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and that they do not proceed from any external cause whatsoever.
Such is the ftate of this earth which we inhabit! And fuch the prognostics, which it contains, of the difmal catastrophe which threatens it!
I shall conclude this account of the aftonishing phænomena, which we have been here confidering, with the reflections of a wife heathen.
Præterea, cum fit hujus unius elementi ratio fœcunda, feque ipfe pariat; et minimis crefcat fcintillis; quid fore putandum eft in tot rogis terræ ? Quæ eft illa natura, quæ voracitatem in toto mundo avidiffimam fine damno fui pafcit? Addantur iis fidera innumera, ingenfque fol: Addantur humani ignes, et lapidum quoque infiti na turæ ; attrita inter fe ligna; jam nubium, et origines fulminum. Excedit profecto omnia miracula, ullum diem fuiffe, in quo non cuncta conflagrarent*!
Plinii lib. ii. cap. 107.
The divine omnipotence hath many other means in its power, many more than we can poffibly conceive, by which the conflagration of the world may be brought to pass.
That this general ruin shall be caufed by the fhock, or too near approach of a comet, as Mr. Whifton conjectured, is what no man can pronounce impoffible.
It was observed in the last chapter, that the earth is continually approaching to the fun: And fince this will ever continue to be the cafe, the confequence in procefs of time muft inévitably be its conflagration.
But long before the time in which this event would naturally be brought to pafs by the laws of gravitation; there are many other causes that may accelerate this cataftrophe. Even at the earth's prefent diftance from the fun, fhould the folar rays be brought into a focus, and directed to fome inflammable portions of the earth;
that alone perhaps would be fufficient for the purpose.
Who knows in what quantity those electrical effluvia, which constitute what we call aurora boreales; and which fet the heavens, as it were, on fire, may hereafter arife? And fhould they arife in a copious. manner, as they feem of late years to become more copious than formerly they were known to be, what dreadful and diffufive conflagrations would they foon pro
To indulge one other conjecture: Should there be a folftice, to continue for the fame, or a lefs number of days, than in the time of Joshua it did hours; I doubt not but it would put all the world in flames. And who knows, but that the miracle then wrought, was wrought for this end, among others, to convince mankind, how easily the Almighty could, and to forewarn them likewife how certainly he would, in his own appointed time, deftroy the world in this manner?
Any one of these causes must be allowed to be adequate to this end: There may be a concurrence of them all; and of many others, co-operating with them, in the production of it: Or indeed, without the use of any second causes at all, the sovereign Arbiter and Difpofer of the universe may, by the power of his will alone, bring his greatest purposes to pass.
These confiderations are only mentioned to facilitate our belief of what he hath foretold in his holy word; and that we may be the more difpofed to prepare ourfelves, in a fuitable manner, against this great and terrible day of the Lord. For though the end of the world may not be fo near, as to happen before this generation paffeth away: Yet let it happen when it will, we shall not be idle, nor unconcerned fpectators of it. For behold, the day cometh, faith the prophet Malachi, that fhall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, even all from the
beginning of the world, to the end of it, fhall be fubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, faith the Lord of hofts; that it fhall leave them neither root nor branch*. When the Lord Jefus fhall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God; and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jefus Chrift: Who shall not be punished with everlasting deftruction, from the presence of the Lord; and from the glory of his power +.
And the application which the apostle St. Peter makes of this confideration is this: Seeing then, that all these things shall be diffolved, what manner of perfons ought ye to be, in all holy converfation and godliness ; looking for, and hafting unto the coming of the day of God; wherein the heavens, being on fire, fhall be diffolved; and the elements fhall melt with fervent heat ‡?
* Mal. iv. I.
+ 2 Theff. i. 7, 8, 9.
2 Pet. iii. 11, 12.