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by Thomas Coke
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST TO HIS APOSTLE JOHN.
THIS prophetical book is allowed to have been written by St. John the evangelist, who was banished to Patmos, an island of the AEgean sea, and there received the visions contained in this book, in the last year of the reign of Domitian, about the year 96, according to Eusebius.
The contents of this sacred book are of a prophetic nature, and describe a series of visions as follows: At the close of the magnificent description of our Lord's appearance to St. John, he is ordered to write the things which he saw, that is, the glorious vision that he then beheld: the things which are, or, the state of the churches at that time; and the things which shall be hereafter, or, the future state of the church to the end of the world. Accordingly, this book may be divided into three parts: The first, containing the introduction, or preface and dedication to the seven churches of Asia, and an account of the glorious vision of our Lord made to St. John, ch. 1. The second part, containing the epistles which Christ commanded him to write to the Asiatic churches, relating to their present circumstances, and to the duties thence arising, ch. Revelation 2-3 : The third part, which describes the condition of the church in after times, from Revelation 4 : to the end of the book, begins with a description of the Triune God enthroned, &c. and then represents a sealed book, which is given to the Lamb, who opens the seals one after another, ch. Revelation 4-5 : And here the scene of prophecy begins, which may be divided into seven periods. The first is that of the seals, ch. Revelation 6-7 : The second, that of the trumpets, Revelation 8:9, Revelation 8:10 : The third is pointed out, first, by measuring the temple, ch. Rev 11:1-18 secondly, by the state of the church described as a woman clothed with the sun, &c. ch. Revelation 11:19, &c. thirdly, by the faithful being exposed to the ravages of a wild beast, and by an order given to seven angels to pour out seven vials full of the seven last plagues, ch. Revelation 12:0; Revelation 3:14. The fourth period represents Satan bound for a thousand years, ch. Revelation 20:1-6. The fifth represents him loosed again for a little time, Jude 1:7-10. The sixth exhibits the general resurrection, and last judgment, Jude 1:11-15. The seventh, the vision of a new heaven and a new earth, or the happiness of the Jerusalem above; after which follows a solemn conclusion, answerable to the beginning, ch. Revelation 21:22 : These visions are prophetical of the great corruptions and oppressions which would in different ages be introduced into the church of God, particularly by the spirit of popery; till that antichristian power receive its downfal, first, by the complete reformation of the Christian church here on earth; and, after that, by the universal judgment of the world at the second coming of Christ. The learned Bishop of Bristol has justly observed, that, "to explain it perfectly is not the work of one man, or of one age, and probably it will never all be clearly understood, till it is all fulfilled: not that the book is therefore to be neglected: they who dissuade from the study of it, do it, for the most part, because they have not studied it themselves, and imagine the difficulties to be greater than they are in reality. It is still the sure word of prophecy, and men of learning and leisure cannot better employ their time and abilities than in studying and explaining this book, if they do it, as Lord Bacon advises, with great wisdom, sobriety, and reverence. If therefore we would confine ourselves to the rules of just criticism, and not indulge lawless and extravagant fancies, if we would be content with sober and genuine interpretation, and not pretend to be prophets, nor presume to be wise above what is written, we should more consider those passages which have already been accomplished, than frame conjectures above those which remain yet to be to be fulfilled. Where the facts may be compared with the predictions, there we have some clew to guide us through the labyrinth; and, though it may be difficult to trace out every minute resemblance, yet there are some strong lines and features, which cannot fail of striking every one, who will but impartially and duly examine them. Such a disquisition, however, is not to be entered upon hastily, but after a diligent perusal of the best authors, both foreign and domestic; and it will be happy, if, out of them all, there can be found one entire system, complete and consistent in all its parts." Sir Isaac Newton says, "Amongst the interpreters of the last age, there is scarce one of note who hath not made some discovery worth knowing; but our greatest obligations are owing to three, particularly Mede, Vitringa, and Daubuz." To these we may add Sir Isaac Newton's Obsevations on the Apocalypse, Bishop Newton's
Dissertations, Lowman's Paraphrase and Notes, Bengelius's Gnomon, and Burton "on the Numbers of Daniel and St. John."
The astonishing events which have happened since the commencement of the French Revolution, have afforded a most ample field for conjecture. Several writers of considerable talent have descanted largely on this subject, as it has reference to the accomplishment of prophesy. But some of them have already been found erroneous. The prophesies relating to these grand occurrences, have not yet so far developed themselves, as to justify any person's being very confident or positive. But, notwithstanding this, it may be justly expected, that, in a Commentary of such extent, I should notice in some measure the great events of the present period; and therefore I shall, in addition to my regular Annotations, add, as an APPENDIX, a summary of the principal arguments and conjectures of the best English writers who have written on this subject since the year 1789, so far as may be necessary to make my Comment on the Revelation as complete as the present light which the providence of God affords us, will admit.
APPENDIX TO THE COMMENTARY ON THE REVELATION.
CONTENTS OF THE APPENDIX.
SUBJECT of inquiry. Origin, nature, and application of symbolical language.
The prophesies true, because many have been already fulfilled: instanced in the capture, overthrow, and desolation of Babylon. These facts demonstrate a prophetic spirit, which could proceed only from God. Prophesies unfulfilled cannot be always future: the event must overtake the prediction:—we have reason to believe that some are fulfilling in the present day. Antichrist defined: it includes the Papal, Mahometan, and Infidel powers. This Appendix includes chiefly an account of the first and the last.
Papal Antichrist considered under four distinct heads: namely, Superstition and Idolatry; Apostacy; Blasphemy and Arrogance; Cruelty.
Infidel Antichrist the offspring of Papal Antichrist: engendered by the corruptions and inhumanities of Popery, and made instrumental in the hand of God in retaliating upon her priests and supporters the blood which she has shed. Origin and progress of modern infidelity:—occasion of the Revolution in France:—effects which have resulted from it:—progress of immorality.
Acts of Revolutionary cruelty sanctioned by the Legislatures of France.
Infidelity, having lived its day, and been made instrumental in the hand of God in punishing corrupt and apostate professors, destined to perish. Commencement of the 1260 days mentioned by St. John. Popery obtained its enormous power, and Mahometanism began, in the year 606; Infidelity at a subsequent period; all must expire together. The complexion of the times proves that we are living towards the close of the 1260 days, or years. Many predictions yet unaccomplished: namely, the restoration of the Jews;—a grand confederacy of theenemies of Christ;—the battle of Armageddon; the Millennium, and Gog and Magog. Remarks on Gog and Magog, and on the grand confederacy. On the pouring out of the fourth vial, the fifth vial, the sixth vial. Observations on the downfal of Turkey, and on the present situation and restoration of the Jews.
The pouring out of the seventh vial. Coincidences between the predictions of Daniel, Joel, Zechariah, and St. John, on events which are yet future. Diversity of opinions on subordinate particulars. Conjectures on the accomplishment of those prophesies, which will finally issue in the destruction of Popery, Mahometanism, and Infidelity. This will be at the end of the 1260 years, which, if rightly dated, will terminate in the year 1866; at which time the restoration of the Jews will probably commence. The prophesies immutable, and urge us to prepare to meet our God.
PREFACE TO THE APPENDIX.
TO dismiss this Commentary, which is now brought nearly to a close, without noticing the great transactions which are at this moment passing before us in the world, would, it is highly probable, be considered by many as an unjustifiable omission, and expose the author to the imputation of neglect. Being unwilling to incur the displeasure of his numerous and respectable subscribers, and being at the same time fully convinced that these are no common days, he has been induced to take a survey of the events which are rising up in rapid succession, and to consider them in relation to those prophesies which refer to the latter days, and as leading immediately to those awful commotions which shall precede that reign of righteousness which Christ shall establish on the earth.
In prosecuting this inquiry, the author has had recourse to the most modern publications on the prophesies, which the present period has afforded: in these he has found much to admire, and much to disapprove. It is not his province either to adopt implicitly whatever may appear plausible, or to enter into an elaborate refutation of what he may deem erroneous: his object is to give the reader some idea of the opinions to which the extraordinary transactions of Europe have given rise in the present day. And therefore, without attempting either to vindicate or condemn what others have advanced, he has only endeavoured to select from the whole mass, an epitome of that theory which, in his judgment, appears most probable. The modern publications to which he chiefly alludes, are those written by Mr. Bicheno, Dr. Mitchell, Mr. Whitaker, Mr. Galloway, Mr. Kett, and Mr. Faber. From their pages he has taken the liberty occasionally to select in sentiment, and sometimes in language, particulars in which they seem rather to agree than differ, but which, he is well aware, nothing but the flight of time can determine to be right.
To record the motley opinions which have been given on some dubious predictions, would be by no means a difficult task. But such a register must be more amusing than profitable; it might afford a momentary gratification to the curious; but would entitle our pages to the dishonourable appellation of being the vehicle of discord.
That the prophesies contained in the book of Daniel, and of the Revelation, are big with the fate of nations, is a truth admitted by all; and hence the interest which we feel in the final issue. It has, however, been a matter of no small regret with the author, to observe, that, while many able writers have attempted to illustrate these prophesies, a tincture of political partiality has been but too visible in their various interpretations. Such partialities, in the estimation of the judicious inquirer after truth, cannot fail to place them below the dignity of their subject; insomuch that the most striking excellencies of their observations, instead of impressing conviction on the mind, are perused with suspicion and jealousy, and thereby lose their force.
These political partialities we have passed over in silence. Our province confines us to the predictions and their accomplishment; and our primary object has been to notice the probable period and issue of present events, as they stand connected with prophetic warnings, and with that future destiny which awaits the church of God. Whether the data and calculations on which we have proceeded, are true or false, nothing, perhaps, but time can fully determine. But how much soever we may appear hereafter to have been mistaken in subordinate particulars, of this we may rest ourselves assured, that the great period of consummation is at hand,—that it is even at the door.
Towards the close of this Appendix the reader will perceive, that we have frequently had recourse to some parts of the theory which Mr. Faber has adopted, whose learned Dissertation on the Prophesies we strongly recommend. According to the sentiments of this acute and ingenious author, the final overthrow of the Mahometan, Papal, and Infidel powers, will most probably take place about the year 1866, because, as the 1260 prophetic years, at the expiration of which they are to perish, are presumed by him to have commenced in the year 606, 1866 must be the time of their completion. By the Infidel or Atheistical Power or King, he alludes to and understands the present prosperous Usurper of France. But when he speaks of the downfal of these antichristian powers in 1866, he repeatedly assures us, that it is not the individual Buonaparte whom he means, nor in fact any other individual whomsoever; but the successor, or successors, of those who now wield the Mahometan, Papal, and Infidel sword, and who shall be living at that period. This observation, in justice to Mr. Faber's sentiment, the reader is particularly requested to bear in mind.
As this Appendix necessarily embraces a variety of objects, that the connection may be preserved; the author has been obliged to take a retrospective but transient survey of those causes, which, in all probability, have led to present events; and which are now preparing the way for those which are as yet only viewed at a distance. This circumstance will enable the reader to trace the dependance of future events upon the present, and of the present upon the past. These respective links, it is obvious, must present us with some divisions in the materials. Of these we have readily availed ourselves, and divided the subject into sections, before each of which a table of contents will be given.
Whether these things may tend to advance the reader in the scale of speculative knowledge, or not, is only a subject of a secondary consideration; it is of infinitely greater importance that we be hereby taught to consider our latter end, and urged to prepare to meet our God. The end of life will be to us the end of all sublunary concerns; and, whether we live to behold any of the great transactions which are about to overtake the world, or die before the period shall arrive which God has appointed; of this we are assured, that it shall be well with the righteous.—That GOD may in mercy grant to the writer, and the reader, a portion in that inheritance, which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, is the earnest prayer and sincere desire of the author.
Subject of inquiry. Origin, nature, and applications of symbolical language.
THE astonishing events which of late years have taken place in the world, in conjunction with those actions that are at this moment subverting thrones, demolishing empires, and deluging Europe with human blood, naturally induce the inquiring and serious among mankind to ask,—Whether or not these strange transactions have any connection with prophetic warnings?—Whether they are to be ranked among those fleeting bubbles of life which are rising and bursting by millions in an hour;—or, whether they are links in that chain of providential occurrences which leads onward to the renovation of the world, and which must be completed in the final consummation of things. Pious men have watched these transactions with peculiar attention, and explored the secret springs from which they have derived their energy:—they have compared them with the language of prophesy, and have seen much reason to conclude, that God is about to shake terribly the nations of the earth.
The impartial inquirer after information and truth, cannot indeed but be struck with wonder, on a perusal of the many volumes which have lately been written on the prophetic parts of the scriptures, and with that want of coincidence in interpretation which prevails in many passages of their works. But should any one be induced to infer from hence that these commentaries are altogether no better than mere conjecture, founded upon probabilities which are rather imaginary than rational, he would at once discover a want of just discrimination, and prove himself to be but a superficial inquirer after truth.
But how diversified soever the opinions of men may be, we must not forget that they are diversified onlyon subordinate particulars;—on such prophesies as are wrapped up in futurity;—or, on such points as are but partially revealed. On the leading features all parties seem to have agreed: they unite in asserting, that the revelations which were made to St. John, in the island of Patmos, have an evident relation to the most important transactions which should take place in the civilized and moral world, though their views may have been various on their particular application.
Among these momentous events, it is uniformly admitted, that the church of Christ has invariably claimed the peculiar care of God. In these prophesies of St. John, her vicissitudes are marked with peculiar exactness, while her oppressors are delineated withsymbolicalaccuracy.Thecorruptions which have crept within her pale, by which she has unhappily been debauched;—the unnatural alliances which the has formed with the kingdoms of this world;—her being made subservient to the artifices of ambitious and designing men; together with the judgments of God upon her for her spiritual fornications and adulteries, as well as upon those by whom she has been polluted;—are all noted in the comprehensive vision before us, and imperiously direct our views to the great affairs of mankind.
But while we contemplate the book of Revelation as containing an epitome of these important facts, we cannot but feelourselves peculiarly interested in the nature of that enigmatical language in which these facts are expressed. This therefore has a prior claim to our attention; and before we can hope to form any adequate conceptions of the contents of this book, it will be necessary that we first contemplate the nature of those figures, which, at first view, appear to be almost unintelligible.
The mode of expression which the Holy Ghost, in different parts of the sacred volume has thought proper to adopt, is highly figurative and symbolical; but in no part is this mode so uniformly followed as in the book of Revelation. The writings of St. John bears strong resemblance to the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians and Chaldeans; and he conducts our researches through those various figures which were adopted by those ancient nations long before the use of letters was known.
"Hieroglyphics," says a celebrated Lexicographer, "were certain images or figures, which, for the greater veneration, the ancients called sacred. They were much used by the Egyptians to express the principal doctrines of their divinity, and other moral and political sciences, which were represented on stones, obelisks, or pyramid
"However dark or fanciful," says Mr. Bicheno, "the style of the prophets may now appear to many, it was anciently of common and approved use, and well understood, in general, by those to whom the prophesies were originally addressed; and however it may appear to those who have never studied the subject, is, like other languages, reducible to rule, and capable of having its meaning ascertained." (a)—"Let those on whom this objection (the obscurity of language) has made any impression, consider, that figurative language must be not only as intelligible as any other, provided the being who uses it explains the symbols he employs, but even more accurate and more impressive than that of mere words and letters; because there are at best but arbitrary symbols; whereas emblematical representations bear in nature a resemblance to the objects which they are employed to represent; and it is on the facts of the Scriptures themselves supplying a key to the emblems in this book, that the following Commentary proceeds." (b)
(a) Signs of the Times, page 217.
(b) Whitaker's Preface to Brief Com. on the Revelation, p. 2.
"The subject of this prophetic history," says another energetic modern writer, "is a narrative of future events, clearly and elegantly expressed, and perfectly defined; indeed, more so than in any other known history. It is delivered too in a language which excels all others ever yet invented by the ingenuity of man, in conciseness, and yet copiousness of expression; in simplicity and perspicuity, and yet with grandeur and sublimity. It is ingeniously composed of hieroglyphics, symbols, and allegories taken from the natural, to represent to the mind the things of the moral world. And as in all languages each word has a certain meaningaffixed to it by human compact; so in this, each figure has a literal and moral sense annexed to it, and to which it refers with the nicest accuracy, and indeed with absolute certainty. Other languages, being founded in human agreement, may be changed according to the caprice of man; hence the great variety of them in the world. But the language of prophesy is derived from the symbols of things in the natural world, and its meaning established in moral objects, and bears a proper similitude and representation of their respective symbols; neither of which admitting of change, the language itself must be unchangeable, and must continue as long as those objects shall endure. And as in all probability it was the primaeval language, perhaps that of Paradise, so it will continue to the end of time; the more especially as it has pleased God, in his wisdom, to deliver the prophesies in it, which are, from the tenor of his holy word, to be useful and necessary to the salvation of man, down to the awful consummation of all things."
"That this language was understood by the ancients, will not be denied. The inscriptions yet remaining on the Egyptian temples, obelisks, and pillars, are monuments of this truth. The learned and wise of foreign nations, formerly travelled into Egypt to acquire a knowledge of it, and we may trace evident marks of it yet in the latest of the oriental poets. And that the patriarchs themselves well understood it, is easily demonstrated. To give one instance among many: when God was pleased to reveal to Joseph his future exaltation, he did it by a dream in hieroglyphic language. When Joseph told this dream to his father, in which the sun, and moon, and eleven stars, had been represented as doing obedience to him, Jacob perfectly understood the literal meaning, and immediately interpreted it as a language with which he had been acquainted. The sun, the moon, and the eleven stars, he instantly applied to himself, to his wife, and his eleven sons. This is undeniably evident from the language which he made use of to Joseph on the occasion, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I, and thy mother, and thy brethren, indeed, come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? Now if the ancients understood this hieroglyphic dialect, if Jacob could thus readily interpret its mysterious figures into their literal meaning, what reason can be assigned, why it cannot be revived and understood as well as the Latin, Greek, or Hebrew?—There is none. And therefore the conclusion is incontestable, that the events described in it, may be, when they have come to pass, as perfectly understood, as any events described in any other obsolete language whatever." (c)
(c) Galloway on the Prophetic or Anticipated History of the Church of Rome, vol. 2: p. 24-26.
"The first and most natural way of communicating our thoughts by marks or figures, is by tracing out the images of things. Thus it appears, that formerly, to express the idea of a man or horse, the form of these was delineated. This is called picture writing. It was in this manner, when the Europeans first discovered America, that the Mexicans recorded their laws and their history. But the inconvenience and imperfection ofthis sort of writing being great, men were put upon improvement, and hence hieroglyphics and symbols. By this contrivance, that writing which was but a simple painting, became a pictured character. The first step towards bringing this sort of writing to perfection, was, by making the principal circumstance in the subject stand for the whole. Thus a battle, or two armies in array, was described by two hands, one holding a shield and the other a bow; while a siege was signified by a scaling-ladder, &c. The second and more artful method of contraction was, by putting the instrument of the thing, whether real or metaphorical, for the thing itself. Thus an eye, eminently placed, represented God's omniscience; an eye and a sceptre, a monarch; a ship and pilot, the Governor of the universe, &c. A third and still more artificial method of abridging picture-writing, was to make one thing stand for another, when any real or supposed analogy or resemblance existed. Thus the universe was designated by a serpent in a circle, whose variegated spots signified the stars."
"The Egyptians (says the Bishop of Worchester,) cultivated this species of hieroglyphic writing more than any other people, while the splendor and fame of that mighty kingdom excited a veneration for it in the rest of the world. Hence it was, that the learning of those times, which spread from Egypt as from its centre, took a strong tincture of the hieroglyphic spirit. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Israelites, especially, who were bred up in that country at the very time when this sort of learning was at its height, should carry with them this treasure, among their other spoils, into the land of Canaan."
"Thus originated the symbolic language and writing. And hence it is, in condescension to the ways of men, that this kind of style is so often used by the sacred writers." (d)
(d) Signs of the Times, page 17, et seq.
As all nature was ransacked for appropriate similitudes to represent their thoughts; the Egyptians, and others who drew from that fountain, found it necessary, as objects began to multiply, to analyze their symbols into various classes. The first of these the Egyptians and Chaldeans confined exclusively to the heavenly bodies. The visible luminaries they imagined to represent the invisible Deity, hisangels, and ministers, in proportion, to that splendor which they exhibited to the eye. And, fancying to themselves that some mystical connection subsisted between the invisible heavens, the heavens which were visible, and the natural and civil world, they found it exceedingly easy to transfer the analogy to the potentates and powers who presided over the habitable globe. Hence the sun became the representative of a king or father, in proportion to the extensiveness of the scene. The moon became the symbol of the next in dignity; while the stars, which were both extensive in their number, and various in their lustres, furnished them with an endless variety, to designate the different subordinate authorities in the state.
Descending from the heavens to the earth, they drew a second train of symbols from animals, mountains, seas, and rivers, and applied them in their vocabularies, agreeably tothose magnitudes, qualities, and affinities, which they wanted to express. Thus a lion, which was admitted by all to be the monarch of the forest, or an eagle, which held dominion among the feathered tribe, became, for the same reason, a symbol of an earthly king, or ruling potentate; while the scorpion, on account of his poison and constant readiness to inflict a wound, became an appropriate similitude of an inveterate and deadly enemy. At the same time, as all collective bodies surveyed in their collective capacities, may be considered as one whole, a wild and ravenous beast, in connection with its terrible actions, was considered as bearing a striking resemblance to a tyrannical and oppressive kingdom; and was deemed sufficiently expressive, when they had no occasion to descend to minute particulars.
A third species of symbols was derived from the arts, the customs, or contrivances of men. Thus the attire in which an individual was presumed to be arrayed, became descriptive of his condition in life in the estimation of men, and sometimes even embodied those virtues or vices which were presumed to predominate in the soul. It was with an eye to this mode of expression, that a helmet became emblematical of defence, a girdle of strength, and a breast-plate of that fortitude which knew no fear, even in the face of danger.
A fourth sort of symbols is compounded of simple ones, and may be explained by the same rule as the former. Thus a lion, when simply considered, is the symbol of a king; but if, in the description, claws, great teeth, or other instruments of destruction peculiar to that beast, be added, it instantly loses the leading features of the former symbol, and becomes a striking representative of a tyrant, or of his tyranny. If to this figure we find the addition of wings, rapid conquests are thereby denoted, or, perhaps, some extraordinary exaltation. If, instead of wings, we find the addition of horns, the symbol becomes more complex, and the intricacy increases in proportion to their number. For as these horns are all presumed to originate in one beast, they may be considered as secretly connected; while, from their distinct manner of existence, it is evident that they have a local independence in point of dominion, however much theiractions, influenced by one common principle, may have originated in the same source, and may be tinctured with the same common shade.
These are symbols which cannot be considered as exclusivelyconfined to any one particular age or country: with the variation of diminutive circumstances, they seem common to all nations. An advancement in the scale of civilization has tended to refine, but not to destroy these modes of communication. Rhetoric is indebted to it for its noblest figures; and, in fact, without it, comparative illustration would be nearly banished from the earth. It is to this mode of expression, that heraldry stands indebted for its existence; and even astronomy retains to the present moment those arbitrary figures which distinguish the celestial signs.
There are, however, some symbols which may be considered as peculiar to the sacred writings, because they are taken from the history, the rites,and customs, which had been established among the Jews, and which were not to be found in any other nation upon the earth. Thus Egypt and Babylon, into which their ancestors had been carried, and in which they had been held in captivity, and had seen the idolatrous rites practised therein, were viewed by all their posterity as appropriate symbols to represent an imperious, oppressive, and idolatrous nation; while the name of Jerusalem, and of Zion, in which the worship of God had been established, stood on the opposite side, as proper emblems to represent the church under all the divine dispensations. At the same time, as the temple was that particular place in which they assembled to perform their worship, it became a proper symbol to characterize all those who openly professed an attachment to the living God. As this temple then stood for the visible or professing church, in like manner as Jerusalem and Zion stood for the true church of genuine believers; and as this language became general wherever the worship of God was established, so the shutting or closing of the gates of this temple evidently implied the suppression of public worship, and indicated, that the pious could no longer have public access to God. Hence it also follows as a natural consequence, that the opening of the temple or its gates, indicated the restoration of liberty of conscience, and implied the removal of those restraints which the shutting of the gates had imposed. (e)
(e) For a further elucidation of the symbolical language, see "Signs of the Times," p. 219-214. "New Exposition of the Revelation," by J. Mitchell, M.D. vol. i: Preface. Ditto, vol. 2: p. 6, 7. Galloway, vol. 2: p. 27, 28. Faber's "Dissertation on the Prophesies," vol. 1: chap 2: Ditto, vol. 2: p. 25, 26. Whitaker, Preface to his "Commentary on the Revelation." Kett's "History the Interpreter of Prophecy," vol. 1: p. 29.
That this symbolical language abounds in the sacred writings, it is almost as needless to assert, as it would be useless to prove. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, and, in fact, all the prophets, have delivered most of their predictions to the world in this manner. It has been revived again under the Gospel dispensation, in the epistles of St. Paul to the churches, in those of St. Peter, and that of St. Jude, but more particularly in the Revelations which were delivered to the beloved disciple. It is in this book, and in this language; that many past events have been foretold; in which the final overthrow of the beast and the false prophet has been predicted, and in which we are taught to behold the awful punishments which God will finally inflict upon the enemies of his faithful followers, by giving them blood to drink, for they are worthy.
The prophesies true, because many have been fulfilled: instanced in the capture, overthrow, and desolation of Babylon. These facts demonstrate a prophetic spirit which could proceed only from God. Prophesies unfulfilled, cannot be always future: the event must overtake the prediction:—we have reason to believe that some are fulfilling in the present day. Antichrist defined: it includes the Papal, Mahometan, and Infidel powers. This Appendix includes chiefly an account of the first and the last.
THE language of prophesy is a point of but secondary consideration; it is the accomplishment of predictions in which we are more immediately interested: and in proportion as the evidence in favour of fact appears conspicuously to the mind, it yields to prophesy a rational assent, which no subordinate circumstances can shake. In addition to this, when we behold events coming forward to correspond with the predictions of former ages, we are furnished with a firm foundationon which we may rest our faith on what is future. A recollection of what is past, directs us how to appreciate what is future, and instructs us to wait with patience and resignation to the divine will, from a full conviction that the word of God shall not return to him void, but that, notwithstanding intervening obstacles, the divine purposes shall finally receive their ultimate accomplishment.
That ancient prophesy has been fulfilled, a few instances will be sufficient to convince us. The events and their predictions have such a striking coincidence, that even obstinacy itself must hesitate in refusing its assent.
If we turn to the thirteenth chapter of Isaiah, from the 19th to the 22d verse, we read the following words: And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces; and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged. Such is the plain but dreadful language of the prophet! And for the full accomplishment of this awful denunciation, probably, the following paragraph from a celebrated historian will be deemed sufficient evidence.
"About this time (Anno 293,) Seleucus built Seleucia on the Tigris, at the distance of forty miles from Babylon. It was placed on the western side of that river, over against the place where Bagdad now stands on the eastern side, which soon grew to be a populous city. For Pliny tells us, that it had in it 600,000 inhabitants. For, by reason of the breaking down of the banks of the Euphrates, the country near Babylon being drowned, and the branch of that river which passed through the midst of the city being shallow and rendered unnavigable, made the situation of Babylon by this time so very inconvenient, that, when the new city was built, it soon drained the other of all its inhabitants. For it being situated much more commodiously, andby the founder made the metropolis of all the provinces of his empire beyond the Euphrates, and the place of his residence whenever he came into these parts, the Babylonians in great numbers left their old habitations, and flocked to Seleucia. And besides, Seleucus having called this city by his own name, and designed it for an eminentmonumentthereofinafter-ages,gaveitmanyprivilegesabovethe other cities of the East, the better to make it answer this purpose; and these were a farther invitation to the Babylonians to transplant themselves to it. And by these means, in a short time after the building of Seleucia, Babylon became wholly desolated, so that nothing was left remaining of it but its walls. And therefore Pliny tells us, 'That it was exhausted of its inhabitants, and brought to desolation by the neighbourhood of Seleucia on the Tigris, which Seliucus Nicanor built there on purpose for this end.' And Strabo saith the same; as doth also Pausanias in his Arcadics, where he tells us, 'That Babylon, once the greatest city that the sun ever saw, had in his time (about the middle of the second century,) nothing left but the walls.' These remained long after. For the space within being made a park by the Parthian kings, for the keeping of wild beasts in it for their hunting, the walls were kept up to serve for a fence to the inclosure; and in this state it was in Jerome's time, who lived in the fourth century. For he tells us, 'That, excepting the walls, which were repaired for the inclosing of wild beasts that were kept there, all within was desolation:' and in another place, 'That Babylon was nothing else, in his time, but a chace for wild beasts, kept within the compass of its ancient walls, for the hunting of the king,' that is, of Persia. For, after the Parthians, there reigned in Jerome's time, over those countries, a race of Persian kings, and continued there to the time of the Saracen empire, by which they were extinguished."
"When or how these walls became demolished, is nowhere said, no writer for several hundreds of years after Jerome's time speaking any more of this place. The first after him that makes mention of it is Benjamin, a Jew of Tudela in Navarre, who, in his Itinerary, which he wrote near 600 years since, (for he died in the year of our Lord 1173,) tells us, that he was upon the place here the old city formerly stood, and found it then wholly desolated and destroyed: only he saith, 'some ruins of Nebuchadnezzar's palace were then still remaining, but men were afraid to go near them, by reason of the many serpents and scorpions that were then in the place.' Texeira, a Portuguese, in the description of his travels from India to Italy, tells, 'That there was nothing then remaining of this old and famous city, but only some few footsteps of it; and that there was no place in all that country less frequented than that tract of ground whereon it formerly stood.' And Rawolf, a German traveller, who passed that way in the year of our Lord 1574, tells us the same thing. His words are as followeth: 'The village of Elugo lieth on the place where formerly old Babylon, the metropolis of Chaldea, did stand. The harbour lieth a quarter of a league off, whereunto those use to go that intend to travel by land to the famous city of Bagdad, which is situated farther to the east, on the river Tigris, at a day and a half's distance. This country is so dry and barren, that it cannot be tilled; and so bare that I should have doubted very much, whether this potent and powerful city (which once was the most famous one in the world, situated in the pleasant and fruitful country of Shinar,) did stand there, if I should not have known it by its situation, and several ancient and delicate antiquities, that still are standing hereabout in great desolation. First, by the old bridge, which was laid over the Euphrates, whereof there are some pieces and arches still remaining, built of burnt brick, and so strong that it is admirable. Just before the village of Elugo, is the hill whereon the castle did stand, in a plain, whereon you may still see some ruins of the fortification, which is quite demolished and uninhabited. Behind it, and pretty near to it, did stand the tower of Babylon. This we see still, and it is half a league in diameter, but is so mightily ruined and low, and so full of venomous reptiles, that have bored holes through it, that one may not come near it within half a mile,* but only in two months in the winter, when they come not out of their holes. Among these reptiles, there are some which, in the Persian language, are called eglo by the inhabitants, that are very poisonous: they are bigger than our lizards.' These ruins mentioned by Rawolf, are, no doubt, the same which Benjamin of Tudela saith were the ruins of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, that is, the old palace, which stood on the eastern side of the river; for it is of that only that Benjamin and Rawolf speak. Of the ruins of Babylon on the western side, where the new palace stood, which Nebuchadnezzar himself built, neither of them takes any notice." (f)
* Calmet, noting the same passage, says, "half a league."
(f) Prideaux's Connection, vol. 2: p. 586-588. For a further account of this remarkable prophesy, see this Commentary on the above passage of Isaiah; and on Revelation 18 : See also Calmet on the article Babylon, and Rollin's Ancient History, vol. 2:
All these circumstances put together clearly shew, that the words which we have already quoted from the prophet, have been fulfilled with a dreadful exactness. Even the minutest circumstances of the prophesy have received their literal accomplishment, so that scarcely a vestige remains in the present day, to gratify the eye of curiosity, or to reward the traveller for his toils. The fragments which have escaped the wrecks of time, are but barely sufficient to identify this seat of desolation, and to remind the spectator of the awful judgments of God.
There is another prophesy relating to the fate of Babylon, which in the order of time, as to its accomplishment, precedes that which we have just surveyed. But since we have no design, in these instances, to enter into an historical detail, we have only to note the prediction in connection with its accomplishment. They are sufficient to convince us that the almighty Governor of the universe superintends the affairs of mortals;—that he breaks down and builds up;—that he giveth the kingdoms of the earth to whomsoever he will;—and that none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
In Jeremiah (li. 37-42.) we have the following prophesy: And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling-place for dragons, an astonishment and an hissing without an inhabitant. They shall roar together like lions; they shall yell as lions' whelps. In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord. I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams with he-goats. How is SHESHACK taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations! The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitudes of the waves thereof.
Cyrus, by whom this prophesy received its fulfilment, was born, according to Prideaux and Calmet, about 602 years before Christ, and became the monarch of Persia when he was about 43 years of age: consequently he could not have ascended the throne till nearly one hundred years after this prophesy had been delivered
Pursuing those victories which invariably attended his arms, we are told by the historian, that, after the taking of Sardis, Cyrus continued some time in Lesser Asia, during which he subdued all the nations which inhabited the country from the Euphrates to the Egean sea. Having accomplished his work in these regions, he marched into Syria and Arabia, pursuing the same mode of conduct, and with the same successes which had heretofore accompanied his exertions. And, having established his dominion over these conquered territories, he re-entered Assyria, and directed his march immediately towards Babylon. This happened in the ninth year after he had conquered Sardis, and in the sixteenth of the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon.
The conquest of this extraordinary city, however, he found to be a work of much more difficulty than he had been led to imagine.* To subdue it by a regular siege was almost impossible, because the walls were nor only high, but actually impregnable. The inhabitants, secure within their walls, supplied with a prodigious quantity of stores of every kind, and furnished with provisions sufficient to support them for twenty years, derided Cyrus from their battlements, for making an attempt which they were confident must end in his own disgrace. The invaders, however, were not to be thus intimidated; Cyrusencouraged his men to persevere in their arduous undertaking; and theybegan with drawing a line of cirumvallation round the city, making the ditch both broad and deep. In the meanwhile, with the assistance of palm trees, which grew in the vicinity to the height of one hundred feet, he erected towers somewhathigher than the walls, designing if possible to carry the city by storm. Finding, however, this mode of conquest extremely hazardous, he abandoned the design, and adopted a resolution to starve the inhabitants into a surrender. Two years were wasted in this fruitless attempt; for, at the end of that time, success appeared to be at as great a distance as ever, which induced him to have recourse to stratagem.
* The city of Babylon, according to Herodotus, was perfectly square, being one hundred and twenty furlongs every way, that is to say, fifteen miles, or five leagues square; and its whole circuit four hundred and eighty furlongs, or twenty leagues. The walls of it were built with large brick cemented with bitumen, a thick glutinous substance which issued from the earth in that neighbourhood: it was a cement much stronger than lime, and it acquired additional strength in proportion to its being exposed to the action of the elements.
The walls of the city thus built with brick, and cemented with bitumen, were eighty-seven feet in thickness, three hundred and fifty in height, and four hundred and eighty furlongs in circumference. "They who allow them (says Calmet,) to be no more than fifty cubits high, speak of them according to the condition they were in after Darius the son of Hystaspes had commanded them to be demolished to the height we are mentioning, as a punishment for the rebellion of the Babylonians."
This astonishing wall, which encompassed the city, was itself encircled with a deep ditch, that was filled with water, and walled up with brickwork on both sides. Of this ditch we may form some adequate conception from this circumstance:—it was a cavity that yielded all the clay out of which the bricks were made that formed the enormous walls of which we have already spoken.
To this city there were no less than one hundred gates, and as many bridges across the ditch which encircled all. And, of course, as the city was square, twenty-five gates and bridges lay on each of the four sides. All these gates, with the posts and upper parts of the entrances, were of massy brass. "Between every two of these gates, (says Calmet,) at particular distances, there were three towers, and three between each angle of this great square: the towers were raised ten feet higher than the walls, which is to be understood of those places only where they were necessary; for the city, being encompassed in several places with marshes, which were always full of water, and defended the approach to it, there was no need of towers on those sides; so that their number did not consist of above two hundred and fifty; whereas if they had been carried on throughout, there must have been many more of them."
The streets, which were fifty in number, cut each other at right angles, They all led from one side of the city to the other; and consequently, being parallel with the walls, each street was fifteen miles in length. They were one hundred and fifty-one feet in width, and, being directed in straight lines, they were so laid out, that every gate opened immediately into one of them. "There were four other streets, which were adorned with houses only on one side, having the ramparts on the other. These made the whole compass of the city along the walls, and were each two hundred feet wide."
The other fifty streets crossing each other at right angles, formed six hundred and seventy-six squares; each of which having four furlongs and a half on each side, covered an extent of ground two miles and a quarter in circumference. The fronts of these squares were filled up with houses, some three, and some four stories high, and these were decorated with all the embellishments of taste and art; while the interior parts of the squares were occupied with conveniences, courts, and gardens.
This amazing city was divided into two equal parts by the river Euphrates, which had a free passage through the midst of it, from north to south. Across this river, a bridge of admirable construction was erected, to maintain a communication between the two parts of the city. This bridge was one hundred and twenty-five paces in length, supported by arches; and about thirty feet in breadth. At the two extremities were erected two palaces: that on the east side was called the old, and that on the west, from the period when it was constructed, was denominated the new. The old palace, on the eastern side of the river, occupied no less than four of the squares of which we have spoken; while that on the western side engrossed no less than nine. The former, according to Diodorus, was thirty furlongs in circumference, and the latter not less than sixty.
To fortify the city against all possible assaults, Nitocris, the mother of Belshazzar, who managed the public affairs of the kingdom, while her infamous son devoted himself to every species of low dissipation and debauchery, caused the works which Nebuchadnezzar had left unfinished, to be completed with all possible dispatch. Those which required most attention, were the banks of the Euphrates as it passed through the city. To accomplish this, she caused the river, during a season, to be turned into another direction; and, availing herself of the favourable opportunity during the absence of the water, she not only walled up the banks of the river on each side, but sunk beneath its native bed a sub-terranean or sub-aquatic vault or passage; and by this means established an uninterrupted communication between the old palace and the new. This passage was twelve feet in height, and fifteen in breadth. Above, it was covered with a strong arch, upon which was spread a layer of bitumen, not less than six feet in thickness. Upon this bitumen, which petrifies, and hardens into stone with the water, she turned in the river, while the vault or gallery which lay beneath, was not only preserved in a state of security, but kept perfectly dry. The use for which this secret passage was intended, is obvious. As the palaces were on opposite sides of the river, through the establishment of this communication they were capable of affording relief to each other, in case of any unforeseen disaster. And, even if an enemy should obtain a conquest of the one, the fugitives would still be able to find an asylum in the other. These precautions were however of no avail. The city was taken by surprise, as may be seen above; and it was forgotten in the moment of confusion, that they had provided themselves with such a mode of retreat.
Of the far-famed tower of Babel, the top of which was designed to reach to heaven, and the fame of which has actually reached to the ends of the earth, no account needs be given. Civilized nations have been uniformly taught to consider it as one of the wonders of the world.
Of the hanging gardens, for which Babylon is scarcely less known to fame than for her wonderful tower, it may not be amiss to speak a few words. These gardens extended over an area of four hundred feet square. They were composed of several large terraces rising in regular succession behind one another; so that the highest was raised to the height of three hundred and fifty feet, an elevation that equalled the wall which inclosed the city. From one of these terrasses to another, the visitant ascended by steps which were ten feet wide, till he obtained the full elevation, and found himself in a most romantic region, which afforded him a commanding prospect, at once enchanting to the eye, and regaling to every sense.
This astonishing structure was supported by enormous vaults built one upon another, in such a manner, that every separate part should add to the general strength of all. And to prevent even the possibility of a failure, the whole edifice was inclosed with a strong wall, no less than twenty-two feet thick. When raised to its proper height, the entire fabric was covered over with large flat stones sixteen-feet long and four feet wide. Over these flat stones they then placed a thick layer of bitumen and rushes, as a security against the inclemency of the weather; and upon this they laid two rows of brick, strongly cemented together; after which the whole was covered in a compact manner with large plates of lead. Such were the precautions which the architects took to prevent the arches below from receiving any injury from the descending moisture.
Upon this massy pile they heaped an enormous quantity of earth, insomuch that the largest trees might take root; and, by spreading their branches to the sun, exhibit to the astonished spectators below, the strange appearance of a pendent forest waving in the sky. On the most elevated of these terraces, by means of an aqueduct, a constant supply of water was drawn from the river Euphrates, which they distributed through every part of the garden. By these means shrubs and flowers of the most exquisite beauty attained a state of unexampled perfection: in short, it became a region of astonishment and delight.
"It has been affirmed, (says Calmet,) that Nebuchadnezzar undertook this wonderful edifice out of complaisance to his wife Amytis, the daughter of Astyages, who, being a native of Media, retained strong inclinations for mountains and forests."
It is remarkable, however, that on these gardens the Scriptures are perfectly silent. They speak of willows being on the banks of the rivers, and of the captive Israelites hanging their harps upon them in the midst thereof (Psalms 137:2.); and Isaiah speaks of Babylon as a valley of willows (Isaiah 15:7.); but in their captivity they had but little inclination either to survey the works of art, or perhaps to contemplate even the beauties of nature.
On the whole, when we reflect on the accumulated wonders which this city exhibited, and the wealth which must have been lavished to procure that perfection which we have but partially noticed, we cannot be surprised at finding Babylon denominated, the glory of the Kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, and the praise of the whole earth. Well then might the downfal of this mighty city be a subject of prophesy, and well might its fate have been handed down to all generations.**
** For a further account of this city, its glory and distresses, see Calmet: articles, Babylon, and Cyrus. See also Prid. Conn. and various authors to whom they refer.
It was well known to Cyrus, that the day was fast approaching, in which the Babylonians held a sumptuous feast, and probably celebrated the anniversary of their goddess Sheshack; and that, on this occasion, they abandoned themselves to every species of licentious mirth. This he thought a favourable moment to attempt the city by surprise. He accordingly, on the arrival of this fatal day, dispatched a party of his men, to the head of a canal which opened a passage from the river Euphrates into an extensive lake on the western side of the city, directing them, that, at a given hour, they should cut down the great dam, and turn the course of the river through the canal into this reservoir. In the interim, collecting his forces together, he divided them into two parties, stationing one at the place where the river entered the city, and the other where the water issued from it, directing them, under the command of two leaders, Gobrias and Gadates, to enter the city that night by the channel of the river, as soon as they should find it fordable; and that having effected an entrance they should immediately march toward the palace, the great scene of drunkenness, dissipation, impiety, and disorder. And, on the arrival of that hour in which the great dam was to be broken down, he opened the head of those deep trenches which he had previously made, turning into them the remaining part of the water which flowed in the river. By the mutual operation of these causes, about midnight, the bed of the river becoming nearly dry, his two parties found an easy entrance into the city. On their entrance, as if to facilitate their enterprize, they found those enormous gates which led to the river, and whichon all other occasions had been invariably shut, lying perfectly open; while the infatuated inhabitants, relying upon the protection of their goddess Sheshack, whose orgies they were then celebrating, were abandoning themselves to every species of abomination.
It was on this awful night, we are told by Daniel, (chap. 5: 1-4.) that Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, while he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, that the king and his princes, his wives and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God, which was at Jerusalem; and the king and his princes, his wives and his concubines, drank in them. They drunk wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
While these iniquitous libations were pouring out, the troops of Cyrus, within the city, were directing their march toward the palace. Agreeably to the declaration of Isaiah, (chap. 45: 1, 2.) The two-leaved gates were opened before him, and the gates were not shut. I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron. Both parties, having met near the palace, concentrated their forces, and, seizing the guards by surprise, prepared to carry this citadel by assault. But the way was already opened before them; the prophesies respecting Babylon were now to receive their accomplishment; the power of the Almighty appeared conspicuously in their behalf, in going before them, in breaking in sunder the gates of brass, in making the inhabitants of Babylon roar together like lions; in making their feasts in their heat, and, in taking Sheshack, and making them drunken, that they might rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake.
