Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

was remembered before God, to have given her the cup of the bitter wine of his indignation. The antichristian church, which had so well deserved the epithet of great, from being established in so many different countries, the Deity will no longer suffer to exist. The fair countenance of religion it will no longer deform. The contagion of infidelity it will cease to diffuse. From under it will be taken those golden pillars, by which it had hitherto been supported. Its damnatory creeds will be trampled under foot, and its priests despoiled of their usurped authority- And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found1. The governments of Europe, if antichristian, shall receive such a mighty shock, that they shall pass away, and be completely dissolved, And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent. The words which immediately follow are from Mr. Waple. ''And there fell upon the wicked kings and men of the earth, who were gathered together against Christ's kingdom, v. 14, 16, a great hail out of heaven.' Now, says Dr. Lancaster, * hail, by all the oneirocritics, c. cxix, is interpreted of inroads of enemies killing and destroying.' and ' it is used to the very same purpose in the prophets8.' When, therefore, it is added, that every stone, which fell upon them, was about the weight of a talent; it seems necessary to understand, that all the profligate princes, and the whole tribe of those who oppose the commencement of the kingdom of Christ in Europe (for this is the part of the globe which the apostle John has here in view), shall not only be defeated in war, bat that the calamities resulting from the prosecution of it, will, previously to their utter discomfiture, be extraordinarily heavy and severe. The figurative hail is to fall from the symbolic heaven; i. e. it is to descend from some of those governments, which are founded on the rights of man, and which are now become hostile to the

7 On the two clauses of this sentence I refer the reader to p. 75 anil

8 This is shewn at length in the prophetic alphabet of Dr More.

tyrants who trample on them. For it is not to be supposed, that the Deity, benevolent as he is, will interpose, visibly and miraculously, to overturn the , arbitrary monarchies of the world, which are so fatally subversive of human happiness. The agency of those natural causes, which he has appointed to operate, will, at length, be found fully adequate to the production of this great catastrophe.

The destruction of the antichristian empire, as Mr. Pyle remarks, 'is not to be understood as effected in a single point of time and all at once; but gradually and by succeeding events of Providence one after another9.' The prophet, also, it is observable, declares, that those who were chastised by the judgments of the last of the vials blasphemed God. It is plain then, that this class of persons, notwithstanding their sufferings, will not all at once repent; and it is probable, that this generation of them will continue to breathe sentiments adverse to the welfare of mankind. Hence too is the position evident, that there will be no supernatural interference of the Deity. Were this to happen, and did Christ appear in person, they would repent. The light of truth would be too powerful to be farther resisted.

With a reference to the seventh vial, and the prophecies of the Old and New Testament parallel to it, I shall quote the words of a celebrated prelate. 'If a long series of prophecy is applicable to the present state of the church, and to the political situations of the kingdoms of the world, some thousand years after these prophecies were delivered, and a long series of prophecy delivered before the coming of Christ is applicable to him; these things are in themselves a proof, that the prophetic history was intended of him, and of those events: in proportion as the general turn of it is capable of such application, and to the number and variety of particular prophecies capable of it10.'

To elucidate what is said in the seventh vial respecting the symbolic Babylon, chap, xvii and xviii of the Apocalypse should be consulted. From these chapters some pas

9 P. 135. 10 Butler's Analogy, 1750, p. 369.

sages have, indeed, already been quoted. But there are two, which are remarkable, and which have not been cited, which shall now be alleged. It is not improbable, that, to a careless observer, they may have appeared altogether irreconcileable.

St. John, after announcing the fall of Babylon, says, And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliriously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her*1, when they shall see the smoke of her burning; standing afar off for the fear of her torment1, saying, alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city ! for in one hour is thy judgment comen.

