Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Church of God Deserted and Reduced


James Ussher (1580-1655), was one of the greatest scholars and theologians of his time, a strong Calvinist who wrote and strongly influenced the Irish Articles of Religion. Philip Schaff wrote that "He was the greatest theological and antiquarian scholar of the Episcopal Church of his age, and was highly esteemed by Churchmen and Puritans, being a connecting link between the contending parties. He was elected into the Westminster Assembly of Divines, but the King's prohibition and his loyalty to the cause of the crown and episcopacy forbade him to attend". The following is a striking prediction of where the Western Church is and is heading at present.

THE Church of God on earth will be greatly reduced, as we may well imagine, in its apparent members, by the open desertion of the powers of the world. This desertion will begin in a professed indifference to any particular form of Christianity under pretence of universal toleration— which toleration will proceed from no spirit of charity and forbearance, but from a desire to undermine Christianity by encouraging and multiplying sectaries. The pretended toleration will go far beyond a just toleration, even as it regards the different sects of Christians. For Governments will pretend indifference to all and will give a protection and preference to none. All Establishments will be laid aside. From the toleration of the most pestilent heresies, they will proceed to the toleration of Mohammedanism, Atheism, and at last to a positive persecution of the truth of Christianity.

In these times the temple of God will be reduced almost to the holy place, that is to the small number of real Christians who worship the Father in spirit and in truth; and regulate their doctrine and worship and their whole conduct, strictly by the Word of God. The merely nominal Christians will all desert the profession of the truth when the powers of the world desert it.

This tragical event I take to be typified by the order to the Apostle John to measure the temple and the altar, and leave the outer court (National Churches) to be trodden under foot of the Gentiles. The property of ministers will be pillaged, the public worship insulted and vilified by these deserters of the faith they once professed, who are not called apostate because they were never earnest in their profession. Their profession was nothing more than a compliance with fashion. When this general desertion of the faith takes place, then will commence the sackcloth ministry of the witnesses. There will be nothing of splendour in the external appearance of these churches. They will have no support from Government, no honours, no emoluments, no immunities, no authorities, but that which no earthly power can take away, which they derived from Him who commissioned them to be His witnesses.