« PreviousContinue »
permitted them, by an union of their frauds and villainy, to mount up in a body to the zenith of power.
He fmote them with an insatiable thirst for individual dominion; not over France alone, but over the whole world. He confounded their councils, broke their Jacobinical union into factions, and made them the instruments of his divine wrath, in precipitating one another, in the midst of their delirium, their fans, and their mischief not repented of, into the awful and dreadful presence of that Judge, whose name they had blafphemed, and whose power and existence they had impiously denied. So many of these miserable wretches perished under the guillotine, by the decrees of their atheistical brethren; some by affaffination; tome by poifon ; fome, in despair, became their own executioners; that there is scarcely any of them left to contaminate the earth. How just is the judgment ! How righteous the will of Jehovah !
In the last part of this verse, the apostle assigns the reason for this fingular and remarkable judgment, poured down in a short time on men, in the very act of confpiring against the God of the Universe: the reason assigned is, “ Because they re$í ceived not the love of the truth, that they might 16 be saved." Neither the final salvation of mankind, nor their peace and happiness in this life, depend merely on the truth, for that has existed from all eternity, and shall exist for ever and ever; and yet a man may be miserable here and hereafter, but it depends on the love of that truth; upon such perfect and exalted love as shall lead a man to practise and obey its dictates, in all his words and actions. The truth here meant is, that there is a God, the creator and sovereign ruler of the universe. But these sons of Satan were so far from receiving the love of it, that they ridiculed and laughed at the ex,
alted and bleffed trath itself. They had denied God's existence, and bid defiance to his omnipotence, and therefore they most justly deserved the judgment. It is, by this argument, that the apostle perfectly vindicates and justifies the righteous will of God, in pouring out his wrathful indignation on those “sons of perdition, the authors of the revoJution: a justification which all men will approve of, except the infidel and atheist.
The apostle proceeds, in the next verse, to inform us, that for this cause (or because they « would not "love the truth”) God shall send them “ a strong delusion, that they shall believe a lie." To whom is this strong delusion to be sent? Not to those “ who had received the love of the truth,” but to those who had contumaciously rejected it (although their eternal salvation was the precious reward for receiving it); to those who had come with “ all deceivableness of unrighteousness," and deluded the people to believe there was no God. To these men, the apostle affirms, God shall “fend a “delusion” so strong, that even the very persons shall at length believe the lie, which they themselves had fabricated, and wickedly imposed on others. Nor is it uncommon for a liar to repeat and impose his lies on others so often, as to become a believer in them himself. Nor, while we believe in the juftice and righteousness of God, can we be surprised, if he should withdraw his divine love and protection from wretches that hate him and his eternal truth, and leave them to the delusion“ of the evil
imaginations of their own hearts :" for having, by the eternal decree of his wisdom, created man, made him as he made the angels, a probationary creature, and yested him with a free will, to love the truth, to return him love for love, or gratitude for his protection and mercies, or to dis
obey and hate him, he is perfectly justified in withdrawing his divine love and protection from those who reject his truth, though offered to them, all nature proclaiming it. Were he to continue his benefits and favours to such men; were he to save -wretches fo contumaciously wicked, he would want objects on which to exercise his justice and mercy. Such an act of his power would be a virtual repeal of his eternal decree, by which he conferred on mankind a freedom of will. In this light, the text can alone be confidered : for God cannot be the author of evil. " He is a rock, his work is perfect; for “ all his ways are judgment: a God of truth, " without iniquity, just and upright is he*.": And then the true exposition of the text will be this, that God, in his infinite wisdom, having created man a free agent, to choose either good or evil, and having vefted him with the light of reason; and of confcience, to affift him in making a right choice; having demonstrated his infinite wisdom, power, and beneficence, by all the works of creation, by the revelation of his divine will in the holy Scriptures; and proved his omniscience and omnipotence by bringing to pass the namerous prophecies foretold; and by his infinite goodness and mercy, and immaculate doctrines of his blessed Son; and by the wonderful miracles performed by that Son, and his apoftles, through the all-powerful effects of his Holy Spirit, would no longer strive to save men, who should rebel against him, with the avowed design of withdrawing his creatures from their “ love of his “ truth," and their allegiance to his divine government. This love and allegiance are not only indispenfably necessary to their everlasting peace and happiness, but to the order and harmony of the uniperse; and therefore, for their deserting it, he would
* Deut. xxxii. 4.
give them up to uncleanness, through the Jufts of their own hearts; “to their vile affections; to the ,“ strong delusion of believing the lie, which they “ had wickedly imposed on others. A lie, which « all they who believed not the truth, but had plea“ sure in unrighteowness," should be given up to believe, " that they all might be damned;" that they all, inot only those who invented, and wickedly imposed the lic on others, but all who should be deceived by and believe it, might be condemned and punished according to their deserts, and God's righteous pleasure. Now what " lie” can this be, which shall .be fo pregnant with illufion, error, and mischief, as to render its devotees, as well as themselves, proper objects of the just indignation, and ultimate
pu. nishment of the wrath of God? Is it not that, from which“ all deceivableness of unrighteousness arises ? Is it not the lie mentioned in the text, which inincludes.“ all deceivableness of unrighteousness ?" Is it not “ the mystery of iniquity;" the mystery of atheism, or the mystical tenet that there is no God? For can there be a mystery more above the comprehension of man, than the position, that the univerfe, and all things in it, have been created without a God? Or can there be a mystery more completely iniquitous, more mischievous, and more deItructive of that peace and order of the world, which has ever, and must for ever depend on a belief of God, and Providence? Yes, it is a mystical lie, contradicted by the voice of all nature, by every object that presents itself to the reason and intelligence of man; a lie, which saps the foundation of all virtue and religion, and opens wide the floodgates of the blackest impiety and anarchy; a lie, which destroys all sense of a future state, all hope of reward for the most virtuous thoughts and actions, -all fear of punishment for the most enormous crimes; and leads mankind blindfold into an unlimited gra
tification of every luftful passion, and the fearless perpetration of every fin; a lie, the belief in which tends to degrade the human race from that elevated rank of beings in which God has beneficiently placed them, to a state which confounds the harmony and fitness of things, and tends to destroy the order and beauty of the universe. A lie, by the belief of which man becomes unworthy of, and forfeits all title to the protection and love of his creator, renders him not only unfit for, but dangerous to the society of his fellow creatures, and a proper object of the righteous condemnation of infinite justice, according to the Divine pleasure, whatever that may
Now is not this the identical, the great, the efsential lie, by which the revolution of France has been nourished, from its embryo state to its maturity? Did it not come in all the terrors and horrors with this very lie in its mouth? Has it not, in its fundamental records, published this lie to the world, in order to delude it into its vortex ? Has not this lie formed its whole strength, and crowned its iniquitous design with extensive and dreadful success? And does it not, at this moment, place all its hope and confidence in fraternizing the world into atheism, anarchy, and uproar, by a general belief of this very lie?
There is one more mark of the “ Man of “ Şin,” given to the world by the apostle, which is too fignificantly pointed at the French revolu
dual language of the prophecies, that it “ shall come," or “rile,” or “appear;" but that it shall be " revealed.” This mode of its coming is repeated in three difserent verses ; and therefore seems intended as an important mark of the Power foretold. The word reveal,” means to make something manifest,