pharaoh and his hoft, are buoyed up with vain expectations, either of wealth or revenge, and while they cry, Peace and safety, sudden deftruction comes upon them ; for fire falls from heaven, and consumes them, and, I apprehend, will consume the wo:ld; for I judge this will be the Grand Conflagration. What may be the formal cause of this sudden and tremendous scene, is a secret, as yet, to mankind, and, perhaps, will be fo till the awful transaction is over. However, this, I take, to be the final dissolution of our solar system: “ the wreck « of matter and the crush of worlds,” and to which oor Lorel refers where he says,— As the lightning which svinet bi from the east even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of man be t. . 3. It seems very clear that the General Conflagration will be before the Last Judgment; for before the white throne appears, upon which the Son of God shall fit, heaven and earth must pass away, and then the dead, small and great, muft fiand before God; and the bocks must be opened, and the dead judged. Upon the fire falling from heaven, Satan must be immediately caft into the lake of fire

and

* Exod. xiv. 14.

+ Matth. xxiv. 27

and brimstone, where the beaft and the false prophet are, and must be, tormented day and night for ever *. .

4. But the subject which claims our immediate confideration is,—The awful Conflagration. Awful, indeed! Had we seen the Temple and Jerusalem in flames, how shocking would the appearance have been ? or even our London, in 1666, how abashed we Nould have stood ? What a confternation would seize our breasts ?. Or when Rome shall be destroyed by a fiery earthquake, as it is terribly spoken of, when all shall stand afar off for fear of ber torment, weeping and wailing at the fight! +-Perhaps the most dreadful that hath ever been seen. But what are all these, in comparison of this general consumption ? Mere fire-brands or tapers! O my God, let the fire of thy love elevate my soul now above the cares, anxieties, and concerns of life, so that I may then lift up my head, and " shout above the fiery void”! It may now be proper to consider,

1. The Certainty of this awful Scene, II. The Uncertainty of it. JII. The dreadful Consternation thereof.

1. And first, with regard to the certainty of it. Let it be observed, in all these Sermons, I am addressing those who believe the Bible; and hence it is that my proofs and arguments are drawn from that divine quiver. As for all the small philosophical quibbles which are, or may be, brought against the truths contained in the dia vine oracles, it is not my province to answer them, as I apprehend they would lead to vain janglings; therefore

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it would be lost time. For, in mere natural things, we see men are at a vast distance from each other, notwithftanding all the boasted certainty of demonstration. For instance, in the case of the fun, what a vast chasm is there in their calculations of the distance and magnitude thereof; nay, even in the trite and trivial matter of the boiling of an egg-lo small and glimmering is the feeble ray of boasted reason.

2. Then let us attend to the law and the telimony. It seems the General Deluge was an emblem of this stupendous scene, and will be, as little expected by the careless ones who are at ease in Zion. They were quite secure, until the flood came and swept them all away : fo Thall it also be in the days of the Son of Man *. So that the first general blotting out of the human race is, or was, an emblem, or type, of this final blotting out of the present world. There never was a type but there was its antitype ; never was there a shadow but it had a subftance ; and so, in this most awful period, an universal destruction must take place. It may here just be observed, that the Bible is a two-edged sword, and, therefore, generally, has a two-fold meaning—a literal or historical, and a figurative, which, for the most part, are already accomplished; but their full and sublime accomplishment is yet to take place.

3. Another circumstance, and that is, the Prophets often speak of a thing as if it were already done ; for instance, the fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah, which delineates a suffering Saviour, speaks of him as a person that had

then , * Matth. xxiv. 39.

then endured all the pain, shame, and ignominy therein fo feelingly described, --whereas it was several hundred years after before he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. In the same stile, I apprehend, many of the prophecies of the final dissolution.

4. Ler me point out a few of these which speak directly to the point :-Clouds and darkness are round about him : righteousness and judgment dre the habitation of his ohrone. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the world : the earth saw it, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth *. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, in which thou shalt fay, I have no pleasure in them : While the fun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after rain t. Howl ye ; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands small be faint, and every man's heart shall melt. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land defolate; and he shall destroy the finners thereof out of it. For the fars of heaven, and the constellations thereof, shall not give their light : the fun fall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause ber light to shine f. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hoffs, and in the day of his fierce anger . The earth is 24 terly broken down, the earth is clean disolved, the carth is

moved * Pr. xcvii. 2–6. + Eccl. xii. 2. 1 Isa.. xiii. 7-11.

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