It was in this tremendous moment of internal riot and debauchery, and of external devastation already within their gates, but of which Belshazzar and his companions were perfectly unconscious, while polluting the sacred vessels of the temple with their impious rites, that there came forth amidst this horde of noble drunkards, Fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick, upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. The consternation which such a phaenomenon must have occasioned, it is difficult even to conceive, and totally impossible to describe. In consequence of it, the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. (Daniel 5:0.)
On this alarming occasion, the astrologers, the soothsayers, the Chaldeans, and the wise men, were instantly summoned, to read and interpret what this mysterious hand had legibly written in an unknown character. But the application was made in vain. The consternation soon drew Nitocris, the queen-mother, to the banqueting-house, who, from her previous knowledge of captive Daniel, recommended him to the king's notice as a person most likely to read the writing, and to make known to the terrified monarch the interpretation of these ominous but unknown characters, which were visible upon the wall. (g)
(g) "The reason why none of the wise men of Babylon were able to read the writing, was because the words were written in the old Hebrew characters, now called the Samaritan, with which the Babylonians were totally unacquainted." (See Prid. Conn. vol. 1: p. 127.)
Daniel, like a faithful servant of the living God, on hearing the occasion of this unexpectedsummons,reprovedtheabandonedmonarchwithhisprodigality,impiety, and vices, and immediately proceeded to decypher the characters which had occasioned the alarm. This is the interpretation of the thing. God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. (Daniel 5:0.)
The event followed closely upon the prediction, for the chapter concludes with the record of this awful fact: In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old. History corroborates this dreadful truth: for, according to Prideaux, who follows Herodotus, the slaughter of the guards was immediately followed byan attack upon the palace. Scarcely could the king, and his companions in iniquity, have recovered from the astonishment which Daniel's interpretation must have given, before they found themselves assaulted by those invading foes whom they had been accustomed to despise. The noise without the palace walls, soon awakened the attention of those within them; and, on their opening the gates to inquire into the occasion of the disturbance, the soldiers of Cyrus entered without molestation, and verified the wordswhich Daniel had but just spoken. "Belshazzar they found with his drawn sword, at the head of those who were at hand to assist him." But resistance was ineffectual. He was slain while valiantly fighting for his life, together with those who were with him; and with him ended the Babylonish empire.
The concluding passage which we have quoted from Daniel, expressly says, that Darius the Median took the kingdom; and this, according to Prideaux, actually was the case. "For Cyrus, so long as his uncle Darius lived, allowed him a joint title with himself in the empire, although it was all gained by his own valour, and, out of deference to him, yielded him the first place of honour in it. But the whole power of the army, and the chief conduct of all affairs, being still in his hands, he only was looked on as the supreme governor of the empire which he had erected; and therefore there is no notice at all taken of Darius in the canon of Ptolemy; but, immediately after the death of Belshazzar (who is there called Nabonadius), Cyrus is placed as the next successor, as in truth and reality he was; the other having no more than the name and the shadow of sovereignty, excepting only in Media, which was his own proper dominion." (h)
(h) Prideaux, Conn. vol. 1: p. 131.
In the passage which we have quoted from Jeremiah, we read as follows: The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof
(Jeremiah 51:42.). This also, on the present occasion, received nearly a literal accomplishment. We have already noticed, that, on the night in which the troops of Cyrus entered the city, he detached a party of his men to cut down a dam, by means of which the course of the water was directed through a canal into an adjacent lake. After the conquest of the city, no measures were taken, either by the conquerors or the vanquished, to repair the breach. In consequence of this negligence, all the country on that side became completely inundated; and the current being permitted to run in this channel a considerable time, so far widened the breach, that it became at length irreparable, without an expence nearly as enormous as that which the building of the bank first occasioned. The consequence was, that by this means a whole province was lost to Babylon. And the little current which ran through the city, in process of time, became so small and so shallow, that all navigation was nearly at an end. This contributed not a little to the future ruin of the place.
Alexander indeed, intending to make Babylon the metropolis of his empire, endeavoured to remedy the evil which the inundation had occasioned, and began accordingly with forming a new bank on all the western side. But Babylon had been doomed to perish. He carried on his work about the space of four miles; when, finding some unexpected difficulties arising from the nature of the soil, his labours were suspended. Obstacle succeeded to obstacle, till his death put an end to this and all his other designs; and consigned Babylon, according to the destinies of heaven, to be an habitation for wild bears and serpents. The swamps and bogs which thus began to gather round about her, were the presages of those approaching days, when dragons should howl in her pleasant palaces, and she should be blotted from the list of empires, to be trodden no more by the foot of man.
Thus has this prophesy also been awfully fulfilled with dreadful minuteness. Not all the precautions which had been taken by the ancestors of Belshazzar, were sufficient to avert the fate of Babylon. On the contrary, its calamities overtook it agreeably to the prediction of the prophet, at a time when they were made drunken, to sleep a perpetual sleep, to wake no more. Thus was Sheshack taken, and thus was the praise of the whole earth surprised! And thus did Babylon become an astonishment among the nations! (i)
(i) For further particulars relative to this prophesy, see Herodotus and Xenophon, Prideaux's Conn. and Calmet's Dict. See also this Commentary on Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, together with the various authors there referred to. See also Rollin's Ancient Hist. vol. 2:
That the preceding sketches of history were in every respect conformable to the predictions which preceded them, will scarcely admit of any doubt. Porphyry, the avowed enemy of Christianity, admits the striking coincidence which these and other prophesies of Daniel exhibit to the world; and from that perfect agreement which he perceived between the predictions and the events, attempted to prove, that the accounts were written subsequent to the events. In fact, so full was he of this persuasion, that he directed his attention to the completion of the prophesies of Daniel, even in their minutest circumstances; flattering himself, that, in proportion as the correspondence could be traced, the prophetic authenticity of Daniel's narratives would become questionable, so that the whole would appear in no stronger light than a simple relation of past events.
But, unfortunately for that cause which he espoused, his exertions terminated in an issue exactly the reverse of what he intended. For, failing in his grand point of proving the posterior date of the writings ascribed to Daniel, his record of those events which he had traced with so much precision, not only deserted him, but became evidence against their author.
To demonstrate the coincidence between the predictions ascribed to Daniel and their various events, he had recourse to the best historians then extant; (k) such as Callinicus, Sutorius, Diodorus Siculus, Hieronymus, Polybius, Posidonius, Claudius Theon, and Andronicus Alypius; and from them made evident proof that all that is written in the eleventh chapter of Daniel, was truly, in every particular, acted and done in the order as there related; and, from this exactness of completion, endeavoured to infer the assertion before mentioned, namely, that these prophesies were written after the facts were done, and therefore are rather historical narratives relating to things past, than prophetical predictions foreshewing things afterward to come. But Jerome turns the argument upon him, and with infinitely more strength of reason infers, that this way of opposing these prophesies gives the greatest evidence of their truth, in that what the prophet foretold is hereby allowed to be so exactly fulfilled, that he seemed to unbelievers not to foretel things to come, but to relate things past.
(k) Prid. Connect. vol. 3: p. 216. et seq.
What then shall we say to these things? Necessity compels us to yield our assent to facts which are thus attested by the accumulated evidence both of friends and foes. The whole stream of historyconcurs to establish the predictions of the prophets, while the records of chronology assign those dates which cover the attempts of Porphyry with disgrace.
These facts thus established, it demonstrably follows, that a genuine spirit of prophesy did exist. This spirit of prophesy must have been either natural, or supernatural, it being impossible that we can ascribe it to any other mode of being. In what light soever we view prophesy, it is self-evident, that a competent knowledge of those events which are about to be described, whether we consider them as past, present, or future, is absolutely necessary to enable any man to communicate to the world any adequate ideas respecting them. But as that which is future, has to the human mind no existence, it is utterly impossible that it should be able to communicate those ideas which are necessary to enable any man by his natural powers to look through a train of contingencies, to pronounce with certainty upon those events which are lodged in futurity. The plain consequence therefore is, that the human faculties, in point of real knowledge, are necessarily confined to things past, and to things present; futurity therefore belongs exclusively to God.
That God possesses this power of looking through contingencies with certainty, to those events which are future to us, arises from the nature of his existence. Nothing can be lodged in futurity to a Being to whom successive existence does not apply; and consequently, as successive duration must be inapplicable to God, futurity, with all its contingencies. and all its certainties, must stand unveiled before him.
As then this divine Being must possess every species of knowledge, and of power, in absolute perfection, it follows, that he must be capable of communicating a knowledge of what is future, to his intelligent creatures; and that he has done it, we appeal to those prophesies, which, by the mouths of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and St. John, he has revealed to the world in plain language, without symbol, without hieroglyphic, and without figure. And that those predictions which these men professed to have received from God, were actually what they declared them to be, we appeal to those facts which we have given in detail;—facts which have accomplished the predictions that preceded them, even in their minutest circumstances.
That figurative language can be no objection to the argument before us, we may be fullyconvinced by applying to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and to the interpretation given of it by Daniel, and recorded in the second chapter of his prophesy: and that subsequent events actually corresponded with the interpretation given, the reader may be convinced by consulting this Commentary on that chapter, together with those authors to whose writings he is there referred. The fourth chapter of the same prophetic book furnishes us with an example still morestriking, in which the prediction and the event are both recorded, as proofs of God's indignation against pride; so that, taken in all their circumstances, this prophesy and its accomplishment may be considered as the most extraordinary phaenomenon that was ever recorded among the annals of mankind.
In chapter the seventh, we find a train of historical visions, which were represented to Daniel in symbolical language, and were then explained by one of them that stood by, and have since beenverified by those facts which have been introduced into the Commentary on that and other chapters. These events have demonstrated, that the predictions which preceded them must have been genuine, and, consequently, that the language in which they were delivered, though perfectly figurative, contained no objection whatever to the certainty of the thing declared. For, since all our conceptions of things must depend upon previous communication; and since that which is both future and contingent can afford none;—since God alone is both omniscientandomnipresent,and therefore alone capable of infinite comprehension, it follows, that a spirit of prophesy can only originate with him. And consequently, as this spirit of prophesy is visible in the writings of his servants the prophets, the genuineness of which has been demonstrated by subsequent events, the argument is conclusive, that this spirit must have been communicated by God, both in those express declarations which we have already noticed, and in that symbolical language which is to be found in the writingsof Daniel, and which abounds in those of St. John in the book of Revelation.
An unshaken confidence in the sacred records, must unavoidably be accompanied with a firm belief, that many prophesies remain yet unfulfilled. And therefore this consequence can admit of no dispute, namely, that they must receive their fulfilment in some period or other. And whether the strange commotions which of late years have agitated the world, and laid empires in the dust; and the calamities which have lately overtaken the abettors of the apostate Papal church, may not be considered as judgments inflicted on her, as retaliations for that blood which she has wantonly shed; and consequently, whether the whole train of events may not be objects of prophetic observation, may be well worth an attentive consideration.
As all prophesy must, in some time or other, receive its accomplishment, it is not more improbable that some part maytake place in our day, than in some future year, when the present generation of men shall be swept from the earth. The objections which we may frame on these grounds, will be of equal avail with our posterity, and, if permitted to operate in all their force, will militate against the accomplishment of predictions in every age of the world. Prophesies cannot point to a period which will be always future. The progressive movements of time must finally overtake the event; and to know with precision how far we have reason to believe that the present occurrences of the world maybe considered as the accomplishment of prophesy, we must endeavour to trace the coincidence between them, to mark the iniquities which the prophetic spirit condemns, to notice the punishments which it has threatened to inflict, and to trace the analogy to the present day.
That the calamities which have been inflicted upon the church of Rome since the commencement of the French Revolution, have been many and dreadful, the facts themselves declare; but whether the atrocities that have been committed on these occasions, tremendous as they have been, are unprecedented in point of barbarity, when viewed as detached from all extraneous circumstances, maywell admit of many doubts.
"The annals of the Christian world, as well as those of the Pagan, discover to us little more than the history of ambition, superstition, and bloodshed. The career of the kingdom of Christ began in piety towards God, and in love and peace to all mankind. But systems of error, superstition, and oppression, soon interrupted its progress, and perverted its principles. Christianity has been converted into a system of commerce; and many of those called the ministers of Christ, have been a corporation of traders in the souls and liberties of mankind."
"Were I to attempt to define the character of Antichrist, I should say, It is all that which opposes itself to the kingdom of Christ, whether it flows from the ecclesiastical or the civil powers. Whatever in religion is destructive of union among Christians,—which leads to dominion over conscience,—to hinder free inquiry after truth, or any way oppresses and persecutes men for matters cognizable only by God,—is antichristian. Wherever there is intolerance; wherever we find conditions of communion among Christians imposed, which Christ hath not clearly enjoined; wherever creeds and modes of worship are enforced by human power, and men are made to forfeit any of their civil rights, or are stigmatized on these accounts, there is that spirit which is not of God. Wherever one Christian, or sect of Christians, assumes the seat of authority and judgment in the church of Christ, whether they call for fire to destroythose who dissent from them, or only exclude them from their communion and affection, there is a portion of that spirit of Antichrist, which has so long opposed itself to the benign principles of the kingdom of the Prince of Peace,—which has been the cause of so many evils to humanity, and the occasion of making the inconsiderate esteem the amiable religion of Jesus as a source of mischief instead of benevolence. Alas, how much of this spirit remains among us all! How few have learned, that, in Jesus Christ circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God." (l)
(l) Bicheno, Signs of the Times, p. 5.
To this enlarged definition of Antichrist St. John, in his Epistles, seems to have given full countenance, in the following words. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (m) Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (n) And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God: And this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world. (o) For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an Antichrist. (p)
(m) 1 John 2:18. (n) 1 John 2:22. (o) Chap. 4: 3.
(p) 2 John 1:7. See also 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10. 1 Timothy 4:1-3. 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Timothy 3:9; 2 Timothy 3:13. 2 Timothy 4:3-4.Revelation 13:0; Revelation 13:0; Revelation 18:1-8; Revelation 19:2; 2 Peter 2:02 Peter 2:0; 2 Peter 2:0; 2 Peter 3:0; 2 Peter 3:0. and Jude.
From these, and multitudes of passages similar to these which we have quoted, it must be evident to the most superficial reader of the prophetical parts both of the Old Testament and the New, that there are several strong intimations, and several direct and express predictions, concerning a certain power, or office, or person, or succession of persons, that should become visible in the world, and either arrogate to themselves the place and office of Christ, or exercise a direct enmity and opposition to him and his religion. Such then is the Antichrist, or such are the many Antichrists, spoken of in the New Testament. The characters and properties of these powers or persons; the dignity which they were to assume; the means by which they were to recommend themselves to the notice of mankind; the arts which they were deceitfully and basely to practise; and the persecutions they were to carry on in their various departments, to oppress the true followers of Jesus Christ, and obtain adherents to their abominations, are all clearly represented in various passages of Scripture.
"The term Antichrist is an epithet generally meaning any power or person acting in any respect in opposition to Christ and his doctrines. Its particular meaning is to be collected from those passages of Scripture in which it occurs. It may either signify one who assumes the place andoffice of Christ, or one who maintains a direct enmity and opposition to him." (q)
(q) See Kett's Hist. Interp. of Pro. vol. 1: page 277; also Hurd's Introduction to the Study of the Prophecies, as cited by him.
It is with these views before him, of the extensive nature and dominion of Antichrist, that the author last quoted concludes, and probably with much propriety, that the Papal, the Mahometan, and Infidel powers of the present day, are only different branches or forms of Antichrist; and that all are expressly foretold in Scripture, as being permitted toarise in different ages of the world, for the purposes of punishment to the guilty, and for the trial of the church of Christ. And hence, from the various descriptions given in Scripture, when taken inthe aggregate, he concludes as follows:
"That it clearly appears, that a power, sometimes represented as the little horn, the man of sin, the Antichrist, the beast, the star fallen from heaven, the harlot, the false prophet, the dragon, or, as the operation of false teachers, was to be expected to arise in the Christian world, to persecute, oppress, and delude the disciples of Christ, corrupt the doctrines of the primitive church, enact new laws, teach for doctrines the commandments of men, and establish its detestable dominion over the minds and consciences of mankind." (r)
(r) See Kett, vol. 1: p. 294. See also Calmet on the word Antichrist, and Prid. Conn. vol. 3: p. 215-219.
As, then, "Antichrist," as Calmet observes, "is the name of that man of sin who is to precede the second coming of our Saviour, and who is represented in the Fathers as the epitome of every thing that is most impious, cruel, and abominable," we cannot but include, as Mr. Kett has done, the Papal, the Mahometan, and the Infidel powers in our definition, though we shall confine our future observations to the first and last of these branches.
With this definition of Antichrist before us, that it is an epitome of every thing that is most cruel, impious, and abominable, let us turn our attention to the Papal and Infidel powers, and see how far they answer the description here given of that Antichrist which should come into the world. The Papal power, having bad a prior existence, has a prior claim upon us; of this therefore we will take a brief survey in four distinct lights, and arrange our observations under the following heads; namely, her superstition and idolatry; her apostacy; her blasphemy and arrogance; and, finally, her cruelty.
Papal Antichrist considered under four distinct heads; namely, superstition and idolatry; apostacy; blasphemy and arrogance; cruelty.
LET us turn our attention, first, to the origin and progress of superstition and idolatry.
"The Christians of the West were the descendants of those barbarians who had subdued that part of the Roman empire under the first four trumpets. The last mention of them before this, was when the Heruli, under Odoacer, subdued Italy, and set up their kingdom in the year 476, at which time the fourth trumpet sounded."
"Though these barbarians had been converted to Christianity long before that event, yet such was their propensity to their ancient heathenish and idolatrous rites and customs, that all these fooleries were adopted under the name of Christianity. Instead of worshipping their demons, or great men, who, they supposed, were translated after death among the gods, they worshipped the apostles, and added to their number many primitive saints, both male and female. They called them divi, or diva; such as divus Peter, divus Paulus, diva Maria, the mother of God, &c. They made images of them of gold, and silver, and brass, and wood, and stone, according to the several ranks of those by whom they were to be worshipped. The great and wealthy had gold, and silver, and brass; the meaner and poorer ranks had wood and stone."
"Though these images had neither sense nor motion, they vainly persuaded themselves, as their heathen ancestors had imagined before, that these saints, who, they supposed, had received the divine nature, presided over and dwelt in those images. They bowed down before them, and paid to them divine adoration, in violation of the first table of the holy law of God. They continued to indulge the same bloody and cruel spirit of murder which they had indulged when professed heathens; they ran to war and devastation upon the slightest occasions; they practised sorceries, and attempted to destroy one another by enchantments and poisonings, and believed in false miracles; they attributed to pieces of wood, to supposed relics of saints, whether buttons, bones, or rags, a divine and protecting influence: they had recourse to their priests (who were become like the heathen magicians), for spells to drive away unclean spirits, for the cure of diseases, for amulets to protect them from danger, instead of making an application to the living God, who, through Jesus Christ, is the Saviour and protector of all mankind.They committed fornication with impunity, which, in the idiom of Scripture, comprehends adultery; by which the principalties of civil society were always weakened, and sometimes burst asunder: robbery, and the invasion of their neighbour's property, they frequently indulged inthe commission of, thus breaking all the commands of the second table." (s)
(s) See New Exposition of the Revelation by J. M. M.D. vol. 1: p. 163. et seq.
"If (says Mr. Gibbon,) in the beginning of the fifth century, Tertullian or Lactantius had been suddenly raised from the dead, to assist at the festival of some popular saint or martyr, they would have gazed with astonishment and indignation on the profane spectacle which had succeeded to the pure and spiritual worship of a Christian congregation. As soon as the doors of the church were thrown open, they must have been offended with the smoke of incense, the perfume of flowers, the glare of lamps and tapers; which diffused at noon-day a gawdy, superfluous, and, in their opinion, sacrilegious light: if they approached the balustrade of the altar, they made their way through the prostrate crowd, consisting for the most part of strangers and pilgrims who resorted to the city on the vigil of the feast, and who already felt the strong intoxication of fanaticism, perhaps ofwine: their devout kisses were imprinted on the walls and pavement of the sacred edifice; and their fervent prayers were directed, whatever might be the language of their church, to the bones, the blood, or the ashes of the saints, which were usually concealed by a linen or silken veil from the eyes of the vulgar."
"These Christians frequented the tombs of the martyrs, in the hope of obtaining from their powerful intercession, every sort of spiritual, but more especially of temporal blessings: they implored the preservation of their health, and the cure of their infirmities; the fruitfulness of their barren wives, or the safety and happiness of their children: whenever they undertook any distant or dangerous journey, they requested that the holy martyrs would be their guides and protectors on the road; and, if they returnedwithouthavingexperiencedanymisfortune,theyagainhastened to the tombs of the martyrs, to celebrate, with grateful thanksgivings, their obligations to the memory and relics of those heavenly patrons."
"The walls were hung round with symbols of the favours which they had received; eyes, and hands, and feet, of gold and silver; and edifying pictures, which could not long escape the abuse of indiscreet or idolatrous devotion, represented the image, the attributes, and the miracles of the tutelar saint. The same uniform spiritof superstition might suggest, in the most distant ages and countries, the same methods of deceiving the credulity, and of affecting the senses of mankind; but it must be ingenuously confessed, that the ministers of the Catholic church imitated the profane model which they were impatient to destroy. The most respectable bishops had persuaded themselves, that the ignorant rustics would more cheerfullyrenounce the superstitions of Paganism, if they found some resemblance, some compensation, in the bosom of Christianity. The religion of Constantine atchieved, in less than a century, the final conquest of the Roman empire; but the victors themselves were insensibly subdued by the arts of their vanquished rivals." (Chap. 28:)
Such was the leprosy which afflicted the church in this early period; almost every limb of it appears to have been tainted with the dreadful contamination: political expediencybecame a plea with those who retained some remnants of their primitive integrity; so that corruption advanced onward without controul, and almost without opposition. Even Augustine, whose mind might have been supposed superior to these abominations, seems to have been, for some time, an abettor of the prevailing superstitions. They had excited the honest indignation of one Faustus, who had presumed to declare, that "the orthodox were become like the Heathens; that they had metamorphosed the idols of the Pagans into martyrs, whom they had learned to worship with the same kind of invocation." This roused the unhallowed zeal of Augustine; and, kindling his anger against Faustus, induced him to inveigh in bitter terms against his attempts to oppose the growing evil, or to stem the wild torrent of a barbarous age.
It is, however, but an act of justice to the memory of Augustine to state, that the movements of his mind soon took a different turn, insomuch that he became a zealous opposer of those follies which he had previously taken occasion to defend. "Satan (says he,) has dispersed every where a crew of hypocrites under the habit of monks, gadding about every country: some sell the limbs of martyrs, (if they be martyrs,) and all seek, all exact, either the expences of a profitable poverty, or the reward of a pretended holiness."
"They powdered the bones and skulls of those (observes Sardianus, a Heathen,) who had been condemned by a legal course of justice; they made gods of them, prostrating themselves unto them; these they called martyrs; and some, deacons, and solicitors of their prayers with the gods."
Of the Egyptian monks, from whom the models for these unchristian and superstitious institutions were taken, Mr. Gibbon, in his 27th chapter, gives the following description: "The actions of a monk,his words and even his thoughts, were determined by an inflexible rule or a capricious superior; the slightest offences were corrected by disgrace or confinement, extraordinary fasts, or bloody flagellations; and disobedience, murmur, or delay,were ranked amongst the most heinous sins. A blind submission to the commands of the abbot, however absurd or even criminal they might seem, was the ruling principle and the first virtue of the Egyptian monks; and their patience was frequently exercised by the most extravagant trials. They were directed to remove an enormous rock, assiduously to water a barren staff that had been planted in the ground, till, at the end of three years, it should vegetate and blossom like a tree; to walk in a fiery furnace, or to cast their infants into a deep pond; and several of these saints or madmen have been immortalized in monastic story, by their thoughtless and fearless obedience."
Such was the early picture of this abominable communion, which styles itself Catholic, and hurls its impious anathemas upon all those that are not within its pale! We will now turn our thoughts to the succeeding age, and examine whether the clouds had begun to disperse, or had acquired a more impenetrable gloom.
It was upon the death of Sabinianus, that Boniface the third ascended the papal throne, in the beginning of the year 606; and one of his first acts, an act which took place this very year 606, was to procure from the tyrannical usurper Phocas, a grant of the title of Universal Bishop, and Supreme Head of the Church; the identical title, which Gregory only a few years before, and that in the lifetime of Boniface himself, had stigmatized as a badge of the precursor of Antichrist.*
* This dissonance of opinion seems to have been an unfortunate slip between these partners in infallibility. How both Boniface and Gregory could be infallible under these circumstances, I must confess I have not ingenuity enough to discover:
——— "the bold impostor Looks not more silly when the cheat's found out."
It is from this memorable year then that we are led to date the 1260 days, during which the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:3. were to prophesy in sackcloth: for when the Romanbishop was appointed supreme head of the church, and when all the churches, in consequence of that appointment, were placed under his spiritual dominions, the saints were most undoubtedly delivered into his hands. Prior to this time, his authority had only been acknowledged from motives of respect which had no connection with compulsory measures; but from this moment the face of things was changed. Henceforth his merciless tyranny armed the secular power against the faithful; so that with his unholy curses, and the bloody sword, they were hunted with implacableanimosity to the extremities of the earth. We have no intention to insinuate that barbarity commenced immediately with this investiture or assumption of power; because that hung for a season in the rear, and was only exhibited as the front became more formidable. But certain it is, that, from this moment, the decisions of the Pontiff became as arbitrary as his dominion was extensive; both were without limits, and soon acted without controul.
Scarcely had one year elapsed from the establishment of this complicated empire, before that very idolatry which had been opposed by the zeal of Serenus, and censured, either by the policy or the piety of Gregory, was publicly authorized by the sovereign Pontiff. The ancient Pantheon, formerly the general sink of all the abominations of Paganism, was now restored, though under a different name, to its original destination. "The mediatory demons of corrupted Christianity occupied the vacant places of the mediatory demons of the Gentiles; and instead of Jupiter and his kindred deities, the virgin mother of Christ, and all his martyred saints, received the blind adoration of the revived ten horned beast. The holy city was now trodden under foot by a new race of Gentiles,differing from their Pagan predecessors in name rather than in nature; and the witnesses began to prophesy in sackcloth during the long period of 1260 years; the same period, in short, as that during which the saints were given into the hand of the little horn." (t)
(t) See Faber's Dissertation on the Prophecies, vol. 1: p. 220. et seq.
"As to the religious worship of the pagan dragon by the subjects of the papal beast, (says Daubuz,) it appears in the perfect conformity and substitution of the present Romish worship, to that of the ancient Pagans." This perfect conformity has been made out very plainly: First, because the ancient Romans and the new Roman Catholicshavesimilarobjectsofworship,thoughwith other names; and have adopted the same ceremonies. Both of these idolatrous communions had and have these five distinguishingcharacteristics: First, a supreme God; secondly, angels or inferior gods; thirdly, human souls canonized or deified; fourthly, relics and monuments of dead men; and, fifthly, images.
Neither is the similarity more striking between the objects of adoration, than between the ceremonies which the ancient Pagans established, and which these new idolaters have adopted. Holy water has succeeded to the aquae lustrales of their predecessors, and patron saints to the lares and penates; canonization to the apotheosis; the Pope to the supreme Pontiff; the cardinals, monks, and nuns, answer to the flamines, auspices, augures, and vestales; the altars to the like pagan altars; the burning lamps, to the immortal fires in the temples; processions to the pomps; shrines to the chariots of the gods; rogations to the ambarvalia; carnivals to the Bacchanalia; in short, the family likeness runs through almost every feature.
It is a circumstance still more surprising, that, in addition tothe above coincidences, even the identical idols, with their appurtenances, which were worshipped when Paganism was triumphant in Rome, were at this moment worshipped by these degenerate professors of Christianity. At Rome, and in other places, the very idols and temples of the Heathens, by only changing the name, have been used in the corrupted church. "In the Pantheon, Cybele was succeeded by the Virgin Mary, and the Pagan deities by Christian martyrs. Idolatry still subsisted, but the objects of it were changed." (u) "Thus, at Rome, the statue of Jupiter Capitolinus is become a St. Peter, by only changing the thunderbolt into two keys. At Bourdeaux, an old statue of Jupiter on an eagle became a Christ ascending into heaven. Even the Pope himself neglects his title of Bishop, to take upon him that of Pontifex Maximus, which is merely Roman and Pagan." (v)
(u) See chronological table affixed to Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History by Maclaine.
(v) See Whitaker's Commentary on the Revelation, together with the various authors to whom he refers, p. 277, et seq.
In those barbarous ages which we have just contemplated, in which tyranny and ignorance strengthened each other, it is not a matter of much astonishment that superstition and idolatry should prevail. The conduct of Popes and councils, from the infancy of the papal dominion, led the victims of its delusion to the verge of that vortex into which they have since been plunged. It has been the common style of councils, ever since that of Nice, which was held in 325, to publish their decrees under the title of things divinely inspired. The opinion of Constantine, concerning the decree of the 300 bishops who attended the above council, was, "That it ought to be looked upon as the sentence of God himself:" and likewise of all councils, that "whatsoever is decreed in the holy councils of bishops, the same is to be attributed to the will of God." Cardinal Julian, in his harangue to the deputies of the Bohemians in the council of Basil, tells them, "That the decrees of councils are not less to be believed than the Gospel; for it is they that give authority to the Scriptures." The 82d canon of the sixth council in Trullo, A.D. 707, ordains, "That the image of Christ, as the Lamb of God, should be received among the rest of the venerable images." The 73d canon of the same council ordains, that "adoration should be given to Christ by the figure of the cross; and, to shew their reverence to it, that it should never be engraven on the church-floor lest it should seem to be trampled under foot, or triumphed over.
These councils sometimes contradict, and even condemn each other. The fifth general council, called by Justinian, condemned the fourth general council of Calcedon: the council that was called by Charlemagne in the West overturned the second general council of Nice. It was thus that these infallible impostors, while professing themselves to be influenced by the Holy Spirit, involved themselves in the most obvious absurdities. They admitted the Almighty to be immutable,and that they were all actuated by his Spirit; while the decisions of their councils, contradicting one another, too plainly discovered to all, the daring impositionswhich they had practised upon mankind. (w)
(w) See New Exposition on the Revelation by J. M. M.D. vol. 2: p. 57, 58, together with the authors to whom he refers.
Were we to trace the progress of this detestable usurpation and dominion, instead of running through a few pages of an appendix, we should fill a volume. It may be sufficient that we notice a few of those hasty strides, by which this apostate power erected its fatal engines over the bodies and souls of men.
We have already seen the character of this church so early as the year 476; and we have seen also, that in the year 606 Boniface obtained from Phocas that right of dominion for her, which she has since exercised, and through which the afflicted members of Christ's mystical body have been obliged to mourn. It was in the year 755, or 758, that Popery obtained a still more complete establishment; for, in one of those years, Pepinking of France, having taken the apostolic see under his immediate protection, conferred upon it the exarchate of Ravenna. In the year 774, the Pope obtained a greater part of the kingdom of Lombardy. In 787, the worship of images, which has been established in 606, was fully confirmed bythe second council of Nice; and in 817, the emperor Louis finally confirmed the Pope in his Italian dominions. In the year 1074, Gregory the seventh strictly forbade the marriage of the clergy. In the year 1059, Robert Guiscard assumed the title of duke of Apulia and Calabria; and afterward did homage to the Pope, as his superior lord, for those dominions which were afterwards erected into the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In the year 1137, the same feudal submission was made by Don Alonzo of Portugal. In 1213, John king of England declared his monarchy a fief of the apostolic see. Arragon, Austria, Sardinia, and Corsica, laboured under the same fatal delusion, and acknowledged themselves, in this dark period of ignorance and imposture, feudatories of the papal chair. But it was in the pontificate of Innocent the third, which lasted from 1198 to 1216, that the most daring steps were taken. He contrived to convert the Saladine tenth, which was a tax originally levied upon the whole Latin empire for the purpose of defraying the expences of the holy war, to the uses of the pious successors of St. Peter! "He may boast (says Gibbon,) of the two most signal triumphs over sense and humanity, the establishment of transubstantiation, and the origin of the inquisition." And, finally, to complete the aggrandizement ofthe church of Rome, in the period between 1274 and 1277, she bowed to reluctant submission the neck of Constantinople her ancient rival. (x)
(x) See Faber's Dissertation on the Prophecies, vol. 2: p. 81, 82.
Such were the progress and dominion of imposture, and such were the artifices which this degenerated communion adopted to enslave and terrify mankind! The strange effects which such principles, when established in the mind, must have had upon the conduct of the deluded throng, it may not be so difficult to imagine as to describe. A few instances may, nevertheless, be necessary to set this point in its proper light, before we entirely dismiss the subject.
"The first introduction (says Mr. Gibbon,) of a symbolic worship was in the veneration of the cross and of relics. The saints and martyrs, whose intercession was implored, were seated on the right hand of God; but the gracious, and often supernatural favours, which, in the popular belief, were showered around their tombs, conveyed an unquestionable sanction of the devout pilgrims, who visited, and touched, and kissed these lifeless remains, the memorials of their merits and sufferings. The scruples of reason or piety were silenced by the strong evidence of visions and miracles; and the pictures which speak, and move, and bleed, must be endowed with a divine energy, and may be considered as the proper objects of religious adoration! Before the end of the sixth century, images made without hands were propagated in the camps and cities of the eastern empire: they were the objects of worship, and the instruments of miracles; and in the hour of danger or tumult, their venerable presence could revive the hope, rekindle the courage, or repress the fury of the Roman legions." (y)
(y) Decline and Fall, vol. 9: p. 114-120. as quoted by Faber, vol. 2: p. 259.
Fortunately for these impostors, both the miracles which they performed, and the visions which they communicated, always spoke a language that either suited their conveniency, or aggrandized their power. Two points were carefully secured in all these performances,—a concealment of the fraud, and the delusion of the peop
"In a treatise (says Mr. Whitaker,) which I now have before me, published so lately as the year 1756, and entitled, 'The miraculous Power of the Church of Christ asserted through each successive Century, from the Apostles down to the present Time,' the writerquotes the declaration of a certain foundress, who diffused her lustre through the sixteenth century, in the following words: 'She declares, that our Lord was many times pleased to let her see him in the sacred host. In particular, going one day to receive the blessed sacrament, she saw him in great majesty, in the hands of the priest, in the host which he was going to administer to her. At the same time she understood by a vision, that this same priest was in a state of sin, which troubled her exceedingly. But, says she, our Lord himself said unto me, that I should pray for him; and told me that he had suffered what I had seen, that I might understand what power and force the words of consecration have; and that God would not be kept from thence, how wicked soever the priest were who pronounced them.'" (a) This was a miracle of the most valuable kind: the reasons for its preservation are so obvious, that they need not be mentioned.
(a) See his Commentary on Rev. p. 239.
Of one John Francis Regis, a Jesuit, who had been canonized, the same author writes as follows: "This blessed man was called to receive the crown of life on the last dayof the year 1640; since which time numberless miracles have been wrought at his relics, even by the very dust of his tomb. This dust, it is added, is carried into all the provinces of the kingdom, and is carefully preserved as an universal remedy against all disorders. We congratulate ourselves (say twenty archbishops and bishops, in a letter to Pope Clement XI. on the same occasion,) that it hath pleased God to raise in our days an apostolical man among us, endued with the grace of miracles. We are witnesses, that before the tomb of St. John Francis Regis, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dumb speak, &c." (b) We cannot but observe, that, how efficacious soever the dust of Regis might have been in some cases, it was incapable of curing all sorts of blindness;—it could not cure that of these deluded devote
(b) Whit. Commentary on Rev. p. 240.
Magdalene Arnauld, a religious woman of St. Mary's at Puy, aged fifty, was reduced to the last extremity by a dropsy joined with a palsy. When the physicians thought she could not live half an hour, a relic of the above saint, Regis, was put into her hands. After she had kissed it with devotion, she said, "Great servant of God, my only desire in this world is to accomplish the adorable will of God. Obtain for me from God one year more, to make a holy preparation for death, and to satisfy the divine justice by penance." Having said this, she applied the relic to her stomach: that momentshefoundherselfcured;themonstrous swelling was absolutely dispersed. (c)
(c) Whitaker, p. 241.
"In point of devotion to the virgin, real defects are far more to be feared than real excesses. She (that is, the Virgin,) surpasses in greatness both heaven and earth; and while the heavenly powers stand before the throne with fear and trembling, and covering their faces, she presents mankind to Christ, and it is through her that we obtain the pardon of our sins."—"God will always honour her as queen of heaven, and has inspired the church to pay her extraordinary honours; so that if we can but render her our advocate with her Son, we cannot put our eternal interests into better hands." (d)
(d) See Whitaker, p. 317, together with a popish pamphlet, published in London, 1798, from whence the above passages were taken.
"We must never begin nor end the day without putting ourselves under her protection, by saying some short prayer in honour of her. In the second place, we must keep her festivals; and, in the third place, be particularly attentive to the rosary or beads." (e)
(e) Ibid. p. 318.
Lyttelton, in his Life of Henry II. vol. 4: p. 332, has furnished the world with the following anecdote: "His illness did not prove mortal; and the same false religious notions made him ascribe his recovery to the protection of St. Roque Madour in the Quercy, whom he had invoked in his danger; and addressed to her a vow, that if his health was restored, he would go in pilgrimage to her shrine, which, as soon as he found himself able to bear a journey, he piously performed." (f)
(f) Whitaker, p. 319.
That this apostate church actually countenances the unholy practices of its deluded devotees, the following idolatrous compositions will not permit us to entertain a moment's doubt.
"Holy Mother of God, who hast worthily merited to conceive him whom the whole world could not comprehend; by your pious intervention wash away our sins; that, being redeemed by thee, we may be able to ascend to the seat of everlasting glory, where thou abidest with thy Son for ever."
The following is part of a prayer to the Virgin, for the repeating of which Pope Celestine granted three hundred days of pardon! "Comfort a sinner, and give not thine honour to a stranger or the cruel, I pray thee, Queen of Heaven. Have me excused with Christ thy Son, whose anger I dread, and thoroughly fear his wrath, for against thee only have I sinned. O Virgin Mary, be not estranged from me, thou who art full of heavenly grace. Be the guardian of my heart; impress me with the fear of God, bestow on me integrity of life, and give me honesty of manners: and grant that I mayavoid sin, and love what is righteous, O Virgin sweetness: there never has been, neither is there such."
To St. George.
"O George, renowned martyr, praise and glory become thee, who hast had a rich portion of warfare; by whom the royal damsel, presenting herself in sorrow before the worst of dragons, was saved even in soul: we beg thee from the bottom of our hearts, that, with all the faithful, we may be joined to the citizens of heaven, being washed from our uncleanness, &c."
To St. Alban.
"We now beg you, patron, illustrious preacher, who art our true glory, loose the crimes of thy servants by thy supplications." (g)
(g) Whitaker, p. 121, 122, in which he adduces his authorities.
Doxology recommended by an indulgence of Leo X.
"To the holy and undivided Trinity; to the crucified human nature of Jesus Christ; to the prolific purity of the most blessed and most glorious Virgin Mary; and to the community of all saints, be everlasting praise, honour, power, and glory from every creature, &c."
In the office of praise for Easter. "Rejoice, Queen of Heaven, because He whom thou hast merited to bear, is risen, as he said. Protect, O Lord, thy people, and preserve them with perpetual defence,who confide in the patronage of thine apostles, Peter and Paul, and the other apostles."
In the other parts of the Romish ritual are scattered such idolatrous expressions as the following: Queen;—Mother of mercy;—our Life;—Sweetness;—Hope.—O pious, O merciful, O sweet Virgin Mary;—Creator; Mother of grace;—sweet Parent of mercy;—Star of the sea;—benignant Mother of God;—perpetual Virgin;—propitious Gate of heaven;—Daughter of the eternal Father;—Spouse of the eternal Spirit;—Mother of our Creator;—Refuge of sinners;—Advocate of all Christians;—Queen of angels;—Health of the weak;—Comfort of the afflicted;—Help of Christians;—Queen of saints. (h)
(h) See Whitaker, p. 327-332, et seq. in which he has cited his authorities.
These instances of idolatry, which might be easily multiplied into thousands, are surelysufficient to demonstrate, that the devotion which tolerates and even enforces the use of them, must partake more of depravity than of the religion of Jesus Christ. They discover to us an abyss of iniquity, and tell us, in language too plain to be misunderstood, that before such worship can be cordially adopted, the mind must be intoxicated with error;—it must be completely drunk with the wine of the fornication of this idolatrous harlot.
To complete these abominable impositions, even the express commands of God are mutilated, especially in those parts which forbid idolatry. "A copy of the office and litanies composed in honour of the Virgin Mary, a composition particularly recommended, I have (says Mr. Whitaker,) now before me, printed at Antwerp in 1703. This has been published by the command of Pope Pius V. with indulgences and prayers appointed by that Pontiff, and hymns revised by Urban VIII. These indulgences are various, for saying various parts of the office: and, among other things prefixed to the office, is a very defective copy of the ten commandments, from which the second is entirely omitted, as also the greater part of the fourth; and the tenth is divided into two, to preserve the due number." (i) Such are the impious subterfuges to which imposture is obliged to have recourse, to keep the multitude in ignorance, and to conceal itself from vulgar eyes! On this point it will perhaps be needless to adduce any additional proof. We will therefore dismiss this subject with a full persuasion that the reader must be satisfied, that superstition and idolatry have most dreadfully prevailed in the Romish church. Let us now turn our thoughts to her.
(i) Whitaker, p. 325.
Amid that parade of ceremonious worship, with which Popery for so many ages deluged Europe, and other portions of the globe, it may not be amiss to inquire into the state of morals, as exhibited by those sons of infallibility.
"The prelates (says Dr. Eveleigh, in his third Bampton Sermon,) who filled the apostolical chair about the ninth and tenth centuries, have furnished the enemies of Christianity, no less than the enemies of the abuses of it, with inexpressible matter of invective. They seem to have been permitted by Providence to prove the extreme folly, aswellasblasphemy,ofthose pretensions to infallibility, which have been made for the bishops of that see."—"There was a succession (says Stillingfleet,) of not less than fifty bishops, so remarkable for their wickedness, that Annas and Caiaphas, (setting only aside their condemning of Christ,) were saints in comparison of them. The prelates and clergy were, in general, as ignorant and profligate as can well be conceived; and the Popes were not men, but devils."
Mosheim, when speaking of the plan which Gregory the Seventh had formed for raising the church above all human authority, says, that that Pontiff had many kinds of opposition to encounter, but none more unsurmountable than that which arose from the two reigning vices of Concubinage and Simony, which had infected the whole body of the European clergy. The Roman Pontiffs, from the time of Stephen the Ninth, had combated with zeal and vehemence these monstrous vices, but without success. For though it be true, that, in the methods which Gregory took to extirpate those vices, he violated not only the laws of religion, but also the dictates of natural equity and justice, and, under the mask of pious zeal, committed the most crying and abominable enormities; yet it is certain, on the other hand, that these vices produced the most unhappy effects both in church and state; and a suppression of them became absolutely necessary. There were indeed among the clergy several men of piety and virtue; but there was also a prodigious number of ecclesiastics throughout Europe, not only of priests and canons, but also of monks, who lived in the bonds of a criminal love, kept, under the title of wives, mistresses whom they dismissed at pleasure, &c. and who not only spent, in the most profuse and scandalous manner, the revenues and treasures of the churches and convents to which they belonged, but even distributed a great part of them among their illegitimate children. (k)
(k) See Whitaker, p. 348-350.
Strong and dreadful as these testimonies are, and detestable as the scene of iniquity is which they unfold, a still more horrid picture is given of the Popes themselves through several succeeding centuries. Jurieu, in his eighth and ninth chapters on the accomplishment of prophesy, has furnished us with the following accounts.
