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vociferations of the nation which we heard, but of a party whose formidable numbers, supported by power, for a moment, struck the nation with a stupor. But we begin to recover; and even many who were once among the loudest in their approbation of popular measures, begin to open their eyes to the danger which a strange infatuation has brought upon us; and to fear, lest our short-lived exultations should terminate in long regret.
Prophecy is the subject we are going chiefly to consider; but from the peculiarity of that part of it, which we are to attend to, and its supposed connection with what is now passing, it will be proper to inquire whether our war with France be a “just and necessary war,” as its friends and supporters, on all occasions, affect to call it? Whether we be fighting for the religion of the Bible, or for hierarchial robbery and corruption ? For liberty, or to crush.it ? For ourselves, and for the king and constitution; or for tyrants and tyranny, corruption and superstition? That on the part of the continental enemies of France it is a war of ambition, and of aggrandizement, at the expence of mankind, and for the support of civil and ecclesiastical despotism, is clear enough. But how stands the case with this country? To be just and approved by heaven, it must have been necessary and unavoidable. But whether this were the case, no unbiassed person, who recollects the circumstances of its commencement, or reads, with attention and candour, the late excellent publication of Mr. Erskine, can be long in determining. Were it not that that book is in almost every one's hands, I should think it right to enter more at large into this inquiry—" Just and necessary war !!!” Is it just and necessary for one independent nation to make war on another independent nation, because they think proper to alter their form of government, and to call to account their oppressors ? Is that a just and necessary war, which is rushed into without trying every means which can be devised for the preventing of bloodshed; and where all negociation is spurned, and every concession, for offences given, and the most solemn protestations of friendly intentions, are rejected with scorn? Was it just to the people of this country, and necessary to their prosperity and safety, to plunge them into the horrors of war, and expose them to unknown evils, because the French people put to death their monarch, and to prevent imaginary consequences ? If a just and necessary war comports
with these principles and facts, then is the present war both just and necessary, but if not, then it is unjust and wanton. Though the French, in the first moments.of their intoxication, were certainly guilty of offence, yet, they as certainly did everything, unless that of resuming their chains, to atone for their offence, and avoid a breach with this country. And so conscious were his Majesty's ministers of this, that the destruction of the king was the only reason which they alledged to justify the dismission of Monsieur Chauvelin, the French Ambassador, first to bimself, and afterwards to the parliament.*
But though the people of this country were then deceived into approbation of the minister's measures, and too many joined in the cry for this “just and necessary war;" yet most are now better informed, and the conviction of the injustice, and wantonness of it, on the part of administration, is every day becoming more general; and most begin to repent of their folly, in supporting, with their approbation, those measures which have precipitated their country to the very verge of ruin. I sincerely wish that this repentance may not come too late. To be of use, it must be general and sincere; it must not be only, because we feel the pressure of the evils which our folly has brought upon us; but it must spring from the revival of principle, and be followed by a conduct becoming the conviction, that we have committed a great crime in making ourselves parties with the enemies of liberty, the de. stroyers of mankind; and worthy of that which is at issue.
If we really wish to preserve that constitution, under which we have enjoyed such distinguished felicity; and those liberties, delivered down to us by our forefathers, and to have those defects removed which threaten their speedy destruction, we must become more thoughtful about the public good, and cultivate and practise more public virtue, than has of late heen manifested.
They are no common evils which we have to apprehend, nor shall we find, that common means will be sufficient to ward them off. Far be from me the paltry squabbles of party politics, I have but small abilities, and less inclination, for bandying such subjects. Nothing but our constitution and liberties, and even our existence being at stake, could induce so obscure a person to lift up, a fourth time, his feeble voice to rouse his countrymen to a sense
* Mr. Erskine's Views, &c. page 41.
of their danger, and to warn them of what we have to expect, unless instant repentance slays the wrath which is come out against us, for our great and many national crimes, and immediate reformation, moral and political, supersedes the necessity of those judgments, which threaten to “grind us to powder.”—The candour of the public renders much apology unnecessary. I should not again have obtruded myself, but our watchmen, in this politicoreligious quarter of the city, are almost all of thein either still asleep, or every one is looking for his gain from his quarter.
Some, possibly, may think, that the mixture of political questions, with the following discussions, is rather improper; but if the nature of the subject, which is very different from the common topics of religion, he well considered, those, who understand Christianity, and enter into the spirit of those predictions, we are going to consider, which proclaim liberty to the captives, will be of a very different opinion. The mixture of any thing which belongs to religion, with the ordinary political questions of the day, is not what I am fond of. But what follows, will not, I think, be found of this description. Let us remember, moreover, the times are singular, and events are such as the Christian world never before witnessed, and in the opinion of the author-and it is that of thousands—what is now passing in Europe, is more intimately connected with the future condition of Christianity, and of the world at large, than most are aware of.
