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sin are ways of bitterness and folly; we must, in addition, learn what is the way of understanding: we must walk in the paths of righteousness; we must grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; we must press on towards the mark for the prize of our high calling; our lives must be increasingly devoted to the service of God; our thoughts must become more spiritual, our tempers more subdued, our whole deportment more holy. And infinitely important is it that we should go in this way of understanding; for by no other path can we arrive at the kingdom of heaven; but, walking in this narrow way, utterly unworthy as we are of the mercy of God, we may scripturally hope and confidently believe, that, in virtue of the merits of our Redeemer, and through faith in his blood, we shall obtain pardon, and favour, and everlasting life.
Let us then, in conclusion, listen to, and obey, the exhortation in our text. We have considered its na ture and its importance; we have seen that sin is folly, and that in spiritual understanding is life; but to no saving purpose is our judgment convinced if our hearts are not also inclined practically to fol low up what we have admitted to be true. The language of the text shews us that religion involves ac tive and zealous exertion. There is one path to be forsaken, and another to be discovered and pursued. To forsake, means more than careless indifference, or partial reformation, or a temporary suspension of our evil habits. It is a fixed and determined resolution, solemnly formed in the presence of God, and, in some humble mea sure, carried into practical effect through the influence of his Holy Spirit," to renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh; to believe all the articles of the Christian faith; and to keep God's holy
will and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of our lives." We must so forsake the way of the foolish as " to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness: we must "come out, and be separate;" not merely dreading the consequences of sin, but ceasing to love it, and by prayer and diligence endeavouring to mortify its power over our hearts, and its influence in our lives.
There must, further, be an equal desire to go in the way of understanding; and this also implies active effort. It supposes that we are anxious to learn what that way is, in order that we may not be deceived, and perish by false notions concerning it. It supposes also, that we diligently use the means of instruction, that we study the word of God, and pray for the guidance of his Holy Spirit to direct us aright for the discovery of it. It supposes further, that, having dicovered it, we carefully pursue it, with an anxious care not to turn aside either to the right hand or to the left, and to avoid the numerous hindrances that may beset our path. These hindrances arise from the corruption of our nature, and the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and can be surmounted only by a true and living faith in Christ, through the strengthening influences of the Holy Spirit. For if there be not this sacred principle grafted within us, however just may be our notions respecting the path of life, or however well we may speak of its excellence to others, we shall not actually walk in it. We shall substitute the form of religion for the power; a few speculative opinions or languid resolutions, for true conversion to God, a spiritual union to Christ, and the sanctification of our hearts by the Holy Spirit. These are the objects we should aim at; this is the path in which we should go; and this alone will bring us peace at the last. Let us then endeavour to walk therein, encouraged to do so
by the promises of Divine support by the way, and the hopes of eternal glory at the end." Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord." "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
clius half the body of the sun was eclipsed; and this defect continued from the former Tisria to Haziran (that is, from October to June), so that only a little of its light appeared. This seventeenth year of Heraclius coincides with the year of Christ 626, and with the fifth year of the Hegira; and at this time Mohammed was training and exercising his followers in depredations at home, to fit and prepare them for greater conquests abroad."
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer.
I BEG leave to offer, for the consideration of your readers, the following remarks on the prophecies of Scripture relating to the Mohammedans, as a sort of supplement to a paper on the same subject in the Christian Observer for December 1802, signed JUVENIS. The events which have recently taken place in reference to Turkey, give new interest to the prophecies relating to the Mohammedan religion; and I cannot but hope that an attentive examination of them will lead to instruction and edification.
It is a singular circumstance, that Mohammed himself said that the prevalence of his doctrines should continue for twelve centuries. As Mohammed was not an inspired prophet, no stress must be laid upon his declaration. It however so happens, that if we deduct twelve centuries from the year 1826, we recur to the year of our Lord 626. Bishop Newton, commenting on Rev. ix. 1-12, observes concerning that very year (626) as follows:-"As the natural locusts are bred in pits and holes of the earth, so these mystical locusts are truly infernal, and proceed with the smoke from the bottomless pit." "It is also a remarkable coincidence," continues the Bishop, "that at this time the sun and the air were literally darkened. For we learn from an eminent Arabian historian, that in the seventeenth year of Hera
Paulus Diaconus (alleged by Hospinian in his work de Origine Imaginum, p. 178,) relates a cir
cumstance not less remarkable than the one mentioned by Bishop Newton. He says, "Vapor, ut ex camino ignis, visus est ebullire inter Theram et Therasiam insulas ex profundo maris, per aliquot dies; quo paulatim incrassato et dilatato, igniti æstûs incendio, totus fumus igneus monstrabatur. Porro crassitudine terrenæ substantiæ petrinos pumices grandes, et cumulos quosdam transmisit, per totam Minorem Asiam," &c.