"It is from the tenth century that we must begin the history of the abominations of the Popes. Pope Formosus died in the year 897. By means of a faction of villains, his seat was filled by one called Boniface, who had twice before been deposed; once while a deacon, and once while a priest. This Boniface, turned out of the chair by another faction, gave place to Stephen VII. who made himself famous by a remarkable action in causing the body of Formosus to be digged out of its grave, and a process to be made against him, upon this pretence, that he had suffered himself to be translated from another bishoprick to that of Rome, contrary to the canons; and so his body was thrown into the Tiber. The historians who have written the lives of the Popes characterize him as a profligate wretch, and make him to have governed only fifteen months.* Two Popes followed, of whomthe one sat in the chair but four months, and the other only three weeks. After this, came John 9:0. who continued three years. One Benedict succeeded him on the one hand; whilst a vile fellow, named Sergius, on the other, did also exercise the pontifical power, as appears by the records of those times. Leo V. followed upon the death of Benedict, who, at the end of forty days, was imprisoned by another Pope, named Christophorus, who had the chair but seven months. Here are at least seven or eight Popes in that number of years, because they turned out and strangled one another. This Christophorus was turned out by another most atrocious character named Sergius, of the faction of the marquis of Tuscany. We ought here to peruse the confession of Baronius himself, who, entering uponthe tenth century, calls it the leaden, the iron age, a century of horror and darkness. At this time ruled those two most notorious strumpets, Theodora, a Roman dame, most infamous for her lewdness, and her daughter Marosia, wife to Albertus marquis of Hetruria, and concubine of this Pope Sergius, who, at the same time, kept the mother and the daughter, to reward them for raising him to be Pope by their influence and authority. One Anathasius succeeded him, of whom there is no account. After him cameLando, who, to oblige the infamous Theodora, preferred a priest of Ravenna, named John, to the bishopric of Bologna, and afterward to be archbishop of Ravenna. But Theodora, not finding it for her convenience to have her gallant at such a distance from her, quickly made away with Lando, and made this John 10:0. by name bishop of Rome. Some historians say, that this John was the son of Pope Sergius by Marosia, Theodora's daughter. This Pope then was the son of a Pope, and kept his grandmother to behis concubine. This monster possessed the chair sixteen years, and left it by a violent death; for Marosia, who is reputed by some authors to have been his mother, caused him to be put into prison, and there to be stifled under a bed. She then made Leo VI. Pope in his room, who survived but six months, and died in prison of a violent death, as his predecessor did. Several who followed in succession had the good fortune to be almost buried in silence."
* Admitting the claims and conduct of Formosus to have been infallible, we shall be at a loss to account for the actions of Boniface upon the same principle. The difficulty will not be rendered less, if we invert the order. This is clear: both could not have been infallible.
"It was otherwise with Octavian, son of Albertus marquis of Tuscany, who was made Pope at seventeen years of age. His crimes were very enormous, but they are well known also by all the learned world. In him did Rome see another Nero, a second Heliogabalus. The Lateran Palace became the most public bawdy-house in Europe; an honest woman could not with any safety perform her devotions in the most public places; for women were ruined even in the churches. Besides this, he offered incense to the devil, and invoked Jupiter and the other gods of the Pagans. This monster in debauchery was deposed by the emperor Otho; but he formed a party, and raised an insurrection by which much blood was shed. Otho, however, remained master; but, on his departure to Germany, the prostitutes at Rome set Octavian again upon the chair, and thrust out that Pope whom the emperor had made."
"Otho again prevailed; but, on his death, another wretch, who called himself Boniface VII. seized Pope Benedict VI. and caused him to be strangled in prison. Another tyrant of the family and faction of the marquis of Tuscany, named Benedict VII. turned out this Boniface VII. who was forced to save himself at Constantinople; whither he carried all the moveables, and as much of the treasures of St. Peter as he could, with him. Some time after, he again returned to Rome, and put himself once more in the chair, in which he found one named John 14:0. whom he threw into prison, and there starved to death. Eight months after this, he himself dies, and is dragged through the streets to be thrown on a common dunghill. Behold these are the gods of the Papacy!" (l)
(l) "To this day (says Mr. Whitaker, p. 357, after having quoted largely from Jurieu,) the Romanists continue the blasphemous practice of calling the Pope 'the Lord God;' as appears from a confession of faith found in the pocket of a priest during the late rebellion in Ireland, and reported by Sir R. Musgrave."
"The eleventh century (says Baronius,) began with a report, which spread itself far and near, that Antichrist was come, and that we should soon see the end of the world. It was the horrible villanies which had been seen in the church, and which still continued there, that gave occasion to this report. From this period until the middle of the century,the Roman chair was filled with men every whit as vile and monstrous as their predecessors. But the marquisses of Tuscany disposed of the Popedom as they thought proper; sometimes bestowing it upon their kindred, and at other times selling it to strangers. It was in this century, that there was one Pope but of ten years old, the son of Albertus, count of Tuscany. He was called Benedict IX. and was one of the vilest monsters that ever sat in the papal chair, or afflicted the world. Cardinal Benno assures us, that he was a sorcerer, and that he sacrificed to devils in the woods. When this Benedict had reigned peaceably for ten years, another faction of villains created another Pope under the name of Silvester III. Benedict then sold his share in the papacy to one named John, and retired to his house to live in privacy. He, however, returned again within a few months, and once more set himself up for Pope, without attempting to depose the other two; so that Rome had three Popes at one time in three distinct churches, all infallible, and all acting in opposition to one another! These three wretches might longer have enjoyed the honours and profits of the papacy, if a fourth, more cunning than they, had not persuaded them to part with their dignityin his favour, on condition that they might retain those church revenues which they before enjoyed. This Gratian, for such was the name of this priest, did not long enjoythe benefit of his purchase; Clement II. took his place: he, however, continued in it but nine months; for, at the end of that period, he was poisoned by Damasus II. who succeeded him. This Damasus, at the end of twenty-three days, was himself poisoned by one Gerard Brazuta, who was kept in pay for such work by the holy see; for Cardinal Benno tells, that he had poisoned seven or eight successively." (m
(m) See Jurieu, as cited by Whitaker, p. 356, et seq.
From this period the scene began to change; not indeed from vice to virtue, but from debauchery to rapine and blood. Inhumanity, with its concomitant horrors, so far triumphed over common vices, that it became the predominant evil; and the others were surveyed as matters of indifference which excited little or no surprise. But inhumanity will appear before us, when we view Popery in another light.
After giving us a list of men, or rather of monsters, who were heretical, simoniacal, perjured, poisoners, murderers, adulterers, sodomites, luxurious, drunkards, and, in short, whatsoever may be deemed detestable in the human character, the author whom we have already quoted, tells us that Innocent VIII. was debauched beyond measure. Immediately after this, we find Alexander VI., whose enormities were sufficient to efface the memory of those of his predecessors. He purchased the Popedom with money; he lived in incest with the famous Lucretia, who was his own daughter, and whom he married to his own son Caesar Borgia. Soon after, came Leo X. "It is notorious that he did not so much as believe a God: he one day told Cardinal Bembo, That this fable of Jesus Christ had done them good service." (n) "All this is the least part of what might be said on his head. It is an ocean of iniquity which cannot be drawn dry. In a word, we must know, that there hath not been a throne in the world defiled with such abominations. We find above twenty-five Popes convicted or accused of magic. Cardinal Benno reckons up several in less than fifty years." (o) In short, all flesh, in this eleventh century,seems to have corrupted its way, so that "a deluge was not sufficient to wash away the filth; their horrid sins called for the fire of Gomorrah." (p)
(n) Jurieu, as cited by Whitaker, p. 361. (o) Jurieu, as cited by Whitaker, p. 363. (p) Jurieu, as cited by Whitaker, p. 363. (q) "The twelfth century, which comes next, forms a prominent feature in this awful picture. St. Bernard says, that the portraiture of these times was made up of fornications, adulteries, incests, detestable villanies, and acts of the utmost filthiness. There was no order of men that was found. And Honorius of Autun ranks in order, princes, monks, priests, nuns, and nunneries, and all orders of men, giving a particular account of their horrid abominations."
(q) Jurieu, as cited by Whitaker, p. 366.
Of the thirteenth century let the following instance decide the character. "In the year 1245, (says Matthew Paris,) the council of Lyons, which is reckoned among the general ones, was held. At the conclusion of this council, Cardinal Hugo preached a sermon; in which, addressing himself to the citizens of Lyons, he had the following passage: 'My friends, since we came into this city, we have been good benefactors to you, and brought you in very great gain. For, on our coming hither, we found but three or four bawdy-houses; but at our going away we leave but one: it is true it reacheth through the whole city, from the east gate to the west gate." The corruption of "manners must have been worse than that of Sodom, when impudence gets into the pulpit of Jesus Christ: or rather, that must be the pulpit of Antichrist, where men take the liberty to speak such abominable jests." (r)
(r) Jurieu, as cited by Whitaker, p. 367.
In the fourteenth century, one Alvares Pelagius, a defender of Pope John XXII. describes the morals of the church in the following language. He sets forth the cloysters as "Places of prostitution, in which debauchery, gluttony, idleness, drunkenness, luxury, filthy converse, impure discourses, &c. did reign." He especially sets forth the horrid sin of Sodom, as a sin which reigned even in the quires of the most august and venerable churches. (s)
(s) Jurieu, as cited by Whitaker, page 368.
Of the chastity which prevailed in the fifteenth century, we may form some estimate bythat venerable assembly the council of Constance. "In the catalogue of those who attended on this council, we find 450 women of pleasure, and 320 jugglers and stage-players. Fornication in that age was a mere trifle. AEnaeas Sylvius, who was afterwards Pope under the name of Pius II. confesseth it without the least shame." (u)
(u) Jurieu, as cited by Whitaker, p. 368.
In the sixteenth century, the Reformation unveiled such scenes of wickedness as are too well known to require repetition. Cornelius Musse, bishop of Bitanto, declared publicly in the midst of the council of Trent, "That there was no filthiness, how monstrous soever, no villany, no impurity, with which the people and clergy were not defiled." (v)
(v) Jurieu, as cited by Whitaker, p. 370.
"It is in the present age, that the Bishop of Bellay hath set forth the cloisters as the receptacles of idle drones, who live on the charge of the public. It is in our days, and within these twenty years, that the behaviour of all the convents of Cordeliers in France, hath been discovered. The Factum of the Nuns of Provence hath told us, that these wretches turn the nunneries which are committed to them, into infamous places to game and drink in, where they converse verylasciviously with the nuns, where both words and actions are licentious, where the highest debaucheries are committed," &c. &c. with other expressions and facts too bad to be mentioned. (w)
(w) Jurieu, as cited by Whitaker, p. 372.
Such is the general character of these detestable impostors, who, boasting themselves the legitimate successors of the apostles, as the Jews of old boasted themselves the descendants of Abraham, from generation to generation, have lulled one half of the Christian world into the most abject servitude, and practised their impious delusions on mankind. These were the men who had the effrontery to affirm without a blush, that the true method of salvation was revealed to them alone, and that by virtue of their indulgences, and superior interests at the court of heaven, their passport would procure felicity for the departed souls of all their dupes. Events, through a series of generations, have sufficiently proved that ignorance kept pace with the imposition; the supplies were large, and credulity swallowed all. The abominations which have been adduced from different centuries, are so expressive as to require no comment. They speak a language which no man can misunderstand, and supersede the necessity of further evidence, to prove the apostacy of the Romish church.
BLASPHEMY AND ARROGANCE.
But it is not in superstition, idolatry, and apostacy alone, that this church is become corrupt. One evil frequently generates another; the vices associate; and, in the case before us, this degenerate church has added arrogance and blasphemy to her other enormities.
Bishop Burnet, in his History of the Reformation, gives us the following account of a pretended miracle. There was a famous imposture discovered at Hales in Gloucestershire, where the blood of Christ was pretendedly shewn in a phial of crystal, which the people sometimes saw, but sometimes they could not see it. On this account they were instructed to believe, that so long as they were in mortal sin, of which the invisibility of this blood was an infallible sign, they were incapable of so signal a favour. Terrified with the most fearful apprehensions of impending wrath, they bribed saints and relics with petitionary wailings, and the holy priest with the currency of this world, after which they were permitted to have a sight of this miraculous blood. This prodigy of the age, on a nearer inspection, when monkery in this country became a bankrupt, was found to be nothing more than the blood of a duck, which the impostors contrived to renew every week. The phial which contained it, constituted the fraud. On one side, it was thick, and prevented the eye of the devotee from penetrating beyond its surface; but, on the opposite side, the glass being thin, was quite transparent. Its situation was near the altar, and was so contrived, that a partner in the juggle standing behind, could secretly turn either side outward which circumstances required. In short, when they had drained the pilgrims who resorted thither of all they had brought with them, they repaid them with a view of the transparent side; while the defrauded dupes returned to their habitations highly satisfied with their expenditure and reimbursement! (x)
(x) See Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, vol. 1: p. 243.
A trick, nearly related to the former, is recorded by the same author. "For their images, some of them were brought to London, and at St. Paul's Cross broken in the sight of the people, that they might be fully convinced of the juggling impostures of the monks. There was one in particular, the crucifix of Boxley in Kent, commonly called the Rood of Grace, to which many pilgrimages had been made. This extraordinary image had been frequently seen to stir itself, to bow, to lift itself up, to shake its head, hands, and feet, to roll its eyes, move its lips, and bend its brows. These miraculous gesticulations were looked on by the abused multitude as the effects of a divine power. They were, however, fully convinced of the contrary; for, when these fraudulent practices were discountenanced, the secret springs were shewn, by which all these motions had been made."
"The church, (says Innocent III.) who is my spouse, does not, at her marriage, come to me empty-handed; she has bestowed a precious, an invaluable dowry on me; an absolutepower in spirituals, an extensive authority in temporals. She has given me the mitre, for the ensign of my spiritual; and the crown, of my temporal jurisdiction; the mitre as priest, the crown as king; constituting me His Vicar, who bears this inscription written on his thigh and his vestment,—King of kings, and Lord of lords." (y)
(y) Whitaker, p. 234.
That Popery, from the idolatry which it has countenanced, and the blasphemy which it has used, has opened the door to infidelity, recent events have awfully proved; and, probably, few things have contributed more to establish this fact, than that contempt with which her advocates have been obliged to treat the holy Scriptures, to which the Protestant churches have uniformly appealed. "The Popes (observes Mosheim,) permitted their champions to indulge themselves openly in reflections injurious to the dignityof the sacred writings, and, by an excess of blasphemy almost incredible (if the passions of men did not render them capable of the greatest enormities), to declare publicly, that the edicts of the Pontiffs, and the records of oral tradition, were superior, in point of authority, to the express language of the holy Scriptures."
(z) Mosheim, vol. 4: p. 213.
"In the seventeenth century, Alphonso Mendez, the Catholic patriarch of Ethiopia, accepted, in the name of Urban VIII. the homage of the emperor of Abyssinia and his court.—'I confess' (says the emperor, on his knees,) 'that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, the successor of St. Peter, and the sovereign of the world: to him I swear true obedience, and at his feet I offer my person and kingdom.'"
That the Pope did blasphemously arrogate to himself the authority and dominion which the Abyssinian emperor abjectly yielded him, the words of Pope Pius V. in his bull against Queen Elizabeth will not permit us to entertain a moment's doubt. The following is the language which he presumptuously delivered on thatoccasion from his apostolical chair. "He who reigneth on high, to whom all power is given in heaven and earth, hath committed the one holy, Catholic, and Apostolical Church, out of which there is no salvation, to be governed with plenitude of power by one only on earth; namely, by Peter the prince of the apostles, and by the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff. This one, he hath constituted a prince over all nations, and all kingdoms; to pluck up, to waste, destroy, plant, and build. Supported (he says,) by the authority of him who had seen fit to place him, however unequal to so great a charge, in this supreme throne of justice, he declares, in the plenitude of his apostolical authority, the said Elizabeth laid under a sentence of anathema, deprived of all right and title to her kingdom; her subjects absolved fromall oaths of allegiance to her; and those who obey her, involved in the like sentence of anathema." (a)
(a) Kett's "History the Interpret." p. 20.
But it is not merely in dethroning princes, and absolving subjects from their allegiance, that his pretended Holiness displays his arrogance; his presumption and blasphemy pretend to command a higher tribunal. The Pope makes no scruple of plucking Eternal Justice from its awful seat, and dictating to him who inhabiteth eternity, what subjects shall inherit his eternal kingdom. In the second volume of Burnet's History of the Reformation, there is preserved a collection of the chief indulgences which were in the English offices. The following are taken from "The Book of the Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the use of Saturn, printed at Paris in 1526."
"To all them that be in a state of grace, that shall say devoutly this prayer before our blessed Lady of Pity, she will shew them her blessed visage, and warn them the day and hour of death; and, in their last end, the angels of God shall yield their souls to heaven; and he shall obtain five hundred years and so many Lents of pardon, granted by five holy fathers, Popes of Rome."
"Our holy Father Sixtus IV. Pope, hath granted to all them that devoutly say this prayer before the Image of our Lady, the sum of eleven thousand years of pardon." Such is the reward which this blasphemous Pontiff held forth to all those who would break the second commandment.
"These be the fifteen Oo's, the which the holy virgin St. Bridget was wont to say daily before the holy rood in St. Paul's church at Rome: whoso says this a whole year, shall deliver fifteen souls out of purgatory of his next kindred, and convert other fifteen sinners to a good life; and other fifteen righteous men of his kind shall preserve in good life; and what ye desire of God ye shall have it, if it be to the salvation of your souls."
"To all them that before this Image of Pity shall say five Pater-nosters, and five Ave-Marias, and a Credo, piteously beholding those arms of Christ's passion, are granted thirty-two thousand seven hundred and fifty-five years of pardon; and Sixtus the IVth, Pope of Rome, hath made the fourth and the fifth prayer, and hath doubled his foresaid pardon."
"This epistle of our Saviour sendeth our holy Father Pope Leo to the emperor, Carolo Magno; of the which we find it written, 'Who that beareth this blessing about him, and saith it once a day, shall obtain forty years of pardon, and eighty Lentings, and he shall not perish with sudden death.'"
"This prayer was made by St. Austin, affirming who that says it daily, kneeling, shall not die in sin; and, after this life, shall go to the everlasting joy and bliss."
"Our holy Father the Pope, John the Twenty-second, hath granted to all them that say devoutly this prayer following, between the elevation of our Lord, and the three Agnus Dei, ten thousand years of pardon."
"Our holy Father Sixtus IV. hath granted to all them that be in a state of grace, sayingthis prayer following immediately after the elevation of the body of our Lord, clean remission of all their sins perpetually enduring. And John 3:0. Pope of Rome, at the request of the Queen of England, hath granted to them that devoutly say this prayer before the Image of our Lord crucified, as many days of pardon as there were wounds in the body of our Lord in the time of his bitter passion, the which were five thousand four hundred and sixty-five."
"These five petitions and prayers made St. Gregory, and hath granted unto all them that devoutly say these five prayers, with five Pater-nosters, five Ave-Marias, and a Credo, five hundred years of pardon."
"These three prayers be written in the chapel of the Holy Cross in Rome. Who that devoutly say them, they shall obtain ten hundred thousand years of pardon for deadly sins, granted of our holy Father John the Twenty-second, Pope of Rome." (b)
(b) Burnet, as quoted by Whitaker, p. 292. et seq.
"It is in the Pope himself (says Jurieu,) that we have an exact accomplishment of the scripture predictions which paint forth the seat of Antichrist, as the seat of pride. He will be styled, Our most holy Lord:—Our Lord God the Pope:—His divine Majesty:—The victorious God and Man in his See of Rome:—Vice God:—The Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world:—The most holy who carrieth the most holy."
We will finally close this article with an extract from a prayer of Becket, addressed to the Pope, in which the reader may perceive that he prays to him, and implores his assistance, in phrases of Scripture which are exclusively appropriate to God: "Rise, Lord, and delay no longer; let the light of thy countenance shine upon me, and do unto me according to thy mercy, and to my wretched friends who faint under too heavy a burden. Save us, for we perish. Let us not be confounded among men. Let not our adversaries insult over us, yea, the adversaries of the church of Christ. Let not our fortune be turned into derision by this nation and people, because we have invoked thy name to our assistance. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ make unto thyself a great name. Repair thy glory, clear up the honourof thy reputation, which, upon the return of that excommunicated and perjured schismatic John of Oxford, is by his false report certainly sunk in these parts."
(c) Lyttelton's Hen. II. vol. 4: p. 247.
It was language like this, blasphemously addressed to the Pope, which probably contributed towards that canonization which this Saint afterwards obtained: of some of his miracles we have already hinted, and the legend can furnish us with volumes. This is the man, who could thus shamefully prostitute addresses whichbelong only to God, to flatter the ambitious vanity of an impostor; and who has to this day a festival kept to his memory in the Romish church.
When our Lord declared (Luke 5:20.) to the sick man, Thy sins are forgiven thee, the Jews took the alarm, and accused him of blasphemy: and the only method which he adopted to repel the charge, was, by appealing to that authority which they refused to acknowledge, though the visible effects of his power were then exhibited before their eyes. It is but natural to infer from hence, that, if our Lord had not possessed that power of which the Jews supposed him destitute, the charge would have been just. What then shall be said in behalf of his Holiness? His boasted infallibilityonly darkens the enormity of his character; his blasphemy appears without a covering; and he stands, encircled with his pretensions and actions, loaded with infamy before the world.
It is not only of idolatry, with apostacy, and with blasphemy, that Popery stands accused; she has trodden under her feet the dictates of humanity, and polluted her hands in blood. To delineate with accuracy the inhuman butcheries of which she has been guilty; to mark the territories she has depopulated; the victims she has massacred; the plains she has fertilized with the blood of their inhabitants, when mingledwiththeashesoftheirhabitations,—insteadofanAppendix,—wouldrequire the volumes of this Commentary. Our limits are necessarily circumscribed, and therefore our extracts must be few.
To mature inhumanity into a system, time and depravity are essentially necessary; the Papacy has had the command of both, and its abettors have turned them to their advantage. That no branch of the papal Antichrist might remain destituteof pollution, Pope Clement VIII. contrived by the following oath, taken by all bishops at their consecration, and by all metropolitans at their instalment, to poison every spring; that the grand machine might move in an atmosphere in which humanity could not breathe.
"I N. elect of the church of N. from henceforward will be faithful and obedient to St. Peter the apostle, and to the holy Roman church, and to our lord, the lord N. Pope N. and to his successors canonically coming in. I will neither advise, consent, nor do any thing, that they may lose life or member, or that their persons may be seized, or hands any way laid upon them, or any injuries offered to them under any pretence whatsoever. The counsel which they shall entrust me withal, by themselves, their messengers, or letters,I will not knowingly reveal to any to their prejudice. I will help them to defend and keep the Roman Papacy, and the royalties of St. Peter, saving my order, against all men. The legate of the apostolic See, going and coming, I will honourably treat and help in his necessities. The rights, honours, privileges, and authority, of the holy Roman church of ourlord the Pope, and his foresaid successors, I will endeavour to preserve, defend, increase, and advance. I will not be in any council, action, or treaty, in which shall be plotted against our said lord, and the said Roman church, any thing to the hurt or prejudice of their persons, right, honour, state, or power; and, if I shall know any such thing to be treated or agitated by any whatsoever, I will hinder it to my power; and as soon as I can, will signify it to our said lord, or to some other by whom it may come to his knowledge. The rules of the holy fathers, the apostolic decrees, ordinances, or disposals, reservations, provisions, and mandates, I will observe with all my might, and cause to be observed by others. Heretics, and schismatics, and rebels to our said lord, or his foresaid successors, I will to my power persecute and oppose." (d)
(d) Faber, vol. 2: p. 243, 244.
The fatal effects of this oath have been felt in Europe in all their horrors. There is scarcely a species of cruelty that can be mentioned, of which it has not been productive; in short, the sentiments which breathe through its sentences, may be considered as the source of those calamities which are at this moment desolating the earth.
By these and similar methods during the space of 300 years, the Popes turned Germany and Italy into fields of blood, in which one might have seen the son in arms against his father; fathers sheathing their swords in the bowels of their children; subjects rising up against their princes, and princes obliged to shed the blood of their subjects, and to lay waste their own countries; cities were broken into parties that cut the throats of and massacred each other; yea, families were divided, and one kinsman murdered another in this fury, which was inspired by the Papacy.
The combats, the battles, the sieges of cities, the millions of men who perished in these three ages, cannot be numbered. Henry IV. alone fought above sixty battles, or fights, in those wars which the Popes had kindled. The Papacy, which is a devouring beast, which tears in pieces on the right hand and on the left, while it shed such streams of blood of its own subjects, at the same time poured out great torrents of the blood of the children of God. For, in the very same centuries, the Popes raised those cruel persecutions which raged against those whom they named Waldenses, Albigenses, Henricians, and Poor Men of Lyons. All Languedoc was filled with devastations. Beziers, Carcassone, Thoulouse, felt the rage of antichristian zeal: the cities were burnt to ashes; the inhabitants were butchered; the women ravished; their goods plundered by the army of cross-bearers, who wore the sign of the cross on their shoulders, and had the rage of hell in their hearts. Those who were taken by them were burnt alive. For fifty or sixty years Languedoc was a very theatre of cruelty: the fury of the inquisitors had neither bridle nor bounds: the innocent and the guilty, the Albigenses, and those who were not, were buried under the same ruins. A hundred and fifty of them were burnt at one time at Grenoble. In other places the unmerciful soldiersfell upon the common people, and, without distinction, butchered old men, women, and children.
Thus were the Waldenses and the Albigenses treated for three or four hundred years. In the next century, Germany saw itself filled with armies under the conduct of Charles V. for the rooting out of heresy; that is, for the shedding of rivers of blood. France saw other and worse tragedies: for forty years the rage of the Papacy turned it into a theatre, on which the flower of the French nobility were destroyed: princes of the blood were murdered; two kings, Henry III. and Henry IV. were assassinated; cities were bathed in blood; massacres were made in every province: behold then the spirit of the Papacy!
The same spirit which thus operated on the continent, intended by a powder-mine to have blown up the king of England,together with all the nobility of the kingdom. It has gone from one plot to another against all the states and heads which have supported the Reformation. In the year 1641, it caused in Ireland a rebellion, accompanied with one of the most horrid massacres that were ever heard of. We see it persecuting the faithful in Bohemia, in Silesia, in Hungary, in Moravia. First, in the year 1620, on the pretext of rebellion and disloyalty, the Bohemians were murdered in various ways, driven out and banished. In 1670, the Hungarians were persecuted, their temples demolished, their ministers tormented by a cruel persecution, and at last sent to the gallies. In 1655, the Waldenses, subjects of the duke of Savoy, were murdered in the vallies, and barbarities were used towards them which are unknown to Indians and Cannibals. In 1685, in pursuance of the repealing of the edict of Nantes, all France was covered with soldiers, who plundered and tormented all the Protestants, to compel them to sign an abjuration, and to go to mass. These soldiers murdered all who met to pray to God, and exercised all kinds of cruelties on those whose consciences would not permit them to comply with the religion of the court. Lastly, if we were disposed to prove that the Papacy is cruel, bloody, and murderous, and that Papists, who act up to their principles, are such as we have described by virtue of their religion, and the articles of their faith, we might relate the cruel executions which their councils have given orders for; as those of John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, burnt by the order, and in the very sight of the council of Constance. (e)
(e) See Whitaker's citation of Jurieu on "the Continuation of the Accomplishment of the Prophecies," p. 248, et seq.
Nor was it in Europe alone that this inhumanity was exercised. The discovery of America and the West Indies opened a new scene for barbarities, and the murderous spirit of the Papacy improved it to the utmost extent. "In Hispaniola (says Mr. Bryan Edwards,) the Spaniards distributed the natives into lots, and compelled them to dig in the mines withoutrest or intermission; until death, their only refuge, put a period to their sufferings. Such as attempted resistance or escape, their merciless tyrants hunted down with dogs which were fed by their flesh. They disregarded sex and age, and, with impious and frantic bigotry, even called in religion to sanctify their cruelties! Some, more zealous than the rest, forced their miserable captives into the water, and, after administering to them the rite of baptism, cut their throats the next moment to prevent their apostacy! Others made a vow to hang or burn thirteen every morning, in honour of our Saviour and his twelve apostles! Martyr relates, that it was a frequent practice among them to murder the Indians of Hispaniola in sport, or merely, he observes, to keep their hands in use. They had an emulation, which of them could most dexterously strike off the head of a man at a blow; and wagers frequently depended upon this hellish exercise. To fill up the measure of this iniquity, and demonstrateto the world that the nation at large participated in the guilt of individuals, the court of Spain not only neglected to punish these enormities in its subjects; but, when rapacity and avarice had nearly defeated their own purposes, by the utter extirpation of the natives of Hispaniola, the king gave permission to seize on the unsuspecting inhabitants of the neighbouring islands, and transport them to perish in the mines of St. Domingo." (f) It was by inhumanities like these, that, according to Dr. Robertson, in the short interval of fifteen years subsequent to the discovery of the West Indies, the Spaniards had reduced the natives of Hispaniola from "a million to sixty thousand." (g)
(f) Hist. of West Indies, vol. 1: p. 105, 106.
(g) Robertson's Hist. of America, vol. 1: p. 185.
Of these barbarities another historian gives the following picture: "They were indiscriminately chained together like beasts. Those who sunk under their burdens were compelled to rise by severe blows: the men perished in the mines, and the women in the fields, which they cultivated with their weak hands. Their constitutions, already exhausted with excessive labour, were still further impaired by an unwholesome andscanty diet. The mothers expired with hunger and fatigue, pressing their dead or dying infants to their breasts, shrivelled and contracted for want of a proper supply of milk." (h)
(h) Abbe Raynal's Hist. of Trade and Settlements in the Indies, book 6: page 266.
Recalling our views from these distant regions, and confining them to Europe, we shall most probably find it true, "That there is no nation existing, which, from first to last, has produced such a number of faithful witnesses against papal corruptions and tyrannies, as France. No people have so long a list of martyrs and confessors to show, as the Protestants of that country; and there is no royal family in Europe which has shed, in the support of Popery, half the blood which the Capets have shed. It was their arms which deluged the earth with the blood of the Albigenses and Waldenses, who inhabited the southern parts of France. Above a million of these unhappy sufferers bled beneath their sabres. It was through the instrumentality of these monarchs that the massacre of St. Bartholomew took place;—a massacre which lasted seven days; during which time about fifty thousand Protestants were murdered in Paris alone, and about twenty-five thousand more in the different provinces. In this indiscriminate murder, neither age nor sex could afford protection to the devoted victims; not even women with child were spared, for orders had been given to the executioners of the edict, to slaughter all, even infants at the breast, if they belonged to Protestants." (i)
(i) See Bicheno, Signs of the Times, p. 29.
"The countries which have been most cruelly harassed,and deluged with Protestant blood, are Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Bohemia, Italy, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Flanders, Holland, Savoy, Piedmont, and France. France, indeed, has exceeded all the nations in Europe for acts of persecution, blood, and cruelty. Persecution for conscience-sake began there early, and continued long. Even so late as the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Protestants of France, in proportion to their numbers, endured, perhaps, as much as any people ever did since the beginning of the world. Savoy, Piedmont, and Hungary, have suffered much; but France boasts of more martyrs to the truth than any other kingdom in Europe. We think, and we think justly, that the late massacres in that distracted nation were very dreadful; but what were they, when compared with what the Protestants underwent upon several occasions? At one time, by order of the king, bishops, and priests, thirty thousand (some say sixty thousand) Protestants were murdered in the course of a few days. This shocking business was executed about two hundred years ago. After this, a civil war broke out between the Papists and Protestants, which continued to rage near sixty years in the very heart of the country, in which, Puffendorf assures us, there were destroyed a million of people. One hundred and fifty millions of money were spent. Nine cities, four hundred villages, twenty thousand churches, two thousand monasteries, and ten thousand houses, were burnt or laid level with the ground. This is but a little more than one hundred and fiftyyears ago." (k)—"From the first institution of the Jesuits, to the year 1480, which is but little more than thirty years,
900,000 orthodox Christians were slain. In the Netherlands alone, the Duke of Alva boasted, that, within a few years, he had dispatched to the amount of 36,000, and those all by the hand of the common executioner. In the space of scarcely thirty years, the Inquisition destroyed, by various kinds of tortures, 150,000 Christians. Sanders himself confesses, that an innumerable multitude of sacramentarians were burnt throughout Europe; who yet (he says,) were not put to death by the Pope and bishops, but by the civil magistrates." (l) *
(k) Kett, vol. 2: p. 35.
(l) Bp. Newton on the Prophecies, as quoted by Faber, vol. 2: p. 250.
* Thus far the account given by Sanders is true in a literal sense, but no further. The holy Inquisition, as its advocates term it, affects to have too much meekness and sanctity to shed blood, and by this act of hypocrisy the inquisitors have refined upon cruelty, and improved the various methods of persecution far beyond any thing which was ever known in Babylon or pagan Rome. Finding all their arts and tortures insufficient to pervert the faith of the unhappy victim, they deliver him over to the secular arm to be consumed with fire. But, to preserve their reputation for humanity in the eyes of the world, they beseech the civil magistrate to shew mercy to those unfortunate victims whom they have given up to be consigned to the flames.
It is well known, that about one hundred years ago Lewis the Fourteenth, a monarch chiefly remarkable for his ambition, licentiousness and bloody conduct, began another persecution against the Protestants. During the calamities which a revocation of the edict of Nantes occasioned, innumerable multitudes were harassed while living, and put to death in the most ignominious manner. Dragoons were quartered upon them, who turned their parlours into stables; and even the peasantry were armed against them, to seize or shoot them, if they attempted to escape those sufferings to which they had been doomed. About five hundred thousand, according to Voltaire, but about eight hundred thousand, according to others, found means to flee the kingdom, though the country was covered with soldiers, and though the guards were doubled on the fords, the highways, and other passes, with orders to seize or shoot all who attempted to escape the gallies and the sword.
"All these things were transacted in France. The Pope of Rome, as head of the church, was at the bottom of the whole. The archbishops, bishops, and clergy, very generallyconcurred; and many of them even marched at the head of the king's troops, with small crucifixes in their hands, exhorting the people to turn and embrace their superstitious and idolatrous nonsense, or commanding the soldiers to execute the law uponthem.Theking,theparliament,the princes, the nobility, the gentry, all concurred in the diabolical measures. And, when the thirtyor sixty thousand before mentioned were massacred, we are particularly informed, that the Pope, as soon as he had received the news, appointed public thanksgiving, and Te Deum was sung for joy in the church of St. Louis. He moreover published a bull of pardons, and extraordinary indulgences, to such as should pray for the heavenly assistance to the king and kingdom of France for rooting out heretics. The king, archbishops, bishops, clergy, and nobles too went in public procession, singing the praises of God for this bloody and diabolical transaction." (m)
(m) See Kett, vol. 2: p. 36, and Simpson, to whom he refers.
When we take a retrospective view of those topics which we have but lightly touched, we cannot but be struck with horror at these most iniquitous transactions. Superstition and idolatry have appeared before us, and arrested our attention even by the conspicuousness of their very shadows. The mind sickens with disgust at the degradation of our species relapsing again into Paganism, and grovelling beneath the brute creation. Apostasy is but a natural concomitant of these evils. The mind of man, conscious of its ultimate dependance, seeks repose in a superior power, and feels itself mired by the sorceries of sophistry, till it transfers the perfections ofthe invisible God to sinful mortals, or to idols of gold, of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone, which neither hear, nor see, nor know. But it is not to theory that we exclusively refer. The scenes of villainy which have been exhibited to us in the lives of those men who call themselves infallible, holy, and gods upon earth, are too monstrous to come within the reach of language. Such deeds are a comment upon themselves, and develope the innate depravity of the heart.
The blasphemy and cruelty which have passed in review before us, discover human nature in its darkest colours; our thoughts expand themselves in vain to grasp the atrocities which the actions of mankind, under such circumstances, rather exhibit than express; and we recede with trembling precipitation from an abyss of enormity, which to common depravity must be unknown. Unhappilythe gloomy scene does not terminateeven here; we have contemplated wickedness in various forms, but we have seen it only in part. Infidelity, the natural offspring of popish superstition, apostacy, blasphemy, and inhumanity, seems destined to succeed its parent evils, to deluge the world for a season, and to retaliate upon those spiritual oppressors of mankind, those calamities which they have been permitted to inflict upon the saints of G
How dreadful soever those depredations and murders may be, which the RevolutionaryfactionsinFrancehavealternatelycommitted,thoughtheymaychillus with horror at the recital, they are insufficient to extinguish in our bosoms a recollection of evils that are past. Though the oeconomy of heaven defies the scrutiny of mortals, yet we know, from the unerring declarations of God, that it must be just. Impressed, therefore, with this conviction, we cannot but acquiesce in this prophetic declaration, Thou art righteous, O Lord! they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy.
Infidel Antichrist the offspring of Papal Antichrist; engendered by the corruptions and inhumanities of Popery, and made instrumental in the hands of God, in retaliating upon her priests and supporters the blood which she has shed. Origin and progress of modern Infidelity: occasions the Revolution in France. Effects which have resulted from it:—progress of immorality.
HAVING taken a survey of Papal Antichrist, and viewed it as a system compounded of superstition and idolatry, apostacy, blasphemy and arrogance, and cruelty, let us now turn our attention to that branch which may be considered as Infidel, and inquire how far it agrees with that definition which has been already given of Antichrist, and which has been still more fullyamplified by writers on the prophetic parts of the sacred volume.
In our definition of Antichrist, we have already quoted the Epistles of St. John, in which he has plainly told us, (1 John 2:22.) that "He is Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son."—"Now where (says Mr. Galloway,) is the difficulty of understanding this plain description of Antichrist? The obvious sense of it is, that he should be a power that should 'deny both the Father and the Son;'—the Father as the true and only God, the Creator of heaven and earth; and Jesus the Christ as come in the flesh to reveal the divine will, and to atone for the sins of mankind; or, in other words, that he should deny not only the existence andpeculiar doctrines of Christ, but even that fundamental principle, 'That there is a God.' But in what age, were we to search the annals of the world, shall we find a power so monstrous and consummately wicked? Not among the powers professing Paganism; for they, in the midst of their polytheism, have ever believed in one supreme invisible Spirit, the Creator of all things, and had some notion of a future state of rewards and punishments; nor among the apostate powers, for the Mahommedan powers have ever professed faith in God, as the Creator of the universe, and the dispenser of rewards and punishments in a future life; and the Pope has ever professed in a formal manner to believe that Jesus Christ is come in theflesh,—that 'Jesus is the Christ,' the Saviour of the world; so that amidst all his abominations and practical apostacy, he has formally confessed both the FatherandtheSon:—notintheChristianworld,forthat,notwithstandingthe diversity of opinions which prevails, has invariably acknowledged both the Father and the Son. And as these are the only powers of which history gives us any information, from the deluge to the present hour, to which the character can be applied; we must either look for this Antichrist in the present period, or conclude that he is not yet come." (a)
(a) See Galloway, vol. 1: p. 467.
If we consult the sacred writings, we shall receive an assurance, that, in the last days, perilous times shall come, in which men shall appear without natural affection, led away with diverse lusts; despising government, and beguiling unstable souls; mockers and blasphemers of the name of God. "Such principles as these (says Mr. Faber,) existed indeed in the very days of the apostles: even then the spirit of Antichrist was in the world, and his pernicious maxims were concealed in the bosom of the church. Both St. Peter and St. Jude complain, that men, tainted with atheism, and the vain pretensions of a spurious liberty, had insinuated themselves into the primitive feasts of charity, and were labouring to lead weak brethren astray. Antichrist, however, was not to be revealed in all his undisguised horrors till the last days; till there had first been a great apostacy, till the reign of superstition was nearly at an end."
"At the head of this long and black catalogue of the vices and enormities peculiar to the last times, we may justly place Atheism and Infidelity, or, as St. John expresses it, a denial both of the Father and the Son: for, as a belief that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, is the root of all religion; so Atheism and Infidelity are equally the root of all irreligion, and of every kind of profligacy of manners." (b)
(b) Faber's Dissertation on the Prophecies, vol. 2: p. 321.
"There are many passages (says Mr. Kett,) in the apostle's description of the perilous times in the last days, which can hardly be applied either to the Papal or the Mahometan Antichrist, and certainly not to civil tyranny unconnected with religion."
"It is remarkable, that, in his firstEpistle to Timothy, St. Paul's prediction relative to the latter times, applies, in every particular, to the papal Antichrist." And that, in his second Epistle, when he says, This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, &c. he directs our views to a period still farther future than the latter times of which he speaks in his first Epistle. "In the application of these words to a latter period of time, we are authorized by the opinion of a most profound and sagacious interpreter of Scripture. It has been observed by Mr. Joseph Mede (c), 'that the last times simply, and in general, are the times of Christianity: the last times in special, and comparatively, or the latter times of the last times, are the times of the apostacy under Antichrist
(c) Mede's Works, p. 804, as quoted by Kett, p. 371.
"We have, I think, (continues Mr. Kett,) clearly seen, that 'the latter end of the days of vengeance', which are 'the times of the apostacy under Antichrist,' are occasionally expressly distinguished in the Scriptures. The second and third chapters of the second Epistle of Peter, and the Epistle of Jude, have certainly but little reference to the papal power of Antichrist." But it is not difficult for us, in the present day, to discover a power to which the above descriptions will most accurately apply. It would, perhaps, be attended with much difficulty to delineate with greater accuracy the leading features of apostate Infidelity united with democratic tyranny. "And if, upon examination, we find any corresponding marks of this dreadful power in the second beast of the Revelations, as it is evident we may find in Daniel, the agreement of these distinct prophesies will add so much weight to the separate testimony of each, as all together, to be nearly demonstrative evidence to the authenticity of the fact, and the justness of the application."
But though, from the various circumstances which have been already stated on the nature of prophesy, we have no reason to be surprised that most of the learned commentators have failed in their attempts to explain a prediction respecting events which, to them, were veiled in futurity, we have the authority of some, who, either unfettered from those prejudices which lead us to error, or endowed with a superior degree of wisdom, formed conjectures on the second beast, the accuracy of which at once excites our admiration, and confirms the opinion which is now offered to the consideration of the public.
"The Bishop of Meaux, and the learned Grotius, approached nearer to the truth than has been commonly imagined, when they supposed the second beast to denote philosophy 'falsely so called.' Dr. Hartley, in the conclusion of his Observations on Man, considers Infidelity as the beast. It is also his opinion, that, when the world shall have arrived at a certain degree of depravity, it will then be prepared for the times of desolation. Sir Isaac Newton, and Dr. Clarke, interpreted 'the reign of the beast to be the open avowal of Infidelity.' These men farther conjectured, that 'the state of religion in France, together with the manners of the age, combined with the divine oracles, to announce the approaching reign of the beast.' In addition to this, they considered it, from the complexion of the times, as a circumstance highly probable, that 'the ecclesiastical constitution of France would soon be subverted, and that the standard of Infidelity would be first set up there.' The opinion of Mr. Fleming, whose work was printed about one hundred years prior to the great event, coincides with the above conjectures of Hartley, Grotius, Clarke, and Newton, in a most extraordinarymanner. This great man, from considering attentively the nature and apparent application of thefourth vial, concluded that the French monarchy would be destroyed about the year 1794. How far facts have corroborated his conjecture the world need not be told. The perfect coincidence which has recently appeared between events and his declaration, seems to demonstrate that he must have been guided in his decision by something more than a mere random supposition, hazarded upon the ocean of accidents, and directed by a combination of fortuitous causes which bade defiance to calculation. On the contrary, the concurrence of opinion, which is to be found in the writings ofthose men whose names have been mentioned, to which may be added the names of Jurieu, Lowman, and Bishop Newton, (who all directed their views to France, as the great scene of some eventful change which should particularly affect the church of God,) seems to afford us a presumptive evidence, that their judgments were directed by those prophetic intimations, which God, for the guidance of his people, has scattered through his sacred word." (d
(d) See Kett, vol. 1: 372, et seq.
"It is considered as an established point, that the beast with seven heads and ten horns, and the woman upon whose forehead was written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth, denote the papal Antichrist, whose seat is Rome, and that the duration of this Antichristian power was to be 1260 years. The difficulty has been, to understand the meaning of the beast which came up out of the earth, which had two horns like a lamb,—which spake as a dragon, exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast whose deadly wound was healed." (e) This beast, the author endeavours to prove, is identified in the Antichristian power which has lately avowed itself in France; and it cannot but be acknowledged, that, in support of his theory he has advanced many plausible arguments. Nor is he singular m this interpretation. Mr. Galloway has trodden in nearlythe same steps. Both these commentators agree in the general principle, though they vary in adjusting the subordinate particulars.