Apprised that their own interests and their own fate are intimately involved in her's, it is no wonder, that they sympathise in her sufferings, and, when they contemplate the progress of her overthrow, feel the most poignant emotions of grief and disquietude. It is to be expected, with respect also to this prophecy, that it will not all at once be accomplished, but that it will have successive stages of fulfilment. Already has it begun to be verified. At the fall of that hierarchy, which belongs to the Tenth Part of the city, as well as at the subsequent abolition of other national churches, the kings of the earth were to lament for her, and to bewail her fate, when they perceive that her judgment is come, suddenly and unexpectly. Since the first of these verses represents the antichristian kings of Europe as having not only committed fornication with that emblematic personage, the Babylonish woman, but as having also lived de

11 'The Holy Ghost, is not content to say, that they wept, or bewailed with tears, which is the signification of x-yjuvtrairi, but they proceeded to the excess of grief practised among the Jews; which consisted in knocking their breasts, which is the signification of X»i/-»,t«i.' Dai:, buz in loc. Accordingly Mr. Wakefield's translation runs thus: and the kings of the earth, -alio shared in her whoredoms and luxuries, will weep ow her, and beat themselves in sorrow,

12 ' Standing afar off, for the fear of her torment, which,' says Mr, Waple, ' they know they hare deserved, and must shortly feel.'

13 XVIII. 9, 10.

Vol. II. T

liciously with her; does it not seem to point out, not merely their idolatries, but also that luxury and prodigality of expense, which have distinguished so many of the European courts, as well as that of the Roman pontiff, and many of the more opulent prelates, and which have had so fatal an influence in spreading the contagion of vice through all ranks of society : The other passage, which I proposed to notice, is in ch. . xvii, where the angel of the vision says, and the ten horns, which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate, and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. Since it is plain, that those who destroy the hierarchies of Europe cannot be those who lament their fall"; we are under the necessity of concluding, that the ten horns, which are represented in this verse as overturning their respective ecclesiastical establishments, must, previously to this, have undergone some essential change. Those new governments, which shall be established, in the different countries of the Western Roman empire, on the ruins of the old ones, they accordingly ap‘pear to denote. It has already been seen, that an horn is a symbol susceptible of some latitude of signification ; since it is applied not only to proper monarchies, but also to the papacy. “An

14 This difficulty is so palpable as to have been long felt. The following is a mode of removing it. Previously to my introduction of it, I ob. serve, that the author of the New System of the Apocalypse supposes, erroneously as I conceive, that the proper and only signification of the destruction of Babylon by the ten horns, described in ch. xviii, is the destruction of the city of Rome. “If,’ says he (p. 103), “it shall be objected, that this is contrary to what St. John saith of kings, namely, that upon the beholding the smoke of her burning, they shall mourn over her : I answer, that when Rome comes to be besieged, fire from heaven will fall upon her, as it did upon Sodom; and that the kings who had besieged her will lament and mourn, to find that the immediate hand of God should ravish them of so fine a prey, and so rich a spoil, as that would have been.” A writer, so well acquainted with the symbolic structure of the Apocalypse, would not have embraced so improbable an explication, had it not been found convenient for obviating a perplexing difficulty.

horn is an emblem of strength, so it comes to signify power and authority:-and from thence it is applied to denote sovereignty or dominion”.” In agreement with this extensive meaning of the word, the commentators observe, and among others bp. Newton", Daubuz”, and Vitringa, that a horn may denote a republic as well as a monarchy. Of itself it is not a symbol of bad import. But, Dr. Lancaster observes, ‘horns upon a wild beast are not only expressive of powers, but also of such powers as are tyrannical, ravenous, and at enmity with God.” There is no need, then, to suppose, that the ten horns, which are to be the destroyers of Babylon, are the identical ten horns, which constituted the wild beast, pourtrayed by St. John in the xiiith ch. and represented by him as principally carrying on his tyranny for the period of 1260 years. They are their immediate successors. In ch. xii. the prophet makes mention of ten horns”, which were the predecessors of the tenhorned wild-beast, were then in a dependent state”, and constituted the dominions of another personage, the dragon, the representative of Pagan Rome. We have, therefore, the less reason to wonder, that, in the passage under consideration, other ten horns are spoken of as existing, after that the Beast described in ch. xiii was destroyed. Daniel, speaking of the little horn, says (vii. 26), but the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion; to consume and to destroy it unto the end. An attentive inspection of this passage, and of the context, will serve to shew, that the papacy will not be demolished, and the church of Rome dissolved, by the sovereigns of Europe, but by the newly-erected governments. It is, indeed, plainly incredible, that the princes of the European world

t5 Mr. Lowth on Dan, vii. 24.
16 Vol. II. p. 33. 17 P. 507.

18 . 3. - 19 The ten horns of the dragon are not adorned with crowns, because

they were nothing save bare provinces of Heathen Rome under the emporors.” New Syst, of Apoc. p. 50.

« AnteriorContinuar »