This event happened precisely at the time when Mohammed began to preach, and Pope Boniface the IVth dedicated the Pantheon to the images of the saints and martyrs, as may be seen in Hospinian: so that the event and coincidence confirm, that the Mohammedan apostasy, like the empire of ancient Persia, was permitted to prevail for the special purpose of punishing those who worshipped the works of their own hands, and demons, and idols of gold and silver and brass and stone and wood, as expressly declared in Rev. ix. 20, 21.
In respect to the star which falls from heaven, Mr. Brightman, an old commentator, who published on the Revelation in 1618, is of opinion that by it is signified both the Mohammedan and Papal arch-apostates: the latter especially, in the character of the usurper of the key of Hades: to which opinion I most cordially assent, though I do not undertake the defence of it; but only
of Bishop Newton's application of the fifth and sixth trumpets to the Mohammedans.
The time allotted to the first woe, which is the effect of the fifth trumpet, is five months. I am not aware that before Lord Napier, the inventor of Logarithms, discovered that a day prophetically signifies a year, any person suspected that it did so. He published in 1588, and his calculation of the times of Popery terminated in 1697 or 1700 (Floyer's Appendix to the Sibylline Oracles, p. 327; and Napier on Rev. xiv. 20.) Five months, according to this account, amount to 150 years; but as this period is twice mentioned, some have supposed that the entire number is 300 years. But what is most important is, to notice that all admit that the period of time allotted to the sixth trumpet and its effects is declared to be finished, in the words "The second woe is past," long before the ruin of the Saracen empire.
Sir John Floyer gives us the following chronological series of events in that empire.
A. D. 622. Mohammed was the first commander of the Saracens. He fled from Mecca in 622, when his Hegira begins.
637. Omar conquered Syria, Persia, Palestine, and Egypt.
638. Jerusalem was taken, after two years' siege; and it was then agreed that the Christians should not wear turbans, nor part their hair, as they did; but should wear girdles, and shave the fore-part of their head. 639. All Syria conquered by the Saracens.
640. Persia conquered.
641. Antioch destroyed, Damascus taken, Phenicia invaded, and Egypt subdued.
648. Osman conquered Barbary. 655. Muhavias conquers Rhodes and Cyprus..
663. He conquers Asia Minor, and invades Sicily.
685. Abdimelech began the conquest of Mesopotamia and Armenia
710. The Saracens conquered
772. The Saracen empire at its height.
1322. It comes to its end.
Bishop Newton further notes, that "Their commission is to hurt only those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads-that is, who are not the true servants of God, but are corrupt and idolatrous Christians. Now, from history it appears evidently, that in those countries of Asia, Africa, and Europe, where the Saracens extended their conquests, the Christians were generally guilty of idolatry, in the worshipping of saints, if not of images; and it was the pretence of Mohammed and his followers to chastise them for it, and to re-establish the unity of the Godhead. The parts which remained the most free from the general infection were Savoy, Piedmont, and the south of France, which were afterwards the nurseries and habitations of the Waldenses and Albigenses: and it is very remarkable, that when the Saracens approached those parts they were defeated with great slaughter, by the famous Charles Martel, in several engagements."
If, then, there be a prophecy of the latter times more exactly and strikingly proved to have been fulfilled than another, it is the ninth chapter of the Apocalypse, as explained by Bishop Newton. I am aware that many persons fix their attention on the difficulties which attend every question of this kind; asserting that the true explanation must answer in all points. But what religious or moral principle is free from difficulties? The truth is, that prophecy is
a light shining more and more unto perfect day;" and when the perfect day shall arrive, prophecy shall then cease, as does the dawn when the sun is risen. If, then, we will not attend to the warnings of prophecy, which accompany, and are attested by, the fulfilment of
prophetical miracle connected with them, till every difficulty be removed, we shall lose the entire benefit which prophecy was intended to bestow-namely, that, "seeing we know these things before, we beware lest we also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from our own stedfastness." 2. Pet. iii. 17. If we seriously re flect upon the consequences of inattention to any part of the word of God, we shall not be deterred from attention to it, because all the difficulties in the entire subject neither have been, nor can now be, removed; for, the light, which is to shine more and more unto perfect day, must in the mean time shine merely in part. But it is urged, that interpreters so widely differ that it is clear the time is not come for understanding the prophecies. In reply, I can bear my testimony that I have examined many works on this subject, and that the charge is not true. That all expositors agree in all things, is not maintained; but that many agree in many, and those most essential points, is undeniably true.