(e) Kett, vol. 1: 375.
The two horns like a lamb, which this beast is said to have, Mr. Kett observes, are the acknowledged symbols of strength and power. For, as the first beast is represented as having ten horns, which are explained by the interpreting angel to be ten kingdoms, which gave their strength to the beast, and by this means increased his civil power; so he concludes, that the two horns of the second beast being of a peculiar kind, like those of a lamb, (which symbol, throughout the Revelations, represents Christ,) are very significant; and that this circumstance has especially led to the opinion, that the second beast is the ecclesiastical power of Rome, because these horns must denote something which seems to belike Christianity, since they are not said to be the horns of a lamb, but like or resembling the horns of a lamb.(
(f) Kett, p. 376, vol. 1:
Mr. Galloway, on the contrary, gives to this passage a very different turn, and expresses himself in nearly the following language: "The reader will here remark, that it is not said, that these horns were to be the horns, or the real horns of a lamb, which are inoffensive, and used only when it is injured; but that they should be like, that is, in appearance and pretence only, the horns of a lamb. They were to be, according to the literal sense of the metaphorical expression, horns, with a false appearance at first in their institution, but not intended to carry that inoffensive appearance into effect. A more accurate figure, to meet the secret design of the appointment, and the after conduct of the two Committees of Safety which were established in France, could not have been devised by human ingenuity. For Robespierre, that demon of anarchy and mischief, persuaded that he could more easily arrive at the summit of despotism in two committees of his own creatures, than in a legislative body consisting of upwards of a thousand members, got that measure effected. The pretence was, that the commonwealth was in danger; and, therefore, those extraordinary guardians were vested with absolute power, legislative as well as executive, to remove that danger. The other supreme powers of the state were thus suspended, and indeed destroyed; and thus, in strict verification of the prophesy, 'the beast,' or the Republic, had 'two horns,' or two committees, by which alone it was governed. And these committees, whether we consider their names, Committees of Safety, or the professed but false design of their institution, the care of the common weal, were like the horns ofa lamb." (g) Thus then, while Mr. Kett and Mr. Galloway concur in making an application of this prophetic figure to the Republic, or the Revolution of France, they considerably differ in their interpretations of the subordinate branches.
(g) Galloway, vol. 1: p. 170.
But notwithstanding that general agreement which subsists between these two commentators in their subsequent pages, on the application of this beast which rose out of the earth, and which had horns like a lamb, the opinion is by no means universal. Mr. Faber, who has written since either of the above, takes up this figure in a different manner, and not only gives the whole a different interpretation, but controverts the sentiments which both Mr. Kett and Mr. Galloway had advanced. The reasons which he has given in opposition to these commentators, it must be acknowledged, are not only strong, but, in some instances, conclusive. And, admitting a position which he has laid down in page 215, the consequence which he aims to establish is inevitable, namely, that the theories of Mr. Kett and Mr. Galloway must be wrong. "A commentator upon the prophesies of Daniel and St. John, (says Mr. Faber,) before he ventures to introduce any exposition founded upon present circumstances, ought to make it clearly appear, that it both accords with the chronological order so carefully preserved in these prophesies, that it strictly harmonizes with the language of symbols, and that it demonstrates every part of the prediction to tally exactly with its supposed accomplishment." (g)
(g) Faber, vol. 2: p. 215.
That this rule, which is excellent in general, would remove all scruples, if it could be rendered applicable to all subordinate particulars, will not admit a doubt; but it may well be questioned, whether it can be reduced to practice, when we attempt to "demonstrate every part, in order to make it tally with the supposed accomplishment of prophesy." There are, without any doubt, allusions in the prophesies to a variety of minutiae which elude our grasp, but which, in many cases, we should behold with critical exactness, could we but perceive them with that perspicuity, with which we behold the more prominent and leading features in the great accomplishment of predictions.
These observations are, perhaps, more or less applicable to all the prophesies; but they acquire an additional force when we view them in connection with events that are now passing before us. The great drama is opened, and many transactions of the last importance have taken place; but many of the scenes are still hidden from our view. To comprehend the whole, it is necessary that we make ourselves acquainted with the whole; but as some parts are evidently lodged in futurity, though, in all probability, at no great distance from us, those parts must of necessity be obscure, and, in some instances, totally unknown.
But, while Mr. Faber rejects the expositions given by Mr. Galloway and Mr. Kett, it is but just that we should hear his own.
"As the secular beast (he observes,) is represented with seven heads and ten horns, so the ecclesiastical beast appears with only one head and two horns. Now, since we have already seen, that the secular beast under his last head, is the divided Roman empire under the line of Carlovingian emperors, the ecclesiastical beast under his single head, who has co-existed and co-operated with the secular beast, must necessarily be the corrupt church of Rome, under the line of those pretended universal bishops, the Popes. And here we cannot but observe the wonderful exactness with which the two principal apocalyptic symbols, the first and the second beast, are contrived. The Roman empire, having existed under seven different constitutions; is described by a beast with seven heads; but the Catholic church of Rome, never having existed under more than one form of government, namely the Papal, is therefore described by a beast with only one head." (h)
(h) Faber, vol. 2: p. 234.
On the two horns which resembled those of a lamb, after having made some previous observations, Mr. Faber delivers his sentiments in the following words: "The regular and secular clergy, then under their respective generals and bishops, are the two horns or ecclesiastical kingdoms of the papal Catholic empire. These horns appeared to the prophet to be of a different form from those of the first or temporal beast: they resembled the horns of a lamb. Now, when we recollect that the second beast is styled a false prophet, we can hardly doubt but that the symbol was so constructed in allusion to his character. Accordingly, the two ecclesiastical horns claimed to be the only servants of the Lamb of God, and affected to be like him in meekness and humility. Solemnly devoting themselves to a life of celibacy, and ever engaged in a round of religious ceremonies, they appeared to the deluded populace to be saints indeed, far removed from all the cares and vanities of this transitory world. And, in order that this impression might not be too soon worn off, new saints were at seasonable intervals added to the calendar; and their names enrolled along with those of the real servants of the Lamb, the holy apostles of the primitive church. Even the Sovereign Pontiff himself, who had a look more stout than his fellows, delighted nevertheless to style himself, with sanctified hypocrisy, the servant of the servants of God." (i)
(i) Vol. 2: p. 247.
Such are the opinions of these acute writers on the import and application of the second beast, of which St. John speaks in chap. 13: 11. It would be foreign to the nature of this Appendix to enter into an investigation of the merits and demerits of their respective opinions. On this point the sentiments of our readers will probably be divided; and, after all that maybe said and written upon the subject, a termination of the commotions which are at present agitating the world, seems necessary to dispel those clouds which hover over us. Nevertheless we cannot but conceive, that the opinion given by Mr. Galloway on the two horns of the lamb, namely, that they import the two Committees of Safety established by Robespierre, discovers a refinement which seems hardlycongenial with the nature of prophesy. The prophet, directed by the inspiration of God to look through a train of contingencies to some infallible issue, and commanded to record his vision for the instruction of the future generations of the world, can scarcely be supposed to place in the front of his communications, and as one of the most remarkable properties in it, the description of two transient committees, which, in point of duration were born only to expire. Something of a more permanent nature, the whole analogy of prophetic annunciation induces us to believe, must have been the object which the apostle had in view: the movements of a few years may probably direct us, in our researches, to facts and events which are already in existence, but which we have at present no clue to reach.
But whatever difference there may be in the opinions of those writers, whose names have been introduced, on the particular application of a given figure in prophesy, there is one point on which they all harmonize together; and that is, that the prophesies both of Daniel and St. Johninstruct us to expect some tremendous power in hostility to the truths of the Gospel. This power can neither be pagan nor papal Rome. Both of these are clearly designated in the sacred pages; their respective features are noticed with discriminating accuracy; and events in both cases have fully demonstrated, that the prophetic Spirit did not err. Still there is another power, as distinct from Paganism and Popery, as these are from each other, characterized in the sacred language, under certain symbols, which cannot, with any tolerable propriety, be applied either to pagan or apostate Rome. The writings of Daniel have been thought to furnish us with marks of this power. Mr. Galloway (k) and Mr. Kett (l) have both found it typified by Daniel, under the character of the little horn (m); while Mr. Faber, admitting the general principle, but doubting of the particular application made by those writers, directs our attention to the Antichrist of which St. John speaks in his Epistles; and to the harvest of the wrath of God (n), and that subsequent vintage (o) of which he speaks in the Revelations. (p)
(k) P. 402.
(l) Vol. 2: p. 332. (m) Chap. 7: 8. (n) Chap. 14: 15. (o) Ch. 14: ver. 18-20. (p) Vol. 2: p. 408. Thus much, however, is clear; all admit the prophesy concerning such a power as is here described; all agree in the general outlines of its features; and all agree that the RevolutionarycommotionsofFranceexhibittotheworldamoststrikingresemblance of the power which has been predicted. In short, they seem to be unanimous in their judgments, that the factions which have alternately or successively prevailed in that distractedcountryhaveuniformlyretained,amidstalltheirchanges,thediscriminating features of atheistical Antichrist, which St. John foretold should come into the world, and deny both the Father and the Son.
From the passages which have been quoted out of the writings of Daniel, St. Paul, St. Peter, St. Jude, and St. John, we presume it will appear evident, that an allusion is made to a certain power which should come in the last days to afflict the professing Christian world. "The Holy Spirit (says Mr. Kett,) has spoken in explicit terms, not only of those who were to corrupt the faith, as the Papists have done, with their false glosses and innovations, or oppose it with open force, as has been the practice of Mahometans; but of those who were first to undermine it by every insidious art, and, finally, by the union of fraud with violence, were to establish the dominionofInfidelity."(q)—"Andtheircharacters,principles,conduct,andsuccess, (continues the same author in his next page,) are so clearly represented, that these inspired writers have in a manner anticipated the history of those false teachers, who have been in the past and in the present age distinguished by the name of Free Thinkers, Sceptics, Philosophists, or Illuminati."
(q) Vol. 2: p. 109.
The rise and progress of Jacobinism, a term which, however differently defined, seems to include every species of Infidelity, correspond with the prophetic declarations. This is a system which places itself in a state of hostility to religion and virtue, while it professes to annihilate monarchy, and to give new principles to law. The facts brought forward by the Abbe Barruel, and Professor Robison, have clearly shewn, that a conspiracy had been actually formed for the extinction of Christianity, and for the abolition of social order, by a set of men whose names demand the execration of mankind. The facts adduced by these writers prove incontrovertibly, that the system which had been established for the execution of this diabolical plan, was introduced into, and diffused through, many countries with unexampled perseverance, secrecy, and art, and threatened universal ruin; that this systematic conspiracy has been the main spring of the Revolution in France; and that the power created by this Revolution, became, in return, its chief support and coadjutor.
(r) See Kett, vol. 2: p. 111.
It was about the year 1720, that Voltaire, who grew hardened in iniquity as he advanced in years, seems to have formed a design to banish Christianity from the world. Why this design should have been formed by him, though we are not expressly told, it is not difficult to conjecture. "Men (says Mr. Locke,) set themselves against the Scriptures, when they find that the Scriptures will not countenance their deeds." Ambition also had its influence upon his resolution, as appears from his own declaration: "I am weary (said he,) of hearing people repeat, that twelve men have been sufficient to establish Christianity; I will prove that one may suffice to overthrow it." (s)
(s) Cited by Kett, vol 2: p. 146.
Prior to the above period, it is well known, that Infidelity had been wandering through the world. Solitary individuals were to be found, who cherished its principles, because they afforded them an asylum from those remorses of conscience which succeed to vicious actions. These principles were, however, first embodied into a practical system of wickedness by Voltaire, D'Alembert, Frederic II. of Prussia,
Diderot, and other inferior confederates in iniquity. It was this royal and literary junto, that first gained and employed the civil power to aid, and openly to avow an adherence to the cause of Infidelity. (t)
(t) See Kett, vol. 2: p. 113.
"We have seen, (says Mr. Faber,) that the regular series of events leads us to place the king mentioned by Daniel after the Reformation: and we have likewise seen what sins have been predicted to be most prevalent in the last days: we have only, therefore, to study the character of this king, and to compare his deeds with the vices which prophecy declared should prevail, in order to determine whether we are to look for his manifestation, not only after the Reformation, but in that period of the 1260 years, which is peculiarly distinguished by the title of the last times." (u) —"This, (says Mr. Kett,) is exactly the period assigned by the prophetic word of God, for the appearance of the second beast and his image; we are therefore authorized to assert, that the present reign of the Infidel Antichrist has been expressly foretold." (v)
(u) Faber, vol. 1: p. 322.
(v) See Kett, vol. 2: p. 114.
The period in which this monster disclosed its horrors to the world, was highly favourable to its birth and growth. A combination of circumstances had disgusted the world with impositions, and prepared the human mind for every adventure that could promise it deliverance from its oppressive yoke. The means, however extravagant, or however absurd, were overlooked, in the prospect of obtaining an end that should break the fetters which spiritual oppression had forged, and introduce that liberty to which they had been strangers for ages.
"When the revival of letters enabled men to see the mass of absurdities and impieties which had been taught by the Church of Rome as essential parts of Christianity, scepticism was the natural result of this discovery. Reason, just arisen from her slumbers, or liberated from her long confinement, seized the truths which were presented to her view, with all the eagerness thatconsistency could inspire, or novelty could excite. Proud of the treasures he had acquired, and yet ignorant how to manage them to advantage; disgusted with surrounding superstition and bigotry, impatient of control, and dazzled with the light,though glimmering, which now broke through the darkness of the middle ages, she too seldom distinguished religion from the gross corruptions with which she had been loaded; and, usurping the seat of judgment, she often decided upon subjects not amenable to her tribunal, and blindly opposed the authority of a power which it was both her duty and her interest to obey." (w)
(w) Kett, vol. 2: p. 115.
Dr. Priestley, in his Discourses on the Evidences of Revealed Religion, has asserted, that "the parent of modern Infidels, both among Mahometans and Christians, was Averrocs, a Saracen Mahometan of the twelfth century." This statement may be just; but, as Kett observes, though the Arabian impostor may be considered as the father, yet surely modern Infidelity was brought forth by the mother of harlots;—by the superstition and degeneracy of the church of Rome. And, to compromise any difference of opinion which may prevail respecting its origin, we may, perhaps, conclude with safety, that Infidelity is the legitimate offspring of Mahometanism and Popery;—an offspringborn to be the chastisement of both, and to exhibit to the world an instance of the divine retribution on this side the grave, in which Popery has produced a monster that has been, or will be made, the principal instrument in destroying its own parent. (x)
(x) See Kett, vol. 2: p. 116.
On the system of Voltaire and his colleagues, it is needless to make any further animadversions; but the methods which were adopted by them to diffuse the poison of their principles through Europe, is really deserving a little consideration. It was from the fullest confidence that their plans were too far advanced in their operations to fail of success, that Condorcet, the favourite pupil of Voltaire, and of whom he declared that "he should feel a consolation in leaving him upon earth when himself and D'Alembert should die," was emboldened in 1785 to publish to the world the secret correspondence of the master movers of their plan. Its effects had long been felt by the public mind, and ingenious men had marked the progress of these effects without once suspecting the real cause which called them into being. Nor did the friends of Christianity, when Condorcet's publication avowed the design which had been projected, and the effects which had resulted from the operation of their plan, give credit to the extent of its existence, or form any conceptions of the success which had attended its progress. Depraved as human nature is, they were unwilling to believe it so completely abandoned, and so lost to every principle that can dignify and ennoble man, as the avowals of Condorcet would compel them to acknowledge. Unhappily, the progress of time and events has proved how much they were deceived by their humane incredulity. The torrent which at once deluged the nation of France, awakened them from their unsuspecting tranquillity, and they were first alarmed with a full conviction that Infidelity was at their doors.
After having unhinged the public mind, Voltaire and his associates proceeded to assume a much bolder tone. The mask had only been worn so long as prudence rendered it necessary to conceal their motives; it was dropped upon the same principles as it was put on;—to serve an occasion, to promote their interest, and to delude mankind. On the leading features of religion, Voltaire, notwithstanding his boasted attachment to morality, delivers himself as follows:
"The Universal Cause, that God of the philosophers of the Jews and of the Christians, is but a chimera and a phantom."—"The phaenomena of nature only prove the existence of God to a few prepossessed men: so far from bespeaking a God, they are but the necessary effects of matter prodigiously diversified."—"It is more reasonable to admit with Manes of a twofold god, than of the God of Christianity."—"We cannot know whether a God really exists, or whether there is the smallest difference between good and evil, or vice and virtue."—"Nothing can be more absurd than to believe the soul to be a spiritual being."—"The immortality of the soul, so far from stimulating man to the practice of virtue, is nothing but a barbarous, desperate, and false tenet, and contrary to all legislation."—"All ideas of justice and injustice, of virtue and vice, of glory and infamy, are purely arbitrary, and dependant upon custom."—"Conscience and remorse are nothing but the foresight of those physical penalties to which crimes expose us."—"The man who is above the law can commit, without remorse, the dishonest act that may serve his purpose."—"The fear of God, so far from being the beginning of wisdom, is the beginning of folly."—"The command to love one's parents, is more the work of education than of nature."—"Modestyis onlyan invention of refined voluptuousness."—"The law which condemns married people to live together, becomes barbarous and cruel on the day they cease to love one another." (a) Such were the principles avowed by Voltaire; which, by the deceitfulness of their operations, while under a semblance of truth, that professed to stab the superstition which gave them birth, directed their force against the fundamentals of Christianity, and every principle of religion and morality, and induced about thirty millions of souls (b) to renounce the profession of Christianity, while the majority disowned a God.
(a) Cited by Kett, vol. 2: p. 150. (b) Galloway, vol. 2: p. 117. When time had so far ripened the plot which these men or monsters agitated, as to insure impunity, ifnot success, they contrived to institute a club at the house of Baron Holbach in Paris, of which Voltaire was elected honorary and perpetual president; and it must be acknowledged, that he was admirably adapted for that bad eminence. This took place about the year 1764. To conceal the real design which they had in view, till the world should be better prepared by imperceptible degrees for their sublimeblasphemy,they denominated themselves Economists. The primary object of this club was a diffusion of their false philosophy; and the first step they took was to issue from the press an inundation of books and pamphlets, which at once besieged religion, morals, government, and law. These, circulating in almost every direction, soon found their way to theextremities of Europe, and imperceptibly took possession of public opinion. As soon as the sale was sufficient to pay the expences, inferior editions were printed, and either given away or sold at a low price; circulating libraries of them were formed, and reading societies were instituted. While they constantly denied these productions to the world, they contrived to give them celebrity, through their confidential agents and correspondents, who were not always entrusted with the entire secret.
Bydegrees they got possession of nearly all the reviews and periodical publications, established a general intercourse with thedistant provinces, by means of hawkers and pedlars, and instituted an office to supply all schools with teachers. Such were the steps on which they ascended to dominion, and by which they seized the helm of the publicmind,whichsmiledasitmarchedinto captivity, without feeling the least alarm. "The lovers of wit and polite literature were caught by Voltaire; the men of science were perverted, and children corrupted in the first rudiments of learning, by D'Alembert and Diderot; stronger appetites were fed by the secret club of Baron Holbach; the imaginations of the higher orders were set dangerously afloat by Montesquieu; and the multitude of all ranks were surprised, confounded, and hurried away by Rousseau." (c)
(c) Annual Register, as cited by Kett, vol. 2: p. 152.
The effects which resulted from the philosophy of these men, prior to the year 1773, maybe collected from their own Letters, from which the followingextracts have been taken: "In Russia the new philosophy was protected by the empress; and the defenders of Christianity were at their last gasp in Poland, thanks to king Poniatowski." The conduct and principles of Frederic speak for Prussia; "and in the north of Germany, the sect of Philosophists daily gained ground, thanks to the landgraves, margraves, dukes and princes, adepts and protectors." In Spain it was undermining the Inquisition, and a great revolution was operating in ideas there, as well as in Italy. "Philosophy (says Frederic,) is beginning to penetrate into superstitious Bohemia, and into Austria, the former abode of superstition. In our Protestant countries we go on much brisker." In Paris "many philosophers are to be found behind the counter." D'Alembert writes, "I see every thing in the brightest colours: I foresee the Jansenists naturally dying off the next year, after having strangled the Jesuits in this,—toleration established, the Protestants recalled,—the priests married,—confession abolished,—and fanaticism (their cant term for religion) crushed: and all this without its being perceived." And he expressly attributes this grand triumph to the Encyclopaedia. He smiles at the blinded parliaments, "who think theyare serving religion, while they are forwarding reason without the least suspicion. They are the public executioners, who take their orders from philosophy, without knowing it." In Calvin's own town (Geneva), he boasts, "there are but a few beggarly fellows who believe in Christ." Voltaire writes with excessive joy, "that England and Switzerland were overrun with men who hated and despised Christianity, as Julian hated and despised it,—and that from Geneva to Berne not a Christian was to be found." (d) Such were the effects which these men perceived, or fancied that they perceived, resulting from the principles which they had been so anxious and so diligent to establish. And, though in some places their views were more extensive than their successes, events have awfully proved that their deceptions were of a very partial nature. The methods which were pursued by them to carry their schemes into execution, were adapted to the end which they wished to obtain; the condition, genius, and habits of the different states were carefully studied, that the poison which they were about to administer, might be permitted to operate, without creating any suspicion, or occasioning any alarm.
(d) See Kett, vol 2: p. 155.
The great body of the people having imbibed, by imperceptible degrees, those principles which the Encyclopaedia* and other works were written with a design to inculcate, were easily persuaded to despise restraint, and trample upon the most sacred obligations. And, emerging from those idolatrous superstitions to which they had been so long enslaved, but which they could not now acknowledge without a blush, they became prepared for the perpetration of every species of wickedness. Amid such an universal confusion and darkness, the passions became every day more predominant,tillnothingwasesteemedcriminalbutthatwhichattemptedto check the progress of this systematic madness.
** Barruel, in his Memoirs, describes this Encyclopaedia to be "a vast emporium of all the sophisms, errors, and calumnies against religion, from the first schools of impiety to the day of their enterprise." Diderot, who was one of its principal compilers, compares it to a "gulf, or rather a rag basket, into which they promiscuously threw every thing half examined, ill digested, good, bad, and indifferent, but always incoherent."—"This compilation (says Mr. Galloway,) was a vast and laboured collection, and, among other things, of the dark and mystical parts of ancient, and of the errors of modern philosophy and impiety. In short, it was, and yet is, an artful and chaotic mixture of gross contradictions, and impious errors and absurdities, of deism and atheism, of spirituality and materialism, of virtue and vice, of truth and falsehood, of religion and blasphemous impiety; in which the first are but slightly touched, or placed in the background, and in the deepest shades; while the last are enforced upon the imagination with all the management of cunning and deception. It was artfully calculated, first, to confound the human intellect, then to seduce it into scepticism; and, afterward, to plunge it, thus bewildered, into the grossest errors and the blackest impiety."
GALLOWAY, vol. 1: p. 70.
The conspirators, ever attentive to the movements of the public mind, now saw, with pleasure, their plot advancing fast towards maturity, and nearly ripe for the long anticipated explosion; nothing appeared to be wanting to complete their projects, but a concentration of their scattered powers. They saw the necessity of a systematic union, and this theyeffected in the Jacobin Club:—that club from which proceeded 40,000 inferior clubs, all obedient to its nod, and ready to execute its will, however diabolical. (e)
(e) See Gall. vol. 1: p. 74.
"At an early period of the Revolution, (says Mr. Kett,) this fraternity of illuminated Free Masons, took the name of Jacobins,—from the name of a convent where they held their meetings. They then counted 300,000 adepts, and were supported by two millions of men scattered through France, armed with torches and pikes, and all the necessary implements of revolution." (f)
(f) Vol. 1: p. 190.
In this great seminary of iniquity they threw off their mask, and openly avowed those principles which had been previously ripening through the various stages of progression. They declared that "all men are equal by nature."
"That the free will or liberty of man is unrestrained by any law either human or divine."
"That human nature possesses endless perfectibility." "That insurrection is lawful in civil society." "That death is only an eternal sleep of the soul."
"That the ancient sabbath (established by God himself at the creation of the world) ought to be abolished, and the times of the year be calculated by decades."
"That tutelary gods, even dead men, may be canonized, consecrated, and worshipped."
"That Jesus Christ was an impostor."
"That human reason is the only true god." (g)
(g) Gallo vol. 1: p. 75.
"An earthquake (says Mr. Faber,) is the symbol of a violent revolution, either religious or political; and a tenth part of the great city, or the Roman empire, is manifestly the same as one of the ten horns of the Roman beast." (h)—"In the year 1789 the tenth part of the city fell; and in the earthquake were slain seven thousand men of name, nobles and prelates, exclusive of their more humble victims." (i
(h) Faber, vol. 2: p. 86. (i) Ib. p. 87. The year 1789 was styled the first year of Liberty; but Infidel Antichrist had not yet attained his full purpose. He panted to soar with a bolder flight than any of his predecessorsin iniquity; and he rested not till he had established the reign of demoniac equality and frantic atheism.
Till the 12th of August 1792, the French Jacobins had only dated the annals of their Revolution by the years of their pretended liberty. On the day when the king was carried prisoner to the Temple, after having been declared to have forfeited his right to the crown, the rebel assembly decreed, that to the date of liberty should be added the date of equality. Antichrist now stood revealed in all his horrors; and the long continued efforts of Popery and Mahometanism were constrained to hide their diminished heads in the presence of a gigantic monster, who alike trampled upon the laws of man, and defied the Majesty of heaven.
On the 12th of August 1792, the Infidel king raised himself above all law; and, on the 26th of the same month, exalted himself above all religion. As the first of these days witnessed the abolition of all distinctions in civil society, so the second beheld the establishment of Atheism by law. It was then that a decree was passed which obliged all the clergy to quit the kingdom within a fortnight after its date; but instead of really allowing them the time specified in their own decree, their merciless pursuers employed the whole of that period in seizing, imprisoning, and putting them to death.
A great many of the clergy, through death and banishment were now no more; and but few traces of Christianity could be found in the reprobate metropolis of the atheistical Republic. One of the churches was converted into a heathen temple, and the rest were used as places of public festivity and amusement. To these places the abandoned citizens of Paris thronged in multitudes; but not, as formerly, professionally to worship their Maker, but to hear his holy name blasphemed, his existence denied, and his eternal Son derided and ridiculed as an impostor.
On the 27th of the same month, one of these miscreants caused an oath to be taken by all the members of the National Assembly, that every exertion should be used to purge the earth of royalty; and it was decreed, that the Convention should be, what they were pleased to term, A Committee of Insurrection against all the kings in the universe. Claiming a diabolical pre-eminence above mere private assassins, they openly, and systematically proposed to institute a band of patriots, who, either by sword, pistol, or poison, should attempt to murder the sovereigns of all nations. The proposal, indeed, was not carried into effect, but it was rather postponed than abandoned; it was passed by, on the ground of expediency, but was not reprobated on that of its innate turpitude. It might still be considered as the sentiment of the meeting; for it was ostensibly delayed on no other ground, than till it might be considered whether the measure might not be imprudent, by inducing the objects of their vengeance to make reprisals.
On the 6th of November 1792, a discourse upon Atheism was pronounced by Dupont, and highly applauded by the Convention. During the progress of the Revolution a comedian, dressed as a priest of the Illuminati, publicly appeared, personally attacking Almighty God, in these memorable words: "No! thou dost not exist. If thou hast power over the thunderbolts, grasp them, aim them at the man who dares set thee at defiance in the face of thine altars. But no; I blaspheme thee, and I still live; no, thou dost not exist."
On the 19th of November, a decree of fraternity, and assistance to their brethren in rebellion throughout Europe, was passed; and on the 21st, the President ordered it to be translated into all languages, as the manifesto of all nations against kings. On the 15th of December, another decree was enacted for extending the French system to all countries occupied by their armies; and, on the 19th, Marat asserted in the Jacobin Club, that, in order to cement liberty, two hundred thousand heads ought to be struck off with the national club.
On the 17th of October 1793, all external signs of religion were abolished; and, with a view to take off every restraint from profligacy and licentiousness, it was decreed, that an inscription should be set up in some conspicuous places of the public burying-grounds, purporting that "Death is only an eternal sleep." On the 25th, to obliterate all traces of the Christian sabbath, a new calendar was adopted by the Convention; in which, time was computed not by weeks, but by periods of ten days each. And, instead of the commemoration of those saints which papal superstition had deified, but which these enlightened Revolutionists had abolished as impositions, festivals, similar to those of pagan Rome, were instituted to the national Mahuzzim, the Virtues, Genius, Labour, Opinion, and Reward. This substitute, we presume, was introduced to prevent the people from being superstitious!
On the 7th of November, Gobet, the republican bishop of Paris, with his grand vicars, and others of his clergy, entered the hall of the National Convention, solemnly resigned his functions, and abjured Christianity: several Protestant ecclesiastics abjured at the same time. In the same month, the pupils of the new republican school of the section des Areis, appeared at the bar; and one of them set forth, "that all religious worship had been suppressed in his section, even to the very idea of religion. He added, that he and his school-fellows detested God, and that, instead of learning Scripture, they learned the declaration of rights." The President having expressed to the deputation the satisfaction of the Convention, they were admitted to the honour of the sitting, amid the loudest applauses. "We swear," exclaimed another in the hall of the Convention, in the same month, "to acknowledge no other worship than that of Reason; no other duty than Liberty;—no other priests than the magistrates."—"Yes," said numerous voices from every part of the hall, "we take the same oath."
On the 23d, Chaumette praised the people of Paris, who had renounced idolatry, and who only worshipped the Supreme Being. He moved the council of Paris to declare, that, in case any commotion should be stirred up in favour of fanaticism, all the clergy should be imprisoned:—and, considering that the people of Paris had declared, that they acknowledged no other worship than that of Reason and Truth, the council resolved, "that all the churches and temples of different religions and worship which were known to be in Paris, should be instantly shut, and that every person requiring the opening of a church, should be put under arrest as a suspected person." Chaumette recommended, "that the will of such sections should be respected, as had renounced all religious worship, except that of Reason, Liberty, and the Republican Virtues." And, finally, to close the black catalogue of legislative enormities, on the 6th of June 1794, fornication was established by law, as atheism and anarchy had been in the preceding years. It was on this day that the Convention decreed, that "there is nothing criminal in the promiscuous intercourse between the sexes." (k)
(k) For a further elucidation of the progress of Infidelity, and for evidence on the above facts, see Kett, vol. 2: p. 199-207. Faber, vol. 2: p. 88-93. See also Galloway, vol. 1: and 2: in which the progress of iniquity is traced with diligence.
Such then was this new Antichristian power, well known through Europe by the common appellation of Jacobinism;—a power, which the degrading superstitions of Popery, co-operating with the sallies of ambition, and the impudence of Infidelity, erected upon the ruins of the altar and the throne. These are the causes which gave energy to a power that has spread desolation and terror over the fairest portions of Europe;—a power which became at once conspicuous and tremendous, by being elevated upon those immolated carcases which it had slain, and by being reddened with that gore which it had wrung from its dying victims.
It is this power which, trained in the schools of prostituted philosophy, put on the alluring dress of mildness, virtue, and religion. Bewitching in its infancy by its deceitful smiles, it captivated with the visor that it assumed, the victims of oppression; but, when grown to maturity, it discovered in rapine and in blood its sanguinary and destructive spirit; and avowing its hostility to every established institution, whether human or divine, it revelled in carnage, and, like Saturn, devoured its own offspring. This is the power, that with philanthropy melting on its lips, nurtured malice and vengeance in its heart; which boasted of honour, and discovered perjury in its practice;—whichenthroned liberty, the more effectually to forge in peace those fetters which were destined to enslave mankind;—which fascinated Europe with its harangues on the Rights of Man, while its actions demonstrated that the possession of property became criminal in its sight;—which practised an organized system of licensed robbery; perpetrated murder with every species of inhumanity, and then appealed to its thunder to justify the deed.
"This execrable power, (says Mr. Kett,) which alone can steel the hearts of its votaries against every feeling of nature, has dared to sanction treason, parricide, lust, massacre; and to infuse into the breastsof its subject multitudes a new passion, which has sunk them beneath the level of the brute creation,—a passion for the sight of their fellow-creatures in the agonies of death;—a literal thirst for human blood."
"This is the power that, first enthroning seven hundred tyrants in the place of one king, ruled twenty-five millions of slaves with the iron sceptre of terror, and for five years made France a slaughter-house; that formed the web of its laws, of the most complex and intricate texture, and changed them at the fancy of the moment, or for the express purpose of ensnaring the innocent;—and absolute in all things else, disdained to preserve the prerogative of mercy. This is the power, that, calling evil good, and good evil, putting darkness for light and light for darkness, has thought to change times and laws, for the express purpose of destroying every vestige of true religion; and that has deified reason, after having degraded it to madness.—That has fettered its vassals in the chains of requisition, a tyranny before unheard of.—That has transformed the artizans and peasants into a mass of banditti, deluged the country with torrents of their blood, and marked the frontiers with the vast piles of their bodies.—That, throwing away the sword of justice, made the guillotine keep pace with the slaughter of the field of battle,and crowded the prisons with numbers greater than the captives of war.—That, mingling priests and nobles, women, children, and peasants, with indiscriminating barbarity, made them the wretched victimsof its fury, tortured their feelings with the most exquisite and sportive cruelty, and made them drink the cup of misery to the dregs.—That, pillaging alike the church, the palace, and the cottage, banishing thousands of the inhabitants from their country, destroying villages, towns, and cities, seizing every monument of art, and dryingup every source of commerce, sets up the standard of desolation in its own dominions. This is the power which, concealing the dagger of terror under the olive-branch of peace, and, pretending to plant the tree of liberty in every country conquered by its arms, or deluded by its professions, invariably profanes their altars, exiles or murders their priests, abolishes their most sacred laws and institutions, and avails itself of their riches and resources to increase the instruments of its own dominion. This is the power, which, not content with hurling defiance at every sovereign upon earth, has raised its voice against the Majesty of heaven, has reviled the Saviour of the world, destroyed his churches, persecuted his ministers, forbidden his worship, and, to complete the measure of guilt, has declared, in terms surpassing the boldness of all former impiety, 'That there is no God.'" (l)
(l) Kett, vol. 2: p. 198, et seq.
"Let it not be imagined, (continues the same author,) that the preceding is an exaggerated picture; every trait will be found in the decrees, the reports, the public records of their enormities." This, then, is the power which commences an attack upon our faith in the providence of God, and dazzles the nations with that splendor which seems to encircle her actions, and gleam from her arms. But let us not be deluded by the glittering meteor. Nations abandoned to every vice, have been made instrumental in the hand of God to inflict his judgments upon apostate professors. Success is no mark of the divine approbation; the most powerful states, having fulfilled the divine pleasure, have afterward been compelled to drink the cupof trembling, and have become the seats of desolation. History furnishes us with numerous instances of this nature, and, in a particular manner, the deplorable state of Babylon bears witness to this awful truth.
The power of which we speak, permitted to triumph for a season, to punish those who, having corrupted the purity of the gospel, seem to have been given up to strong delusions that they might believe alie, may fill Europe with consternation, till the blood which Popery has wantonly spilled, shall be fully avenged; but her aggrandizement, agreeablyto the prophetic denunciation, being of short continuance, must give place to the reign of righteousness in that happy aera, when the nations of the earth shall learn war no more.
Acts of Revolutionary Cruelty, sanctioned by the Legislature of France.
IT is not solely through those displays of insolence and impiety, which this unholy power has manifested toward God, that it has rendered itself conspicuous to the world: in the exercise of its dominion, it has been as cruel as it has been daring. The instances of brutality which might be adduced, would even rival, if not over-balance, the past excesses of papal enormity.
The priests of papal Antichrist having been the great oppressors of the saints of God through former ages, were made the primary objects of Revolutionary vengeance. The calamities which the church of God had been doomed to suffer by the priestly order, formed indeed no part of the object which these miscreants pursued; they were urged by very different motives; but while they indulged their inhuman passions, and glutted themselves with blood, they were made the tremendous instruments of unconscious retaliation.
"In 1792, the Jacobin Club, having consulted the Ecclesiastical Committee, (of constitutional clergy,) through Mr. Voidel, had been told, in a circular letter, that, whatever lengths they might go, they should be supported." (m) This was the sanction which they wanted to obtain; they needed no spur to urge them to deeds of bloody activity; their only dread was founded upon an apprehension of consequences: but this declaration exempted them from all the restraints of law. The turbulent characters in their neighbourhood, whose sentiments were in unison with their own, rejoiced in an opportunityof indulging their feelings, by joining a party of men, who, like themselves, delighted in the pangs of their fellow-creatures. These, uniting together, became a formidable body; and, in some places, their numbers were augmented, by seducing the common people to take part in their atrocities; and this was effected by using the name of the king, who had given his sanction to the decree which they had obtained in their favour. In many parts of the country, some of those who declined taking the oath which had been prescribed, were murdered at the doors of the churches, and in Britanny several priests are said to have been hunted through the forests, where, after enduring every extremity of hunger and fatigue, they miserably perished, even when they had escaped the vigilance of their pursuers. In many places their mangled carcases were afterwards found torn by briers, and half devoured by wild bears. (n)
(m) Annual Register, p. 90, 91. (n) See Kett, vol. 2: p. 212. On the 25th of May 1792, a decree was passed, which condemned the nonjuring clergy to banishment. About the time of the Federation which followed, many of the clergy were put to death with circumstances more or less sanguinary; great numbers were crowded together in gaols and other places of confinement. At Mons there were 200; 300 at Cennes; others at Nantes and different towns; while, at Paris, all the gaols were found insufficient to contain the increased number of prisoners under the new dominion of Liberty. (o)
(o) See p. 214.
"By an edict of the Constituent Assembly, there was a general sale of all ecclesiastical property: and every kind of property connected with churches or charities was confiscated. The magnificent church of St. Genevieve at Paris, was changed by the National Assembly into a repository for the remains of their great men, or rather into a pagan temple, and, as such, was aptly distinguished by the name of the Pantheon, with this inscription, 'Aux Grands Hommes la Patrie reconnoissante,' on the front, according to a decree proposed by the impious Condorcet." (p) It was to this temple, or Pantheons that the remains of Voltaire and of Rousseau were conveyed in a most magnificent procession; a compliment which was afterward paid to the infamous Marat, whom Kett styles, "the Nero of the Revolution." The bones of Voltaire were placed upon the altar, and incense was offered by the infatuated multitude in this reign of Liberty, to prove that they had renounced the worship of images and relics, and to demonstrate to the world that the dominion of superstition was at an end!
(p) Kett, p. 215.
It was in that prostituted moment, when these friends of liberty were bowing down before the putrid ashes of this arch enemy of Christ in silent adoration, that a voice was heard to utter, in a tone of agony and indignation, these memorable words, "O God, thou wilt be revenged." The sound awakened the prostrate throng, and they started from their devotion to bathe their hands in blood. Search was immediately made for the man who thus daredto interrupt these impious rites, and this Abdiel was probably sacrificed to the fury of the multitude.
To the penal laws which had been enacted against the clergy, the king, in conformity to that authority which he derived from the constitution, refused to give his sanction;—this refusal was made a pretence for the immediate abolition of monarchy. The tenth of August was the day that fixed its downfal. The faithful Swiss guards of Lewis and hisfew loyal adherents were sacrificed by a horde of furies, who disgraced the name of men as well as of citizens, and who were instigated by Petion, Manuel, Danton, the new members of the common council of Paris, and other abettors of anarchy and blood.
"On the 26th of August, it was decreed, that all ecclesiastics, who had not taken the national oath, should be transported. The number of these victims was 138 bishops, and 64,000 priests of the second order." (q)
(q) Kett, p. 115-117.
The month of September was disgraced by more atrocious deeds, and by a far more sanguinary scene than those which had polluted August. In consequence of a plan which had been preconcerted, a band of assassins, composed of Federes and Marseillois, broke into the prisons in Paris, and, treating with contempt both the principles of justice and the forms of law, began a general assassination, which three days and nights were scarcely sufficient to measure. In this private butchery no less than seven thousand six hundred and five persons, who had been imprisoned from motives of private hatred or revenge, were inhumanly murdered; and, as a proof that these miscreants were employed to perform their diabolical work, they publicly demanded the wages of assassination. In short, massacres and butcheries were committed in all the prisons and religious houses. During the short intervals between these bloody scenes, the passions of the populace were fired. The relentless Roland had the care of the general police; the bloody Danton was the Minister of Justice; the insidious Petion was Mayor of Paris; and the treacherous Manuel was procurator of the common-hall. These magistrates must therefore, from the nature of their respective offices, have been either the authors, or the accessaries, of the massacres of September. (r)
(r) See Kett, p. 217.
On the 21st of January 1793, the King of France, after having suffered every indignity which the ingenious malice of his enemies could devise, was tried, condemned, and murdered upon a scaffold, in a manner that was an outrage to all humanity, justice, and law,—for the imputation of offences and crimes which his accusers had committed, and for the exercise of that prerogative which the constitution had given him. And, in the month of May 1794, the Queen of France, after having been exposed to hardships and indignities which are almost incredible, shared the fate of her unfortunate husband. (s)
(s) Ibid. p. 219.
The banishment and murder of the priests were almost instantly followed by the plunder of the churches. This new depredation "produced nearly 1,3500,000£. sterling; and through thewhole extent of France there remained not a sacred vase, not even in the domestic chapels." (s')
(s') Ibid. p. 222.
TheRevolutionaryTribunalwasestablisheduponthemotionofDanton,March5th, 1793. It authorized the incessant exercise of the guillotine, and thus confirmed the reign of terror in all its horrors. The Tribunal added daily, for a long time, new victims to the thousands who had fallen on the fatal days of August and September. Here the mockery of justice wascomplete; for, in the condemnation of the accused, the verdict of the jury, without the examination of witnesses, or even the confession of the prisoner, was declared sufficient to establish guilt. (t)
(t) Ibid. p. 224.
La Vendee presented to the world a scene of devastation and cruelty, which will be handed down to posterity, to excite the detestation of generations which are yet unborn. The Convention, unable to reduce these brave men by the sword, resolved to employ fire; and, on the fourth of August 1793, they passed a decree to accomplish this purpose;—a decree which cannot be read without filling the mind with horror. It enacted, "that all the corn should be carried into the interior; and that the castles, the villages, and the woods possessed by the royalists, should be burnt."
This decree was awfully carried into execution. Each column carried before it the torch of conflagration: an immense number of persons perished; and a tract of country of more than twenty leagues in circumference, became a prey to the flames. Men, women, and children, fled to the Roman Catholic army, to escape violence or death.
As a proof of the destruction and havoc made by this calamitous war, we may take the report of Carriere. "In the month of August, (says he,) the rebels had 150,000 men in arms;but the victories of Montagne and Chollet were so fatal to them, that the reporter passed over fourteen leagues of country entirely covered with their dead bodies." (u)
(u) Ibid. p. 229.
On the 5th of August, Le Quinio wrote to the Convention as follows: "I have caused 500 prisoners to be shot and drowned at Fontenai le Peuple. Le Vasseur de la Sarthe caused 700 to be shot and drowned between Samur and Orleans, in parties from fifty or sixty to a hundred." The Commissioner Garnier wrote thus to the Convention, on the tenth of December: "I have caused fifty-eight priests to be drowned." The same man, on another occasion, expressed himself thus: "Ninety priests have just been brought before me; I have drowned them, which has given me great pleasure." (v)
(v) Ibid. p. 230.
The massacre, in cold blood, of prisoners of war; the condemnation of persons accused without the form of trial, or a proof of guilt, are unhappily not without too many examples in the records of human depravity; but the conflagration of 1820 towns, villages, and hamlets, in one portion of its own territory; the deliberate assassination of women and children by thousands; the horrid pollution of female victims, expiring in the agonies of death; and the establishment of a tanyard (w), under the auspices of Government, for manufacturing into leather, the skins of its murdered citizens,—are facts and deeds of atrocity, which exclusively disgrace the bloody annals of modern France, and give to the Revolution a dreadful pre-eminence in guilt. (x)
(w) "This establishment was instituted by the Committee of Public Welfare, of which Citizen Carnot, afterwards one of the five Directors, was, at that time, a leading member." Gifford, cited by Kett, vol. 2: p. 202.
