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3. Godlessness in the Last Days

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. 10But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

2 For men will be It is proper to remark, first, in what he makes the hardship of those “dangerous” or “troublesome” times to consist; not in war, nor in famine, nor in diseases, nor in any calamities or inconveniences to which the body is incident, but in the wicked and depraved actions of men. And, indeed, nothing is so distressingly painful to godly men, and to those who truly fear God, as to behold such corruptions of morals; for, as there is nothing which they value more highly than the glory of God, so they cannot but suffer grievous anguish when it is attacked or despised.

Secondly, it ought to be remarked, who are the persons of whom he speaks. They whom he briefly describes are not external enemies, who openly assail the name of Christ, but domestics, who wish to be reckoned among the members of the Church; for God wishes to try his Church to such an extent as to carry within her bosom such plagues, though she abhors to entertain them. So then, if in the present day many whom we justly abhor are mingled within us, let us learn to groan patiently under that burden, when we are informed that this is the lot of the Christian Church.

Next, it is wonderful that those persons, whom Paul pronounces to be guilty of so many and so aggravated acts of wickedness, can keep up the appearance of piety, as he also declares. But daily experience shows that we ought not to regard this as so wonderful; for such is the amazing audacity and wickedness of hypocrites, that, even in excusing the grossest crimes, they are excessively impudent, after having once learned falsely to shelter themselves under the name of God. In ancient times, how many crimes abounded in the life of the Pharisees? And yet, as if they had been pure from every stain, they enjoyed a reputation of eminent holiness.

Even in the present day, although the lewdness of the Popish clergy is such that it stinks in the nostrils of the whole world, still, in spite of their wickedness, they do not cease to arrogate proudly to themselves all the rights and titles of saints. Accordingly, when Paul says that hypocrites, though they are chargeable with the grossest vices, nevertheless deceive under a mask of piety, this ought not to appear strange, when we have examples before our eyes. And, indeed, the world deserves to be deceived by those wicked scoundrels, when it either despises or cannot endure true holiness. Besides, Paul enumerates those vices which are not visible at first sight, and which are even the ordinary attendants of pretended holiness. Is there a hypocrite who is not proud, who is not a lover of himself, who is not a despiser of others, who is not fierce and cruel, who is not treacherous? But all these are concealed from the eyes of men. 183183     “Mais ce sont tous vices cachez, et qui n’apparoissent pas devant les yeux des hommes.” — “But all these are concealed vices, and do not show themselves before the eyes of men.”

To spend time in explaining every word would be superfluous; for the words do not need exposition. Only let my readers observe that φιλαυτία, self-love, which is put first, may be regarded as the source from which flow all the vices that follow afterwards. He who loveth himself claims a superiority in everything, despises all others, is cruel, indulges in covetousness, treachery, anger, rebellion against parents, neglect of what is good, and such like. As it was the design of Paul to brand false prophets with such marks, that they might be seen and known by all; it is our duty to open our eyes, that we may see those who are pointed out with the finger.


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