Colonial Sermon: The Church’s Flight into the Wilderness An Address on the Times

This is the sermon Rev Amanda preached this weekend at the Colonial service we hosted at the historical reenactment in Easton. It is an excerpt from a much longer sermon preached in 1776 and sent to John Hancock by a local minister Rev. Samuel Sherwood of Weston, Connecticut. Enjoy a taste of the emotion and the struggles of the American colonies.

The diligent and serious study of this sacred book, the book of Revelations, ought not to be neglected and despised, nor the things it contains be viewed as idle speculations, and vain empty amusements; but every man is bound in duty, to attend to the things contained herein, as to matters of great importance, with all the wisdom, sobriety and reverence he is capable of. It may with propriety be stiled, “The sure word of prophecy.” The apostle John was so highly favoured, as to behold a door opened in heaven; so near to which he was brought as to look in, and see the glorious things transacted there, to confirm his faith as to the truth of these wonderful predictions and prophecies to be accomplished on earth. Chapter 4.1 and the first voice which he heard, was as of a trumpet talking with him, which said, “Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.”Accordingly God discovered to him all the most remarkable events that should befall his church, and the nations and kingdoms of the world, even to the closing period when the angel should stand up and swear, that time should be no more: Which things he was ordered to pen down in dark, emblematical, and figurative language, the meaning of which, tho’ it cannot be fully comprehended in the present dark state of the church; yet may be so far understood as to afford much support and encouragement to God’s people in times of their greatest distress and suffering, and tend to establish their belief of the truth of this part of divine revelation, and of the ruling providence of God which is constantly at work to fulfill and accomplish the events therein predicted and foretold.

WHEN the great red dragon, described, Revelations 12 having seven heads, and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads, made his first public appearance, his tail drew a third part of the stars of Heaven, and did cast them to the earth. The apostle, under these symbolical characters and attributes of the great red dragon, undoubtedly meant to point out Satan or the Devil with his agents and instruments, who are acting the part of avowed enemies to the church of Christ; and his drawing the stars of Heaven with his tail, must mean his subjecting the princes and portents of the earth, with great numbers of the clergy, to his tyrannical influence and oppressive scheme of government. The prophets often describe the persecuting enemies of the church, under this emblem and figure. Psalm 74: 13, “Thou breakest the heads of the dragons in the waters, &c.” And when God comes to destroy these enemies, he is said “to cut Rahab, and to wound the dragon,” Isaiah 51: 9, see also Ezekiel 29: 3. “Thus saith the Lord God, behold, I am against thee Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, my river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.”

When the frightful monster of a beast, in such terrible array, is described, Revelations 13, the dragon is said to give him his power, and his seat, and great authority; and all the world wondered after the beast; and said, “Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with the beast?” Which expressions denote the great extent of his power and dominion, as well as the blind infatuation of his deluded subjects who made their boast of it. Now, it can admit of no doubt, but that there are multitudes of this character in other nations and kingdoms. This is further evident from chapter 14: 8, when the angel comes to proclaim the fall of Babylon, the reason given why God thus proceeded in righteous vengeance and wrath is this, “Because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Her’s was a kind of Circean cup, as one observes, with poisoned liquor, to intoxicate and inflame mankind to spiritual fornication.

When the sixth angel poured out his vial, Rev. 14. Three unclean spirits like frogs, are said to come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, which are said to be spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. These unclean spirits here compared to frogs, a very low-lived, inferior kind of animals, who are peeping and croaking in the dark holes and corners of the earth, most probably represent the tools and emissaries in general, of anti-christian, tyrannical power, who are the spirits of devils, and have free access to the kings of the earth, and are said to be gone forth through the whole world, and are industriously using all their most artful stratagems, and diabolical craft and subtility, to impose upon mankind, and to engage them in the support and defence of the kingdom of Satan, in opposition to the mighty host marshalled up by the Lord Almighty, for the overthrow and destruction thereof.

But since the prophecies represent this wicked scheme of anti-christian tyranny, as having such an extensive and universal spread over the earth, it need not appear strange or shocking to us, to find that our own nation has been, in some degree, infected and corrupted therewith, and that some of our princes and chief rulers have had a criminal converse and familiarity with the old mother of harlots; and been sipping of the golden cup of her fornication, so as to be intoxicated, if not wholly drunk with the poisonous liquors.