(x) Ibid. p. 202.
To describe, in regular detail, the varied acts of inhumanity and carnage, would be an almost endless task. Many French writers have transmitted the outlines to posterity, some of whom were spectators of the facts which they have recorded. There is one, who, on the whole, justifies the Revolution, and who, on that account, can hardly be suspected of exaggeration, from whom we will transcribethe following picture.
"In violation of every principle, murder, theft, plunder, massacre, and devastation, were legalized; and that, under the name of Revolutionary government: all the public functions were united in the Committee of Public Safety, where Robespierre had for a long time dominated. Then it was that this Committee became dictatorial, and hurried into the departments that horde of ferocious proconsuls, whom we have seen betraying and slaughtering the people, whose servants they were, and to whom they owed their political existence; sometime, carrying with them, in their murderous circuits, the guillotine; at others, declaring it permanent, which was saying, in other words, that the executioner was not to have a moment's rest. These monsters in mission, these colossuses in crime, these phaenomena in cruelty, hunted men, as a German baron hunts wild boars." In another part, he relates what he confesses had never before been seen,—"Myriads of a great and enlightened nation, mutilated, decimated, shot, drowned, and guillotined by their own representatives. Rome, he observes, had a series of tyrants in succession, or, at least, at short intervals; but France had, at one and the same time, a host of Caligulas.—Tacitus (he adds,) would have broken his pencil, from regret at not being able to paint all the crimes which sprang from the monstrous junction of the ferocious Robespierre with the sanguinary Cuthon; the barbarous Billaud with the gloomy Amar; the tiger Collot with the tiger Carriere; the cut-throat Dumas with the cut-throat Cussinhal; and a thousand subalterns, submissive to their orders: and Mirabeau undoubtedly saw a part only of these horrors, when he said, Liberty slept only on mattrasses of dead carcasses."
The author, having thus acknowledged the inadequacy of language to convey to the mind of the reader a just idea of the horrors which be wished to express, exclaims as follows: "What a picture! The waves of the ocean swelled by the mangled bodies committed to the Loire; blood flowing in torrents down the streets of every town; the dungeons of a hundred thousand Bastiles groaning under the weight of the victims with which they are encumbered; the crape of death worn by every family; the threshold of every door stained with gore; and, as the height of insult, the word humanity engraven on every tomb, and associated with death! Such was the lamentable aspect which France presented. On every frontispiece were to be seen the contradictory words Liberty, Fraternity, or Death! Alas! the last was the only one that was realized." (a)
(a) Page's Secret Hist. of the Revolution, cited by Galloway, vol. 1: p. 249, 250.
"The massacre of St. Bartholomew, an event that filled all Europe with consternation, the infamy and horror of which have been dwelt upon by so many eloquent writers of all religions, and that has held Charles IX. up to the execration of ages,dwindlesinto child's play, when compared to the present murderous Revolution, which a late writer in France emphatically calls a St. Bartholomew of five years. According to Mr. Bossuet, there were about 30,000 persons murdered in all France on that day: there have been more than that number murdered in the single city of Lyons and its neighbourhood; at Nantes there have been 27,000; at Paris 150,000; in La Vendee 300,000. In short, it appears, that there have been two millions of persons murdered in France since it has called itself a Republic; among whom are reckoned 250,000 women, 230,000 children, (besides those murdered in the womb,) and 24,000 Christian priests." (b)
(b) Gifford's Preface to the Translation of Gen. Danican's Banditti unmasked, cited by Kett, vol. 2: p. 232, and by Faber vol. 2: p. 93, 94.
On the recital of the enormities above-mentioned, Mr. Faber observes as follows: "If such has been the effusion of blood in France alone, how will the dreadful catalogue of the miseries produced under the third woe be swelled, when all the wars which the Revolution has kindled are likewise taken into the account? how will it be yet incalculably swelled, ere the terrific blast of this trumpet has ceased, by the time of trouble predicted by Daniel at the close of the 1260 years; a time such as never was, since there was a nation even to that same time? We have already beheld the effects of the first and second woes: do we need any further proof to convince us, that the third woe has begun to sound?" (c)
(c) Faber, vol. 2: p. 94.
The axe of rapine being once lifted over the heads of the unhappy victims, it was in vain to solicit mercy. Those who attempted to make an application for it, were either repelled with indignity, or suspected to be tainted with those principles for which the sufferer was destined to meet his fate. Such applicants were told, that "the enlightened government of France possessed no power to soften the rigour of the laws," or to revoke a sentence which a company of banditti, at once venal and bloody, had pronounced. That infallibility, of which they had recently plundered his Italian Holiness, and which they had rejected with indignation as an abominable imposition, they transferred to their own Uncivil power, and became thus inconsistently the strenuous supporters of it, by preventing all appeal from the decision of their sanguinarylaws. Like the detestable Inquisition which they had taught the people to abhor,theyviewedfamilyconnectionsaspresumptiveevidencesofguilt;sothat those who had the misfortune to be suspected of being suspicious, or even of being connected with any who were thus suspected of being suspicious persons, were in the high road to those dungeons which were but so many passages that led to the guillotine. Yet, strange as it may appear, in the midst of these very actions, the directors of this great political machine persuaded the deluded people that they were establishingLiberty; and the delusion became more and more imposing, in proportion to the torrents of blood which flowed from their expiring neighbours and frien
In such a state ofsociety or anarchy, when fortune, life, and honour, depended upon thecapricioussalliesofsanguinaryindividuals,already bloated with human blood, we cannot be surprised at hearing that private assassinations were perpetrated with impunity and circumstances of horror; nor, from the torpor and insensibility which those deeds of darkness occasioned, that individual murders should be considered as trivial acts. In many cases suicide became the dreadful refuge of the unfortunate survivors of their families' wrongs; and this prevailed in a moreespecial manner among those, who, having been robbed of their dearest friends, and of the means of renderinglife supportable, had abandoned religion, renounced their belief in the being of a God, and surrendered up all thoughts of an hereafter. These unhappy remnants of human nature, oppressed by calamities with which they were disqualified to grapple, sullenly retired from existence, having nothing further to hope or fear either in time or in eternity.
"Thus, many of those who escaped the tribunal of the ruling faction, avoided the scaffold only to perish by their own hands." Valaze stabbed himself; Echelle and
Condorcet preferred poison; L'Huillier killed himself in prison; Rebecqui drowned himself: these were agents in the atrocities of Avignon and the second of September. Hidon, and the academician Champfort, fell by their own hands. Such also was the end of Roland, who was one of the principal actors in the Revolution of the tenth of August.—In the short space of two years, almost every individual of the principal actors in that massacre, was brought to a violent end.
"Danton, (who," to use the language of Mr. Burke, "offered to this nation the civic kiss with lips just reeking with the blood of his murdered sovereign,") and Westerman, the one who directed, and the other who executed the counsels of the insurgents, perished on the same day, and on the same scaffold. A similar fate befel many of those who decreed the death or imprisonment of the king. Of the 693 Members of the Convention who voted that the King was guilty, seven were assassinated, eight were suicides, thirty-four were proscribed, ninety-two were imprisoned, and sixty-five were guillotined. The addition of those who have since suffered in various ways, will swell this account to a far greater number.
"Thus, fora considerable time, in the interior of France, each recent event surpassed in horror that which preceded it; and the metropolis was the centre of massacre, atheism, and anarchy. In short, the conduct of the governors and the governed was equally an outrage to decorum, humanity, and consistency of conduct." (d)
(d) See Faber, vol. 2: p. 327-329: and also Kett, vol. 2: p. 243-252, to which Mr. Faber refers. In these pages of Mr. Kett the reader may find a finished picture of intolerant liberty.
It is well known, that the Revolution in France commenced in the year 1789; and the following is an abstract of the progress of murder, during the period of the three first legislatures of France; extending from the above date, to the latter end of the year 1795. Without vouching for its correctness in every respect, it may be safely averred, that the author, one of the most zealous promoters of that Revolution of which he details the errors, faults, and crimes, in 6 volumes, octavo, has not been guilty of wilful exaggeration.
"Individuals destroyed in consequence of the Revolution:
Constituent Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,540
Legislative Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8,044
National Convention . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,026,606
In the Field of Battle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 800,000
In the Colonies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184,000
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,022,190
Total of Emigrants within the above period . . . . . . . . 123,789
Laws enacted during the above period:
Constituent Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,557
Legislative Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,227
National Convention . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11,210
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14,994"
It must not be forgotten, that the above statement reaches no further than the year 1795: if, therefore, we take into our account the many thousands, and tens of thousands, who have fallen since the above period, by intestine commotions, by foreign wars, by assassinations, by dungeons, and the guillotine, and add these to the numbers above specified, we shall have before us a catalogue, which, like Ezekiel's roll, will be written within and without, with lamentation, mourning, and woe.
(e) For the above statement of destruction, emigrants, and laws, see Mr. Kett, vol. 2: p. 233; in which he states his authorities for the above calculations.
To prevent, in the midst of these commotions, every symptom of returning remorse, and to banish reflection from every bosom, the minds of the Parisians were kept in a continual fever of the most dissolute gaiety. "Between the tenth of August 1792 and the first of January 1794, (says Robison,) upwards of two hundred new plays were acted in the Parisian theatres. Their immorality and their barbarism exceeded all conception. All the voluptuous sensuality of ancient Rome was brought upon the stage. No decoration was spared, that could dazzle the eye; and the dialogue and representation were calculated for inflaming the passions, and nourishing the hatred of all subordination." (f) This strange chaos of voluptuousness and murder must have been at once an effect and a cause of a depraved state of morals. The most sacred ties of society must have been unhinged by such an unnatural association; and, in fact, the result became an awful comment upon the supposition. In the year 1793, it was calculated that one hundred and fifty divorces (g) had taken place in Paris alone every month after the decree relative to marriage became a branch of their established laws. Other portions of the empire, without doubt, followed the example of the metropolis; and the fatal effects of such a measure must have been severely felt in almost every department of domestic life.
(f) Robison, p. 252, as cited by Kett, vol. 2: p. 236. (g) Kett, vol. 2: p. 236. After the downfal of Robespierre, the effusion of human blood, within the precincts of the French territories, began to abate. France, however, had been previously converted into a vast Alceldama: or, to use the strong language of prophesy, its revolutionary sea became as the blood of a dead man, and every living soul died in the sea.
When we look back on that ground over which we have travelled, and connect together the different parts of those horrors which we have transiently surveyed, we cannot but feel our minds impressed with the awful and impartial judgments of God. An introduction of the Gospel was soon followed, by an apostacy from its sacred principles;—an apostacy which became the more obnoxious to the wrath of heaven, because, under the sanction of the divine direction and approbation, the professed friends of the meek and lowly Saviour of the world perpetrated crimes, which heathen nations would blush to own.
But these crimes have been visited with calamities of a most dreadful nature. The iniquities of this apostate church have been made instrumental in procuring the judgments which have been inflicted on her, becoming, in the same moment, her progeny and scourge, and displaying to all future generations of mankind, that God, by his providence, superintends the affairs of the world, and, consistently with his righteousness, retaliates blood for blood.
"What may, in some sense, (says Mr. Faber,) be called the abortive offspring of Popery,* has been made instrumental in the hands of God to visit the iniquities of its parent. The blood of those who repented not of the works of their hands, their idolatry, their murders, their sorceries, their spiritual fornications, their pious, or rather impious frauds, has been prodigally shed: and it is very remarkable, that the French anarchists have introduced the horrors of war principally into popish countries; as if those nations which profess the purity of the Protestant religion were providentially preserved from danger."
* We may rather, I think, observe, that Infidelity is the natural consequence of Popery, than that it is its abortive offspring. For, if Popery is founded upon revelation, or, rather, is the same with it, as the Romish Doctors would instruct us to believe, men must abandon every principle which dignifies human nature, before they can suppose that such a revelation came from God. The objects of our faith, without all doubt, transcend our comprehension; but nothing can ever be an object of our belief, which, by involving absurdities and contradictions, becomes repugnant to the first principles of all human knowledge.
The mind of man, perceiving in the legendary tales and pretentious of Popery, not only absurdities and contradictions, but assertions which blasphemously ascribe to human beings the dominion of Omnipotence, and tenets which dethrone the Almighty, by robbing him of his incommunicable prerogatives, revolts with disgust from the daring scene; and, sinking into scepticism, from which it finds no method of escaping, it views religion altogether as a systematic imposition; and, finally, rests in a settled disbelief of every thing with which Popery professes to have any intimate connection. In short, men, under such unhappy circumstances, become infidels, from being urged to believe contrary to their own convictions.
"Not (continues this excellent writer,) that all Protestant countries have escaped. The mere name of Protestantism is of little importance when its spirit is no more. Theywho have apostatized from the religion of their fathers, must expect to partake of the vials of the wrath of God. Though Antichrist has reared his head in a popish country, and though he has prevailed most in regions once devoted to the papal superstition, yet the apostacy was not to be his only stage of action. His principles have tainted numbers, even under Protestant governments, agreeably to the sure word of prophecy, that the false teachers of the last days should allure through the lust of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them that live in error." (h) Of such characters the apostle observes as follows, It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
(h) See Faber, vol. 1: p. 342.
But, since the great apostacy which followed the introduction of the Gospel, has been overtaken by those calamities which Infidelity has inflicted on the friends of superstition, as a just retaliation of the miseries which they have occasioned, may we not presume to inquire, whether Infidelity, having trodden the implements of Papal idolatry in the dust, shall finally triumph in the world? Whether, in the order of Providence, this scourge was not even morally necessary to purge the professing Christian world of its abominations? And whether, after having lived its day, and accomplished the inscrutable purposes of heaven, it shall not finally sustain a total overthrow, and be in its turn an object of the divine vengeance? And, whether there are not to be found in the Apocalyptical visions, predictions that relate to a grand revolution which shall hereafter take place, before the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of God and his Christ?
It is not our design to enter into a distinct investigation of all these varied questions. The limits of an APPENDIX are not adapted for such inquiries; but all these questions will occasionally rise before us in the remaining pages; in which we shall consider, in relation to this great event, the opinions that have been delivered on those prophesies remaining yet to be fulfilled.
Infidelity, having lived its day, and been made instrumental in the hands of God in punishing corrupt and apostate professors, destined to perish. Commencement of the 1260 days mentioned by St. John. Popery obtained its enormous power, and Mahometanism began, in 606: Infidelity commenced at a subsequent period: all must expire together. The complexion of the times proves that we are living towards the close of the 1260 days or years. Many predictions yet unaccomplished, namely, the restoration of the Jews:—a grand confederacy of the enemies of Christ;—the battle of Armageddon:—the Millennium; and Gog and Magog. Remarks on Gog and Magog, and on the grand confederacy. On the pouring out of the fourth vial; the fifth vial; the sixth vial. Observations on the downfal of Turkey, and on the present situation and restoration of the Jews.
IN the prophesies, both of Daniel and of St. John, we find an account of many events, which are not onlypredicted with circumstantial exactness, but laid out before us in chronological order. And, hence, we are furnished with many important marks to guide us in our inquiries into hidden facts, and to direct us to those future events which time has not yet brought to light. Among other subjects of prophesy, particular and frequent mention is made of a certain period, during which the Almighty, for reasons which are inscrutable to us, should permit his enemiesto afflict and persecute his church. Why these things should be so, we must be content to remain ignorant, until we obtain a more intimate acquaintance with the mysterious oeconomy of Heaven; and this can hardly, perhaps, be expected, till mortality shall be swallowed up in life.
"This period is indifferently described, as consisting of three times and an half, forty-two months, or one thousand two hundred and sixty days: for if we reckon a time to be equal to one year containing 360 days, 42 months, or 1260 days will be found exactly equal to three such years and an half. In the language of prophecy it is however a well known fact, that natural years are termed days." (i) It was thus that the Lord declared himself to Moses and Aaron, when the children of Israel had transgressed his commands. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years; and ye shall know my breach of promise. (Numbers 14:34.) And hence it is, agreeably to this mode of computation, that 1260 days must be understood to mean 1260 years; while, following the same calculation, we must conclude that 42 months mean so many months of years; and three years and a half, which period was expressed by the word times, must, by the same analogy, give to us the same number of years of years. The plain consequence is, that the period of affliction thus variously expressed, during which the enemies of the church were to be permitted to triumph over her, amounts to 1260 natural years.
(i) See Faber's Dissert. vol. 1: p. 3.
But, while this long period of troubles and calamities is so clearly predicted, a difficulty occurs as to our comprehension of it, which it became necessary for these prophets to remove. The period, in itself definite and progressive, placesthe fact itself beyond the reach of all dispute; it nevertheless became necessary that some marks should be given whereby its commencement should be known; for, without these, no accurate calculation could be made on theperiod of its accomplishment. Accordingly both Daniel and St. John, without giving us the precise year when these 1260 days were to begin, have given us decisive reasons to conclude, that this long period of complicated disasters has no connection with those persecutions which the church of Christ, in its infant state, was destined to suffer from the idolatrous emperorsof pagan Rome.
Daniel, in his vision of the four great beasts, which he has plainly told us are four empires or kingdoms, has clearly intimated in his seventh chapter, that a certain power, into whose hands the saints should be given during the above afflictive period of 1260 years, should begin to arise in that age of the world, in which the last of those beasts which he saw in his vision (which is generally understood to mean the Roman empire,) should be divided into ten separate horns or kingdoms. And, consequently, we are hence fully instructed not to look for this power, till the Roman empire, through the inroads of the barbarous nations, was thus erected into ten separate and independent states. This event, it is well known, did not take place till after the days of Constantine, in which she made a formal profession of faith in Jesus Christ; and, therefore, it could not be till after the persecutions of the pagan emperors were brought entirely to an end. Hence then it will necessarily follow, that, as the 1260 days were to commence under a power which was to have no existence until the last or Roman beast should be divided into ten kingdoms, which event did not take place till after she became professionally Christian, their commencement must be posterior to the line of the pagan emperors; and, therefore, these afflictions can have no connection with those which the church suffered in her infant state.
In addition to these things, St. John, like Daniel, looked forward from his day to a period comparatively distant, for the commencement of these 1260 years; which he could not have done, if the persecutions under the pagan emperors had been the object that he had in view. These pagan persecutions were already begun; and he, at that moment, suffered as an exile in the island of Patmos. It is a well known fact, that Constantine published his famous edict in the behalf of Christianity so early as the year of our Lord 313; and, consequently, as only 313 years had elapsed from the commencement of the Christian aera to that period, the 1260 years of persecution could not possibly be included within the number. It is thus, that the prophesies of St. John concur with those of Daniel, in furnishing us with decisive marks, that these 1260 days of years are to be sought for in a period of time posterior to the persecuting triumph of pagan Rome.
"But, although (says Mr. Faber,) the pagan Roman empire has no connection with the persecution of the 1260 years, we are evidently to look for the grand promoters of it within the limits of the old Roman empire. The little horn, the ten horns, and the last head of the fourth beast, all arise out of that beast; the Roman empire, therefore, must necessarily comprehend every one of these powers."
"So again; since the Roman empire had embraced Christianity previous to its division into ten kingdoms, since all those ten kingdoms were converted very soon after their foundation, and since the little horn is represented as being contemporary with them, and as springing up among them; the little horn, whatever it may be designed to symbolize, must be some power, at least nominally, Christian. This point is proved by history; for, at the time when the Roman empire was divided, we shall in vain look for the rise of any pagan power within the limits of the empire, that at all answers to the character of the little horn. Yet it is manifest, that the little horn must have been long since in existence, because it is described as first beginning to make its appearance at the aera of the division of the Roman empire."
"If then the little horn (a) be a type of some Christian power, it must be one that has greatlyfallen away from the purity and simplicity of the primitive church; because it is described as wearing out the saints (b) during the space of three times and a half, or 1260 natural years, and as speaking great words on the side of the Most High, so as to place itself upon an equality with God."
(a) Daniel 7:8. (b) Ver. 25. "The nature, both of this power and of its apostacy, we are clearly taught by St. John. In the Apocalypse the same ten horned beast, or Roman empire, as that mentioned by Daniel, is described as standing in the wilderness. Here, however, he appears without his little horn; and, instead of it, is represented assupporting a harlot, who, precisely like the little horn, is said to be a great persecutor of the faithful; for St. John beheld her drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. He moreover tells us, that this harlot is the great city, which, in his time, reigned over the kings of the earth, and whose seatof empire was founded upon seven hills: the harlot, therefore, must be some apostate church, whose influence extends over all the kings of the earth, and whose seat is the seven-hilled city of Rome."
"As for the peculiar nature of the apostacy with which this church is stigmatized, it is very largely described by the apostle in the course of his prophetic vision. The church in question was to be notorious for persecuting the saints of God; for making all nations drunken with the cup of her spiritual fornications or idolatry; for working pretended miracles; for compelling the whole world to worship an image; for laying such as presumed to dissent from her, under the severest interdicts; and for carrying on an iniquitous traffic in all sorts of valuable commodities; and, what remarkably distinguishes her from common traders, in the souls of men." (c) Those who have perused with any attention the preceding pages of this Appendix, which have marked, in a brief manner, the apostacy, idolatry, blasphemy, and cruelty, of the Romish church, require no information how to make an application of the above description.
(c) Faber's Dissertation on the Prophecies, vol. 1: p. 7, 8.
But how convincing soever the evidence may be, to assure us that the period of persecution to which both Daniel and St. John have alluded, cannot be carried back to the calamities which the church suffered under pagan Rome, yet the time of its commencement is left indefinite within the confines of a circle which seems to be bounded on every side. Daniel, to guide us in our decision, has dated the commencement of this aera from a time, in which, after the division of the great Roman empire into ten kingdoms, the saints should be delivered up into the hand of the little horn; while St. John, with another figure, but with equal accuracy, instructs us to date these important days, from the time when the true church, which he denominates the woman, fled into the wilderness from the threatening serpent; which was precisely the time when the mystic city of God began to be trampled under foot by a new race of Christian idolaters. Hence then it is evident, that, to know with accuracy when these 1260 days began, we must seek after, and find a period subsequent to the dissolution of the great Roman empire, in which some signal event or events took place, corresponding with the above descriptions given by Daniel and St. John.
This eventful period "must evidently be the year (says Mr. Faber,) in which the bishop of Rome was constituted supreme head of the church, with the proud title of Bishop of bishops. For, by such an act, the whole church, comprehending both good and bad, both the saints of the most High, and those who were tainted with the Gentilism of the apostacy, considered individually, were formally given by the chief secular power, the head of the Roman empire, into the hand of the encroachinglittle horn. This year was the year 606,* when the reigning emperor Phocas, the representative of the sixth head of the beast, declared Pope Boniface to be universal Bishop: and the Romish church hath ever since shewn itself to be that little horn into whose hands the saints were delivered, by styling itself, with equal absurdity and presumption, the Catholic, or Universal Church. The year 606 then is the date of the 1260 years, and the aera of what St. Paul terms the revelation of the man of sin. The apostacy, in its individualcapacity, was already in existence previous to such revelation; hence he represents it as commencing before it: but, as soon as the man of sin was openly revealed, by having the saints delivered into his hand, then commenced the 1260 years of the apostacy, in its public and dominant capacity." (d)
* That the above sentiment of Mr. Faber is highly probable, we most readily admit; and, from that conviction have adopted it as fixing us upon the most likely period that history apparently affords; we, nevertheless, dare not vouch for the absolute certainty of the fact, much less can we subscribe to the positive and unqualified manner in which the sentiment is expressed. Other writers, with much strength of argument, and, consequently, with much plausibility on their side, have fixed upon other periods; but the progress of time and of events has shewn the fallacy of their theories, and thereby taught us this lesson, that events are the only infallible interpreters of prophesy, and that secret things belong to God. However, we recommend Mr. Faber's Dissertation, as, perhaps, the best treatise extant at present on the Revelation.
(d) Dissertation on Prophecies, vol. 1: p. 14.
But it was not merely because the saints of the most High were thus delivered into the hand of the papal power in 606, that this year is rendered memorable. It gave birth also to Mahometanism, agreeably to the prediction of St. John, who, in his prophetic vision, was instructed to describe its rise as issuing from the bottomless pit, which is said to be opened by a star which had fallen from heaven; by which we are probably to understand some apostate Christian minister, who had avowedly renounced the cause of Christ. In consequence of this event, there arose a smoke out of the bottomless pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. (e)
(e) Revelation 9:0.
It appears, moreover,from a computation which has been made from the numbers of Daniel, by Mr. Faber, that, like Popery, this Mahometan power is to reign precisely 1260 years. Hence then the consequence is inevitable; that, as these powers commenced in the same year, namely, 606, they must run parallel with each other; theirperiods of continuance must be the same; and, finally, having fulfilled that period in which they were permitted to afflict the church of Christ, they must expire together.
"Of this period, since the year 606, twelve centuries have already elapsed: we are therefore fast approaching to the time of the end, and to the day of God's controversy with the nations." (f) The remaining portion of the prophetic period must be drawing to a close; and, though it may not be placed within the power of mortals to know with precision the times and the seasons, we have reason to conclude, that we are on the eve of the most eventful periods that ever visited the world.
(f) Dissert. vol. 1: p. 17.
In addition to Popery and Mahometanism, which were predicted both by Daniel and St. John, and which we have seen verifyingin fact the prophetic description given of them, the same inspired authors have foretold a third power which should arise towards the termination of the above 1260 days or years. He is described as continuing only a short space of time; as joining the two apostate powers which have been already mentioned; and as perishingfirmly leagued with Popery, at the very time of the end, or at the termination of the 1260 years.
St. John brings him upon the grand stage of the world, in his prophetic narration of events, with the piercing blast of the third woe trumpet; and, as a mark by which we may know the arrival and establishment of his power, he expressly foretels, that his open developement should be immediately preceded by the fall of a tenth part of the great Roman city. The miseries with which this third enemy should afflict mankind, the apostle describes under the figurative expressions of the harvest of the wrath of God, which should precede the dreadful vintage of the time of the end; and he sets forth more distinctly the nature of those miseries under the pouring out of a certain number of the seven vials. The same power is described by Daniel, as a king or state rising up after the aera of the Reformation;—as speaking great words against the most High;—as wearing out his saints;—and as thinking to change times and laws. (g) St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Jude, concur in describing, with astonishingaccuracy, the principles which should be adopted and carried into practice by this power and its adherents; their sentiments, on this occasion, are in perfect unison with those of Daniel; a lawless contempt for every thing sacred, seems, on every occasion, to be one of its most distinguishing characteristics: for, though the prophetic language varies, the sentiment inculcated by all, is perfectly the same. St.
John, indeed, favoured with a particular view of this antichristian power, has not only dwelt upon it in the Apocalypse with peculiarattention, but has also introduced it into his Epistles. And as a specific mark by which this enemy to the church might be distinguished from all others, he has there told us, that he should openly deny the Father and the Son. (h)
(g) Daniel 7:24-25.
(h) See Faber, vol. 1: p. 18, 19, and Whitaker, to whom he refers.
Such, then, are these three great enemies of the Gospel of Christ, Popery, Mahometanism, and Infidelity. The two first are represented as starting into being together, immediately on the division of the great Roman beast into ten distinct kingdoms, at which time, the period of 1260 years, which was allotted for their continuance, began; while the third is introduced towards the concluding years of the above period. These are all represented as uniting in one solid compact against the church of Christ, though their motives of action are totally distinct; they are represented as running parallel with each other from the time that they respectively sprang into being, and as ending together at the termination of the above period of 1260 years.
"At the time of the end, (says Mr. Faber,) or the termination of the 1260 years, when these three enemies of the Messiah shall be overthrown together, the restoration of the Jews will commence; and, when God's controversy with the nations is fully decided, then will begin the long expected period of millennian happiness. This period, which is styled the reign of Christ and his saints upon earth, or the reign of the symbolical mountain, will comprize the space either of 1000 years, or of 360,000 years; according as the number predicted be composed of natural or prophetic years. Which of the two be intended by St. John, the event must determine." (i)
(i) Dissertation on the Prophecies, vol. 1: p. 19.
On the issue of these events there can be no mistake, provided we are right in our data. No period, indeed, seems more probable for the commencement of the 1260 years than the year 606, because it was then that Mahometanism took its rise; and it was then that the saints of God were formally delivered into the hands of the papal power. If, therefore, we suppose these two powers commencing together, and running parallel with each other from the year 606, and add to that date the number 1260, we shall be immediately conducted to the year 1866. Before that tremendous year, the polluted stream of Infidelity will have augmented the rushing waters, insomuch that vice may be expected to reign in triumph throughout the world in general. But when this period shall arrive, if this calculation be right, such wonders will be unfolded to the astonishment of mankind, as cannot fail to amaze the world
Correspondent with these predictions, and with observations which have proceeded upon this hypothesis, we have seen events unfolded with the progress of time. We have seen a third power arise towards the conclusion of the predicted period, admitting it to have begun in 606; and we have seen, in the havoc which has been made of the human species, a dreadful harvest of the wrath of God. Such circumstancesaffordusstrongpresumptiveevidenceinfavourofeventswhichareyet future, and furnish us with analogical proofs, that these calculations are highly probable, though we admit them to be attended with much uncertainty, and, from the obscurity which rests upon the primary data, liable to err.
We may, indeed, pronounce, without hesitation, that the great events of which we speak, will most assuredly be accomplished; and, in many instances, even the manner how, is explicitly revealed, though the precise period when they shall take place, to encourage us to diligence and watchfulness, is wisely hidden from our researches. We, therefore, must not forget that all our conclusions as to time, are but hypothetically certain. We feel ourselves indeed inclosed within a circle of events which cannot deceive us as to their general import, though, with respect to subordinateparticulars, the information which God has afforded us, compels us to use the language of hesitation. A train of circumstances, as has been already noted, gives to our conclusions an air of probability; but, though we may be deceived as to the specific year in which God will bringhis controversy with the nations to a close, we may rest ourselves assured, that we are living towards that close of the prophetic period.
"The folly of interpreters (says Sir Isaac Newton,) has been to foretel times and things by the Apocalypse, as if God designed to make them prophets. By this rashness they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the prophecy also into contempt." Let us profit by these hints, and not rashly presume to decide upon times and seasons which are necessarily involved in some obscurity, and which we may presume are known with accuracy only to God.
According to the hypothesis which that very excellent writer Mr. Faber has adopted, the sixteenth chapter of the Revelation contains a summary and distinct account of the various miseries which have been brought upon mankind, by the atheistical Antichrist, during the period of the figurative harvest, which he presumes to include revolutionary France, with its atheistical principles and practical enormities. This chapter also details those events which will intervene between the figurative harvest, and that future vintage which shall consummate the destruction of the papal, Mahometan, and atheistical Antichrist; including the earthquake which shall take place during the great vintage, by which the great city will be divided into three parts, at which time Babylon will come in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of the wrath of God.
These various events, he supposes, are represented as taking place, in consequence of the successive pouring out of the seven vials, the three former of which he presumes to agree with the harvest of God's wrath in Revolutionary France. The three following apply to those intermediate events which shall take place between the above harvest and the successive vintage which shall happen at the expiration of the 1260 days, which the seventh or last vial more particularly describes.
The three following chapters of the Revelation, namely, the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth, according to his hypothesis, detail, in a particular manner, the horrors of the vintage; which, it the theory be well founded, as to the commencement of the 1260 years in the year 606, will take place about the year 1866.
Theeventswhichwillpeculiarlydistinguishthisawfulvintage,arethedivisionofthe great city into three parts; the subversion of mystical Babylon; and the total overthrow of the confederacy of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the Roman or papal earth, in the tremendous battle of Armageddon. "The confederacy itself will unconsciously be effected, (he observes,) by the secret diabolical influence ofthree unclean spirits;but it will physically be facilitated by the military despotism under the fourth vial, by the subversion of the Ottoman empire under the sixth vial, and by the political earthquake at the beginning of the effusion of the seventh vial, which divides the great city, or the Latin empire, into three sovereignties." (k)
(k) Vol. 1: p. 50.
The various events predicted in these chapters relative to the vintage, or the last vial, will happen, it is presumed, at the time of the end, or at the termination of the 1260 years, which, if they began in 606, must be in 1866. It is then that atheistical Antichrist will perish, leagued as at present, though contrary to every expectation that was formed at his original developement, with the false Romish prophet; for, according to the sure word of prophesy, one fate awaits them both in the reign between two seas near the glorious holy mountain, in the country which extends 1600 furlongs in the valley of Megiddo. This is a country which extends 1600
Jewish risin or stadia, by measurement, and lies in the land of Palestine, (l) between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea.*
(l) See vol. 1: p. 51.
* We give these definite expressions as the sentiments of Mr. Faber, without holding ourselves amenable to the tribunal of the public for their actual accomplishment. Probability, indeed, may induce us to believe, that what is thus delivered may be true, but the event alone can give us an assurance.
In the midst of these commotions, things will be hastening on, in all probability, towards the promised fulness of the Gentiles: then will the wine-press of God's wrath begin to be trodden in the valley of Concision: and then will the great controversy of Jehovah with the nations commence. In the mean while, amidst this dreadful confusion, "the Almighty, as it appears (continues Mr. Faber) from Daniel, from Joel, and from Zechariah, will begin to bring back his ancient people the Jews to their own land; and when that is accomplished, the first resurrection will take place, and the Millennium will commence." Whether the first resurrection, however, and the reign of Christ with his saints upon earth, are to be understood in a literal or a spiritual sense, time alone can determine. Such secret things as unaccomplished prophesies belong unto the Lord our God; and it is a vain waste of time to weary ourselves with conjectures respecting the precise mode of their accomplishment. (m)
(m) Dissertation, vol. 1: page 52.
At the termination of the happy Millennium, Satan, who had been bound for a thousand years, will once more be let loose to deceive the nations. It is then that the last confederacy against the church of Christ, which this church shall ever witness, will be formed by certain enemies of the Messiah, whom both St. John and Ezekiel concur in denominating Gog and Magog. Upon this important occasion God will specially interfere in the behalf of his people, and accomplish their deliverance in a most miraculous manner. For while the enemies of the saints are encompassing the camp and the beloved city, fire will come down from heaven and devour them. Then their great instigator, the devil, will be finally cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, to which the beast and the false prophet had already been consigned at the commencement of the thousand years: immediately after these events, the second or general resurrection will take place. (n)
(n) See Dissertation, vol. 1: p. 53, 54.
It is evident from the preceding general statement of those future events which have been predicted in the Revelation, and thus laid out before us by Mr. Faber, that two particular seasons of unheard-of calamities are yet in store to afflict mankind, and deluge the earth with human blood. The first of these is the battle of Armageddon; and the last, the effort which shall be made by Gog and Magog at the expiration of the Millennium, when God in a miraculous manner shall sweep his enemies from the earth as with the besom of destruction. Of these distinct events another writer has given in substance the following description.
The Revelation is a prophetic history of the church of Christ, in which three grand enemies and opposers of the word of God are mentioned: these are Pagan idolatry, Apostacy, and Atheism. The first of these powers has been the persecutor of the church of Christ, under various forms, from the commencement of the Christian aera down to the present time. The second has triumphed in its abominations more than twelve centuries; while the third, appearing in a later date, has reared its horrid front about eighteen years.
The first of these powers was so reduced by the Providence of God, in converting Pagan Rome to the truths of Christianity, early in the fourth century, that in its original capacity, it has, from that period to the present hour, been destitute of ability either to continue or revive its persecutions. The powers of the second, in like manner, have been so weakened by the events and plagues of those vials which have been poured upon it, that we have no reason to believe, that either this or the first will be able separately to oppose, with any success, the progress of the word of God. Hitherto each of them has made its attempt separately, and at different times; but, as if made sensible of their inability to accomplish their purpose, they enter into a grand confederacy, under the immediate patronage of Satan, who seems to have been permitted to introduce the third power to unite the other two.
Who, or what kings or states they are, or in what parts of the world resident, or towhatnationsbelonging, who are to distinguish themselves in the grand confederacy which shall appear at the great battle of Armageddon, are events of which the prophet gives no intimation; and therefore to obtain any certain knowledge of them, we must wait till the events shall come to pass. We, nevertheless, have reason from the sacred text to believe, that they will be the same enemies to Christianity that have heretofore opposed it, and to which we have repeatedly referred; though the principles of which we speak, may be shifted from nation to nation, through those revolutions which unhinge and agitate the political world.
The conspiracy being formed by these three enemies to God and the gospel of Christ, in what portions soever of the globe they may be scattered, they will in all probability send forth their ambassadors, cunning, crafty, and deceitful; for they are the spirits of devils working miracles; to go to the kings of the earth first; that is, in the literal sense, to the kings or states professing atheism; and having engaged them in the conspiracy, these emissaries of Satan are to proceed to the kings of the whole world, evidently meaning, to all the carnal, unregenerate, and ungodly kings and states of the world; for so the unbelievers in the word of God are styled in many parts of the New Testament.
The infernal league concluded, he (Satan) shall gather the kings of the earth, and of the whole world together, unto a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. This place is evidently so named, to intimate the immense overthrow of the ungodly which shall take place on that dreadful day: for the word "Armegeddon," being interpreted, means, "The mountain of destruction, or the great destruction of the proud and ungodly." Upon this tremendous occasion, we may suppose, from the tenor of the predictions, that an immense number of hardened and unrepenting sinners, Liars, fornicators, adulterers, thieves, robbers, traitors, assassins, murderers, idolaters, and blasphemers of the name of God, a mighty host of Pagans, Mahometans, Papists and Atheists, shall be gathered together to battle against Christ, and the pure remnant of his Church. (o)
(o) See Galloway, vol. 1: p. 264-266.
The time ofthis battle, whenever it may be (for it is to come as a thief in the night), is called the great day of God Almighty; that is, the great day of the coming of Jesus Christ with power and great glory: for in many passages of the New Testament, Christ is called God; for as in Romans 9:5. he is expressly called God, so in Revelation 1:8. he assumes to himself the name of Almighty. And hence this important period is emphatically called His Day; and it seems to be thus distinguished from others, because Christ shall then come with all his power to subdue his enemies, and to put them under his feet; or, according to St. Paul, to consume them with the spirit of his mouth, and the brightness of his appearing. (p)
(p) See Galloway, vol. 1: p. 267.
In the beginning of the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, St. John tells us, thathe saw an Angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. And after having described some intermediate events, he proceeds to direct our views to those which shall succeed the above periods in verses 7th and 8th. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
"We have here (says Mr. Galloway, in these latter verses) a brief account of the last battle that will ever be fought upon earth: a battle between truth and falsehood, between the Son of the Most High God, his saints, and just men made perfect, and redeemedfromafallensinfulworld,"and those idolatrous nations which are at enmity with God. To make us acquainted with the nature and process of this battle, the apostolicProphet begins by informing us, that Satan, released from his imprisonment, at the expiration of the thousand years, shall resume his long suspended power;—that, liberated from his confinement, he will then go out to deceive the nations, and that Gog and Magog shall become his easy prey. "By these expressions," continues Mr. Galloway, "I humbly conjecture is meant those idolatrous nations, who, having had ocular demonstration of the blessed fruits of the word of God in the kingdom of Christ, shall despise and reject it; for, according to prophetic history, all other nations are to be destroyed before this event, by the judgments and wrath of an offended God, except those that shall have obeyed his divine will, revealed by Christ. This conjecture seems to receive a degree of probability from the text itself; for the nations here referred to, are described by the terms Gog and Magog.* And we learn from ancient histories, sacred as well as profane, that Magog was the country of the Magogians, Gomerians, and Tubalines, the descendants of Magog, Gomer, and Tubal, the sons of Japhet, the son of Noah; a country of the most filthy and detestable idolatry, in which, in early times, the great idol Atergatis, a mermaid, was the god of their adoration; and Gog was their prince, and a great enemy of the Jewish church. It may therefore be reasonably supposed, that the prophet meant by those two words, figuratively to describe the refractory idolatrous nations who are now to be deceived by Satan, in the four quarters of the earth, and to be gathered together to battle: a mighty host! for their number is to be as the sand of the sea. Nor are the saints to be unprepared to meet the dreadful event; they are to be 'in camp,' or, as it is before figuratively expressed, they are to stand upon a sea of glass, mingled with fire, under the protection of their Almighty Redeemer, invincible."
* Magog, according to Calmet, was the son of Japhet, and, as is generally believed, the father of the Scythians or Tartars. It is well known, he observes, that the name of Scythians was heretofore of considerable extent. It comprehended the Getae, the Goths, the Sarmatians, the Sacae, the Massagetae, and several other people. The Tartars and Mucovites at this day possess the country of the ancient Scythians, and there are still found among them several footsteps of the names Gog and Magog. They were formerly called Mogli: and in Tartary are known the several provinces of Lug, Mongug, Cangiga, and Gigui, &c. &c. St. Ambrose was of opinion, that by Gog and Magog were represented the Goths, who, in the fifth and sixth ages, ravaged the Roman empire. We think that Gog and Magog, mentioned by Ezekiel, chap. 38: 39: are put for Cambyses and his army; and that Gog and Magog in the Revelation, point out the enemies of the Church in general, and particularly the emissaries of Antichrist. Gog and Magog have in a manner passed into a proverb, to express a multitude of powerful, cruel, and barbarous enemies, particularly to God and his worship. Others have been of opinion, that the Persians were descendants of Magog. Suidas and Cedrenus say, that they are still called Magog in their own country. We find people there who were called Magusians, and philosophers who were called Magoi.
Gog, according to Ezekiel, was prince of a country denominated Magog; for Magog signifies the country or people, and Gog the king. Bochart has placed a country of that name in the neighbourhood of mount Caucasus. He derives the name of this celebrated mountain from the Hebrew, Gog-chasan, the fortress of Gog. He shews that Prometheus, said to be chained to Caucasus by Jupiter, is Gog, and no other. There is a province in Iberia, to the south of Caucasus, called the Gogarene. According to the Arabians, the ancient people of Gog and Magog resided in mountains which were almost inaccessible. To ascend these mountains was a work of inconceivable difficulty. "There was a necessity for spending seventeen days in ascending and descending through countries, extremely uneven, before travellers could come thither. Whatever was carried into these territories, was conveyed either upon the backs of men, or upon those of goats, which are very large in this part of the world. The people who dwell there, were very unsociable, so that no intelligence could be obtained from them relative to their nation or country." This is what we read in Arabian authors concerning the country of Gog and Magog. This nation is certainly very famous in antiquity; but we are not acquainted with the place where they anciently resided. We do not at all doubt but that they were some of the Scythtians, and confounded among the great and little Tartars, and perhaps among the Muscovites and other northern people. But as these people have no old historians, we are absolutely unacquainted with their history.
See Calmet's Dictionary, articles Gog and Magog.
Of this perfect security and invincible state of the church of Christ, Satan will be entirely ignorant; and will be under a delusion so strong, that he shall think it will be an easy prey: he shall therefore go upon the breadth of the earth, and compass the camp of the saints about, in order to destroy it. But God, whose power and wisdom are infinite, shall pour down fire upon him and his mighty host, and destroy them. This shall be accomplished by such means as shall be consistent with his omnipotent and righteous will; so that in this last and awful overthrow of the enemies of his holy word, he may be sanctified and glorified in their sight, as well as in that of his churc
But although these remnants of the incorrigible heathen world are to be thus utterly destroyed, Satan himself, their invisible leader, is not said to perish with them; from this he must be exempted by his deathless nature. He is to be reserved for a still worse and yet more merited punishment. He is to be taken, and cast into a Lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet, having been sentenced before the coming of Christ, have already met their doom, to be tormented together day and night for ever and ever. (q)
(q) See Galloway, vol. 1: p. 314-316. Kett, vol. 2: p. 322. Mitchell, vol. 2: p. 226. and Faber, vol. 2: p. 372. and vol. 1: p. 56.
Such then are the outlines of the general opinions entertained by modern authors on the grand confederacy at the battle of Armageddon, prior to the glorious Millennium; and of the last efforts which shall be made by Gog and Magog, when Satan, at the close of that period, shall be permitted by the Almighty to go out once more for a little season to deceive the nations.
