Page images

manded to be followers of them, who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises. To preserve their relics with a religious veneration, to go on distant pilgrimages to their tombs, to bow down before their images, and to pay them the honours which are due to God, are mockery and insult, and not honour. Such are the ways in which the church of Rome pretends to honour the godly dead; but methods that are more preposterous could never have been invented. The only way that they can be pleased with our regards is, by shewing that we have imbibed their spirit, and that we are careful to follow them in every part of their conduct that is worthy of imitation.

2d, See the true origin of the present war. When endeavouring to trace the origin of those calamities, which have spread desolation over the fairest parts of the continent, some have mentioned one cause, and some have mentioned another. It has been frequently supposed, that the enlightened state of society led a powerful nation to rid themselves of an arbitrary political government, to which none but a people grossly ignorant of their own rights would have submitted for a single day; and that factious and designing men took advantage of the agitated state of the public mind, to introduce the horrors of the revolutionary government which succeeded. Others have supposed, that it originated with tertain secret associations in Germany, and other countries, formed for overturning the altar and the throne of every kingdom in Europe. And it is extremely probable, that both these have contributed their influence to bring about the remarkable events of our own times. But we do not see the true origin of this bloody contest, unless we take into view the subject of the prophetical declarations contained in the 18th verse of this chapter. Here it is foretold, that God would vindicate the character of his slain witnesses, by destroying them that had destroyed the earth. And you cannot fail to remark, that those districts of the Roman earth, where the blood of the martyrs was formerly shed in



the greatest profusion, have suffered most by the present war, and there the slain have been most numerous.

3d, See that the friends of the Popish interest have greater reason than ever to be afraid. It is here predicted, as well as threatened, that God would destroy them that had destroyed the earth. Had this been a mere threatening, we might have been disposed to hope that grace would be given them to repentance; but the language is prophetical, and therefore intimates that the friends of that interest will not repent of the blood which they have shed, till the judgments of God.overtake them. And we have no more evidence of their sorrow for the innocent blood which was shed by their fathers, or of their being in any measure alienated from the faith and worship of the Romish church, than before those desolations had overspread the territories of that church. It is a fact worthy the notice of the ecclesiastical historian, that in the year 1798, five years after the French Revolution, in a national assembly of bishops and other dignitaries of the church of Rome held in Paris, it was declared, that they professed all the dogmas received by the Catholic church, and condemned all the errors which she had proscribed. After many thousands of their brethren had been massacred, and far greater numbers had been banished ; after the greater part of the ecclesiastical property had been confiscated, and even the Pope himself dethroned from his temporal power; they had not then renounced a single iota of the Popish faith.




Rev. xii. 1—4. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven ;

a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and

upon her head a crown of twelve stars : And she, being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained

to be delivered And there appeared another wonder in heaven ; and behold a

great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and

seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did

cast them to the earth.

The prophecies of the Revelations may be classed under two general heads, viz. the prophecies of the sealed and those of the little book. The former describe the varied conditions of the Christian church from the days of John to the end of time; the latter, with the exception of this chapter, describe her state of very great affliction during a period of 1260 years. The first are given in a regular series of predictions, which both foretell the events and describe the order in which they were to be realized in the course of Providence ; the second give a description of contemporaneous, and not of successive occurrences, These last have their commencement at one and the same period of time; they run forward through the same duration, and terminate together. The dates of these predictions are sufficient to shew, that their fulfilment is comprehended within a period of 1260 prophetic days.- The Gentiles, it appears from chap. xi., were to possess the outer court, and to tread down the holy city 42 months; and the witnesses were to prophesy in sackcloth 1260 days, ver. 2, 3. But 42 months, consisting of 30 days each, are

precisely 1260 days; and, therefore, the sackcloth condition of the witnesses, and the profanation of the court by the Gentiles, are of the same extent. In the 6th verse of the chapter before us, we are told, that the woman fled into the wil. derness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.' The time of her residence in the wilderness is notified in a different form, in ver. 14., where we are told, that to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might flee into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. It is generally agreed, that a prophetic time is the same with a year ; three such times and a half must therefore be the same with three years and a half; and, as a single prophetic year contains only 360 days, three prophetic years and a half must be equal to 1260 days. It is therefore a period of time of the same extent that is mentioned in both verses, and this, you see, is the same with the same period twice mentioned in chap. xi.-If we proceed farther to examine the chronology of the little book, we shall find other prophecies which require the same length of time for their accomplishment. In the first part of chap. xiii., we have an account of a monstrous beast with seven heads and ten horns, which was to continue 42 months. In the second part of the chapter, we are informed of another beast, with two horns like a lamb, which spake as a dragon. These ferocious animals are described as having their origin about the same time, and perishing together. Hence, as the first continues 42 months, the period of the existence of the second must be the same. Thus the principal prophecies of the little book are bounded by equal times.

Times, however, may be equal, but not co-existent. But it is likewise obvious from the dates of these predictions, that their fulfilment was to take place within the same given period. The 1260 days of the sackcloth state of the witnesses do not succeed to the 42 months of the profanation of the court by the Gentiles, but run parallel with them. The profanation of the court and the treading of the holy city are the great occasion of the witnesses being clothed in sackcloth ; hence the 1260 days of the one must be contemporaneous with the 42 months of the other; hence also the time of the woman's resi. dence in the wilderness must be the same with the time of the sackcloth state of the witnesses, because these different figures are intended to describe only one and the same condition of the church. The last of the two beasts is the hieroglyphic of that society, which, in chap. xi., is represented under the idea of Gentiles. And as the times of the Gentiles are contemporaneous with the times of the witnesses, the period of the sackcloth state of the witnesses must synchronize with that of the beast of the earth; but the beast of the earth is co-existent with the beast of the sea, and therefore the fulfilment of all these prophecies must commence in the same period; and when any of them receives its accomplishment, the period of the fulfilment of the rest may soon be expected.

The prophecy in the xii. chap. is the only one that will not admit of this application. It is extremely difficult to settle its chronology, or to say of what particular period we must understand its fulfilment ; and yet, unless this point be determined, it will be impossible to give any satisfactory explanation of the figures. The greater part of interpreters have understood the dragon-warfare, described in this chapter, of the persecutions of the Christian church under the Pagan state of the Roman empire; and have therefore referred the period of this war to the times between Nero and Constantine ; as it was under the first, that Christians began to be persecuted by public authority, and under the second, that the penal statutes of Pagan em, perors were repealed.

But though this view of the prophecy has been generally adopted, it does not appear to be correct. First, it is difficult to conceive how any prophecy, which respected events that were to be realized in the time of the seals, should have found a place among the prophecies of the little book. If it synchronizes with the seals, it must then be a supplement to the pro

« PreviousContinue »