IF we pass from this dark and bloody period of English history, and come down to the reign of the STUART family, we shall find three or four of our kings successively, seduced and infatuated by the enticing and bewitching inchantments of the old whore of Babylon, to that degree, as to drink deep of the intoxicating wine of her fornication, to the entire destruction of two of them; and to the great distress of the nation in general. How far the present ministry have walked in this enchanting road, and how fond they are of the kind embraces of this old filthy harlot, that exotic plant, in these northern regions; which is not a native of our benign soil, nor of our heavenly Father’s planting; and their gathering up of armies to dragoon us into slavery and bondage, or massacre and butcher us and our families, and lay our pleasant country in desolation and ruin.

Every one acquainted with the history of our country, of the New-England colonies in particular, must know, that there have been floods issued from the mouth of the old serpent, after the woman, to effect her destruction and overthrow. Whenever a spirit of despotism has run high, and a lusting ambition after arbitrary power and lawless dominion has prevailed; the woman in the wilderness has felt the grievous distressing effects. The tools of tyrannical power, have been employed to corrupt her doctrines, and lead her into the belief of the darling doctrines of arbitrary power, passive obedience and nonresistance; who, like the frogs that issued out of the mouth of the false prophet, who are said to have the spirit of devils, have been slyly creeping into all the holes and corners of the land, and using their enchanting art and bewitching policy, to lead aside, the simple and unwary, from the truth, to prepare them for the shackles of slavery and bondage. Thousands and millions of moneys, have, at one time and another, been expended for the purposes of bribery and corruption, to accomplish this malignant design. Evil, wicked men have been entrusted with the chief command in one province and another; where the door has been open, to act as tools of a corrupt administration and tyrannical power, in forwarding and ripening their deep-laid schemes, for the destruction of the woman. The colonies in America will not soon forget the cruel and tyrannical administration of Sir Edmond Andros, at Boston, and his evil designs against them in general; and Lord Cornbury, at New-York; the late insidious and traiterous conduct of Bernard and Hutchinson, is still more fresh in every one’s mind; and like-wise of Gage, Carlton, and Dunmore, who, by their base, perfidious and cruel behaviour, have rendered themselves universally odious and detestable to the American colonies. In these and such like ways, not to mention the unrighteous statutes restricting and interdicting our trade and commerce, the stamp-act, &c. we have had floods poured forth from the mouth of the serpent, which have brought on a civil war. The dragon finding his artful temptations on the one hand, and his cruel menaces and threatening on the other, ineffectual to gain the woman to a compliance with his terms, has at length become wroth with her, and brought over his troops and armies to make war with the remnant of her seed. But, blessed be God! All his efforts and struggles have hitherto been unsuccessful; for the earth helped the woman.

It is not likely nor probable, that God will revoke the grant he has made of this land to his church. His gifts as well as calling are without repentance. It does not appear probable, that a persecuting, oppressive and tyrannical power, will ever be permitted to rear up its head, notwithstanding its present violent assaults and struggles. Liberty has been planted here; and the more it is attacked, the more it grows and flourishes. The time is coming and hastening on when all wicked tyrants and oppressors shall be destroyed forever. These violent attacks upon the woman in the wilderness, may possible be some of the last efforts, and dying struggles of the man of sin. These commotions and convulsions in the British empire, may be leading to the fulfilment of such prophecies as relate to his downfal and overthrow, and to the future glory and prosperity of Christ’s church. It will soon be said and acknowledged, that the kingdoms of this world, are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ. The vials of God’s wrath begin to be poured out on his enemies and adversaries; and there is falling on them a noisome and grievous sore. And to such as have shed the blood of saints and prophets, to them, blood will be given to drink; for they are worthy. And they will gnaw their tongues of falsehood and deceit, for pain; and have the cup of the wine of the fierceness of her wrath; and be rewarded double. The Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings; and they that are with him, are called, and chosen, and faithful. May the Lord shorten the days of tribulation, and appear in his glory, to build up Zion; that his knowledge might cover the earth, as the waters do the seas; that wars and tumults may cease thro’ the world, and the wolf and the lamb lie down together, and nothing hurt or destroy throughout his holy mountain.

A M E N.

(to read the sermon in its entirety follow this link:

See pictures of Rev Amanda delivering the colonial sermon here.