That such a confederacy at the battle of Armageddon will exist, we may plainly perceive is neither the result of fancy, nor the opinion of a solitary individual; but the unerring language of prophesy, (r) and the concurring sentiment of those who have made the investigation of prophesy the study of their lives. This confederacy, we have already observed, will most probably be formed by the advocates and abettors of Idolatry, Apostacy, and Atheism. Each has attempted separately to destroy the church of Christ; but these attempts, both fact and prophesy assure us, have been ineffectual. And finally, when they shall unite their forces in that great and dreadful conflict which St. John has predicted, it shall but tend to complete their ruin, and swell the triumphs of the Son of God.
(r) Revelation 16:14-16.
But whatever may be said on these unaccomplished predictions, it must be admitted by all, that a veil of obscurity hangs upon them, though the facts themselves remain unimpeached. And it is more than probable, though light may increase as we approach nearer towards the period of consummation, that many of these shadows will continue till the events predicted shall elucidate the facts.Every endeavour that is made, with an eye to piety, to gather information from passing admonitions, on those great and awful realities which we now contemplate, but which we shall in all probability only in part behold, is highly laudable, though success may not, in all cases, crown the efforts that are made. The writer, on such subjects, who succeeds but in a few instances, is amply recompensed for his failure in many more; and even the consciousness of his own rectitude would banish remorse, though thoseevents which are now concealed from mortals, should prove, when they appear, that he had been deceived in respect to all.
Amongthe various authors, who, in the present day, have presumed to venture into these fertile regions of probable conjecture, without doubt Mr. Faber claims the foremost place. He has said all, that, perhaps, can at present be said, to throw light on prophesies which are not fulfilled. In some places his reasonings are strong and conclusive; in others, our attention is arrested with the force of probability; but in many cases, it will be very extraordinary, if events do not show that he has been deceived.
We have already stated, that according to the theory of Mr. Faber, three out of the seven Vials, mentioned by St. John in his xvith chapter, have already been poured out at the commencement of the last woe trumpet; constituting by their union that grand period which St. John styled the harvest, and by which Mr. Faber understands the French Revolution. In making this application, a general agreement is to be found between his sentiments and those of Mr. Galloway, (s) though they differmuchintheirselection of subordinate particulars. It is not our province to decide between them; we may respect their observations, without attempting to refute the errors, or to vouch for the authenticity, of what they have written.
(s) Galloway, vol. 1: p. 223. et seq.
As the harvest which St. John has introduced in his fourteenth chapter, has been applied by these writers to the Revolution in France, so the Vintage with which that chapter closes, they have presumed to belong to the great battle of Armageddon which shall take place at the close of the 1260 years, and shall usher in the great Millennium. Hitherto, according to Mr. Faber, but three out of the seven vials have been poured out, and consequently four more must yet remain. The last of these, he supposes, is reserved for the termination of the 1260 years, which, according to his calculation, must be finished in the year 1866; while the other three Vials are presumed to occupy the intermediate spaces between the French Revolution and the year 1866. These important events are represented in the following manner. And the fourth Angel poured out his vial upon the sun;* and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not, to give him glory.
* "All luminaries in the symbolic language signify the ruling powers. And seeing that edicts and laws are for the direction of the conduct of the subjects, light becomes the symbol of these laws. Wherever the scene of government is laid, whether in a state or family, the sun, moon, and stars, when mentioned together denote the several degrees of power or governors in the same. Whatever comes from the rising-sun betokens good." (Bicheno, page 226, 227.)
"When the political sun shines with a steady lustre, and yields a salutary warmth, it is a blessing to a people. But when it glares with a fierce and unnatural heat, scorching the productions of human industry, with the intolerable blaze of portentous tyranny, it is the heaviest curse that can befal a nation." Faber, vol. 2: p. 335.
The whole prophesy of the Apocalypse, according to Mr. Faber, relates more or less to the Roman empire, when we view it under its various forms of existence; and consequently the sun mentioned under the fourth vial, must be the sun of the Roman firmament. If then the three former vials, connected with the symbolical harvest, were actuallyapplicable to the Revolution in France, as Mr. Faber supposes, and which is not altogether improbable, nothing can be more evident than that all the vials must receive their accomplishment subsequent to the division of the Roman empire. And consequently if the whole of the Apocalypse applies to the Roman empire, it must also follow, that this sun must mean the government of some state within the ancient limits of Rome.
Congenial with the sentiments of Mr. Faber are those of Mr. Galloway, so far as the vial applies to the transactions of revolutionary France, though it must be admitted that they differ widely from each other in the specific objects to which they have respectively applied this visitation of God. The theory which Mr. Galloway endeavours to support on the application of the fourth vial mentioned in the Revelation 16:8-9. coincides with that of Mr. Fleming, which, it must be acknowledged, appears to have been wonderfully verified. The sun, which is there introduced to our notice, he supposes to be the late King of France; and he enumerates several particulars to prove from his greatness the appropriateness of the prophetic emblem. "These circumstances united," he then observes, "being peculiar to the monarchs of France, and no other, seem plainly to indicate, that Louis XVI. was the object intended to be marked out by the hieroglyphic, 'the sun,' and upon which this vial was to be poured out; and it has been poured upon him by the providence of that God who sets up kings, and overturns kingdoms, according to his righteous pleasure." The sacred text informs us, that the fourth angel poured out his vial on the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. This power to scorch men with fire, Mr. Galloway supposes, was not given unto the sun, but to the angel, whom he presumes the pronoun him to represent; and with these views before him he makes the following observations: "Having denounced the judgment ofGod upon the King, the prophet naturally proceeds to the dreadful events which were to follow. For the angel, commissioned with this vial, had a twofold errand; first, to pour it out upon the sun, and next to scorch men with fire; and we are told that men should be scorched with great heat."(v)
(v) Galloway, vol. 1: p. 245, 246.
And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains, and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. Revelation 16:10-11.
"The events of this and of the two following vials, says Mr. Galloway, are yet to come. Aware of the impossibility of foreseeing the time when, the manner how, and the means by which they are to be fulfilled, I shall not attempt an explanationof them, farther than by making such general observations as naturally arise out of the texts, and are countenanced by other parts of scripture; and this only to give the reader a general view of the objects upon which they are to be poured out; and to show, that the chain of prophetic events foretold in the first century, and which has been brought down to the present times, is continued by the prophet to the end of time." (w)
(w) Galloway, vol. 1: p. 252.
These general observations, which Mr. Galloway supposes naturally to arise out of the texts, he conceives to apply to the same monstrous power which he had before described; namely, to revolutionary France. For the prophet, he observes, here gives us another sign, which can be applied with propriety to no other; for he adds, as a reason for pouring out this vial upon the beast, that his kingdom was full of darkness. This darkness he presumes to be the cause of the vial, or the occasion of its being poured out, rather than an effect which resulted from it. And this darkness he further conceives to consist in an aversion to, and contempt of all religion, and to this kingdom's being full of blasphemy and atheism. (x)
(x) Galloway, vol. 1: p. 253.
"What is precisely meant," says Mr. Faber, "by this judgment, it is impossible at present to determine with any certainty, inasmuch as it is yet future. If, however, we may argue from analogy, since the giving a seat or throne to the beast by the dragon evidentlymeans the investing himwith the same secular power of making war with the saints as that exercised by him while in his pagan state, the pouring out of a vial upon that seat so as to fill his kingdom with darkness, seems most naturally to represent some grievous calamity, which should materially affect that secular power of persecution, and fill the whole papal world with consternation and confusion."
(y) Faber, vol. 2: p. 344.
"As to the fifth and sixth vials, all other circumstances agreeing," Mr. Bicheno observes, "that these are marked by events sufficiently strong; nor is there much difficulty in ascertaining the objects on which they are poured. It will, I think, be allowed by every one, who has attended at all to these subjects, that without either offering violence to the symbols, or calling in the aid of fancy, we may understand by the seat of the beast, ROME, or the Roman Government, the throne of the papal monster, as distinguished from his kingdom, which extends over the whole mystical Babylonish empire." (a)
(a) Signs of the Times, p. 207.
Amidst such a variety of opinions as the different writers hold forth to the public view, it is difficult to determine which to adopt: at the same time it is not improbable but we should add to the number of those conjectures which must be erroneous, should we attempt to hazard an opinion that is new. The very instant that we admit the calamities predicted under this vial to be future, that moment we admit the existence ofthoseshadeswhich our limited capacities are incompetent to pierce. The connexion which seems perceivable between the vials, affords us a strong indication that the fifth is not yet fully revealed; for that the sixth is entirely future, will hardly admit a moment's doubt. If therefore, we adopt the principle laid down by Mr. Faber, namely, that all the vials will have been poured out, and their effects have been felt by the inhabitants of the world, about or before the year 1866, we cannot but check our inquiries when they attempt to soar into the airy regions of speculation, and acknowledge it to be a duty incumbent on us to wait the event, that it may guide us in our decisions. Impressed with this conviction, we conclude in the words of Mr. Faber—"What is precisely meant by this judgment, it is impossible at present to determine with any certainty, inasmuch as it is yet future."
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the East might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place, called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. Revelation 16:12-16.
The language of this vial seems far more explicit than that of the preceding; and therefore, though the object of it be future, it even invites inquiry, and promises to reward the exercise of pious diligence with success. We are not, however, to imagine that every portion of this prophesy is capable of such an elucidation as will not leave room for two opinions. The period when it will be accomplished, the kings of the East who are introduced, the frogs which are said to come out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, are in themselves obscure, and have given rise to much conjecture. Nevertheless, the term Euphrates, by being definite, directs our view to the territories of the false prophet whose empire shall have an end
That the Revelation of Jesus Christ by his Apostle John, extends through the whole rangeof future time, from the period in which it was written, till the final consummation of things, is a fact admitted by all. We cannot therefore but suppose, that many important facts must be only lightly touched; and that events, which are distant in themselves, must be crowded together in his account, though ages should intervene between them. Of this we have a remarkable instance in the distinct observations that the prophet makes on those nations which border on the river Euphrates. In chapter the ninth, verse 14th, under the sixth trumpet, which was sounded by the sixth angel, the four angels are said to be loosed, which were bound in the great river Euphrates, and which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to stay the third part of men. And now, under the sixth vial, the mystical waters of the same Euphrates are said to be dried up. By that prophesy which is recorded under the trumpet, all commentators understand the rise of the Mahometan power; and by the sixth vial its decline and fall.
"The four angels," (mentioned under the trumpet, says Mr. Faber,) "are the four sultanies of the Turks; the capitals of which were Bagdad, Damascus, Aleppo, and Iconium. These were long restrained from extending their conquests beyond the territories immediately adjoining to the river Euphrates, by the instrumentality, in the course of God's providence, of the crusades. But when the Christians abandoned Syria and Egypt at the latter end of the thirteenth century, then the four angels on the river Euphrates were loosed. Ortugrul, dying in the year 1288, was succeeded by his son Othman, who, in the year 1229, founded a new empire, composed of the remains of the four Turkish sultanies." (c)
(c) Vol. 2: p. 38.
Admitting therefore thatapplication of the sixth trumpet to be just, for which most commentators contend, and which, in the language of Mr. Faber, we have briefly stated, nothing can appear more reasonable than that we should allow in the latter case, under the sixth vial, that the Euphrates introduced by the same prophet should mean the same power. "Rivers typify nations; and, when a particular river is specified, the nation immediately connected with that river, is obviously intended. Such being the case, it follows, that as the issuing forth of the four sultanies, those mystic waters of the Euphrates which deluged the Eastern empire, denotes the rise of the Turkish power, so the drying up of those waters must evidently denote its subversion. Now since the drying up or evaporation of water is a slow process, we may naturally conclude, that the expression 'dried up' points out, not merely the subversion of the Turkish power in general, but the particular mode of that subversion, by the slow consumption of its political strength, and by the gradual wasting away of its people. When the sixthangel, however, poured out his vial upon the figurative Euphrates, we read that its waters were completely dried up, insomuch that a way was prepared for the kings of the East. Hence it is manifest, when we consider the slow process of evaporating natural water, that we may expect the waters of the Ottoman empire to begin to be dried up many years previous to their final exhaustion under the pouring out of the sixth vial." (d)
(d) Ibid. p. 346.
Thesecircumstances, probable in themselves from the figurative language which the prophet has used, we learn from actual observation are verified by fact. Tending to annihilation through causes which can hardly be developed, the Turkish empire has been for a considerable period on the decline; those neighbouring nations which had been accustomed to shrink from her sabres, now look upon her with contempt: Turkey can no longer withstand the inroads which it is in the power of these warlike nations to make; and the sultan has reason to tremble for the destiny of his capital and his throne.
The last successes of the Turks were against Charles VI. emperor of Germany, in the year 1739; at which time that prince was compelled to make with them an inglorious peace. At this peace he was obliged to deliver into their hands, as the condition of tranquillity, or the badge of defeat, Belgrade, the capital of Servia. This mortifying circumstance may have shortened his days, for he died in the following year. Since that period the Turks have never gained any advantage over the Christian powers of the West; but, on the contrary, Turkey has been considered as a weakened power, sunk into inglorious sloth, destitute of that enthusiasm which superstition could once inspire, and fast declining both in military skill and ardour.
"The force of arms (says Mr. Eton, in his Survey of the Turkish Empire, p. 28.) first subjugated the countries which form their empire: the force of arms alone could retain them in submission; and it is owing to the decline of the military spirit of the Turks, that the members of so vast a body are at the present day so feeble and disunited."
"These haughty and celebrated legions were long the terror of surrounding nations, and continued to be looked upon as formidable until the seventeenth century. At that time the Turkish power ceased to aggrandize itself. It made a pause in its conquests, a pause prophetic of that downfal towards which it has since so rapidly verged, and which seems now to threaten a speedy approach. The steps which led to this degradation are easily discernible.The discipline of this ferocious soldiery could only be upheld by sovereigns equally ferocious: no sooner did the sultans quit the fatigues of the camp for the debaucheries of the harem, than the janizaries, disdaining their command, broke out into sedition, and dethroned the monarch who appeared unworthy of empire." (e)
(e) Eton's Survey of Turkey, as cited by Whitaker, p. 488, 489.
"To what a degree (says Mr. Whitaker) the streams of this mighty river, which once swept all before it, are now dried up; with how weak a current that which formerly raged as a resistless torrent, now creeps along, is visible to all Europe; while the idea of the Turks themselves, as to their future lot of being driven into Asia by a power to the north-east of them, does most wonderfully accord with the prophesies concerning them." "The lower orders (says Mr. Eton) are at the present day persuaded, that the Russian standard will enter Constantinople through a certain gate, said to be pointed out by an ancient prophesy; and the great men are so far from opposing this weakness by superior energy, that they look to the Asiatic shore as a secure retreat from the fury of the conquerors."
"How awful a testimony is this to the divine origin of the gospel, that a great empire, and all the surrounding states, should be expecting its removal at the very time when the predictions of the Revelations have declared it to be at hand." (f)
(f) Whitaker, p. 489, 490.
"The approaching termination, indeed, of the Ottoman empire is so manifest, that even those whose attention is solely directedto politics, are sufficiently aware that the time of its extinction cannot be far distant. Oflate, it hath been preserved rather by the jealousyof the great European powers, than by any physical strength of its own: and it, doubtless, will be preserved by the hand of Providence till his own appointed season shall arrive for preparing a way for the kings of the East, and for gathering together the kings of the Latin world to the battle of the great day of God Almighty."
"Not only, however, has the political strength of Turkey begun to be dried up; but, as if nothing should be wanting to the exact completion of the prophesy, even its population has likewise begun to diminish. This singular circumstance is noticed by Mr. Eton."* After some inquiry into the causes of it, he adds, "It is therefore reasonable to conclude, that depopulation could not formerly have made so rapid a progress as at present: and that, in a century more, things remaining in their present situation, the Turkish empire will be nearly extinct. It is worthy of remark, that the Curds in the mountains, and other independent tribes who do not mix with the Turks, are exempt from the mortality occasioned by all the calamities which afflict the countries more immediately subject to the Porte. Many attempts have been made within the last century, principally by French officers, to renew the ancient military spirit of the Turks, and to instruct them in European tactics. Gazi Hassan, the celebrated Pasha, tried with unlimited powers, for nineteen years, to inspire his own spirit into the troops; but he found all his efforts ineffectual." (g)
* Faber, vol. 2: p. 347.
(g) Eton's Survey, as cited by Faber, vol. 2: p 348, 9.
"If we are right in our own conjectures," (says Mr. Bicheno) "respecting the pouring out of the sixth vial, the proof will be, not only that it will be followed by the general coalition already noticed; but that the Ottoman empire will be overturned, the Jews restored to their own land, and such a time of trouble succeed as never was since there was a nation. Soon, it is likely, the seventh angel will pour out his vial into the air, and a great voice out of the temple in heaven will pronounce, with a sound that will shake all the foundations of the earth, 'IT IS DONE;' and there will be voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and a great earthquake, such as was as not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great."
"This speculation is confirmed by other prophesies. In the latter part of the eleventh chapter of Daniel, we have a prophesy, which foretells the rise, conquest, and fall of the empire of the Turks. After marking out the conquests of this king of the north, (as this monster is called, the Turks coming originally from this quarter, and their empire lying north of the Saracens,) the prophet goes on to predict his fall. But tidings out of the east, and out of the north, shall trouble him; therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him."†
† See my commentary on the eleventh chapter of Daniel, verses, 44, 45, in which I have observed "that these two verses, probably, remain yet to be fulfilled—That it is universally known that the Persians are seated to the East, and the Russians to the North of the Ottoman dominions, &c. &c."
"From the beginning of chapter the twelfth, we learn, that there are to be great shakings of nations, and that the Jews, who have long been politically dead, are to be raised to life. The probability is, unlikely as such an event may appear at present, that the Jews will by some means, and some nation, or providence, be set in motion, and take a conspicuous part in those commotions, which are to shake topieces the nations which oppose the providence of God. This is intimated in many prophesies, particularly in that recorded in Zechariah 12:0. which has a special relation to their restoration in the latter days." (h)
(h) See Bicheno, Signs of the Times, p. 211. See also my commentary on Zechariah 12:14 :
Who the kings of the East are, for whom a way is to be prepared by the annihilation of the Turkish empire, it is impossible to say with accuracy before the event takes place; and becomes a comment on the prediction. Among the conjectures which offer themselves, the most probable is, that the Jews are alluded to. At present they are dispersed over almost every part of the habitable globe; and it is not improbable that the long lost tribes form a considerable portion of many nations of which we have not the least suspicion. But as some great maritime power is to take the lead in accomplishing their restoration, the ocean will rather facilitate than retard the great event. It seems, nevertheless, highly probable, though myriads of them may have found their way to the west of the Atlantic, that by far the greater proportion of them is scattered throughout the East.
"I have somewhere seen," says Mr. Faber, "a curious account of the ten tribes being discovered in China, by the missionaries sent out into that country. How far it may be depended upon I leave to abler critics than myself to pronounce. The Afghans likewise, a tribe at different times subject to, and always connected with the kingdoms of Persia and Hindostan, are said to be descended from the Jews. But perhaps the most solid reason for thinking that the Jews are intended by these kings of the East, is the exact chronological agreement of the restoration of the former, with this prepared expedition of the latter. The Jews, as we learn from Daniel, are to begin to return to their own country at the end of the 1260 years, and during a period of unexampled troubles: the kings of the East are to have a way prepared for them by the subversion of the Turkish empire,—and during the time that the three spirits of devils are gathering together the kings of the earth to the great battle of the Lord: whence we may infer, that, since their way is then prepared, they will set out upon their expedition under the following vial at the close of the 1260 years likewise; and that they will be deeply concerned in the dreadful war between the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the Latin earth, on one side, and the Almighty Word of God on the other. This at least is certain, that, if the restoration of the Jews be not here predicted, the Apocalypse is totally silent upon the subject." (i)
(i) Faber, vol. 2: p. 350.
Upwards of two thousand five hundred years have elapsed since the ten tribes of Israel were carried away captive into Assyria. Some few of them returned with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, after the expiration of their captivity in Babylon; but Israel, as a nation, was never afterwards restored. According to 2Es 13:41-50. they were appointed to a very different destination. We there learn, that they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt, that they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land. And they entered into Euphrates, by the narrow passages of the river. For the Most High then shewed signs for them, and held still the flood till they were passed over. For through that country there was a great way to go; namely, of a year and a half; and the same region is called Arsareth. Then dwelt they there until the latter time; and now when they shall begin to come, the Highest shall stay the springs of the stream again, that they may go through: therefore sawest thou the multitude with peace. But those that shall be left behind of thy people, are they that are found within my borders. Now when he destroyeth the multitude of the nations that are gathered together, he shall defend his people that remain. And then shall he shew them great wonders.
From these tribes not having been heard of for so many ages, and the improbability, that, if they any where existed, they should have escaped the observations of all travellers, a general opinion has prevailed, that they are no where to be found as a distinct people; but that, exclusively of those who returned from Babylon with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, they have long since been melted down among the different nations of the earth.
That they should still exist, is certainly a very extraordinary circumstance; and should Providence bring them forth to act a conspicuous part in the great transactions which will at once desolate and astonish the world, we shall find additional reasons to admire the power and wisdom of God. But such an event, instead of being uncongenial with the spirit of prophesy, seems to have been predicted, together with the astonishment with which it will be accompanied. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, who hath begotten me these: seeing I have lost my children, and am a desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? And who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been? (Isaiah 49:21.)
"Independently of the prophesies," says Mr. Bicheno, "there is reason to conclude that this people do still exist distinct from other nations. The grounds for this conclusion may be seen in the Asiatic Researches, vol. 2: That the reader may judge for himself, I shall take the liberty of quoting the extractwhich we find in the Monthly Review enlarged; vol. 10: p. 502. The account is whimsical enough; but, considering the number of ages since the carrying away of Israel captive, their corrupt state at that time, their miserable condition since, their ignorance of printing, &c. &c. it affords as much evidence as can be reasonably expected at the first dawn of their existence. When we are better acquainted with them, with their manuscripts, customs, &c. we may expect more light." (k)
(k) Signs of the Times, p. 103.
"The Afghans call themselves the posterity of Melic Talut, or king Saul; which, according to their tradition, is thus whimsically traced." (Here follows a train of ridiculous improbabilities, which neither room nor inclination will permit us to transcribe.)
"After Talut (they say) had obtained the kingdom, he seized part of the territories of Jalut, or Goliath, who assembled a large army, but was killed by David. Talut afterwards died a martyr in a war against the infidels; andGod constituted David king of the Jews."
"Melic Talut had two sons, one called Berkia, and the other Irmia, who served David, and were beloved by him. He sent them to fight against the infidels; and by God's assistance they were victorious."
"The son of Berkia was called Afghan, and the son of Irmia was named Usbec. These youths, distinguished themselves in the reign of David, and were employed by Solomon. Afghan was distinguished by his corporeal strength, which struck terror into demons and genii. Usbec was eminent for his learning."
"Afghan used frequently to make excursions to the mountains; where his progeny, after his death, established themselves, lived in a state of independence, built forts, and exterminated the infidels."
Such is the substance of the account which the Afghans give of their origin, descent, and establishment. "To this account," say the Reviewers, "we shall subjoin a remark of the late Henry Vansittart, Esq. This gentleman observes, that a very particular account of the Afghans has been written by the late Hafiz Rahmat Khan, a chief of the Rohillas, from which the curious reader may derive much information. They are Mussulmen, partly of the Sunni, and partly of the Shiah persuasion. They are great boasters of the antiquity of their origin, and reputation of their tribe; but other Mussulmen entirely reject their claim, and consider them as of modern, and even base, extraction. However, their character may be collected from history. They have distinguished themselves by their courage, both singly and unitedly, as principals and auxiliaries. They have conquered for their own princes and for foreigners, and have always been considered as the main strength of the army in which they have served. As they have been applauded for virtues, to they have also been reproached for vices, having sometimes been guilty of treachery, and evenacted the base part of assassins."
Subjoined to the above account is a specimen of their language, which is the Pushto; after which the following note is inserted by the president.
"This account of the Afghans may lead to a very interesting discovery.—We learn from Esdras, that the ten tribes, after a wandering journey (of a year and a half) came to a country called Arsareth, where we may suppose they settled. Now the Afghans are said by the best Persian historians to be descended from the Jews; they have traditions among them of such a descent; and itis even asserted, that their families are distinguished by the names of Jewish tribes, although, since their conversion to the Islam, they studiously conceal their origin. The Pushto language, of which Ihave seen a dictionary, has a manifest resemblance to the Chaldaic; and a considerable district under their dominion is called Hazareh or Hazaret, which might easily have been changed into the word (Arsareth) used by Esdras. I strongly recommend an inquiry into the literature and history of the Afghans." (l)
(l) Review, as quoted by Mr. Bicheno, p. 104.
If these Afghans are what they pretend to be, namely, the remains of the ten tribes of Israel, it is something very remarkable, that, after having lived in a state of exile and obscurity for upwards of 2500 years, they should first start into public notice at a moment when so many signs concur to announce their speedy restoration. The thoughtless and inconsiderate may treat this fact as a worthless trifle; but those who have faith in the promises of God, and are anxiously waiting for the accomplishment of the sure word of prophesy, will esteem this singular circumstance as well worthy of their attention. Moving at present as it were in the twilight, the indications which surround us direct us to watch. The present generation of men may not be wholly swept aside before the sun may rise above the horizon, and dispel those clouds which nowenvelopethehumanunderstanding: light may then dart upon us from unexpected quarters, and direct us immediately to those events which we now pursue with uncertainty, but which we are fully assured cannot be remote.
But in what region soever these long lost tribes have found a residence, they shall be recalled, for the Spirit of God hath spoken it. And then, whether they be the Afghans, or distinguished by any other appellation, they shall make their appearance, to go forth to inhabit the promised land. In the mean while, a way will be prepared for the kings of the East, by the destruction of the Ottoman empire, and by those various causes which are connected with that event. "At the same time the diabolical influence of the three uncleanspirits will be actively though imperceptibly employed, in gathering together the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, or of the Papal Latin empire, and the Roman world, to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. The battle itself is that which takes place under the next vial, and which is detailed with wonderful sublimity by the inspired prophet." (m)
(m) Faber, vol. 2: p. 351.
"All the vials seem to mingle their streams in one current, and to run on to the pouring out of the seventh; and then it is, after the general combination of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, under the sixth vial, that we are to expect that signal wrath, and that general crash of which the prophets of God have spoken." (n) "Here the dreadful preparations for it commence: There they are completed, and the battle is fought. From the sources whence the impure spirits are said to issue, it appears that the beast and the false prophet, for a season at variance, by reason of the atheistical principles adopted by the former, will then be more closely leagued together than ever; and that they will jointly meditate some grand expedition against the woman and her seed, which, however, we shall presently see under the succeeding vial, will end only in their own confusion and utter destruction." (o
(n) Bicheno, p. 183.
(o) Faber, vol. 2: p. 352.
The pouring out of the seventh Vial. Coincidences between the predictions of David, Joel, Zechariah, and St. John, on events which are yet future. Diversity of opinions, on subordinate particulars. Conjectures on the accomplishment of those prophesies which will finally issue in the destruction of Popery, Mahometanism, and Infidelity. This will be at the end of the 1260 years, which, if rightly dated, will terminate in 1866; at which time the restoration of the Jews will probably commence. The prophesies are immutable, and urge us to prepare to meet our God.
AND the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven from the throne, saying, IT IS DONE. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts; and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail: for the plague thereof was exceeding great. (Revelation 16:17-21.)
"The prophet," says Mr. Galloway, "nowconcludes his great outlines of this awful subject, by a brief intimation of the issue of the battle between the blessed Son of God, and Satan at the head of all his impious hosts. And here he tells us, that on the day thereof there shall be a great earthquake. Whether this word is to be understood in the literal or the metaphorical sense; whether it is to be a violent concussion of the earth, or a great dissension and convulsion among the three parties of the confederacy, this much is certain, it is to be such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. We ought to read the text in the latter sense, and that this great confederacy of Idolaters, Deists, and Atheists, are to quarrel among themselves, and to be the instruments of their own destruction." (p)
(p) Gall. vol. 1: p. 274.
"A storm of thunder, lightning, hail, and overflowing rain," says Sir Isaac Newton, (q) "is put for a tempest of war, descending from the heavens and clouds politic; great earthquakes, and the shaking of heaven and earth, for the shaking of kingdoms so as to overthrow them." "As the seventh seal, and the seventh trumpet," says Bishop Newton, "contained many more particulars, than any of the former seals and former trumpets; so the seventh vial contains more than any of the former vials." "It is," observes Mr. Faber, "the vial of the vintage; the conclusion of the grand drama of 1260 years; the time of the end." And the reason of this is manifest—the vintage is the last event predicted in the little book, which extends, as itself repeatedly declares, through the whole 1260 years: and as the last vial is poured out at the expiration of that period, the last vial can only contain an enlarged account of that vintage: "for," as Mr. Mede naturally observes, "there cannot be two different catastrophes of the same drama." (r)
(q) P. 17, 18.
(r) See Faber, Galloway, and Bicheno.
"When this seventh vial shall be poured out, the great controversy of God with the nations will commence; his ancient people will begin to be restored; and sudden destruction will fall upon the beast and false prophet in the very midst of their temporary success, and while they are vainly flattering themselves with the hope of a complete victory over the church of God. Such being its contents, it is said to be poured out into the air, in allusion to the dreadful storms of political thunder and lightning which it will produce." (s)
(s) See Faber, p. 354.
Under this vial, three important events are comprehended; first, the earthquake, by which the great city is to be divided into three parts; secondly, the overthrow of Babylon; and thirdly, the decisive battle of Armageddon, to which the kings of the earth, through the influence of the three unclean spirits which we have already noticed, had begun to gather themselves together under the sixth vial. It is indeed the great period of consummation; a point to which all the preceding vials have tended; and in which their united streams seem to centre, till they lost themselves in the mighty confluence, and disappear in that abyss of horrors which shall then overwhelm the guilty nations of the earth.
As the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth chapters of the Revelations, all belong to the last vial,so they are respectively employed about the great events which it portends; and by entering more minutely into the different branches, they unfold them in detail. "The seventeenth chapter opens with a description of the great whore, arrayed in purple and scarlet, who had long tyrannized over the faithful, and who was now about to be destroyed for ever. It fully sets forth the mystery of her union with her beast, of her name Babylon, and of the three-fold state of her beast, of the rise of the beast's last head, and of the flourishing condition of the woman while the ten kings gave their power to the beast, and made war upon the Lamb by persecuting his disciples. And it intimates that a great change should nevertheless take place in the sentiments of those kings, so that they should afterwards hate the whore, and make her naked, and eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.—It is, in fact, a sort of climax, extending from the era of the Reformation, down to the final destruction of the whore."
"She was first made naked and desolate by the alienation of the abbey lands in protestant countries, and by the withdrawing of whole nations from her communion. Her very flesh was next eaten by the sale of church lands in Revolutionary France, by the secularization of the German ecclesiastical electorates and monastic principalities, and by thetemporary erection of an atheistical republic in her capital. But she will not be burnt with fire till the time of the end, till the fatal day of Armageddon." (t) The eighteenth chapter contains an account of the overthrow of Babylon; and the nineteenth chapter describes the last battle that shall afflict mankind before the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of God and of his Christ.
(t) Faber, vol. 2: p. 355.
By means of that tremendous earthquake which we are assured shall take place, St. John tells us, that the great city shall be divided into three parts; but in what manner this division is to be understood, we perhaps have hardly acuteness enough to comprehend. Mr. Galloway seems to imagine,that by the city we are to understand "anygreat assemblages of people united by law or contract." And that "hence we may conclude, that St. John calls the great confederacy of Pagans, Deists, and Atheists, the great city." On the division of this city into three parts he observes as follows: "That is, as I humbly interpret the text by the context, it shall be divided into the three great parties, so often described before; and that they are to make war upon, and destroy one another, after the late example of the revolutionary factions in France." (u) Mr. Kett, however, seems to be of a very different opinion. The great earthquake by which the city was divided into three parts, he conceives to be the Reformation, and that the three parts into which it was divided, were the three confessions of faith, namely, Popish, Lutheran, and Calvinistic. With this interpretation before him, it is an easy matter for the reader to discover which third part of this figurative city shall fall. (v)
(u) Galloway, vol. 1: p. 275.
(v) See Kett, as cited by Faber, vol. 2: p. 356.
"The apocalyptical city," says Mr. Bicheno, "is not Rome, as some understand it, but the Antichristian states of Europe. This city, by the convulsions and consequent revolutions which are to take place, is to be divided into three parts—whether into three great confederacies, or what, I shall not venture to guess; for I do not pretend to be wise above what is written, nor to have more penetration than my neighbours." (w)
(w) Signs of the Times, p. 187.
"By this future earthquake," observes Mr. Faber, "the Latin city is to be divided into three parts. It is possible that a politician might find it no difficult matter to divine, from the present aspect of continental affairs, in what manner the great papal city is likely to be split into three sovereignties: for, in fact, matters seem even now to be preparing for such a division of it. But I feel that I am beginning to step beyond my prescribed limits, and to advance into the boundless region of conjecture: nothing more therefore shall be said upon the subject. This is certain, that Babylon will be divided into three parts: but how it will be divided, time must discover." (x)
(x) Vol. 2: p. 357.
On an event which is at once future, and enveloped with so many shadows as to afford room for such a diversity of opinions, nothing with certainty can be said. The utmost stretch of the human understanding can reach no higher, on such occasions, than probable conjecture; and even on this we are hardly competent to write. Many conjectures which have been already formed, have proved fallacious; their authors, by hazarding their reputation on the issue of their theories, have lived to see themselves disappointed. And it is unhappy to reflect, that in consequence of these failures, which have accompanied presumption, menof corrupt minds have made the prophesies themselves the subjects of their contempt. It is no dishonour to be ignorant of that which God has thought proper to conceal; predictions which are future seem to have been purposely so written, that nothing but the event should be a complete comment on them; by these means we are instructed to wait with patience, and to watch the signs of the times.
According to Mr. Faber, the eighteenth chapter of the Revelation, which describes at large the fall of mystical Babylon, relates to the same event as the destruction of the little horn of Daniel's fourth beast: they both allude to a period which is yet future, and predict with equal precision the complete subversion of the papal power. This subversion, however, we are not to conceive from the late disasters to which it has been exposed, as an event which has already taken place. It is an event which is yet future, and which will not be accomplished till the consummation of the 1260 years. In that momentous period the witnesses shall discontinue to prophesy in sackcloth, the judgment of this Babylon shall overtake her, and the dominion of the little horn shall be taken away for ever.
Nor are these the only events which this important period shall produce; for contemporary with the fall of the adulterous church of Rome, will be the overthrow of her secular accomplice in oppression and abominations, the ten-horned Roman beast. Linked to each other by a destiny which we cannot fathom, their mutual support shall but ensure their mutual exposure; both will engage at the end of the 1260 years in a war with the saints of God, and both will be finally destroyed in the great battle of Armageddon.
"We learn from the prophesies of Daniel," says Mr. Faber, "that the last or Roman beast is to be slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame, because of the voice of the great words which his little horn spake; and that the reign of this little horn is to continue exactly 1260 years. We learn also from St. John, that the same ten horned beast is to exist in his revived or idolatrous state, the very same period of 42 months or 1260 years; and that he is to be destroyed along with his colleague, the false prophet, or two-horned beast, in their last great battle against the Word of God. Now the two-horned beast or false prophet is the same ecclesiastical power as the harlot or spiritual Babylon: consequently, if the spiritual Babylon were fallen before this battle, it is evident that the false prophet could not, along with the temporal beast, have been engaged in it. Hence it appears, that the fall of the spiritual Babylon, and the battle of Armageddon, will be precisely contemporary, both taking place together at the termination of the 1260 years."
"As for the battle of Armageddon, in which the beast and the false prophet are to be overthrown, I take it to be the same event, or rather series of events, as the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, mentioned by Daniel. It is the same likewise as the dreadful slaughter of the Gentiles in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, predicted in such forcible terms by Zechariah and Joel.—During the time of trouble,foretold by Daniel, the infidel king is to come to his end, none helping him, and the restoration of the Jews is to commence: at the period of the great battle of the nations, described by Zechariah and Joel, the restoration of the Jews is also to commence: while, in the battle of Armageddon, predicted by St. John, the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the Latin earth, are to be completely routed with dreadful slaughter by the Almighty Word of God; and an end is for ever to be put to their tyrannical and persecuting domination over the church."
"I have already briefly spoken on the prophesies of Zechariah relative to these great events, in my commentary on his fourteenth chapter, without attempting to particularize either the time or place which the prophet had in view. In commenting on those words in the second verse—The residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city, I have said that it is impossible to reconcile these words with the state of facts at the time when Jerusalem was taken by the Romans; for at that time we are well assured by Josephus, who was an eye-witness, that not only all who were in the citywere either slain or made captives, butalso the city itself was razed to the ground, so as to leave no vestige of a habitation. How then could there be a residue not cut off from the city? And if there has been no capture since to which these words can be applied, we must look forward to futurity for the completion of the prophesy.
From its being said, that a residue shall not be cut off from the city, together with what follows, the course of proceeding, it should seem, will be this: upon the city's being taken, the most warlike part of the inhabitants will retire in a body to some strong post near at hand, and stand upon their defence; till, being encouraged by manifest tokens of God's declaring himself in their favour, and perhaps reinforced by their brethren of Judah at large, they shall sally forth, and with the divine assistance completelydefeat their enemies, and effect their owndeliverance; so that, as it is said, Jerusalem shall again sit in her own place at Jerusalem. (Compare chap. 12: 5, 6, 7. See Blaney.) Houbigant is of the same opinion—that this whole chapter refers not to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, but to some future and unknown events concerning the great and final restoration of the Jews." (a)
(a) Commentary on Zechariah, chap. 14: verse 2.
If then the data from which Mr. Faber forms his calculations, namely, that the 1260 years commenced in 606, when Boniface became universal bishop, be genuine, (which the arrival of the year 1866, or some previous grand incidents, can alone determine,) the next generation may live to be eye-witnesses of those "future and unknown events which relate to the great and final restoration of the Jews." Of the times and seasons, however, we have no minute certainty; nevertheless, the great streams of events with which the world is at present filled, unite to form a current which seems to run strongly that way; and hence, how much soever we may be deceived as to a particular year, we obtain an assurance that the eventful hour is near at hand.
"Daniel predicts," says Mr. Faber, "that, at the time of the end, or the close of the 1260 years, the infidel king shall engage in a war of extermination under the pretext of religion; that in the prosecution of this nefarious project, he shall invade Palestine, and occupy the glorious holy mountain; but that eventually he shall perish between the two seas, namely, the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The prophet, absorbedas it were in contemplating the vast power of this impious monster, does not notice any confederates with whom he might be leagued; but speaks merely of the king himself, as being the very life and soul of the whole expedition, as being peculiarly both its contriver and executor."
"Such is the prediction of Daniel. In a similar manner St.John declares, that, under the last vial, and consequently at the close of the same 1260 years, there shall be formed against the Lamb a grand confederacy of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the Latin earth; that this confederacy shall be utterly overthrown at Megiddo, which is a town situated between the two seas of Palestine; and that the wine-press of the vintage shall be trodden in a region extending 1600 furlongs, which is the exact measure of the Holy Land."
Thus it appears, that, as Daniel's infidel king is to be the grand projector and manager of a religious war, and is to perish in Palestine between the two seas at the close of the 1260 years: so the Apocalyptic beast, that is to say, the beast under his last head, is likewise, as it appears from his union with the false prophet, to be the main promoter and manager of a religious war,which, precisely like the religious war of the infidel king, is to take place at the close of the 1260 years, and is to be decided in Palestine, or the land which extends 1600 furlongs; and at Megiddo, a town of that land, which is situated between the seas.
"So exact a correspondence both of time, place, and circumstance, evidently shews, that the war of the infidel king is the same as the war of the beast and the false prophet: and from Daniel's prediction, we can scarcely consider the king only as an inferior actor, only as one of the subordinate kings represented by St. John as leagued with the beast."
"If I be right in thinking that the gathering together of the kings of the Latin earth to the battle of Armageddon is a confederacy of Popish infidels against the Jews, supported by the professors of evangelical Protestantism,* the opinion that the witnesses will not be subjected to the horrors of some future persecution receives a most abundant confirmation. The beast and false prophet indeed shall surely gather their forces together, but not by the Lord; for no weapon hereafter formed against the Gospel shall prosper; and whosover shall gather together against it shall fall. The 1260 years of opposition will then have elapsed; and the great controversy of Jehovah with his enemies will then have commenced. Every project of the beast, the false prophet, and the congregated kings, will be baffled; and sudden destruction will come upon them unawares, as a thief in the night. Through the aid of the great Captain of their salvation, those who have come out of Babylon, shall be completely victorious; and the united tyranny of Popery and Atheism shall for ever be destroyed." (b)
* Such is the opinion of Mr. Faber: but it admits of very considerable doubts. He may be right; but the vast destruction at Armageddon may be brought about by a desertion from the infidel king of his own confederates. There may be another severe persecution of the protestants. But of this I am persuaded, that if there be another persecution, it will fall only on the outward court worshippers. Those who really live within the veil, will be preserved from its effects.
(b) Faber, vol. 2: p. 262. et seq. For a view of the various prophesies which refer to these momentous events, see Daniel 7:0; Daniel 11:0; Daniel 12:0.Joel 2:0; Joel 2:0; Joel 3:0.Zechariah 12:0; Zechariah 12:0; Zechariah 13:0; Zechariah 14:0. and Revelation 18:0; Revelation 19:0.
From considering the prophesies to which we have referred in the preceding note, we cannot but be forcibly struck with various promises which God has made to his ancient people, that they shall one day be recalled from their present fugitive condition, and re-established in his favour, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in. And, from a combination of indisputable circumstances, it is evident that this event will both be preceded and accompanied by such commotions as the world never yet beheld. On the association of these circumstances we have hardly room for two distinct opinions. The difficulties which retard our inquiries, arise from our differentviews of time and place, and from the combinations and arrangements which we form of the facts themselves. The most prominent and leading features in the great transactions of the moral and civil world, which mark a coincidence between the events which are passing and those predictions which preceded them, must guide our judgments, and we must leave to time to unfold the rest. On the pouring out of the seventh vial, an opinion has been delivered by a late writer, that the great events to which that vial refers, have either been fulfilled already, or are now fulfilling, in those commotions which agitate the world. No doubt can be entertained, that these commotions have a close and intimate connection with the vials of prophesy, which denounce in such awful language the wickedness ofman and the retributive justice of God; but whether these commotions form the leading features of the seventh vial, and are the primary objects to which that vial alludes, may be well worth a second consideration,beforeweform a decisive opinion, which events still greater may prove to be premature.
"It appears," says this author, "that the time of the seventh vial was that space wherein the events that were to correspond to the seven thunders, were to occur; the seven articles are therefore here enumerated in the following order: the first, after the voices andthunders, and lightnings, or rumours, and tumults, and alarms, which were introductory to these events, is the great earthquake, or commotion, which was to shake the whole antichristian political world; the second, is the dividing of the great city, or the whole Latin empire, into three shares, or among three potentates; the third, is the falling of the cities or states that had partaken of the supreme authority of the empire, or the losing of their power; the fourth, is the destruction of mystical Babylon, or Rome, the idolatrous metropolis of the apostate empire; the fifth, is the flying away of every island from the apostate confederacy; the sixth, is the disappearing of the mountains or kingdoms of the West (this is the same as the withdrawing of the power of the kings from supporting the beast or civil head of the apostacy); and the seventh, and last, is the great and destructive hail. By these seven particular events, the seven denunciations of the seven thunders were to be fulfilled; and the third and last, or antichristian state of the Roman empire, was to have its final overthrow."
"The commencement of this last vial cannot be dated before the month of August in 1792. The scheme of the general confederacy of the kings and states of the West, to suppress all attempts to alter the accustomed order of things in Europe, was not effectually put in force till that time. The Duke of Brunswick, at the head of a confederate and veteran army of 90,000 men, then entered the territories of the French nation. The tumults, rumours, and alarms, that immediately ensued, must be fresh in the remembrance of all who were witnesses to the transactions of that time. How exactly were the political thunders, and voices and lightnings fulfilled; and how terrified were the several ruling powers in Europe! Papist, and Protestant, and Turk, united against the new principles that were adopted by the French; the suppression of which, and the restoration of the ancient order of things in France, seemed to the confederate powers an achievement equal to the salvation of mankind, and to the preservation of the whole world. For nine years, (c) wherein neither blood nor treasure was limited, have the confederate powers of Europe laboured in vain; the ancient system of the apostacy has received its mortal wound; and the French nation is now, upon a new system of principles, become a preponderating power in the affairs of Europe. Thus has the great and mighty commotion, or earthquake, taken place, the like of which has not happened since the first rise of the beast out of the sea, or from the time when the barbarous nations first got possession of the empire."
