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from ús.” Even these characters, after they have fixed their characteristic of infidelity, may be led to adopt some trite form of Godliness; baving found it necessary for their existence in the world; or to cover their enormities; or to propagate their sentiments with more fatal effect. Or this trait of character here given may pecu. liarly relate to some class of them; perhaps that from the mouth of the false prophet; zealots in religion; while yet they are propagators of real infidelity. Their clandestine operations in the propagation of their sentiments, are strikingly noted, by their creeping into houses and leading captive the simple and uninformed, who are under the influence of sensual motives. Their fair pretences are hinted. Ever learning.
Yet they are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. For their hearts are utterly hostile to the truth, corrupt, and reprobate.
Peter informs us of the same characters; whom he calls scoffers in the last days. He fills a whole chapter with the most lively and affecting descriptions of them. It is evident that the wretched beings, presented in 2 Pet. ü chapter, are the very characters predicted by Jude. For Jude evidently has this very chapter, and the begin. ning of the next, in view, not only when he directs us to "remember the words, which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they told you, there should be mockers in the last time;" but in the whole of his Epistle. None, who will compare the two chapters, can doubt of this. The characteristics given, and the stile, are the same. We are hence assured, that the deceivers described by Peter, are the infidels of the last days.
He says, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swist destruction.” Here is the very character of Antichrist; "denying the Lord, that bought them.” And as in Jude, they introduce their damnable heresies privately. Also, as in the varicus other predictions of them, their destruction comes swiftly. They are here false teachers. They are those, who (some under one disguise, and some under another,) undertake to instruct mankind, and to form the public sentiments. This they will do in preaching; in gazettes; or in other communications.
“And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." As Paul had before said to Timothy, For the time will come, when they (the mass of the people ) will not endure sound doctrine: but, after their own lusts, shall heap to themselves teachers; having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. Peter proceeds.
“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not; and their damnation slumbereth not.” With deceptive words, and sordid views, they seduce and ruin the people.
Peter now, as did Jude, in the beginning of his description, relieves the minds of his readers with the idea, that their reign should be short, and their ruin terrible; by adverting to the destruction of the sinning angels, of the old world, and of Sodom and Gomorrah, as an emblem of what shall shortly befall these wretches of the last days. See verse 4—7, And for the support of the persecuted people of God, at the same period, they are here reminded of God's delivering just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked,” and with their unlawful deeds. "For the Lord knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptation; and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” And especially these characters of the last days, who, he tells us, “walk after the flesh, in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government;" i. e. all evangelical and virtuous government:-“Presumptuous are they, self willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas, Angels, who are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these are natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things, which they under. stand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption: And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots are they and blemishes, sporting them. selves with their own deceivings, while they feast with
Horrid pictures of depravity! Sporting them. selves with the success of their devices; while they are enjoying, with the deceived, the blessings of life. “Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls; an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Who have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, but was rebuked for his iniquity; the dumb ass speaking with man's voice, forbode the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water; clouds that are carried with the tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure, (through the lusts of the flesh through much wantonness,) those, who were clean (wholly) escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: For of whom a man is overcome, of the same he is brought into bondage.” Amazing and most interesting catalogue of the mischievous characteristics of the hor. rid deceivers of the last days, who will desolate the civilized world! Liberty and the rights of man are their first theme: While corruption the most diabolical, is the origin, and bondage and ruin the sure result, to all who are overcome by their delusions. Beguiling the unstable. Their greatest success is with the unprincipled and fluctuating parts of communities. And by swelling words of vanity, they presen: the most de prav. ed motives in such an enticing light, as to allure many into ruin, who were thought to have wholly escaped from those, who live in error; or, were thought to be verily good people. Through the abounding of this iniquiry, the love of many (even of this class) will wax cold; and, to the surprise and grief of the Godly, they will be found among the enemy. The chapter closes with solemn remarks, relative to such apostates, who were introduced, in verse 18, as being allured, after they were thought to have escaped; “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them, than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto thein But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again: and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the inire.” We have here a most solemn and express warning to pro. fessors of Religion, when those last days shall arrive! They will be tried to the uttermost. Many of them will fall. The love of many of such will wax cold. “But he, that shall endure tu the end, the same shall be saved.”
Peter, in the next chapter, pursues the same subject. He informs his pious readers (whom in the introduction of this Epistle he had called, "elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ;” and “who have ob:ained like precious faith with us,”) that this second Epistie he now writes, in which to stir up their pure minds by way of rememberance; “That ye may be mindful of the words, which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior; knowing this first, that there shall come, in the last days, scoffers, walking after their own lusts; and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. For this they are willingly ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water, and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the carth, wbich are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
. There have been some perhaps, in all ages, of this in.
fidel cast. But in the last days, there is to arise a generation of them, whose audacity and awful wickedness are to be such, that they are spoken of, as though such men never before existed. They deny the coming of Christ; and insultingly challenge the people of God upon the subject. Their wilful unbelief concerning the deluge, and the future judgment is noted; also the falsehood of the premises, on which they rest; and the sophistry of their reasonings. To give plausibility to their denial of any future coming of Christ, they say, “For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were, from the beginning of creation." But this is not true. All things have not continued as they were, from the beginning. God once (notwithstanding that the habitable earth was raised above the water, and the laws of nature seemed to ensure that it should safely continue thus verse -5,) controlled the laws of nature, and deluged the world, in fatal judgment to an impious generation. Though these scoffers of the last days may deny it, and may ransack the bowels of the earth, and may exert all their impious sophistry, in hopes of giving plausibility to the denial, yet the fact is incontestible. But what if all things had continued as they were, from the beginning? Would this render it certain that they always will so continue? and that Christ will never punish his enemies? Here is a specimen of the boasted reasonings of scoffers! But their ignorance of the coming of God, in the judgment of the flood, is a wilful ignorance. And it is wilful ignorance, that scoffers do not infer from the judgment of the flood, the certainty of the future destruction of scof. fers, and of all the enemies of Christ. For the same word of God, which predicted the judgment of the deluge, has predicted the coming of Christ to judge and destroy his enemies, and save his friends. And as the former was fulfilled, so the latter will, at the appointed day be fulfilled. But such reasoning, and to believe and obey the word of God, is far beyond all the moral ingenuity of the scoffers of ihe last days: