Page images

regularity and good conduct, were hung upon gibbets, or put to death by more cruel methods of punishment, it was impossible for the most stupid spectator not to say, Why, what evil have they done ? or what is the true cause for inflicting these severities upon them? The burning of Patrick Hamilton, the first martyr for the Reformation in Scotland, was the kindling of a flame at St Andrews, which spread in every direction over the country, and to this day continues to shine. When the very means which adversaries employ for the destruction of the cause of Christ are overruled in holy providence, to be the means of its extension, it is impossible that this cause can perish.

5th, In fine, it appears from these verses, that we cannot conceive too wretched an opinion of the church of Rome. If we judge of her from the names by which she is designated in Scripture, it is impossible that we can form a more wretched opinion of her than she deserves. This society, though professedly religious, is here represented as no better than a Sodom ; yea, she is inconceivably worse than the ancient Sodom, because, together with the filthiness of Sodom, she possesses all the cruelty and persecuting spirit of the rulers of that wicked city which put the Lord of glory to death. The uncleanness of the Sodomite, the idolatry of the Egyptian, and the persecuting spirit of the infidel Jew, all meet in her.




Rev. xi. 14–17. The second woe is past, and behold, the third

woe cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in

heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their

faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which

art, and wast, and art to come, because thou hast taken to thee thy great power and hast reigned.

A THREEFOLD woe was denounced in the close of chap. viii., against the inhabitants of the earth, by reason of the voices of the three angels that were yet to sound. When the blast of the fifth trumpet was over, John received the following intimation :— One woe is past, and behold there come two more woes hereafter,' chap. ix. 12. A similar intimation was given him respecting the preterition of the second, and the speedy succession of the third woe, which is recorded in the first of these verses now before us ; The second woe is past, and behold, the third woe cometh quickly.-John is here disclosing the contents of the little book, and not giving the history of the trumpets and the woes; and as the prophecy of that book is less coincident with the last, than with any of the preceding trumpets, this notification respecting the time of its being sounded, or the judgment of the third woe being inflicted, is the more remarkable. But as the Spirit of inspiration cannot err, some special purpose must be served, which could not be so completely gained by its introduction in the conclusion of the history of the sixth trumpet, or in any other part of the book of Revelation, as in the connexion in which it is here placed.

The notification in this place may be intended, 1st, To mark the particular period in which the witnesses would be slain ; hence, it immediately follows the account of that mournful event. John had hitherto said nothing respecting the time of their being slain; he had only told us, that when their testimony should acquire such a degree of perfection, as to be a full and pointed condemnation of the evils of Popery, they would then, and not till then, be cut off. But whether this finished state of their testimony would be under the fifth or sixth trumpet, or under which of the trumpets it would attain to this measure of excellency, he had said nothing. But when he tells us, that the seventh angel sounded, the intimation is fitted to impress our minds with the idea, that the slaying of the witnesses, and the first blast of the seventh trumpet, would be contemporaneous events.--2d, This notification might be intended to prepare the mind of the prophet for the contemplation of the description of the enemies of the church, contained in the two following chapters. If he had been informed of the war with the dragon, and of the ravages of the beast of the sea and of the earth, before any intimation had been given him respecting the sounding of the seventh trumpet, he might have been in danger of supposing, that the troubles of the church were never to terminate, and that it would be impossible for her to make any effectual resistance against these formidable adversaries. But, as the seventh trumpet contains the third woe, and, as this woe brings destruction upon all the adversaries of the church, that intimation must have relieved his mind from all painful anxieties respecting her safety. And in order that his satisfaction might be the more abundant, the general notice respecting the sounding of the seventh trumpet, is followed with a short description of the church's prosperity at the commencement, and chiefly at the conclusion of the third


For after this angel had sounded, “ great voices were heard in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.'

There is no part of the chronology of prophecy which is more difficult to settle, than the time of the sounding of the seventh trumpet. But, as the just interpretation of various parts of the Revelation depends upon ascertaining its true æra, we are under the necessity of directing your attention to this intricate subject. The two following points fall naturally to be considered: First, When did the second woe terminate? Secondly, When did the third woe begin to be inflicted, or the blast of the seventh angel begin to be heard ?

First, When was the evil of the second woe brought to a termination ?-In order to give a satisfactory answer to this question, it will be necessary to remind you of what this woe consisted. The prophetical description of it is contained in chap. ix. 13-19. ; and from the view with which you are presented of that prophecy, it appeared that the progress of the Turkish arms, and the delusions of the Mahometan religion, constituted the second woe. If the Saracen power was the first, the Ottoman or Turkish power might fitly be represented as the second woe. The one was no less the terror and the scourge of the inhabitants of the earth than the other.The season in which the power of the Turks began to decline, and by consequence when that people ceased to be a torment to them that dwelt on the earth, has been considered as the true time of the termination of the second woe.

When they ceased to be a torment, they ceased to be a woe; and in that age, the prophetical declaration in the first of these verses must have been fulfilled; the second woe is past. Now we have seen that the Turkish power was at its height in 1672, and that they met with their first remarkable defeat in 1683, since which period, instead of adding to their territorial pos. sessions, their empire has been mouldering away. This power still exists, and may likely continue to form an independent state, till about the time of the restoration of the Jews to their own land; but whatever torment it proves to its own subjects, by the despotic rule which it exercises over them, since the period last mentioned it has ceased in a great measure to be a torment to others. In 1683, the second woe was past ; it had then received its completion : and the disasters which have befallen the inhabitants of the Roman earth since that period, must belong to the third and last woe, and not to the second.

Secondly, When does the sound of the seventh angel begin to be heard, or the third woe begin to be inflicted ?-It appears from the text, that there was to be little or no interval of time between the second and third woe. Both the note of admiration and the word quickly, shew, that the one was to be immediately succeeded by the other. • Behold, the third woe cometh quickly.'-_If the one ended in 1683, may not the other have commenced with the memorable Revolution in Britain in 1688 ? That revolution was a greater torment to the men of the Roman earth, than any thing that had happened since the period of the Reformation. So long as they had any hope of a Popish prince being advanced to the throne of Britain, they cherished the expectation that this rebellious province might be brought back to a state of subjection to the see of Rome; and as Britain was considered as the bulwark of the Reformation, they flattered themselves, that with the fall of the Protestant interest in Britain, its ruin might be gradually accomplished within the limits of other states. But when a Protestant prince was advanced to the throne, and it was established as a fundamental law of the empire, that a Popish sovereign could not sway the sceptre of the country, all their extravagant expectations perished. This singular revolution came quickly; it was only five years after the first symptoms of the declension of the Turkish power began to manifest themselves; and it was so unexpected, that our fathers were like men that did dream ; they could hardly suppose it to be real.

« PreviousContinue »