In proof of this position I shall make a few references to high authorities.
"The event" (says Sir I. Newton) "will prove the Apocalypse; and this prophecy, thus proved and understood, will open the old prophets; and all together will make known the true religion, and establish it. For he that will understand the old prophets, must begin with this; but the time is not yet come for understanding them perfectly, because the main revolution predicted in them is not yet accomplished. In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets; and then, the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and he shall reign for ever.' Apoc. x. 7; xi. 15.
"There is already so much of the
prophecy fulfilled, that as many as will take pains in this study may see sufficient instances of God's providence; but then, the signal revolutions, predicted by all the holy prophets, will at once both turn men's eyes upon considering the predictions, and plainly interpret them. Till then we must content ourselves with interpreting what hath been already fulfilled. Amongst the interpreters of the last age there is scarce one of note who hath not made some discovery worth knowing; and thence I seem to gather that God is about opening these mysteries. The success of others put me upon considering it; and if I have done any thing which may be useful to following writers, I have my design."-(Sir I. Newton on Daniel and the Apocalypse, p. 252.)
Whiston is the most exact commentator on the ninth chapter of the Apocalypse, which is our immediate subject; and he says: "The reader must give me leave to say somewhat about that grand rule of interpretation, which is of so great importance to the understanding of the Apocalypse; and the neglect whereof I look upon to have been the general occasion of almost all the errors of expositors, one way or other. I mean, that the order of all the visions is to be wholly taken from intrinsic characters in the book itself, and not at all to be conformed to any particular hypotheses or explanations; and that from such an order, first established, all the certainty and evidence of future applications is to be derived; and without such order so established, all expositions must be precarious and uncertain, and only depend on the fancy of every commentator. This was the great Mr. Mede's settled and constant judgment in this matter; and his attempt, being built on this method, had such vast and unexpected success, that the body of the Protestant churches have generally declared themselves satis
fied in the greatest part of his foundations, and of his superstructure. The learned Dr. H. More and Monsieur Jurieu generally follow Mr. Mede, and so are certainly some of our best commentators on this book."-(Whiston's Essay on the Revelation, p. 107.)
My third testimony is that of Bishop Warburton. "How extravagant soever," says the Bishop, "some Protestant interpreters have been, when they gave a loose to their imaginations, yet the soberest of them have universally concurred with the wildest, that the man of sin, this Antichrist, could be no other than the man that fills the papal chair; whose usurpation in Christ's kingdom, and tyranny over conscience, by intoxicating the kings of the earth with the cup of his enchantments and himself with the blood of the saints, so eminently distinguishes him from all the other unjust powers, that the various churches who broke loose from his enchantments, agreed in supporting the vindication of their liberty on this common principle, that the Pope, or Church of Rome, was the very Antichrist foretold. On this was the Reformation begun and carried on: on this the great separation from the Church of Rome was conceived and perfected: for, though persecution for opinion would acquit those of schism whom the the Church of Rome had driven from her communion; yet, on the principle that she is Antichrist, they had not only a right, but lay under the obligation of a command, to come out of the spiritual Babylon.
On this principle (the common ground, as we say, of the Reformation), the several Protestant churches, how different soever in their various models, were all erected, though, in course of time, some of the less stable have slipped beside their foundation." - (Bishop Warburton's Works, vol. v., p. 448.)
All these writers agree, that the Papacy is Antichrist, and that the ninth chapter of the Apocalypse predicts the pest of Mohammedanism.
A notioribus ad minus nota is the method of all sensible inquirers; and in the use of this method, Jurieu has in a few pages shewn the agreements of Protestants and Romanists respecting the meaning of the prophecies relating to Antichrist; discovered the point where their two systems diverge; shewn the error of the Romanists in diverging at this point, and completely refuted them: and most cordially do I subscribe to the closing remark of his admirable work, the Continuation of the Accomplishment of the Prophecies:-" We know of no Christian church in the West, except the Church of Rome, that doth not discern the papacy to be the anti-Christianism that is prophetically described in the New Testament. The most famous lights of the Church of England have taught us almost every thing that we know concerning that subject. Bishop Usher, Mr. Mede, and Dr. Bedle, and an hundred such as they, will easily carry the day above a thousand late writers, if there be so many."