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that answers to this descriptive name, except this grand confederacy, this united body of idolaters, apostates, and atheists, which, from the brief account the prophet has before given of it, perfectly answers to this description. For we know from sacred history, that soon after the time of Noah,“ all the kings and inhabitants of the “ earth,” (the Jews, the peculiar people of God not excepted,) become proselytes to Polytheism ; or, as it is expressed in holy writ,“ went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them*.”. Since the coming of Christ, and the conversion of the world to the truths of the Gospel, the kings and inhabitants of the earth have gone a whoring after Papal and Mohamedan apostacy: and in our days we have seen the ungodly kings and inhabitants “ of the earth,” and an im. mense number of their subjects, with astonishing eagerness and zeal, embracing the horrid principles of atheism, blasphemy, and anarchy: and how many more will follow their example before the confederacy here foretold shall take place, the event alone must discover.However, when these three libidinous tempters of mankind shall be united on the great “ day of God Almighty, they will become one 4. This great confederacy of the ungodly is also called “ mystery.” Now, a mystery is a thing, the nature of which is incomprehensible to the human intellect, and may be true or false. There is a “mystery of godliness*, and there is also the “ mystery of iniquityt.” The prophet cannot mean the former in this place; the expression would be extremely improper when applied to the enemies of Christ, whom he is here describing : he must therefore, from the tenour of his discourse, mean the latter. This “ mystery of iniquity" St. Paul also describes when speaking of the coming of Christ on the “ great day of God Almighty,” by that wicked whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his comingi: Indeed the whole of the apostolic description of this “ mystery of iniquity” pertinently applies to the ungodly confederacy.
great whore,' with whom the kings of the " earth have committed fornication; and the “ inhabitants of the earth have been made - drunk with the wine of her fornication."
* Judges ii. 17.
But it may here be asked where is the “ mystery,” ” of idolatry, apostacy, or atheism? The answer is, that they are all mysteries beyond the comprehension of the human intellect, and mysteries also the most iniquitous that have ever been invented by men, or devils. Is it not a " mystery” incomprehensible, that man originally made in the image and after the likeness of God, endued with the light of reason, and the impulse of conscience, should, with unspeakable ingratitude cease to obey
* 1 Tim. ii. 16.
+ 2 Thess. ii. 7.
Gen. i. 26.
God's righteous will, and to worship him ; and should prefer the adoration of dead men and idols of “ gold and silver, and brass, and
stone, and wood, which neither can see, nor
hear, nor walk,” to the worship of the only true God, their Sovereign Creator*? This is the “ mystery of iniquity,” of polytheism, and idolatry. Is it not a “ inystery" that men so made and endued, should put their whole trust in fatalism, and should be persuaded to believe they shall live in a sensual paradise, which they know from experience, is followed by consequences that destroy them in this life And that fallen, sinful man should be as infalible as the God of heaven? This is the " “ mystery” of apostacy
apostary. And is it not a yet greater “ mystery of iniquity,” that the universe should be pronounced to be eternal and selfcreated ; and that there is not; nor ever has been, one self-existing spirit, or God who created all things ?. And this is the mystery of atheism.
Thus all the three powers of idolatry, apostacy, anid atheism, are" mysteries of iniquity,” and therefore the prophet calls them, emphatically,
mystery,” in the singular number, because they are united, and form but one body, one GREAT " MYSTERY.”
5. Farther, this conspiracy of the ungodly is described by the name of “BABYLON THE GREAT.” The word “ Babylon,” translated, is
* Rev. ix. 20.
a mixture, or confusion of things. From the antecedent description of this conspiracy, it is to consist of a mixture of all the Polytheists, Apostates, and Atheists, a mixture of all the false doctrines that ever existed on the earth; and it is natural to believe, indeed it seems absolutely impossible not to conclude, that their discordant and heterogeneous tenets and principles should not, when mixed together, be the cause of a great political fermentation, and quarrel among themselves, and be one of the means of their destruction, as the prophet has before intimated.
6. Again, it is called, “ The mother of Harlots." It is the mother of all idolatry, of all the deviations from the true word of God, of all the schisms in the church of Christ. It is now, in its combined state, the mother of polytheism, apostacy, and atheism, and of the ungodly “of the whole world.” Because, upon some of them, Satan, the spirit of evil, and the deceiver of the whole world*, had begotten all his illegitimate children; therefore it is moreover called, emphatically,“ the abomination of the earth."
7. There is another mark of this wicked confederacy, which I cannot pass over in silence: the prophet having represented it by the preceding names, concludes with telling us, that “ he saw “the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, " and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus ; that is, raving and rejoicing over the multitude of saints and martyrs, whom she had unjustly and un mercifully put to death! Where now are the Powers who have wantonly opposed, and wilfully spilt the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus, but the powers of pagan idolatry, of Mohamedan and papal apostacy, and French atheism ? Have they not, in a regular succession, from the rise of the church of Christ to this day, been its only opposers, and the murderers of its most pious and righteous members?
* Rev. xii. 9.
There are other marks besides in this chapter, tending to show, that the prophet is describing a certain great confederacy of the ungodly, which is to take place in the “last days” or in the great day of God ALMIGHTY. But to consider them all would be inconsistent with the limits fixed to these brief conjectures; and I trust enough has been said to enable the diligent and religious seekers after truth, to understand the meaning of the prophet, and to prove that the Power thus described is not the Power to which protestant commentators have generally ascribed it. I am well aware, that they have imputed all the signs of the Power, mentioned in this chapter, to the Papal bierarchy. But I cannot concur with them in loading the Popes of Rome, with all the sins of the world. Their ambition, their avarice, and their idolatry, have been wicked indeed; but there have been other Powers in the world, enemies to the church of Christ, besides the Pope's who have drawn mankind into grievous error and sin. The Powers of Mohamedanism and Atheism, as we have seen, have had a heavy share. How, then, can we conceive, that the Spirit of truth should