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the Revelations ; which treat profeffedly of such things as were to befal the servants of Fesus [a], from the prophet's own days, down to that awful period, when all the mysterious councils of God, in regard to the Christian dispensation, fhall be finally shut up in the day of judgement. To these predictions, then, a more particular attention is due, the rather because they have been fulfilling from the time of their delivery — bebold I come quickly and,
above all, because a blessing is pronounced on those, who keep, that is, who observe, who study and contemplate, the sayings of this book.
Assuredly, then, this study will be rewarded with signal benefits. And one sees immediately :
I. In the first place, that no small benefit must arise to those, who admit the completion of these prophecies, so far, I mean, as the tenour of the book makes it probable that they have been completed, from
[a] Rev. i.
the awful sense, which this conviction "must needs give them of the Christian dispensation
That this dispensation, ushered in by so long a train of prophecies, should still be attended by others, through all the stages and periods of it; that fecular empires should rise and fall, unnoticed, as it were, by the spirit of God, while the kingdom of his Son is fo' peculiarly distinguished, and its whole history, in a manner, anticipated, by the most express predictions: that Jesus should be, as he fays' of himself, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end [b], of all God's religious dispensations 'to inankind: that his first coming, or personal appearance in the flesh, should be fignified from the foundation of the world, and from time to time more explicitly declared in a variety of successive prophecies, till the great event, at length, fulfilled them all : and that, together with this event (the foundation of others, still more illuftri Rev. ii. 8. xxi. 6.
ous) his second coming, in the future and gradual manifestations of his power (for they were to be gradual) should be diftinctly marked out, and duely accomplished, in the fortunes of the Christian church, or of that kingdon, which he came to erect in the world; while this subject, and no other, engaged the ultimate attention of all the prophets : There is, I say, in this scheme of things, something so astonishingly vaft, something so much above and beyond the attention that was ever known to be paid to any other person or thing in the compass of universal history, as must strike an awe into the hearts of all men, who consider Chriftianity in this point of view; and must compel the most negligent to confess, or suspect at least, That such a dispensation is a matter of no light moment, but, indeed, the most important in the eyes of providence, and the most interesting to mankind, that can be conceived, or expressed.
If, then, there be reason, to admit the completion of such prophecies, respecting
fuch a subject, in any considerable number of instances, within that space of time which is already elapsed; and, therefore, to expect that the remaining prophecies will, in like manner, be fulfilled, The conclusion is, that the dispensation of God through Christ is of the last consequence to the inhabitants of this world : And the obvious use of this conclusion will be, that it further obliges all serious men who have thus far profited by a study of the sacred oracles, to put that salutary question to themselves-How fall we escape, if we BegleEt so great salvation [c].?
Connected with this use of prophecy,
II. A second is, That it lets before us, not the importance only, but the truth of Christianity, in the strongest light.
So many illustrious events falling in, one after another, just as the word of prophecy foretold they should, must afford the most convincing proof, That our Religion is, as it claims to be, of divine in[e] Heb. ii. 3.
stitution : a proof, the more convincing, because it is continually growing upon us ; and, the farther we are removed from the source of our religion, the clearer is the evidence of its truth. Other proofs are fuppofed to be, and, in some degree, perhaps, are, weakened by a length of time. But this, from prophecy, as if to make amiends for their defects, hath the peculiar privilege of strengthening by age itself: till hereafter, as we presume, the accumulated force of so much evidence fhall overpower all the scruples of infidelity; and bring about, at length, that general conversion both of Jew and Gentile, which the facred oracles have so expressly foretold.
In both these ways, then, by impressing on the mind the 'most affecting sense of Christianity; that is, by giving us, first, the most awful view of its pretensions, and then, by producing the firmeft conviction of its truth, the word of prophecy hath an evident tendency, in proportion as we fee its accomplishment, to promote the great