« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
have taken place, it is likely that things will be placed in such a point of light as to convey conviction, to the pious and attentive observer, of the true intent of the Spirit of God; and it is to be expected, that this will be in proportion to the advancement of the great scheme to its perfect completion. Whether such a number of these events have taken place, and whether things are now placed in such a point of light, I hope the reader will candidly and seriously enquire. The Author thinks it is so; and though he does not pretend to determine, from unfulfilled prophecies, either the exact time, or manner, of the accomplishment of any particular event, yet he thinks that, from what has taken place, a pretty positive conclusion may be drawn re. specting the main events, and that they are very near; namely, the downfal of the Papacy, and of all religious corruptions and usurpations; the breaking to pieces of the Eu. ropean monarchies; the overthrow of all tyranny and oppression; the general reformation and renovation of mankind, and of the overflowing calamities which are to ef, fect, or prepare the way, for all this.
Such is the temper of the times, that some silly or party spirited people will, possibly, be ready to suspect the Author of want of loyalty to the king, of veneration for the constitution, and of love for his country, for to similar suspicions was a wiser and better man exposed, (Jeremiah xxxvii. 4.), and all for a conduct which avouched the very contrary, and for which, instead of persecution and a dungeon, he deserved the thanks of his country. Should it be thus, the Author will be content to console himself with that consciousness which he possesses of the falsehood of such surmises, of the rectitude of his intentions, and the hope of His approbation who is the Judge of all, and to whom, and not to the will of men, we ought to live.
The Author does not profess to set himself up for the apologist of the French people; and far be it from him to attempt to justify their rash and wicked deeds: he has not even supposed that every other people, in like situations, and with like provocations, would have acted the same part which they have; for that would be no alleviation of their guilt. The utmost that he has contended for, or suggested, is, that the overthrow of monarchy and Popery in that country, is the accomplishinent of God's word, and in judgment for oppression and corruption; that their great leading principles are good, and that they have a right to legislate for themselves, and choose what sort of
government they please, uncontrolled by any other
power on earth.
Whether the French be right or wrong, in this or that, is no part of the question which it has been thought necessary to enter very deeply into ;-yet the truth seems to be, that there is a strange mixture of the greatest good and the greatest evil; much to be applauded and much to be lamented. But the argument against the present war is drawn froin a higher source than either the principles or practices of the French reformers; and the Author thinks that, whether the French be right or wrong, whether they triumph or perish, yet most of the nations who have made war upon them have involved themselves in great blame by the rashness of their proceedings, and that they hazard great danger by attempting to support that, which not only inspired wisdom, but general reason has doomed to fall. -But more than this ; though the war, on the part of the combined powers, were ever so just, though as just as that of Israel against the proud king of Assyria, or of any of the ancient empires against their cruel and ambitious invaders, it would not at all affect the question. As in their cases it was for the accumulated guilt of successive ages, and for the general depravity of their character, and not for the blame of that particular quarrel in which they fell, that God made these invaders his instruments for their chastisement and overthrow, and which destination Inspiration had foretold---so, for the accumulated guilt, and general depravity, of modern nations, chastisement is to be expected, and Inspiration has put it beyond a doubt that it will one day come, when the beast with ten horns will be slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning fame, (Dan. vii. 11.) From comparing the signs of the times with the declarations and indications of prophecy, there is great reason to apprehend that the time is at hand. Whatever, then, our provocations might be, the danger is much the same, and there is no hope of escape or alleviation but by instant RePENTANCE and REFORMATION, moral and political. - Never, therefore, was that exhortation more in time, REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND,
A RETROSPECTIVE VIEW
EVENTS PREDICTED IN THE FIFTH, SIXTH, SEVENTH,
EIGHTH, AND NINTH CHAPTERS OF REVELATION.
EFORE we enter upon our inquiries, permit me to
put a plain question ; not whether thou art interested in the continuance and triumph of corruption in this country, or in the support of despotism and Popery in France; questions proper enough in themselves, for interest has a mighty influence in corrupting the heart and perverting the judgment; but, àrt thou a Christian? does the reader believe that the prophets in old time spoke and wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and that the things which they foretold will have their accomplishment? if not, he may be assured that the following pages will not be to his taste.--In a Christian country, when questions of the last importance are in agitation, and the fate of nations is at stake, there is a peculiar propriety in referring to those sacred records which we all believe to be from God, to see whether they contain any information which may assist us in forming a right judgment, and thus prevent our pursuing a criminal and ruinous conduct. He cannot be a Christian who despises this appeal, and especially as it is allowed, almost by general consent, that we have here delineated the circumstances and fate of nations, to the end of time.