(c) This was published in 1801.
"It has been observed in the first part of this work, that the seven particular events of this vial were to occupy seven lesser times within its period. Before it can be ascertained what the length of one of these lesser times is, it will be necessary to find out what may be the length of the vial itself, and then divide that into seven parts. According to the explanation given, the vials began to be poured out in the year 1530: from that time to the year 1792, when the sixth vial ended, there are 262 years; these divided by six, the number of the vials, gives 43 years and 8 months for each vial, the seventh part of 43 years and 8 months Isaiah 6:0 years and 3 months; each lesser time, therefore, of the seventh vial will be 6 years and 3 months. According to this calculation, provided the several lesser times are equal, the second part of the period of this vial must have commenced in the year 1798, in the month of December, when of course thefirst ended. In this month and year a new war commenced in Italy. In the month of April 1799, the treaty of peace of Campo Formio was broken off by the assassination of the French plenipotentiaries at Radstadt. The events of this second war will not be ultimately finished, till a new balance of power, held in the hands of three great potentates, shall have taken place. This will happen in the month of March 1805. The cities will have lost their power by the year 1811, some time in the month of June. Rome, the great Babylon of the West, will have drunk her cup of indignation by the month of September 1817. The islands, which were confederate with the apostacy, will have fled away by the month of December 1823. The mountains, or kingdoms of the West, will not be found supporting the beast in the month of March 1830. By the month of June 1836, the great hail* will have afflicted the apostate Latins, and have swept away all power from that refuge of lies, the antichristian apostacy of the West." (d)
* Of this destructive hail the author speaks thus:—"A great hail, or great invasion of some northern army, as desolating and destructive as if the hail had been the weight of a talent, fell from the heaven, or from the sovereign authority of the government that should then prevail, upon the men of the apostate party; and they blasphemed God on account of the exceeding greatness of the plague or northern invasion, by continuing to call upon their saints and images for relief from this great distress, instead of upon God, who is the only Saviour." P. 179.
(d) Dr. J. Mitchell, New Exposition, vol. 2: p. 184. et seq.
How discordant soever the opinions of men may be on such prophesies as are either entirely future, or only partially fulfilled, we cannot but respect in a particular manner the pious exertions of all. Men may fail in their calculations by starting from an improper period, and yet write in such a manner as shall considerably benefit mankind. The failure of others will teach us caution, and discover to us the rocks on which they have split, that we may avoid their disasters by shunning those courses which they have steered. As the progress of events corrects preceding errors, these events necessarily lessen the number of possible cases to which observation can be applied,andfinally direct the attentive inquirer after truth into those modes of thinking which will terminate in fact. Whatever errors may have been found in the observations of commentators, there are but few who have not advanced something which tends to throw additional light on the subjects which they have contemplated, and which future writers may improve, till doubt shall give place to certainty, and menshall unfold the prophesies in their proper light. In the mean while, the attempts which have been made to elucidate the predictions, by so many illustrious names as have appeared in everyage, render similar endeavours illustrious from that circumstance. Infallibility is not to be expected where the Newtons and Mede have failed; and it can be no disgrace to err, in laudably attempting to seize those truths which these men were unable to reach.
"The prophesies of Daniel and St. John," says Mr. Faber, "are strictly chronological ones, and are therefore in some measure their own interpreters; and as for those of Zechariah and Joel, though they be not marked by the chronological numbers, and the long continued and connected series of events, which form so striking a feature of the other predictions, yet they contain within them facts which are amply sufficient to shew at what era they will be accomplished. They both foretel the restoration of the Jews: consequently all the matters of which they speak as connected with that restoration, must be the same matters as those of which Daniel speaks, as being similarly connected with it. Hence it will follow, that the destruction of the nations in the vicinity of Jerusalem, predicted by Zechariah, as contemporary with the restoration of the Jews, must be the same as the overthrow of the infidel king in Palestine, predicted by Daniel, as likewise contemporary with the restoration of the Jews. Hence also it will follow, that the fierce people, so accurately described by Joel, as spreading desolation wherever they come,—as wonderfully succeeding in all their enterprizes,—as running to and fro in the great city,—as scaling the walls of fenced cities with open violence,—as entering insidiously into the windows like a thief,—as causing tremendous revolutions in the political heavens; that this fierce people can be no other than the people of Daniel's infidel king, who are to commence their reign of havoc and plunder under the third woe trumpet, during the comparatively short time which the devil hath before the termination of the 1260 years; before the restoration of the Jews. It will likewise follow, that the invasion of Palestine bythe northern army, or the army of antichrist, entering it by way of the north, is the same as the expedition of the infidel king; and that the destruction of this northern army, with its face to the eastern sea, and its hinder part toward the utmost sea, is the same event as the destruction of the infidel king, after he has planted the tabernacles of his palaces between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; for in both cases the scene is equally laid in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, between the eastern or Dead sea, and the western or Mediterranean sea. It will lastly follow, that the great battle of the nations, in the valley of Jehoshaphat, is the same as the great battle of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings, at Armageddon, and as the time of unexampled trouble, during which Daniel, like Joel, predicts that the restoration of the Jews will commence." (e)
(e) Faber, vol. 2: p. 376, 7.
Impressed with a conviction arising from this coincidence, the same author goes on to observe, that the final war of the beast and the false prophet, when united together against the gospel, will finally be decided in Palestine, between the two seas, and will prove decisive in favour of the cause of God. In the meanwhile he supposes, that, prior to thisgreat catastrophe, some great commotions will take place in Europe, by means of which the Latin city will be divided into three parts, and by which the islands and mountains, or smaller portions of the empire, will be swallowed up in some iniquitous partition. These, he conceives, are alluded to in the prophesies of Joel, and which that servant of God expressed in the language which St. Peter adopted on the day of Pentecost: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath, blood and fire, and pillars of smoke.
In addition to the joint declarations of Daniel, Zechariah, and Joel, relative to the portion of the world which is to be the seat of this decisive war, St. John, he conceives, in the Revelation, affords the fullest confirmation. In the brief account which this prophet gives of that dreadful discomfiture of the enemies of God, which we learn from his xivthchapter, under the character of the vintage, he informs us, that the wine press should be trodden without the city; that blood, instead of wine, should come out of these mystical grapes; and that such should be its dreadful effusion, that it should reach even unto the horses' bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. This is the vintage or wine-press under which both popery and infidelity are for ever to be destroyed; and is nothing more than another description of the great battle of Armageddon. Here then we have two marks by which the last scene of action may be known; the first is, that it is to be without the city; and the second is, that it is to be in a country which extends 1600 furlongs. "Both these descriptive marks perfectly correspond with the land of Palestine; the land in which, by the unanimous testimony of the prophets, the last great controversy of the Lord will be carried on."
There are two senses in which the country of Palestine may be viewed; in one of these it lies within the precincts of the city, and in the other without it. If the whole Roman empire, including not only its proper seat in the West, but its extensive conquests in the East, be taken into the account, Palestine lies within it. But if the revived or Latin empire, which was exclusively confined to the West, be considered, Palestine lies without its boundaries.
It was in reference to the former of these considerations that the prophet has told us our Lord was crucified in the great city, because at that time the empire existed in the plenitude and greatness of its extent and power. And it is in reference to the latter, that the same inspired writer tells us, that this figurative wine-press, from which such an effusion of human blood shall issue, shall be trodden without the city; for at the time when this event is to happen, the East, totally detached, will form no part of the Latin empire; and consequently this peculiar manner of introducing the two expressions, relative to the crucifixion of our Lord in the city, and the treading of the wine-press without it, discovers to us, that nothing but the Spirit of God could have dictated to the pen of the prophet.
There is another circumstance which has already been briefly noticed; namely, the extent of that country which lies without the city, in which this figurative wine-press is to be trodden. St. John describes it as extending 1600 furlongs. Now it is highly worthyof observation, continues Mr. Faber, that thelength of that region between the two seas, which is destined to witness the fall of Antichrist and his congregated host, (namely Palestine,) if a line be drawn along the sea shore, from its southern to its northern frontier, amounts exactly to 1600 Jewish risin, or stadia, or furlongs.
But it is not merely to the land in an indefinite manner in which this battle is to be fought, that our attention is directed; but Mr. Faber contends, "even to the very place in that land. Zechariah, as we have seen, fixes in general terms the scene of action in Palestine, and in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem: Joel likewise fixes upon Palestine, declaring that the northern army shall be destroyed between the seas: Daniel no less explicitly affirms, that the infidel king, after having planted the tabernacles of his palaces between the seas in the glorious holy mountain, shall come to his end, none being able to help him: and St. John asserts, that the wine-press shall be trodden in a land which extends 1600 furlongs."
"In addition to this general statement of the country where these events are to happen, Joel further informs us, that the battle of the nations shall not only be fought between the seas, but in the valley of Jehoshaphat; and St. John predicts very definitely, that this same battle shall not only be fought in a land which extends 1600 furlongs, but in a certain place of that valley called Armageddon. The valley of Jehoshaphat, therefore, and Armageddon, are one and the same region. Now the word Jehoshaphat signifies the judgment of the Lord: and the valley of the battle is indifferently styled by Joel the valley of Jehoshaphat, or the judgment of the Lord, and the valley of Concision or Destruction. It is plain, therefore, that this is not the proper, but only a descriptive name of the place; that is, of some place or other between the two seas. Here then St. John steps forward, and furnishes us with the literal proper name of the region which is thus to be made the last scene of the just judgment of the Lord. Armageddon signifies the destruction of Megiddo; and Megiddo is a town situate between the two seas, in the half-tribe of Manasseh, at a small distance from the shores of the Mediterranean. In the valley of this place, Josiah lost his life in his fatal encounter with Pharaoh king of Egypt: and it appears, that this valley of the destruction of Megiddo, or as it is termed by Joel, this valley of the judgment of the Lord, is hereafter to be the scene of a yet more dreadful conflict." (f)
(f) Faber, vol. 2: 380, 81.—"Armageddon," says Calmet, "spoken of in the Revelation, signifies the mountain of Mageddon or Megiddo. Megiddo is a city situate in the great plain at the foot of mount Carmel. There it was that good king Josiah received his mortal wound, in the battle against Necho king of Egypt. At Armageddon the evil angel, coming out of the dragon's mouth, shall gather together the kings of all the earth, to the battle of the great day of God Almighty, as it is said in the Revelation."—See Calmet's Dictionary, article Armageddon.
"That in the gathering together of the Jews," says Mr. Whitaker, "the divine interposition will be visible, we are fully assured by many passages of holy writ. On this point the prophet Isaiah speaks plainly in the eighth and following verses of his fifty-second chapter. To this does Hosea bear witness, in the latter part of his first and eleventh chapters. To the same does Micah testify in his last chapter; and indeed scarcely any prophet is there but has spoken, either directly or by allusion, to this particular. That as the ancestors of the Jews were the instruments of the living God in exterminating the polluted nations of Canaan, so they shall be the same in taking out of the kingdom of the Messiah whatsoever offendeth, is strongly indicated, as in other scriptures, so in the last verses of the eleventh and sixteenth chapters of this book (the Revelation); and that the land of Judea shall be the theatre of the divine vengeance, is in various places most clearly pointed out. Lastly, too, that the pope shall, for a time, triumph at Jerusalem, is in the seventh and eighth verses of the eleventh chapter expressly declared. As, therefore, the preservation of the Jewish people in a state of separation from all others, in all the revolutions of human affairs, through so many centuries to the present day, forms such a call on men to acknowledge their God as the Lord of all, as is not to be rejected without the necessary conviction of those who are guilty of it; so the veryextraordinary circumstances which have lately occurred, visibly clearing the way for the accomplishment of this prediction concerning the papal power, cannot be overlooked without the most daring inattention to those signs for which Christians have been commanded to watch, without the most impious unconcern to his judgments, who has warned us of the approach of a period in which he will take unto himself his great power, and reign." (g)
(g) Whitaker, p. 441, 2.
Though the gathering of the kings together to the battle of the great day of God Almighty, endeavouring by their combined exertions to support that antichristian system which God has determined to demolish, may be the same as the gathering of the grapes of the vine, that they might be cast into the great wine-press of the wrath of God; yet we must suppose, that the battle of these kings cannot be intentionally against God. Other motives will, doubtless, be assigned as the occasion of the great confederacy, and perhaps in some views the delusions of policy may seem to justify the measure. The spirits of devils, which, by working wonders, shall entice the kings of the earth to combine their forces, may fascinate them with such miraculous deceptions, as may re-animate them with vigour and courage in proportion to the defeats which they shall successively sustain. The same deceptions which can induce them to unite, will easily be able to induce them to persevere; a succession of calamities may become the parent of patience, while the illusions of a deceitful hope may urge them to their fate. Like the Jews in the crucifixion of our Lord, their opposition to God may partake more of implication than of formal and avowed hostility; political justice may be their pretence, ambition their aim, and their own destruction their end. (h)
(h) See Mitchell, vol. 2: p. 173.
"The gathering together of the kings of the earth, previous to the battle of Armageddon, may possibly mean" (says Mr. Faber) "a confederacy of the infidel popish powers against the Jews, supported by the arms of Protestantism. This conjecture is strengthened by a certain peculiarity of expression, which the Holy Spirit taught both Joel and Daniel to adopt in their respective predictions, concerning the great troubles about to come to pass at the end of the 1260 years. Joel describes the proclamation, by which the nations are to be gathered together, as inviting them to sanctify war: and Daniel describes the infidel tyrant as going forth in great wrath to devote, under the pretext of religion, many to utter destruction. From these expressions I am much inclined to think, that the gathering together of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the Latin earth, will be for the purpose of undertaking what a Papist would denominate a holy war; that is to say, a war somewhat similar to the ancient holy crusade against the Waldenses of Provence; a war, entered into under the cognizance of the cross for the pious purpose of exterminating all those whom the church of Rome thinks proper to denominate Heretics. This infamous prostitution of the sacred name of religion will, however, be amply repaid upon their own heads. The Arma, or destroying anathema, which the false prophet shall fulminate against his enemies, and whichhis zealous coadjutor the atheistico-papal tyrant will go forth in great fury to put in execution against those whom he hath religiously devoted to destruction, shall prove an Arma only to themselves. Accordingly we find, what is somewhat remarkable, that the same word Arma, the radical verb of which Daniel uses to express the manner in which the infidel king should go forthin his wrath, is united by St. John in composition with the proper name Megiddo; as if he wished to intimate, that they, who had pronounced an Arma against all their opponents, should themselves feel the baleful effects of the Lord's Arma at Arma-Megiddon. The very league of the false prophet, indeed, with the beast and the kings of the earth, might alone lead us to conclude, that this war should be a religious war; for if it were a war undertaken only upon common principles, it is not easy to assign a reason why the false prophet should be evidently so much interested in its success." (i)
(i) Faber, vol. 2: p. 382. et seq.
The balance of power, as it is politically termed, a notion which has sprung up among the statesmen of the great civilized nations of Europe; and through which their jarring interests intersect each other, has given rise to confederacies which have been of the most destructive tendencies and consequences, both to the financial concerns of the interested empires, and to the happiness of millions of the human race. The return of the Jews into Palestine, when the mystical waters of the Euphrates shall be dried up, may cause that political principle to operate in all its force, so that the safety of Europe may be thought to be implicated in the great question in agitation. The expulsion of the returning tribes may be deemed necessary, from motives of expediency, to prevent their growing power, which may reach in time to a preponderation; and those unhappy confederates, with an eye fixed upon their imaginary palladium of empire, will only become more and more exasperated, in proportion to the valour which the Jews shall manifest, and to that success, which, in all their enterprises, shall attend their arms.
How, or in what manner, those nations which profess the Protestant religion can be supposed to engage in this unholy crusade, it is impossible to say. Perhaps, forgetting the inestimable blessings they have received from God, they may barter the securities of peace for the hazard and calamities of war, and learn, when their destinies become irretrievable, that the deceitful glare of political wisdom dispensed its beams only to light them to their doom. Be this, however, as it may, it is highly probable that all will not thus oppose the designs of God. The purposes of the Almighty are, to recall his ancient people, and once more to re-establish them in his favour. To accomplish this, he will, without doubt, make use of means, and adapt them to those ends which he has in view; and if the former part of the eighteenth chapter of Isaiah* have any reference to these last days, we cannot but conclude that some maritime nation will be made subservient to his designs. The rest, possibly, joining the unrighteous combination, will act under the direction of the papal and atheistical powers, whose aim will be to exterminate such of the Jews as shall have been brought back to their own country, and to prevent those of their brethren who may be yet at a distance, from joining them in Palestine.
* Ho! Land spreading wide the shadow of (thy) wings, which art beyond the river of Cush. Accustomed to find messengers by sea, even in bulrush vessels upon the surface of the waters! Go, swift messengers, unto a nation dragged away and plucked, unto a people wonderful from their beginning hitherto, a nation expecting, expecting, and trampled under foot, whose land rivers have spoiled!
Isaiah 18:1-2. Bishop Horsley's translation.
From the prophesies both of Daniel and Zechariah it seems even more than probable, that the confederated hosts will prove, in the first place at least, partially successful in their attempts. "The former of these prophets teaches us, that before the infidel king shall come to his end, he shall have succeeded in planting the tabernacles of his palaces in the glorious holy mountain between the two seas: and the latter more openly informs us, that, immediately before the Lord shall go forth and fight against the assembled nations, those nations shall have sacked Jerusalem with circumstances of the greatest cruelty." (k)
(k) Faber, vol. 2: p. 389.
In the mean while, the plans of Heaven are carrying onward, through the instrumentalityof those who act with an eye to different objects, and are impelled to their deeds by very different motives. Perfectly unconscious of any thing beyond the dominion and wealth which they exert themselves to acquire, their blindness is but a link in that chain which encompasses the destiny of the world; and, in conjunction with other causes, will ultimately lead to the accomplishment of prophesy, and issue in the final consummation of things. To this consummation the signs of the times assure us that we are fast approaching. Every succeeding year brings with it some important event which becomes evidence in favour of this truth; and it is highly probable, that events will continue to exhibit themselves before us in rapid succession, till all contention for empire shall cease; till Christ shall establish his reign in righteousness, and till the nations of the earth shall learn war no more.
The events to be accomplished before we can expect the world to be blessed with that desirable tranquillity which Christ shall one day establish upon earth, are great and many; and that of the restoration of the Jews is one which in all probability requires much time. However, according to the concurring opinion of all the writers on the prophesies, the period that shall close the drama of the world, cannot be remote. Writers, indeed, vary considerably in their calculations; but with respect to the result they almost all meet within half a century. And though in modes of reckoning all commentators may have erred, it is highly improbable that in the great outlines all have been deceived. The great concluding scenes of the world are evidently drawing to a close, and some of the events are even already begun.
If the passage, which, in a preceding pages we have quoted from the eighteenth chapter of Isaiah, applies to the restoration of the Jews, it is evident that some great maritime state, at once courageous and powerful, is destined to begin the work; and we may reasonably conclude that it will be some years in accomplishing. We learn from Zechariah, that they will be brought to their original habitations in two distinct bodies, and consequently theyare not all to return to Palestine together. "The Lord," says the prophet, "shall save the tents of Judah first; that the glory of the house of David, and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, do not magnify themselves against Judah." (Zechariah 12:7.)
In my commentary on this chapter I have observed, "That it is not difficult to perceive, that the prophesies of this and the two following chapters relate to future times, and most probably to those predicted of by Ezekiel in his 38th and 39th chapters; where it is said, that Israel, after their restoration and return to their own country, would be assailedby a combination of many nations. That it is at least likely, when the time shall come for the re-establishment of the Jews, and they shall begin to collect themselves and attempt a settlement in their ancient possessions, that such a measure would create jealousy and uneasiness, in those powers more especially, who are interested in the dominion over these countries, we have already hinted. But, without attempting to determine precisely concerning the invaders, the substance of this prophesy is this;—that Jerusalem will be besieged by a multitude of hostile nations, to the great terror of the people in the vicinity, as well as of Judah itself; but that the attempts of those nations will be frustrated through the special interposition of God, and will terminate in their total discomfiture and ruin, and in the permanent peace of the victorious Jews. After which the Jews will be brought at length to see and lament the sin of their forefathers in putting their Messiah to death; will be admitted as members of the Gospel dispensation;—and through the great atonement of the Messiah, and the grace of his Spirit, shall be cleansed from past guilt, will renounce all their former offensive practices, and carefully abstain from a future repetition of them." (p)
(p) See this commentary on Zechariah 12:0. vol. 4: p. 658.
"If then," says Mr. Faber, "Judah is to be saved first, and if the isles and the ships of Tarshish are to bring his sons from far first, it is evident that the division, which Zechariah terms Judah, will be restored by the maritime power before the other division, which he terms the house of David and Jerusalem: but how the one division is to be distinguished from the other, nothing but the event can shew. It is possible, that the circumstance of this two-fold division may throw some light upon a veryobscure chronological passage in the last prophesy of Daniel, which relates to the restoration of the Jews. After having predicted in the words of the Angel, that his peopleshould be delivered during a time of unexampled trouble, he next proceeds to inform us, that, when God shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all the things contained in the period of 1260 years shall be finished: consequently, since the scattering of the holy people will not be fully accomplished till the end of the 1260 years, it will of course be accomplished at the end of them; and therefore, exactly at that era, their scattering then being accomplished, they will begin to be restored." Having thus stated the commencement of their restoration. he then adds—"From the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up (in the year of our Lord 606, at the beginning of the 1260 years), there shall be 1290 days: blessed is he that writeth, and cometh to the 1335 days. (Daniel 12:11-12.)" Here then we learn, that, from the beginning of the restoration of the Jews at the end of the 1260 years, to the beginning of the period of great blessedness, which I think can only mean the Millennium, there shall be a space of 75 years. And these 75 years Daniel divides into two portions: the one consisting of 30 years, and therefore terminating at the end of 1290 years from the commencement of the 1260 years; and the other comprehending 45 years, and therefore terminating at the end of 1335 years from the commencement of the same 1260 years. This division of the 75 years, however, he makes without giving us the least hint of what is to take place at the era of the division: without specifying any thing whatsoever; he simply divides them, for some purpose or another, into 30 years and 45 years. Now since the period of millennium—blessedness is not to commence till the end of the 75 years, will it be deemed an unreasonable conjecture, that these 75 years will be taken up in gathering together the Jews from the various nations among which they are dispersed; that the thirty years will be devoted to the restoration of Judah, which is to take place first by the instrumentality of the great protestant maritime power; and that the remaining forty-five years will be occupied in bringing back the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem? This conjecture I wish to be considered as a mere conjecture: it may, or it may not, be well founded. But whatever be intended by the division of the 75 years, it is evident to common sense, that the restoration of the Jews, that magna molis opus, will assuredly not be the work of one day. The first return of that people from the Babylonian captivity, was a light matter, whencompared with their manifold restoration at the yet future period, when the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the Islands of the sea: when he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and shall gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. For so vast an undertaking as this, perhaps the shortest space that can reasonably be allowed will fully amount to 75 years. These 75 years are the peculiar period of God's controversy with the nations. They are styled by Daniel the time of the end.
"From what has been said concerning the restoration of the Jews, the following positions may indisputably be collected: (1.) The Jews most certainly will be restored. (2.) They will as certainly be converted to Christianity. (3.) They will begin to be restored as soon as the 1260 years shall have expired. (4.) They will successively be restored in two great divisions. (5.) The main agent in restoring the first of these divisions will be the prevailing protestant maritime power of the day. (6.) A great opposition will be made to this attempt of the maritime power, by a confederacy consisting of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the earth, or Latin empire. (7.) The confederacy, one member of which will be certainly the Atheistico-papal King, having sanctified their war by proclamation, will invade Palestine, in order to prevent the return of the Jews; and will succeed in taking Jerusalem, and inplanting the tabernacles of their palaces between the two seas in the glorious holy mountain. (8.) Their triumph will be but short. Assembling themselves together at Megiddo, they will be struck with a preternatural confusion, and draw every man his sword against his fellow: so that the bulk of this mighty northern army shall miserably perish between the two seas; and the infidel tyrant himself come to his end, none being able to help him.* (9.) The confederate hosts will consist of three parts. (10.)The Latin city will be divided into three parts, immediately previous to these events; the earthquake and the events being equally comprehended under the seventh vial. (11.) Two out of three parts of the confederacy will be destroyed at Megiddo. (12.) The third will be spared, and will be converted. (13.) The power of the beast and the falseprophet will be for ever broken by their last decisive overthrow in the valley of the Lord's judgment. (14.) At the end of the 75 years, after the termination of the 1260 years, the season of Millennian rest will commence."
* From a passage in Zechariah 14:0. this acute and ingenious author has attempted to infer the manner of the overthrow of this mighty host; and it cannot be denied, that the prophetic language of the prophet gives a sanction to the conclusions which he has made. The prophet tells us, that it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. From this passage Mr. Faber supposes, that on the great day of decision, while they are contriving the destruction of those whom God has determined to make triumphant, a supernatural panic will be sent among them, by which means they will madly turn their swords against one another, so that they will become their own executioners: that, nevertheless, in the midst of this signal vengeance, God will remember mercy, and manifest his salvation to those who shall escape the general carnage. Many, it may reasonably be presumed, will have joined this coalition through the influences of persuasion operating upon a pernicious education; and many more, contrary to their better judgments, will be compelled to take up arms by the more formidable powers. All therefore cannot be presumed to be in an equal state of guilt; and hence those who acted from invincible ignorance, or the impulse of necessity, may be of that number who shall find mercy at the hand of God. For it shall come to pass (says the prophet) that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God. (Zechariah 13:8-9.)
See p. 399-391.
"All these matters are clearly predicted by the prophets. The manner, in which they will be accomplished, affords a vast field for conjecture; but their accomplishment itself is no vain speculation: in God's own good time that must take place: how it will take place we know not beyond what is revealed." (q)
(q) Faber, vol. 2: p. 396. et seq.
That these events will most assuredly take place, is not a subject of doubtful speculation, because plainly predicted by the Spirit of God; but the exact period when war and iniquity shall forsake the earth, and Christ shall reign in righteousness, is not to be known with such precision. The former is a subject of the most indubitable certainty, but the latter is concealed in shade. Persevering inquiry has nevertheless done much toward the elucidation of these obscurities which hang upon unaccomplished prophesies, yet nothing but time and events can completely remove the veil. Our observations on those predictions and events which are already past, afford us much instruction and help in respect to our calculations on the future. We learn from thence to separate those which are yet lodged in futurity, from the passing objects of the present day, and to trace by analogy the methods which we ought to pursue.
On those prophesies which are of a chronological nature, their respective numbers cannot fail to guide us with precision to a definite issue, provided we can be assured that our data are right. But while these are enveloped in obscurity, uncertainty must necessarily rest upon the conclusions which are drawn from them.
The ingenious author whose works we have had occasion frequently to quote in the latter part of this appendix, has dated the commencement of the 1260years during which Popery, Mahometanism, and Antichrist, are to continue to afflict the true church and to delude mankind, in the year of our Lord 606; and it must be acknowledged, that scarcely any period in history appears more probable when all circumstances are taken into the account.
The publication of the Justinian code of arbitrary rules of faith in the year 529, or 532, was doubtless a memorable period, and most deservedly worthy of much notice; but the calculations founded on it, will bring us to the awful moment of consummation much sooner than the appearances of the world seem to justify; for in this case we cannot look into futurity beyond the year 1819. But when we turn our eyes to those events which remain to be accomplished, namely, the drying up of the mystical
Euphratean rivers, or the downfal of Mahometanism, the total abolition of Popery, the end of the Infidel king, or of the reign of Antichrist, and the restoration of the Jews, reason seems to require a longer period. It must nevertheless be acknowledged, that the period yet remaining in this calculation, is fully sufficient, if God shall be so pleased as to make it subservient to his purposes. This, the short space of twelve years will determine.
There is another important circumstance which must also be taken into the account, namely, the rise of Mahometanism, which cannot with much propriety be brought to agree with the date of the Justinian code. For though the Arabian impostor did not flee from Mecca to Medina till the year 622, which was the twelfth year of his ministry, and the 54th of his age; and though his followers compute their time from this era; yet he first retired to the cave of Hera in the year 606; which, as it coincides with the prophesies that relate to the continuance of his doctrines, is certainly a proper period from which to date his daring imposture. But whether we date the rise of Mahometanism from 622, or from 606, it can in neither case be made to agree with the daring impositions of Justinian and the Pope. And consequently, as Popery and Mahometanism are destined to fall together at the end of the 1260 years, the despotic measures of Justinian in the year 529 or 532 cannot afford us a proper date. Hence then, as these two daring impositions must run parallel with each other, and must perish together, we must look for their origin or particular establishment in the same year; and it is remarkable, that the year 606 was the identical period in which the Arabian impostor, retired to the cave of Hera, and in which the Italian Impostor obtained from the emperor Phocas that power with which he has since ruled his vassals as with a rod of iron. These are circumstances which have induced several of those authors to whom we have referred, to fix upon the year 606 as the period from whence to date the 1260 years, during which their dominion was to continue.
It must be obvious to all, that, if the year 606 be admitted as the period in which the 1260 years began, they must end in the year 1866; and, consequently, that must be the period of consummation to which the transactions of the world are now verging. Daniel had predicted, that the little horn, by which Mr. Faber and others understand Popery, should arise at a time when the great Roman empire was bursting with its own weight, and giving birth to ten independent kingdoms. Thus far fact and prophesy go hand in hand. For some considerable time after the establishment of Popery, it was nothing more than an ecclesiastical kingdom; but it continued to increase in magnitude and power till the year 606, at which time the Pope was declared Bishop of bishops, and supreme Head of the Catholic church.
"At this aera, (says Mr. Faber,) which is the proper date of the 1260 years, and the epoch when the old pagan Roman beast, which had been mortally wounded by the sword of the Spirit under his sixth head, revived under the same sixth head by setting up a spiritual tyrant in the church, and by relapsing into idolatry, St. John first introduces upon the stage the power which Daniel symbolizes by the little horn of the fourth beast. That power, however, was now become an universal empire, instead of being what it had hitherto been, a limited ecclesiastical kingdom. Hence the apostle, instead of representing the ten-horned beast as having likewise a little horn, describes him as attended by a second beast whose character precisely answers to that of the little horn. By the instigation of this corrupt spiritual power, the ten-horned beast, or the secular Roman empire, wages war with the saints, during the period of the 1260 years, through the instrumentality either of his last head, or his ten horns. The Mohammedan horn arose in the same year, that the papal horn became an universal spiritual empire." (r)
(r) Faber, vol. 2: p. 404.
"The Mohammedan little horn itself, or the religion of Mohammed, is to continue to the end of 2200 years from the invasion of Asia by Alexander the Great; which is found to bring us down exactly to the year 1866, and thus to allow precisely 1260 years for the duration of Mohammedism, reckoning from its commencement in the year 606." (s)
(s) Ibid. 406.
These are circumstances which wear a convincing aspect, and are entitled to our most serious attention. So many remarkable coincidences in past events, united with the declarations of prophesy, and remarkably countenanced by the present appearances of the world, corroborate one another in a manner that astonishes, and which must be allowed to be inexplicable, at least at present, upon any other supposition than that which has been made.
Agreeably to the hypothesis of the author last quoted, the cotemporary rise and progress of Popery and Mahometanism were predicted by St. John, under the blasts of the first and second woe trumpets; while, under the third, was announced the appearanceofInfidelAntichrist,who, in the last days of Atheism and insubordination, and subsequently to the Reformation, should deny both the Father and the Son, and continue prosperous in iniquity till God's controversy with the nations should cease. The full developement of this monster, however, he supposes to be preceded by an awful circumstance, namely, a dreadful earthquake, by which a tenth part of the great Latin city, or what is denominated one of the ten horns of the Roman beast, should be overthrown. And, finally, that this woe, which extends to the very termination of the 1260 years, is that which introduces, what St. John has denominated the harvest of God's wrath, and will only conclude with the last dreadful vintage.
Notwithstanding that the occurrences which have happened of late years, are very extraordinary; yet they may be considered only as precursors which are sent to admonish the world, and to bid mankind prepare for the calamities which await them at the time of the end. Still no visible measures have been taken to facilitate the restoration of the Jews. It must indeed be acknowledged, that the waters of the Euphrates have long since been drying up; and the rapid decline of the Ottoman empire, which is understood by this figurative expression, may be considered as a circumstance more immediately connected with the return of the exiled tribes. For, if the figurative waters of the figurative Euphrates must be completely dried up to prepare a way for the kings of the East, it is not to be expected that any considerable movement should be made among the descendants of Judah, till that empire has undergone some important, perhaps, sudden change.
A train of circumstances may nevertheless be secretly operating towards the restoration of these exiled tribes, though we may be incompetent to trace the connection; and even the individuals themselves may, at this moment, be taking measures that will lead to issues of which they are unconscious. The separated parts, when viewed detached from one another, may have tendencies distinct from those which will result from them when combined, and, by these means, baffle all our attempts to calculate upon the distant issues which the actions of mankind will produce. Through the over-ruling providence of God, even those nations which shall hereafter exert themselves to defeat the establishment of the Israelites in the Holy Land, may, at this very moment, be the unconscious instruments of preparingthe way for them to enter upon their promised possession, and may be laying for themselves those snares, from which, in the valley of decision, they shall not be able to escape.
Be these things, however, as they may, whatever opposition may be made by the confederacyat the great battle of Armageddon, the Jews shall finally be triumphant. TheirAlmighty Protector will cause even the wrath of man to praise him; enmity shall onlytend to exalt his power and glory; and those who shall gather themselves together to counteract his designs, will learn, when it is too late, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Stimulated to their deeds by a design to preserve the balance of power, to dismember and partition some defenceless state, or to obtain what, in the fashionable phraseology of the day, may be termed an indemnity for recent losses, and a security against future wrongs, the kings of the earth may set themselves, and the rulers may take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed; and, bydeluding themselves, persuade the people to imagine a vain thing, till destruction shall come upon them suddenly and irretrievably.
The calamities of the harvest which has been considered as already past, "are but the harbingers (says Mr. Faber,) of those which shall take place under the last vial during the period of the vintage. Men have not yet ceased to blaspheme the name of the Lord: soon, therefore, shall the spirit of devils go forth from the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, to delude them to destruction. Few perhaps, indeed of the present generation, will behold the division of the Latin city into three parts, the formation of the antichristian confederacy, their invasion of Palestine, their opposition to the maritime power which shall begin the restoration of the Jews, their temporary capture of Jerusalem, their ultimate destruction at Armageddon: but, if I be not greatly mistaken in the date which I have assigned to the 1260 years, many of our children will be eye-witnesses of these events." (t)
(t) Vol. 2: p. 412.
The date, we have already observed, which this intelligent author has assigned for the commencement of the 1260 years, is the year 606; and, if these two numbers be added together, we shall be immediately concluded to the year 1866,—the precise period in which he supposes the dreadful overthrow of the enemies of God to take place in Palestine, in the valley of Megiddo,—the region between the two seas,—the region whose limits extend 1600 furlongs. To sentiments so definite, we have already observed, we dare not assent, however probable the evidence may be in favour of the fact. The most judicious calculations that have hitherto been made, have, in many respects, been found to be erroneous; and, on this very account, we are forbidden to presume. It is true, that former errors can form no real argument against calculations which may hereafter be made; but they teach us a lesson of caution, and direct us to wait with patience, indecision, humility, and expectation, till time and fact shall dissipate every doubt.
Our confidence in the sure word of prophesy arises from two sources,—the positive declarations of God, and the actual accomplishment of many predicted events. These lay hold on both our understanding, and our faith, and afford us all the evidence that we can either expect or hope, while they become a sure foundation on which we rest, to wait the arrival of events that are yet future.
When the captive Jews were compelled to sit down and weep by the river of Babylon, God directed Isaiah to call Cyrus, by name, more than two centuries before he was born, and to point him out as the deliverer of his exiled people; and so fully did he break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron, that the name of the Chaldee empire was lost in that of Persia, and Babylon became a habitation of dragons.
From the Old Testament we may collect the history of the Messiah, together with the minute circumstances of his birth, life, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension into glory. The prophets who described these things, set forth the time of his sufferings, the treatment which his followers were to expect, the success of his Gospel and its ultimate triumph. In descending to particulars, they described the periods, within which many facts that were equally important and improbable should come to pass, and history has demonstrated the truth of their declarations.
The destruction of Jerusalem, together with the calamities which the inhabitants suffered during the siege, was foretold by Christ, and its fate has been a mournful comment on the prediction. Contrary to the common practice of the Romans on similar occasions, both the capital and the temple were destroyed, though every exertion was made by Titus to preserve the latter. A superior destiny awaited it, and neither Jews nor Romans could preserve it from impending ruin.
These singular events, though calamitous in themselves, tended to establish the truth of Christianity, and proved the divine authority of its Founder, both to Jews and Gentiles. Though happening in conformity to the sacred predictions, the pride, the disobedience, the profligate wickedness of the people, and, above all, their rejection of the Messiah, were made the instruments of their accomplishment. And, in opposition to prejudice and philosophy, the Gospel has continued to triumph over power and art.
"In the prophecies respecting latter events, (says Mr. Kett,) we have seen the Antichrist, the great and formidable enemy of the true church of Christ, revealed with the most striking accuracy; though in such mystic language, that nothing but corresponding events could have decyphered it. We have seen the antichristian power arise at the same period of time in the corruptions of the church of Rome in the West, and in the false doctrine of Mahomet in the East." (v) And, without doubt, our successors will behold the devastations which yet remain to be made in papal and Mahometan countries, and which will convulse the world before it shall meet its irreversible doom.
(v) Kett, vol. 2: p. 366.
"Prophecy is indeed the voice of God, appealing to the records and the observations of man for its eternal truth; it speaks to unbelieving Jews, to careless Christians, and to Infidels of all denominations; and it adapts its awful declarations to the spiritual wants of mankind in every age. The truth ofprophesy admits not only the clear illustration of history, but the evidence of daily experience and common observation. The present hour bears witness to its divine origin, as well as the generations that are passed."
"Jerusalem is now trodden down by the Gentiles,—its walls are beaten down, its ditches are filled up, and it is surrounded with ruins of buildings,—it is the residence of the despotic Turks, and superstitious Christians, divided into various communities of Greeks, Armenians, Copts, Abyssinians, and Franks."
"The Jewish people are now dispersed among all the nations of the earth, yet distinct and separate from all;—'afflicted but not forsaken, reviled as a proverb and a by-word,' yet numerous, and in general opulent: enriched with the spoils of their enemies, they abide without a king, and without a priest, and without a sacrifice, a conspicuous monument of the truth of prophecy to every people among whom they dwell. Where are the Assyrians and the Romans? They are swept off from the face of the earth. The name and the remnant has been cut off. I will make a full end of all the nations, but I will not make a full end of thee. The conquerors are destroyed, and the captives remain."
"The sons of Ishmael still wander over the deserts, and have their habitations in the tents of Kedar, and are wild men; their hands are still against every man, and every man's hand against them. Every act of plunder committed by the unsubdued and roving tribes of the wild Arabs upon the caravans that traverse the deserts, bears witness to the truth of the memorable prediction pronounced 4000 years ago."
"Egypt remains 'a base kingdom,' according to the prophetic word; It shall not exalt itself any more above the nations. The Babylonians, the Persians, the Macedonians, the Romans, the Saracens, the Mamelukes, and the Turks, have held it in constant subjection for near 2000 years since this prophecy was uttered."
"The Mahometan Antichrist still rears its proud crescent in the East, though its avenging sword, having done its appointed office, has been long put up into the scabbard."
"The corruptions and superstition of Antichristian Rome continue, though the time of her tyranny is past. The decree is gone forth; who shall disannul it? The exact time of its full accomplishment is not yet given us to know; the one day in which her plagues shall came upon her, when she shall be thrown down with violence, and found no more at all, cannot be yet discovered with certainty; but the time is declared with sufficient accuracy to explain the wonderful events now passing in the world. Some of the kings of nations that gave her their strength and power, have begun to take away her dominion; and others stand afar off, and bewail and lament for her, saying Alas! Alas! that great city Babylon, that mighty city!"
"The confutation of her false doctrines,—the detection of her impostures,—the abolition of her spiritual tyranny,—the destruction of her monastic institutions,—the panic of her adherents, and, above all, the progress of a power which seems peculiarlyfitted to execute the wrath of God, point to her fate with more than common clearness."
"Scepticism, Infidelity, and Atheism, throwing off the mask of dissimulation which they wore in former times, now boldly avow their principles, and shew themselves to the world in all their horrors, for the day of their power is come. They call upon the world to worship the image that they have set up; and, while heresies divide the church, they attack its foundations with infernal art and fury."
"Thus we appeal to the present state of the world for the confirmation of prophetic truth. We point to a wide display of permanent and conspicuous miracles, not confined to a few witnesses who lived in distant times, but open to the view of the men of our own generation, even to so many as have eyes to see what is immediately passing before them, and curiosity to inquire into what is at this instant transacting in the more distant parts of the globe."
"By the comprehensive study of the prophecies, we are enabled to find a standard of reference to the different parts of the vast designs which are now passing before us in too rapid succession to be otherwise understood; and the aggregate testimony of facts thus linked together, will afford fresh evidence to the truth and order of the mighty scheme."
"We see that many great and extraordinary plans of Providence remain still to be executed; but the certainty of their accomplishment rests upon the foundation of eternal truth. Hath he said, and will he not do it? The ages, as they roll, are charged to execute the high commission; and the past afford a certain pledge for the accomplishment of those future events, which are as clearly predicted as those already fulfilled."
"The Christian, from his enlarged views of Scripture and of mankind, sees in their full and proper light, the sublimity, the extent, and the importance, of prophecy: and it may be with truth asserted, that the study of religion is absolutely necessary to the understanding of universal history. The pretensions of the modern philosopher to enlarged and impartial views of things, must then be considered as false and absurd. Rejecting the surest guides of human reason, he wanders through the labyrinths of history as chance directs, resting only in those places which appear to favour his system; and, like the fly upon the beautiful Corinthian pillar, sees nothing but disorder and confusion. The Christian, on the contrary, steadily following the clue which religion offers, observes the connection of the parts, and their relation to the vast, the wonderful plan which reaches from the creation of the world to its final destruction,—from earth to heaven. Raised to the lofty station to which revelation only can conduct him, he surveys, as a widely extended prospect, the past and present history of the world. His eyes are opened, and his conceptions are elevated and enlarged by gratitude, admiration, and hope, while he beholds the nations of the earth that have carried on, and are now fulfilling, the great designs of God with respect to his chosen people and the religion of Christ. He surveys the transitory glory of ancient and modern states, the boasted monuments of art, the attainments of learning, the powers of genius, the light of science, and the various employments of human life; not as subjects of useless speculation, but with a reference to that particular end, which, whether they are collectively or separately considered, gives an unspeakable importance to them all."
"Let all, then, who bear the name of Christians, consider the real dignity of the character, and walk as children of the light, amidst a crooked and perverse generation, looking for the glorious appearing of their Lord. And let those who remain unconvinced of the truth of revelation bythe evidence derived fromprophecy, remember that many other unanswerable proofs may be drawn from other sources. Let them examine the various arguments presented by the internal evidence of Scripture. Let them pursue the opening path of oriental literature, and consider, with particular attention, the Chaldean sphere, recording, as it were, the earliest annals of the world first written in the heavens. Then let them search the earth for testimony, for the earth itself bears constant witness to the truth of the Mosaic history. What shall I say more? If they will not then hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead." (w)
(w) Kett, vol. 2: p. 368-378.
Thus have we, in the course of this Appendix, taken a survey of some of the most striking coincidences, between the predictions of the prophets, and the great events which have either recently occurred in these latter periods, or are now actually taking place in the moral and civil world. That the resemblances are striking no one can deny; but that they imply certainty no one will presume. Almost every writer on the prophesies has been more or less betrayed into error through the illusions of the phaenomena which appeared in his time; many of them have lived to discover their mistakes; and many more have departed this life with a degree of confidence in their theories, to which we are now fully assured they were not entitled. These circumstances are of use to check our presumption, whenever we feel disposed to speak with an unbecoming assurance;—they teach us a lesson of humiliation; they instruct us to moderate our expressions, and direct us, even on the most conspicuous occasions, to rejoice with trembling.
