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If we examine matters attentively, we shall find, that this is a true ftate of genuine Chriftianity, from a fhort period after the converfion of Conftantine, to the present moment. Previous to that era, a profeffion of Christianity expofed men to a variety of hardships in their perfons and effects, fo that the generality of those who embraced it were influenced by a conviction of its truth, the hypocrites among them were few. From the period that Chriftianity became the established religion of the empire, multitudes embraced it to acquire the favour of the Emperor. In process of time, a profeffion of it became a neceffary teft of admiffion into civil and military employments, fo that the generality embraced it from motives purely fecular, without any conviction of its truth, and the real Christians among them were of course proportionally few. During the dark ages of fuperftition and idolatry, when the kingdom of Antichrift was at the height, we can eafily fee, that the number of real Chriftians were very few. At the Reformation, when whole nations threw off the yoke of Antichrift, and embraced a purer outward form of Chriftianity than that which prevailed in the dark ages, we cannot fuppofe, that all who separated themselves from the communion of the church of Rome were animated by motives purely reli

gious. If we examine the ftate of religion at the present moment, in thofe countries where the Reformation is established, we must infer, that the number of real Chriftians is comparatively few. All are admitted to the outward privileges of Christianity as a birthright, and the prejudices of their early education induce the generality to adhere to it afterwards, without ever enquiring into its truth; fo that we may infer, without a breach of charity, that if the place of their birth had been different, they would with equal eafe have embraced, and with equal zeal maintained Mahometanism or Paganism. To the thoughtless many, we may add not a few who are profeffed infidels, and join with the many who pretend a respect for revealed religion, while they avowedly indulge those criminal paffions which are inconfiftent with its pure precepts. To fum up the account, take in those who from fecular motives lay a restraint on their outward conduct, while they are ftrangers, if not enemies to the spirit of Christianity at heart; and we must infer, that the number of real Chriftians, compared with the nominal, is indeed small. No doubt the proportion of real to nominal Chriftians muft have varied at different periods, yet ftill they are represented by 144,000, which I confider as an indefinite number, being the fquare of 12, with

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the addition of 1000; to intimate, that real Chriftians, though few in proportion, and varying as to their number, fhould be always built on the foundation of the holy apoftles and prophets. The 144,000 are fealed, to preserve them from the apoftafy of their time; that is, they are the "elect according to the foreknowledge of God "the Father;" fo that though" a Hymeneus "and a Philetus may fall away, the founda"tion of God ftandeth fure, having this feal. "The Lord knoweth them who are his." Again, they are partakers of " the Spirit of God, "by which they are fealed unto the day of re"demption." Accordingly, every true Chrif tian, in the prefent as well as in former ages, is of the clect, and individually a partaker of the Spirit of God. By his operation he receives that faith" which is the fubftance of things hoped "for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith affords an evidence of the invisible world, and the objects of it, as diftinct from any views attained by unaffifted reason, as fight is from hearfay. Faith likewise gives a foretaste of the joys hoped for, by a view of the Christian's interest in them; and these views effectually preserve him from the craftinefs of " thofe who lie in "wait to deceive," as well as from the allurements of fenfe, by which the multitudes of profeffed Chriftians are undone.


True Chriftians are not confined to one place, or to one party, but fpread over all the visible Church, and mingled with all parties. They are not visible as a fociety diftinct from nominal Christians, but "their hearts being purified to

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an unfeigned obedience of the truth," their devotions, whether performed in fecret retirements, or in public affemblies, are acceptable to Him, whofe privilege it is to "fearch the hearts "and to try the reins of the children of men." They are known to the world only by abhorring its maxims, and avoiding its manners, while they confider their Redeemer's precepts and example as the fign pofts erected to mark their way to eternal glory.


Of the Witnesses.

A fecond view of Chrift's faithful followers in our time is given us in the account of the two witneffes (Rev. xi. 3. 14.) prophesying in fackcloth. They are contemporary with the beast, who makes war against them, ver. 7. The time allotted to their prophecy is " a thousand two "hundred and threefcore days," ver. 3. which is precifely of the fame duration with "forty


"months," allotted to the reign of the beast, chap. xii. 5.; fo that the beginning and end of their prophecy will correfpond with the rife and fall of his empire. Thefe witneffes differ as much from their contemporaries, the 144,000 fealed ones, as Elijah differed from the 7000 in Ifrael in his time, who " did not bow the knee

to Baal." Those testify openly against the antichriftianism of the Papacy, and the corruptions of the Church of Rome; while these abftain from her corruptions, and worship God fincerely in fecret. These witnesses are two, because that is the number required by the law, and approved by the Gospel, (Deut. xix. 15. Matt. xviii. 16.), "In the mouth of two witnes "ses shall every word be established ;" and upon former occafions, two have often been joined in commiffion, as Mofes and Aaron in Egypt, Elijah and Elisha in the apostasy of the ten tribes, and Zerubabel and Joshua after the Babylonish captivity, to whom these witnesses are particularly compared. By the witnes fes, the Spirit of prophecy does not underftand any two individual men, or two particular churches, but " that certain persons should


appear in every age, during the reign of An"tichrift,

(1) Newton's Differtations on Prophecies, vol. iii.. page 134.

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