The apostle Paul (Rom. xv. 4.), declares, respecting the writings of the prophets, that, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope;' and in the beginning of that profound and difficult, but important and instructive, book of Revelation, it is written, (chap. i. 3.) “ Blessed is he that reada eth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: the time is at hand.” Is-it not therefore a strange peace of folly, not to say profaneness, in Christians, to maintain, that these
prophecies are of a kind which it is as vain as it is unprofitable to inquire into? This is to arraign the wisdom of God, and despise those methods of instruction which the Inspirer of prophecy has chosen. Far be this from us! Let us better understand that saying of the apostle to Ti. mothy: “-All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Many things in this book may be hard to be understood, and especially before their fulfilment, or the taking place of some events so immediately connected with them as to afford the inquirer a clue in his investigations; but it does not thence follow, that we are not to search into the mind and meaning of the Spirit of God, but rather that, we ought to redouble our diligence in inquiry, and abound the more in prayer to God, for the teachings of that Spirit who gave the word, and gave it in this form, not that it might never be understood, but that, whilst the purposes and operations of God, in providence, should be bid from the careless eyes of a wicked world, they might, at the proper season, be discoverable to the pious and diligent inquiquirer, for the consolation of the upright, and, in the end, for the general conviction and edification of man. kind. What the angel said to Daniel (chap. xii. 3. 10.) is in point as to the present question, and a ground of encouragement to invigorate our researches. Shut up the words and seal the book, eren to the time of the end. Many (that is about the time of the end) shall run to and fro, (shall inquire and investigate) and knowledge shall be increased. Vone of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. The wicked will not see what God is doing, though they themselves may be the instruments; but the wise, who search into the word of God, and observe and compare the signs of the times with its predictions, shall understand.— With these sentiments let us enter upon the consideration of our subject. '
Previous to our considering what is recorded in the tenth chapter of the Revelation, and comparing it with the eleventh; and from which comparison I suppose such signs of the times to be discoverable, as may assist us to form ą. judgment of the period in which we live, and of the events we have to expect, it will be proper to take a cursory view of what goes before. In the fifth chapter we have an account of a book sealed with seven seals, which Jesus
the Lamb of God, was alone found worthy to open. This book is the representation of the providence of God, which is committed to the execution of the exalted Redeemer of the world. The opening of the seals indicates to us the different periods of history, from the first preaching of the gospel to the consummation of all things. In the sixth chapter we have an account of the opening of six of the seven seals. These bring us to the overthrow of the heathen Roman empire, by the emperor Constantine, who, about the year $11, embracing Christianity, etfected a most astonishing revolution in the history of idolatry, and procured for the Christian church a respite from those persecutions which had long harassed it, and which seemed to threaten its utter extirpation
Now (A.D. 323.) were the four winds of heaven holden (chap. vii.) that they should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree, till .44,000 of the servants of God were sealed in their foreheads, with the seal of the living God. The former commotions and persecutions gave place to peace and quietness, till Christianity should acquire strength and permanency by the addition of numerous converts.
But tares sprung up among the wheat. The seeds of Anti: christian error, pride, and domination, had long been sown, and now the sunshine of court-favour produced a plentiful crop.
Christianity, or something called by that name, was brought to court; she was caressed, loaded with riches and honours; was debauched by her alliance with the world, and quickly became the mother of harlots. The true religion of Jesus Christ was adulterated with the maxims of statesmen, and the reveries of enthusiasts. The persecuted became the persecutors, and universal corruption, reviling, and oppression succeeded. Hence the judgments which follow:
Chap. viii. “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.". This silence appears to signity that short peace which the Roman empire enjoyed after the accession of Constantine, for about eight years, viz. from 314 to 322. about the forty-eight part of a prophetic day. Silentio civile bellum confeceret. Mar. Tul. Cic. Philip. xiii and so the Hebrew, 1 Kings xxii. 3. We be silent. Here may also be an allusion, as some suppose, to a ceremony among the Jews, who, while the sacrifices were offering, and while the priest went into the temple to burn incense, remained silent without, praying to themselves.
66 And I