Independent of all other considerations, if we were only to consider the general state of Europe, and the particular situation of our own country driven to the verge of bankruptcy and ruin ; pressed down with debts and taxes, and threatened on every side; we might well be apprehensive for the issue ; but if, as believers in the inspiration of the holy Scriptures, we compare recent and passiug events, with the predictions of the prophets, and find any reason for suspecting that that important æra, of which all the prophets have spoken, is arrived, when the earth shall be utterly broken down, and clean dissolved, and moved erceedingly; when its iniquity shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall and not rise again (Isaiah, xxiv.); when the great image (Daniel, ii. 34.) shall be smitten on the feet, and fall, and be broken to pieces, that the kingdoms of the world may become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ (Rev. ix. 15.); there is reason, then, indeed, to be filled with fear
and trembling; for, should it prove thus, and we are found the champions of Antichrist, what are seas, or navies, or armies, to defend us against that Power, with which we shall have to contend !
All are agreed, that Europe never witnessed such singular and awful scenes, as at present, or at least since the irruption of the barbarous nations, when the Roman western empire was broken to pieces, and the present kingdoms and states of Europe were erected from its ruins. And, seeing that all Christians allow that the dissolution of these kingdoms, as far as they are Antichristian, is the subject of prophecy, it is worth while to inquire whether any information is to be obtained, which may assist us in forming our judgment as to the probable progress and issue of the present unusual commotions.
Nor let any be disheartened from entering upon such investigations because others may have failed, for thus we might relinquish every praise-worthy pursuit. But, as Mr. Lowth has observed, in his comment on Dan. xii. 4. it is likely that the nearer the time approaches for the fulfilment of a prophecy, the more light men will have for the understanding the prophecy itself
. “ It is (says Sir Isaac “ Newton) a part of this prophecy (of the Apoc.) that it " should not be understood before the last age of the “ world--but if the last age, the age of opening these " things, be now approaching, as, by the great success “ of late interpreters, it seems to be, we have more “ encouragement than ever to look into these things.“ There is already so much of the prophecy fulfilled, that
as many as will take pains in this study, may see suffi“ cient instances of God's providence: but then (when “ the seventh angel shall sound (Rev. xi. 15.) the signal “ revolutions, predicted by the holy prophets, will at “ once both turn men's eyes upon considering the pre“ dictions, and plainly interpret them.-Among the in“ terpreters of the last age there is scarce one of note, “ who has not made some discovery worth knowing; " and thence I seem to gather that God is about opening “ these mysteries."* And what Dr. Hurd, Bishop of Worcester, says, is perfectly in point. “ Prophecies of
very remote events, remote, I mean, from the date of “ the prediction, are universally the most obscure. As “ the season advances for their accomplishment, they are
* Observations upon the Prophecies, Part II. chap. i. p. 250-253.
“ rendered more clear; either fresh prophecies are given, “ to point out the time and other circumstances, more « determinately; or the completion of some prophecies “ affords new light for the interpretation of others which
are unfulfilled.”*_The French Revolution appears to be an event of this sort: namely, that fall, of the tenth part of the city, which was immediately to precede the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and its awful consequences, -universal war and ruin to the antichristian party.
One great cause of the prejudice conceived against inquiries into the meaning of the prophecies, is, the general ignorance of the language in which they are delivered, and the consequent notion, which many have taken up, that they are unintelligible. But as well might a person conclude that the poems of Homer and Virgil are unintelligible productions, because they are unacquainted with the language in which they exist, as for a man who has never studied the symbolic style, to pronounce the writings of the prophets to be so. That some obscurity will always attend the prophecies, till the events, foretold, take place, is certain, but not utter darkness; and, in general, the darkness vanishes in proportion to the near approach of their fulfilment. To those who wish for extensive information respecting the symbolic and hieroglyphic language, I must refer them to what has been written on this subject by Bishop Warburton, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Bishop Hurd, Mr. Daubuz, and an excellent recent public cation, entitled Illustrations of Prophecy, in two volumes 8vo. only observing, as preparatory to what follows, that in the symbolic language, founded on the first mode of writing (before the use of letters) by pictures, and hieroglyphical figures, something like what still prevails in heraldry; the heavens and the earth signify the whole world politic; heaven, which in nature occupies the superior place, is put
government, or the seat of a government; the sun for the
the moon for such as are the next in office; the stars for those who occupy inferior stations in the government, the nobility and all such as are of superior rank; the darkening of the sun and moon, and stars, for calamities which fall upon kings and great men. If they be utterly darkened, or fall from heaven, it signifies the utter destruction of their power ;
* Introduction to the Study of Prophecy, Vol. I. p. 57.