We must not, however, forget, on the opposite side of the question, that the predictions of the prophets, and the transactions of the moral and civil world, have such an intimate connection with each other, that the latter constantly form the only infallible comment on the former, with which God has hitherto favoured mankind. Were it not for these, all prophesy would, even to the present moment, have been wrapped in shade,and our belief in the authenticity of the sacred writings would have been more or less supplanted by those doubts which invariably result from a deficiency ofevidence. But for the incarnation, the life, the transactions, the death, the resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the most sublime predictions of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Zechariah, would have appeared to us in no better light than the rhapsodies of the Sybils, for which extravagance and folly would have been too soft a name. The coming of our adorable Saviour has, however, given a more pleasing turn to the countenance of prophesy; so much so, that what our ancestors, under former dispensations, saw, as through a glass darkly, we now behold in the most refulgent light, since life and immortality have been brought to light by the Gospel. On such prophesies as are yet unaccomplished, future generations, when alluding to our writings, will most probably, on many occasions, make similar remarks.
Analogy is, perhaps, in point of reason, the surest guide which we can follow; and this most imperiously directs us to watch the signs of the times. The concurrence of past incidents with those ancient predictions which respected them, yields an unquestionable proof that this mode of inquiry has been attended with success. And, we furthermore learn from hence,that, by adopting the same method, of watching the information which circumstances afford us, we may know, with no small degree of certainty, in what age of the world we now live. Thus a retrospection on the past will enable us to appreciate the present, while both will afford us some ground to form calculations on the future. Absolute certainty may not indeed attend our researches, but wemay obtain a sufficiency of knowledge to prepare for those momentous events which are fast approaching, and which, when they arrive, will close the drama of the present life. This knowledge is of all kinds by far the most important. If this be obtained, the great business of life isfinished,—the end of prophetic warnings will be fully answered,—and a day of retribution will unravel those mysteries of providence and grace which are now concealed.
On comparing the history of the world, with the manners of the times which the Spirit of God that was in the ancient prophets did signify, we cannot but be convinced, that, though many predictions have received their accomplishment, many more are still unfulfilled. These also in due time will be found so to coincide with suitable incidents, thatit shall appear evident, even to an inconsiderate world, that not one jot or tittle has been permitted to pass, either from the law or the prophets, till all was fulfilled. But this universal coincidence must take place at different periods; and, consequently, as the events of the world are all progressive, the light which they will shed on the page of prophesy, must move gradually onward till it shines more and more to the perfect day.
That we live in no common times is a point which it is almost needless to prove; though, should evidence be required, a complication of the most surprising circumstances that have ever astonished the human race, is at hand to give conviction to the most sceptical. Should an impartial spectator, who had examined with some attention the prophetic records, be asked,—"What are the sources from whence we may expect to learn the presages of the latter days?" it is highly probable, that he would direct us to the following: "The condition of idolatry,—the prevalence of infidelity,—the tottering stateof Mahometanism,—the progress of Christianity in the earth,—and the morals of mankind. These are sources of evidence to be explored in the moral and religious department. To there we may add, the rise and fall of kingdoms,—the slaughter of millions of the human race,—the daring sallies of ambition,—the most astonishing revolutions in the empires of the world,—and the diffusion of new principles, which shall start forth from obscurity, to enlighten, to improve, and unhappily to corrupt mankind. These are the phaenomena which we may expect to find in the civil world."
Any one of these topics taken separately would, without doubt, afford a strong indication, when it accorded with prophetic description, that God was about to bring to pass what his prophets had declared; but should these unite their varied streams,—should all point in one direction, and mingle together with perfect harmony, we should have every reason to expect, that some important crisis was nigh at hand to alarm a guilty world. But if to this general concurrence of circumstances we could add the testimony of chronology, the evidence would become too formidable for resistance: the mind of man would sink beneath the weight of its influence, and acknowledge its convictions in spite of its firmest resolutions.
It is under this weight of evidence that we live. The commotions which for the last eighteen years have depopulated some of the fairest countries in Europe, deluged their fertile plains with blood, and covered them with ashes;—the periods resulting from chronological calculations, and the general appearance of the world, all conspire to tell us, that the events of the latter days are even come upon us, and that the time of God's controversy with the earth is near at hand.
The resemblances between the predictions of the prophets and the ancient historical events of the world, which have been traced by men of piety, talents, and erudition, who have devoted their time to the investigation of them, we have endeavouredto note in the suitable parts of this Commentary; while, in this Appendix, we have attempted so to survey the events which are passing before us, as by them to illustrate the providence of God. The whole work is now happily brought to a conclusion, but God alone can render what has been written instructive to the souls of men. So far as light has been afforded, no point of importance has been left uninvestigated; but we have not presumed to pronounce with certainty on those occurrences which are but just emerging from the shade.
The coincidence of many events, which are completely past, with ancient predictions, has left no room for a diversity of opinions; those which are passing, glimmer through a mental twilight; but those that are yet future, leave us no other evidence than what probable conjecture and analogy can supply. To these, in this last instance, we have had recourse; but the flight of time, and the occurrence of incidents, are alike necessary, both to convince ourselves, and to persuade posterity, that we are right in all that we have advanced.
Error is of such an insinuating nature, that it is imperceptibly interwoven with the works of man. None have hitherto been wholly exempted from its influence; and the writer would only make an addition to the general stock, were he to presume that this Commentaryenjoys the solitary immunity. Posterity may be able to detect the rocks on which he has split, when new light shall emerge from the recesses of futurity; and this will be the case, when hoary Time shall tremble on the margins of eternity
It is, nevertheless, a matter of no small consolation to the author, to learn, that most, if not all of those writers on these important subjects, who have preceded him, have been enabled, through the divine blessing, to throw some additional light on those facts which have occasionally come forth to correspond with the predictions of the prophets. And he shall esteem himself highly favoured, if the sentiments which he has selected from others, and variously combined, and occasionally interwoven with observations of his own, may either be entitled to the same recommendation, or may stimulate others to exertions which shall prove more beneficial to the Church of Christ. But, above all, he shall esteem himself happy, if what he has written should prove so far instructive to thosewho may peruse his pages, that they may be induced to inquire the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, and be urged to prepare to meet their God.
When we take a retrospective survey of God's dealings with mankind, and look back through the antediluvian, the patriarchal, and prophetic ages, we cannot but be smitten with admiration at the chain of providences which we discover in the history of the world. The dispensation ofthe Gospel holds out convictions still more striking. It cannot, therefore, be an act of presumption in us to believe, that God, who in these last days has spoken to us by his Son, has favoured us with such lights as our distant ancestors never knew. This, without all doubt, is actually the case. The period, therefore, cannot be remote, when the happy confluence of aggregate information shall supersede the necessity of conjectural hypothesis, and all uncertainty shall disappear.
As the predictions of Daniel, of Zechariah, and of St. John, though many of them have been accomplished, still cast a look into futurity, even to the present hour; and as the age in which we live, contains most of those prominent marks which were to precede the final issues to which they respectively refer, we feel ourselves warranted in concluding, that they are even now preparing to burst upon us,—that they are even at our doors. The precise moment when these awful events shall happen, it would be arrogant in us to attempt to ascertain. All that we can say with safety has been already said; a few years will most probably unravel a considerable portion, if not all the rest.
In the mean while, the hand which now traces these lines may stiffen in the repositories of the dead, or its constituent parts may be dissolved to mingle with their primitive dust, and most of the present generation of men may be swept aside; but, if the conjectures of Mr. Faber, and others, which we have inserted as such, in this Appendix, be well founded, there are many who have already entered life, who will live to behold such calamities, as never were witnessed by any human being since there was a nation upon earth.
These appearances, however, though they seem commanding, are no criterion of certainty. Many have already proved illusive, though they promised fair. And even the present phaenomena of the moral and civil world may be set aside by such unexpected occurrences as will bring with them a weight of evidence that shall leave no room for doubt. Nevertheless, when we take analogy for our guide, and refer for examples to those incidents which have ushered in the predictions of ancient times, we feel an increasing confidence in what we discover around us,—that they are the visible presages of the latter days. And, though every circumstance may not at present unite in one concurrence, yet the leading features are too striking to be wholly mista
But whether these probable conjectures are well or ill founded, these specific facts are only of remote and secondary consideration to mankind. It is of infinitely higher importance, that we take warning by what is inevitably impending, and prepare for the consummation of all things. Happy for us that the Almighty has placed the means within our reach, and urged us by motives the most powerful and the most endearing. The overtures of mercy, whichGod has displayed through Jesus Christ, are held forth as incitements to repentance; while the assurances of the divine favour with which the Scriptures abound, are sufficient to convince us, that in due time we shall reap if we faint not. The strong intimations which he has afforded, through the appearances of the world, of those calamities which are impending, and of the prospects of brighter days which shall then succeed, all aim at the same common object, and conspire to tell mankind, that the day in which God will judge the world in righteousness is already on the wing. If these things are insufficient to alarm the guilty, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.
But though the predicted events which are to take place in the latter days, may not be so near at hand as we have supposed, their ultimate certainty cannot be thereby affected. This, like the pillars of heaven, depends upon the immutability of God. The day of visitation will most probably come upon mankind as a thief in the night, in a moment when they are not aware; so that nothing but constant watchfulness can guard us against surprise. To this we are most ardently exhorted by our Lord and Saviour; while we are directed, under all the conditions of life, how to make our calling and election sure.
Whatever may be the revolutions which the empires of the world are destined to undergo, before they shall become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, they can be of little avail to the millions who must shortly depart the present life. Their conditions will then be inevitably fixed, till the trumpet shall sound, and the earth and sea shall give up their dead. The present mode of existence is that alone in which we can be the subjects of mutation; no changes can therefore affect our condition beyond the grave. Thrice happy they who are prepared by grace in time, for glory in eternity!
It is sufficient for us to know, that the great King of Heaven will accomplish his designs, whether we can trace their various evolutions or not. We may probably remain in ignorance of these in time; but when the mysteries of his kingdom shall be unravelled,—when we shall see him eye to eye and face to face, and shall know even as we are known,we shall, without doubt, be able to discern how all things have been made subservient to the welfare of his church and faithful people, and, by his over-ruling providence, have conspired to raise them to that state of felicity which shall never end.
It is not knowledge, but goodness, that is held out before us in the present life as the primary object of our pursuit; and they who attain it, are made wise unto salvation, however ignorant they may remain of speculative facts and theories. The great Disposer of all events has so circumscribed the human intellect, as to adapt its attainments to its present state. Another life may open sources of intelligence, of which wehavehithertobeenabletoform no conception. We have sufficient intimations, that more knowledge, more enjoyments, and more love, are reserved in another life for those who fear God in this; but a full comprehension of these realities we must die to attain. Under these views, death becomes a necessary link in the great chainof human existence: at present we walk by faith and not by sight, and therefore cannot expect to be delivered from every intervening cloud: we nevertheless rest in the positive conviction, that the light of eternity will dissipate every shadow, and unfold to us many important truths which are at present totally unknown.
With such prospects before us, we cannot but exclaim with the Apostle, O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? Our views in the present life are sufficient to draw from us this exultation; but the occasion for it must be abundantly increased beyond the grave, in that happy region where all tears shall be for ever wiped away, and God shall be all in all! Here then we pause, and conclude with an ascription of praise to the Almighty Triune God, in language adapted to the inhabitants of both worlds; for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
THE Sacred Writings, including both the Old Testament and the New, embrace a period of 4,100 years, beginning with Genesis, and ending, either with the Revelations, or the Gospel of St. John. Of these years 4,004 were before the birth of Christ, and 96 after it.
The whole of this period has generally been divided into seven distinct portions, or ages, each of which terminates at some particular epoch, either in the history of the world at large, or in that of the church of Christ. The first of these ages begins with the creation, and ends with the deluge, embracing a period of 1656 years. The second commences with the preservation of Noah, and continues till the days of Abraham; who, after the decease of his father, received a command from God to enter upon the land of Canaan: this happened in the 75th year of his age. This period includes about 428 years. The third begins where the second ended, and extends to the time when the Israelites, under the guidance of Moses, were delivered from their servitude in Egypt. In this period are included about 430 years. The fourth age reaches the time of Solomon, and to that period of his reign in which he laid the foundation of the temple. This age encompasses about 479 years. The fifth age beginswiththetemple,andendswiththe commencement of the Babylonish captivity, including a period of about 424 years. The sixth age commences with the captivity, and, including the apocryphal history, extends to the birth of John the Baptist. This period includes about 587 years. The seventh age commences with the incarnation of Christ;—records the transactions of his life;—the establishment of the Christian churches;—the epistles written to them on sundry occasions;—and terminates with the Revelation, or with the gospel of St. John, and closes the sacred canon.
The First Age of the World
This age, though by far the longest, furnishes us with the fewest incidents; but those which are recorded in it are of the utmost importance. From the records of this age we learn,
"———————in the beginning "How the heavens and earth rose out of chaos;" we also obtain from hence some knowledge of the origin of human nature;—of the introduction of moral evil:—of the melancholy effects which resulted from it;—of the extreme wickedness of the human race;—and of the awful deluge which inundated the earth, and drowned its numerous inhabitants.
The Second Age of the World.
From the records of this age we learn how the earth was re-peopled by the descendants of Noah, and how the foundations of the various empires of the world were laid.
About the year 2229 before Christ, Nimrod, according to Calmet, laid the foundation of the great Assyrian empire. According to Prideaux, it continued to give laws to Asia above thirteen hundred years, till the days of Sardanapalus; when it was dissolved by Arbaces and Belesis, two of his generals, who headed a conspiracy which they had set on foot. These successful conspirators no sooner found themselves in possession of the empire, thanthey divided the spoil. Arbaces claimed Nineveh for his capital, as Sardanapalus had done before him, and thus laid the foundation of the Median empire; while Belesis, erecting his standard in Babylon, laid the foundation of the Babylonish empire. These empires were again re-united under Cyrus: the whole was afterward swallowed up by the Macedonians: these were in their turn subdued by the Romans; and these finally by the barbarous nations in the fourth century of the Christian era. Such are the revolutions of empires!
The cities of Nineveh and Babylon were nearly coeval with the Assyrian empire; and it was about the same period that men undertook the building of the tower of Babel; at which time God confounded their language, and forced them to disperse in distinct parties into the different parts of the world. It was about this time that Ham the son of Noah, and father of Mizraim, carried a colony into Egypt, and laid the foundation of the Egyptian empire. This empire continued 1663 years, till it was conquered by Cambyses the son of Cyrus, and rendered tributary to his dominions.
About 1994 years before Christ, Noah died, and about two years afterwards Abraham was born. 1925 years before Christ, Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, made war upon the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela, and held them tributary twelve years.
The Third Age of the World.
The most prominent incidents recorded in the third age of the world, are those which follow: Abraham, 1921 years before Christ, received a command from God to enter upon the land of Canaan, which he had promised to give to his posterity. The year following, a severe famine compelled both Abraham and his family to take refuge in the land of Egypt. From this time, to the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, are reckoned 430 years. The same year both he and Lot returned again to the Land of Canaan; but the desolation which the famine had occasioned, rendered the countryinsufficient for them, their families, and their flocks; in consequence of which they separated; Lot removed to Sodom, and Abram removed to Hebron, and there erected an altar to God.
In 1913 before Christ, Bera, the king of Sodom, with four other tributary kings, rebelled against Chedorlaomer, and attempted to shake off the yoke; but they were defeated by him in the valley of Siddim, and Lot among the rest was taken prisoner. Abram, with his people, pursued the conquerors, and overtook them at Dan, near the springs of Jordan, where he defeated them, retook the spoil, and rescued his nephew Lot, and brought them back to Sodom. In this conflict Chedorlaomer and his associates were slain. Abram, in his return, was blessed by Melchizedec, king of Salem, to whom he gave tithes. The remaining part of the spoils, after his partners had received their portion, he restored to the king of Sodom.
In 1897 before Christ, God made a covenant with Abram, and changed his name into Abraham, and instituted circumcision as a seal of that covenant which he had made. In this year Abraham entertained three angels; and received a revelation from God that the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah was impending. It was then that he interceded with God in behalf of them; but the extreme wickedness of these cities prevented his success.
Lot, to escape the impending calamity, was commanded to flee to the mountain, but by much intercession obtained leave to conduct his family to Zoar. Immediately after his departure, God rained down fire and brimstone from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and all the cities in the valley of Siddim, and destroyed all the inhabitants. The Dead Sea remains a monument of this singular judgment to the present day. (See Maundrell's Travels.)
The following year (1896 before Christ), Isaac was born, in the hundredth year of Abraham's age. Lot also, about the same time, begat Moab and Ammon. 1871 before Christ, God, to try the faith of Abraham, commanded him to offer up his only son in sacrifice; he prepared to obey; but having given sufficient proof of his obedience, God stayed the execution. 1859 before Christ, Sarah died at Hebron in the 127th year of her age. Three years afterwards Isaac married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, in the fortieth year of his age. Ten years after this, Shem, the son of Noah, died.
In 1837 before Christ, Jacob and Esau were born, in the 60th year of Isaac's age. 1821 before Christ, Abraham died, aged 175. Four years after, died Heber, the fifth from Noah, from whom both Abraham and his descendants were denominated Hebrews. In 1760 before Christ, being seven years after the death of Ishmael, Jacob, through the intrigues of his mother, obtained from Isaac that blessing which he had designed for Esau. But upon the discovery of the fraud, he was compelled to flee into Mesopotamia, to escape his brother's resentment. Arriving at the house of his uncle Laban, he engaged to serve him seven years for his daughter Rachael; but Jacob was deceived in his turn, and was obligedto take Leah. To overcome this disappointment, he was obliged to make a new agreement with his uncle, and was compelled to serve him seven years more to obtain the object of his wishes. Of Leah, during Jacob's servitude, were born Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, from whom the Israelites received the appellation of Jews.
In 1745 before Christ, Rachael bore Joseph; and about this time, as his servitude was completed, Jacob intimated his wishes to depart into his own country; but Laban prevailed upon him to continue six years longer in his service for some part of his numerous flocks and herds.
1739 (before Christ), Jacob, contrary to the wishes of Laban, determined to visit his parents in Canaan, and accordingly set forward from Mesopotamia, after he had sojourned in it twenty years. Laban pursued him as an enemy, but parted from him as a friend. Shortly after,Esau, from whose wrath he had fled about twenty years before, heard of his approaches, and came out to meet him, and a cordial reconciliation took place between them. About this time Rachael was delivered of Benjamin, on the way between Bethel and Ephrath, and died in childbed.
1724 (before Christ), Joseph, falling under the displeasure of his brethren, was sold by them to the Ishmaelites, and carried into Egypt, and, through the providence of God, was raised to a state of unexampled grandeur. 1716 (before Christ), Isaac died, being 180 years of age. In the following year, the seven years of plenty began in the land of Egypt, about which time Joseph's two sons were born. 1708 (before Christ), began the seven years of famine, and the next year Jacob sent his sons into Egypt to buy corn. Two years afterward, Jacob, persuaded in his mind that Joseph was alive, having offered sacrifice unto God, went with all his family into Egypt, in the 130th year of his age, and was seated in the land of Goshen. Seventeen years after he had taken up his residence in Egypt, Jacob, finding his dissolution approach, called to him Ephraim and Manasseh, the two sons of Joseph, and blessed them with his own sons. He then foretold the manifestation of the Messiah from Judah; and, having requested his sons to carry him toCanaan, and inter him in the sepulchre of his father, died aged 147 years.
The year 1635 (before Christ) was marked with the death of Joseph. On his death-bed he prophesied to his brethren that they should return into their own land. But, being unwilling to be left behind, even in aregion that had covered him with glory, he exacted from his brethren an oath, that whenever they should remove to Canaan, they should carry his bones with them; and having engaged them to fulfil his request, he died, being 110 years of age.
"About this time (1573 before Christ), says Calmet, lived Job, famous for his wisdom and virtue, as well as for his exemplary piety. He was descended from Isaac by Esau." About the same time began the cruelties inflicted by the Egyptians on the Israelites, as there arose another king who knew not Joseph. This year was also marked by the birth of Aaron, and by that inhuman edict, which commanded the midwives to destroy every male child born among the Hebrews, to prevent their increase. Three years afterward (1570 before Christ), Moses was born, and, after having been exposed in an ark of rushes upon the Nile, was accidentally found by a daughter of Pharaoh, who, compassionating his misfortune, determined to preserve his life.
Moses, having attained his fortieth year, went (1530 before Christ) to visit his brethren, at that time groaning under oppression; and, beholding an Egyptian insult one of them, slew him. But learning soon afterward that Pharaoh had been made acquainted with his conduct, he, to avoid consequences, retired into Midian, and married the daughter of Jethro,and lived with him in the character of a shepherd forty years.
In 1491 before Christ, while Moses kept his father-in-law's sheep at Mount Horeb, God appeared to him in a burning bush, and sent him to deliver the Israelites from that oppression under which they suffered. Aaron, engaged in the same errand, came to meet him at Horeb, from which place both brothers repaired to Egypt, and presented themselves before Pharaoh, declaring to him the command of the Lord. Pharaoh, hearing their declaration, charges them with being the ringleaders of a mutiny among his vassals. They were, however, permitted to depart, with a severe reprimand; but the burdens imposed upon their brethren were considerably increased, so that their condition became intolerable. The same year, Moses, through the power of God, inflicted ten plagues upon Egypt; and at length, Pharaoh, finding himself unable to master the power with which he had to contend, consented to let the Hebrews go.
The Fourth Age of the World.
Upon the 14th day of the first month, which answers to May the 4th, 1491 before Christ, the passover was instituted. The ensuing night the first-born of the Egyptians were slain; and on the next, the Israelites were ordered to depart, after having been held in bondage 430 years, from the time of Abraham's quitting Charran. Their numbers amounted to 600,000 men fit for war, besides old men, women, and children. (See my Comment on Exodus 12:37.) They first came to Rameses, and from thence moved, by several encampments, till they approached the borders of the Red Sea, God conductingthem by a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. The bones of Joseph were carried with them. The same year they were pursued by Pharaoh, and the Red Sea was divided before them to afford them a passage. From thence, entering into the wilderness of Etham, after three days' march through the desert, they came to Marah, the bitter waters of which were sweetened by Moses. Soon afterward God sent them quails to satisfy their hunger; and on the next day rained down manna from heaven, upon which food they lived forty years. Their want of water produced another miracle, Moses striking the barren rock Horeb, from which God caused a stream to gush. Near this place they were assailed by the Amalekites, who fell upon the rear of their army, and cut off those who, through weakness, were unable to keep pace with the rest.
On the third day of the third month after their departure from Egypt, the Israelites reached the foot of Mount Sinai, where they encamped above a year. Here God published his Law, containing the Ten Commandments. After this, Moses erected twelve altars at the foot of the mountain, and, with the blood of the victims that were offeredinsacrifice,sprinkledthebookwhichcontained the conditions of the covenant which he then entered into with the people.
While these things were transacting, the people fell into idolatry, making unto themselves a golden calf; in consequence of which Moses brake the two tables of stone on which the divine Law was written, and, having burnt or demolished the idol, put 3000 of the idolaters to death. After this God renewed his covenant with the people. Aaron and his sons were consecrated to the priesthood. Nadab and Abihu, for offering strange fire, were struck dead in the place by fire from heaven.
The year following, twelve men, among whom were Caleb and Joshua, were sent out to discover and inspect the land of Canaan and itsinhabitants. On their return they brought with them a branch of a vine, with a cluster of grapes on it; but ten out of the twelve brought up an evil report upon the good land. The country they represented as barren, the inhabitants they represented as giants, and their cities as too strong to be taken from them.
The people, terrified with this report, determined to return to Egypt; and when Caleb and Joshua endeavoured to dissuade them from their purpose, they intended to stone them. This rebellion awakened the anger of God; but the prayers of Moses in their behalf prevailed, and averted the impending destruction. Nevertheless, the Almighty declared, that those who were at that time twenty years old and upwards, should never enter into the promised land, Caleb and Joshua only excepted. As to the men who raised the false report, they were destroyed by a sudden death; and while some attempted to annul the decree of heaven, by entering into Canaan, they were smitten by the Amalekites, and slain by the edge of the sword.
How long the Israelites continued in this place of rebellion, is not ascertained; but either in this or some other neighbouring encampments they must have continued a considerable time. For while we learn from their history, that in the space of 37 years theypitched their tents only 17 times, we must conclude, either that many places are omitted, or that their conduct was marked with but few memorable incidents. The principal circumstances recorded of them at this time, are the mutiny and punishment of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and 250 of their associates:—the murmuring of the people at the calamity which had befallen their brethren, which murmuring the Lord punished by the destruction of 14,700; and Aaron's rod budding and bringing forth almonds.
In 1452 (before Christ,) Moses speaking unadvisedly, and striking the rock with his rod, when God had commanded him only to speak that it might yield its water, was, with Aaron, forbidden to enter into the promised land. On the fifth month of this year, Aaron died on the top of Mount Hor, aged 123 years. The same year, the people, for their repeated rebellions, were afflicted with fiery serpents; upon which Moses, by the divine command, made a serpent of brass, as an antidote against the malady.
The year following (1451 before Christ,) Sihon, king of the Amorites, refusing them a passage through his territories, was slain, and his country taken. Og, king of Basan, making war upon the Israelites, met a similar fate; both he and his associates were slain; and the conquerors took possession of his country. Balak, king of Moab, apprehensive of his fate, hired Balaam to curse the strangers; but the event turned out contraryto his wishes, and Israel was blessed. But the women of Moab, by seducing the Israelites to idolatry, brought upon them the displeasure of God; in consequence of which, the more audacious were commanded to be hanged; and a plague fell upon the others, so that 24,000 fell in one day: but on the death of Zimri the plague was stayed. After this plague the people were numberednear Jordan, over against Jericho; and, including only those males who were twenty years old and upward, they were found to amount to 601,730. In this number the Levites were not included. These alone, reckoning from one month old and upward, were 23,000. Among all these Moses received a command to divide the land; and then received an intimation that he should die, upon which he appointed Joshua to be his successor.
In the twelfth month of the year 1451 (before Christ,) Moses went up to Mount Nebo, and from thence surveyed the promised Land; and on Mount Nebo he died, being 120 years old. His body was removed by God from the place where he died, to a valley in the land of Moab, where it was buried; but the particular spot remains a secret to the present day. With the Death of this great Legislator terminates the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses, which contain a history of 2,552 years and a half. The book of Joshua commences with the forty-first year after the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt.
Joshua, confirmed by the Almighty in his government, the same year in which Mosesdied,conductedtheIsraelitesonward;renewingtheuse of circumcision, which had been neglected for forty years; and celebrating the passover in the Land of Canaan, for the first time, after they had passed over Jordan. Soon after this the walls of Jericho fell; Ai was taken; an altar was erected; and the ten commandments were engraven on stone, and read in the ears of the people. Various wars succeeded between the Israelites and the Canaanitish nations, which, though marked with many vicissitudes, proved ultimately successful to Israel. 1443 Years before Christ, Joshua died, aged 110 years. After his days, and the days of the elders who outlived him, a generation of men succeeded, who forgot God, and, by intermarrying with the women of Canaan, sunk into foul idolatry. To punish them for this offence, God gave them into the hands of the king of Mesopotamia, by whom they were harassed for eight years. After this, they were discomfited by the Ammonites and Amalekites, and Jericho was retaken from them. These disasters lasted eighteen years.
The year 1155 before Christ was remarkable for the birth of Sampson, and the year 1116 for his death: the incidents of his life are well known. The next year was still more remarkable for misfortunes. The Israelites, having lost in one battle 4000 men, determined to make new exertions to retrieve their disasters. With this view they sent to Shiloh for the ark of the covenant, and had it brought into their camp. The Philistines, perceiving the formidable preparations making against them, determined to make a most vigorous stand. Success attended their exertions. In the day of battle, they slew of the Israelites 30,000 men, among whom were Hophni and Phineas; the ark of God was taken, and the whole Israelitish army routed. Old Eli, at the tidings, fell from his chair, and was taken up dead, in the 98th year of his age.
The victors carried the ark to Ashdod, and set it in the house of Dagon their God; but the idol fell before it, and was broken to pieces. The inhabitants also were sorely plagued, in consequence of which they removed the ark to Gath; but here the plague followed them. From thence they carried it to Ekron, but the plague accompanied it. After seven months, by the advice of their priests, they returned it with many presents. It was then carried into the Land of Bethshemesh, where 50,070 men were smitten for presuming to look into it. It was finally committed to the care of Eleazer.
In 1096 before Christ, Samuel recommended to them solemn repentance; they took his advice, and the Philistines were subdued. The same year Saul was anointed king; and eleven years afterward David was born. Some years after this (1063 years before Christ,) God rejected Saul, and sent Samuel to anoint David king; this raised in the bosom of Saul an enmity against David, which never forsook him during his life. In 1055 before Christ, Saul, finding his power departing, applied to the witch of Endor to raise up Samuel; and an awful apparition stood before him, and denounced his doom. The same year the armies of Israel were defeated, and Saul fell upon his sword.
About 1047 before Christ, David marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, and, after obtaininga decisive victory, made this city the seat of his kingdom; and from this circumstance it obtained the appellation of the City of David. To this place he removed the ark of the covenant. This procession was attended by 30,000 chosen men, who followed it, singing the 68th psalm.
In 1035 (before Christ,) happened the affair between David, Bath-sheba, and Uriah. The year following Nathan charged David with his crimes: his repentance is recorded in the 51st psalm. The year after this Solomon was born. 1024 Years before Christ, Absalom raised a rebellion against his father, and seven years afterward was stabbed by Joab. The same year a dreadful pestilence swept away 70,000 men in one day; but on the repentance of David the plague was stayed. Two years after this, David, having caused Solomon to be anointed king, and given him instructions, was gathered to his fathers in the 70th year of his age.
The Fifth Age of the World.
In the year 1012 before Christ, Solomon laid the foundation of the temple, in the 480th year after the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. It was seven years and a half in building, and was finished in the eleventh year of his reign. In 1004 it was solemnly dedicated to the service of God, at which time they received a visible token of the divine approbation. 975 Years before Christ, Solomon died, having reigned in peace 40 years.
He was succeeded by his son Rehoboam in the same year, through whose tyranny ten tribes revolted under the auspices of Jeroboam. These tribes not only revolted from the house of David, but from the worship of the Living God. From this period two separate kingdoms were set up,—that of Judah, and that of Israel. The amity which had subsisted between the tribes, began from this moment to be turned into fierce enmity; wars and foreign alliances ensued; they sought each other's destruction; and in one battle alone, Abijam, who succeeded Rehoboam in the kingdom of Judah, slew 500,000 men belonging to Jeroboam.
In 736 before Christ, Arbaces, who with Belesis had over-turned the ancient Assyrian monarchy, resided in Nineveh. This Arbaces, who is called in scripture Tiglath-Pileser, after having overcome Rezin king of Damascus, and put him to death, entered into the Land of Israel, and overthrew many cities. At this time he took a great number of captives, and carried them with him into his own land; but the captivity fell chiefly upon the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. This was the first captivity of Israel. In 721 before Christ, Shalmaneser, who succeeded Tiglath-Pileser, besieged Samaria, the capital of Israel, and finally subdued it, after a siege of three years. On his return from this conquest, he carried with him beyond the Euphrates those tribes which had escaped the ravages of his predecessor. This happened 717 years before Christ, in the 6th year of Hezekiah king of Judah, and in the 9th year of Hoshea king of Israel. With this captivity the kingdom of Israel ended, after it had stood 254 years; and the miserable exiles who escaped the edge of the sword were either melted down among the nations of the world at large, or conducted to some obscure recess from whence God shall recal them before the final consummation of things.*
* See the Appendix to this Commentary, on the probable situation of Israel, and the ways by which God will finally restore them to himself.
In the kingdom of Judah, among other remarkable incidents, may be noticed the appearance of the prophets. In the reign of Uzziah (779 years before Christ,) arose Isaiah and Amos. In 754 appeared Hosea; and Micah arose some little time afterward. Isaiah and Joel prophesied in Judah; but several other prophets laboured in Israel.
In 713 before Christ, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, reduced many of the fenced cities of Judah, and compelled the inhabitants to pay him tribute: upon this condition he departed from their territories. About the same time, Hezekiah fell sick, and was told by Isaiah, in a conditional sense, that he should die. But Hezekiah addressed himself to God, who, hearkening to his petitions, added to his life fifteen years, and, as a sign of certainty, caused the sun to go backward ten degrees.
Three years after this, (710 before Christ,) Sennacherib, not satisfied with the tribute he had exacted, broke through the articles of peace, and laid siege to Jerusalem. Hezekiah, receiving from him a blasphemous letter, spread it before God, and implored the divine assistance. Through the prophet Isaiah he obtained an assurance that God would defend the city; and on that very night 185,000 men were slain in the Assyrian army.
About one hundred years afterward, (607 before Christ,) in the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar sent an army against Jerusalem, and took it. Jehoiakim was put in chains to be carried to Babylon. This, in the estimation of some, was the commencement ofthe seventy years captivity. It was during this captivity that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, rendered themselves conspicuous in Babylon. Jehoiakim, though a captive, was, upon his promise of obedience, permitted to dwell in his own house; but after three years he revolted from Nebuchadnezzar. In the year 600 (before Christ,) Nebuchadnezzarsent forth another army to lay waste the country of Judea, from which he carried away 3023 prisoners. Jehoiakim was also taken, but was put to death; and his body, as Jeremiah had foretold, was drawn without the walls of the city, and left unburied. The year following, Nebuchadnezzar carried away 18,000 inhabitants, among whom were Mordecai and Ezekiel. At the same time he brake in pieces all the vessels of gold, and destroyed all the valuable furniture which Solomon had made for the temple.
Nebuchadnezzar, prior to his departure from Jerusalem, made Zedekiah king over this tributary province. But he, watching an opportunity, attempted to shake off the yoke. This exasperated Nebuchadnezzar to such a degree, that he determined to take exemplary vengeance. In the year 588 before Christ, he sent his armies against Jerusalem, and compelled it to surrender after a long and severe siege. Zedekiah, to escape the judgment which awaited him, retired by night; but being pursued and overtaken, he was brought prisoner to Riblah, the head quarters of the conqueror. His children were then slain before his face: his own eyes were afterward put out, agreeably to the prediction of the prophet; and, being loaded with chains, he was carried to Babylon, andthrown into prison. About a month after the taking of the city, thecaptainofNebuchadnezzar's guard was sent to demolish the buildings. On making his entry into it, he set fire to the temple, to the palace, and to some of the noblemen's houses, and reduced this magnificent metropolis to ashes. He then demolished the walls; and taking with him what people were left, and what treasure he could find, carried the spoils to Babylon.
Thus ended the kingdom of Judah, about 468 years after David began his reign; 388 years after the falling off of the ten tribes under Jeroboam; 134 years after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel; and 588 years before Christ.
The Sixth Age of the World.
The sixth age of the world begins with the distraction of Nebuchadnezzar, in consequence of which he was driven from among men, as a reward of his haughtiness and cruelty. After seven years he was restored to his senses, but his reign was short; he died in the year 569 before Christ, and Belshazzar succeeded to the throne. This impious wretch, in defiance of the God of heaven, made a sumptuous feast, in which he profaned the sacred vessels which his father had taken from the temple at Jerusalem. While pouring his libations, the mysterious hand appeared, writing against the wall: Daniel decyphered the meaning of the writing, which told him that his kingdom had departed from him. The same night the troops of Cyrus entered the city through the channel of the river; approached the palace; engaged in a conflictwith the impious drunkards; and Belshazzar was slain. This event, which terminated the Babylonish empire, happened, according to Prideaux, 539 years before Christ, and in the 50th year of the Jewish captivity, estimating from the time that Jerusalem was destroyed in the days of Zedekiah.
The time of the Jewish deliverance being near at hand, Daniel continued to offer fervent prayers to God; and, as soon as the government was settled, most probably applied to Cyrus for the liberation of his countrymen, and no doubt shewed him that remarkable prophecy of Isaiah (Chap. 45.) in which he is even called by name. But the time not being fully accomplished, Cyrus, though he highly respected Daniel, attended tothe affairs of his empire. An expedition into Syria obliged him to leave the affairs of Babylon to the direction of Cyaxeres, whom the scriptures call Darius. It was during this time that the enemies of Daniel obtained a decree on purpose to ensnare him; in consequence of which,because he would not omit to pray to his God, he was cast into the den of lions. His miraculous preservation served to exalt his fame, and to ruin those who sought his destruction; it prepared a way for him to petition Cyrus, on his return, for the restoration of his captive brethren, and perhaps contributed to his success.
Cyrus, in the first year of his reign, 536before Christ, issued out his famous decree which is recorded by Ezra 1:0; Ezra 2:0. for the Jews to depart to their own land. They were accordingly gathered together from all parts of the kingdom of Babylon, and their numbers amounted to 42,360 persons, besides servants, who were 7337 more. At the same time that Cyrus liberated the Jews, he contributed towards the building of their temple, and restored to them the sacred vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had taken.
In the year 535 before Christ, Levites were appointed to superintend the building; but the year following, the Samaritans, through the influence of some courtiers, who had gained the ear of Cyrus, prevailed upon him to retard the building of the temple. In the reign of Artaxerxes (or Cambyses) they framed an accusation against the Jews, in consequence of which they were prohibited from going on with their work. This happened 529 years before Christ.
Nine years after this, the building was again forwarded, in the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, at which time Haggai prophesied that the glory of this second temple should exceed that of the first; not indeed in the magnificence of its structure, but in the dignity of the Messiah, who should honour it with his presence, and proclaim salvation to the world. In the year before Christ 518, Darius or Ahasuerus, put away Vashti his wife, and in the year following married Esther, the niece of Mordecai the Jew. In 515 before Christ, the temple was finished, and dedicated to God with great solemnity. In 510 before Christ, Haman, of the race of the Amalekites, a favourite of Darius, displeased at the prosperity of the Jews, and more particularly with Mordecai, because he refused to do him homage, determined on a mode of revenge, which would have terminated in the destruction of the Jewish nation, had not his designs been frustrated. The interference of Esther, however, under the gracious providence of God, defeated his purposes; and in the following year Haman suffered on that very gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai.
In 481 (before Christ), Darius died, and was succeeded by Xerxes. In 469 Xerxes died also, and was succeeded by Artaxerxes, who, in 467, gave a commission to Ezra to settle the Jewish common-wealth. In the seventh year of Artaxerxes, Ezra, with a great multitude of Jews, departed from Babylon; at which time he obliged those who had married strange women to send them back. In 455 before Christ, Nehemiah, one of the king's cupbearers, was made governor of Judea; at which time he obtained leave to build the walls of Jerusalem, and to complete the work. At this period, according to some, the seventy weeks of Daniel relative to the Messiah commenced. In 442, Nehemiah returned into Persia, after having governed Judea twelve ye
Thus far the canonical writings conduct us. But the various events which took place afterward among the Jews, we only know from the books of the Maccabees and the history of Josephus. These have delivered to us a general account of Jewish transactions from the above period to the times of the Romans.
Malachi, the last of the prophets, it is more than probable, was contemporary with Nehemiah, especially in the latter days of Nehemiah. Malachi no where exhorts the people to assist in building the temple, as Haggai and Zechariah did. On the contrary, he speaks of the temple as being already built; and of those corruptions, which, so early as his day, about 400 years before Christ, had crept in among them; these were,—abuses in the worship of God,—the marriage of the Jews with strange wives,—their frequent divorces,—and their refusal to pay tithes.
As a succession of prophets from his time was to discontinue, Malachi, instead of referring the Jews to his successors, directed their views to the law of Moses, to which he exhorted them to adhere till the Dayspring from on high should visit them. The forerunner of Christ he clearly predicted in his last chapter, who should "come in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient unto the wisdom of the just." These prophetic declarations were clearly verified in the person of John the Baptist, as the harbinger of the Sun of Righteousness, and fully ratified by the immediate appearance of the Son of G
The Seventh Age of the World.
In the sixth year of the Roman empire, under the Caesars, commencing with the overthrow of Pompey at the battle of Pharsalia, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias in the temple, and informed him of the approaching birth of John the Baptist. Six months afterward, the same messenger announced the conception of the blessed virgin.
The birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ happened, according to Calmet, on the 25th of December, four years before the vulgar era, in the year of the world 4000. In the year of Jesus Christ 12, he entered into the temple, and continued there three days, disputing with the doctors. John the Baptist began to preach in the year 32, and Christ was baptized the year following. Immediately after this, our Lord, being filled with the Holy Ghost, was led into the wilderness, in which he fasted, was tempted, and overcame the powers of darkness. In this year he called several of his apostles, wrought many miracles, and held his conference with Nicodemus.
In the year 34, John the Baptist was put into prison, and the year following was beheaded, at the instigation of Herodias, in the 17th year of Tiberius. In the year 36, Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, and repaired to Jerusalem to celebrate the last passover, and to offer himself as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. His death, his resurrection, his ascension into glory, and the gift of the Holy Ghost at the day of Pentecost, took place in the same year.
In the year 37, Stephen was put to death, and Saul of Tarsus was miraculously converted. A great persecution of the church at Jerusalem followed the death of Stephen; Philip carried the gospel into Samaria, and, directed by an angel, instructed in the things of God, and baptised in the name of Jesus Christ,the eunuch of Ethiopia.
In the year 47 St. James was beheaded; and St. Peter was put into prison, but he was delivered by an angel. The next year there was a great famine in Judea. In 54, the great council at Jerusalem was held, in which it was determined that the Gentile converts should not be subject to the ceremonies of the law. In the year 60, St. Paul was obliged to leave Ephesus on account of the uproar raised against him by Demetrius, the silver-smith. Two years after this he was seized in the temple at Jerusalem; and the year following, being constrained to appeal unto Caesar, was put on board a ship, and sent to Rome. During the voyage he was shipwrecked on the island of Malta, after which he arrived at Rome, and continued there a prisoner two years.
In the year 66, Jesus the son of Ananus began to cry in the streets of Jerusalem, "Woe, woe to the city;" which he continued to do till the commencement of the siege by the Romans. In 69, after Florus had put several Jews to death, their brethren rose up in arms against him, and slew the Roman garrison that was at Jerusalem. In consequence of these disturbances, the faithful, who saw that these were but the beginning of sorrows, retired to Pella. The same year Vespasian was appointed by Nero to carry on the Jewish war. In the year 71, Nero died, and was succeeded by Galba. The next year, while Vespasian ravaged the country of Judea, and made himself master of many important posts, Galba died, and Otho succeeded to the purple. On his death in 72, though Vitellius assumed the title, Vespasian was declared emperor by the army, and was acknowledged as such all over the East. In 73, Titus, at the head of a powerful army, marched to begin the regular siege of Jerusalem. On the 17th of July the perpetual sacrifice ceased in the temple; and the Romans, making themselves masters of the court, set fire to the galleries; and soon after, though Titus had given command to the contrary, a Roman soldier set the temple on fire, and consumed it to ashes.
Thus was Jerusalem, according to the predictions of Christ, besieged, taken, and destroyed by Titus. In this catastrophe, 1,100,000 of the inhabitants perished, and 97,000 were taken prisoners. Besides these, an innumerable company in other parts of Judea either fell by their own hands, or perished through famine and a complication of miseries.
In the year 96, St. John was banished into the island of Patmos by Domitian, in which place he received from Jesus Christ, and wrote, the Revelation. Domitian was killed in 96, and was succeeded by Nerva, who recalled those whom his predecessor had exiled. St. John, in consequence of this change, was recalled to the church in Ephesus, where, in the year 97, when he was about 90 years of age, he wrote his gospel, according to Calmet, at the request of the Church, to refute certain heresies which had crept into it, and to assert the supreme Divinity of the Son of God.
Such are, in a brief manner, the historical outlines of the sacred writings; and such are some of the most prominent events which we find recorded in the sacred pages. All these, with a multitude of others, we have attempted to display before the reader in the volumes of this Commentary.
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29