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fully and faithfully by Dion Cassius, B. 66;* one of the best Roman Historians. But although these
* " As a prelude to this awful Phenomenon, there were strange sights in *tye air, and after that followed an extraordinary drought. Then the earth began to tremble and quake; and the concussions were so gre»t, that the ground seemed to rise and boiJ up in some places; afid, in others, the tops of the Mountains sunk in, or tumbled down; at the same Time, great Noises and Sounds were heard; some subterraneous, like thunder viitbin the Bowels of the Earth, others above Ground, like Groans, or Beilowings, Mugitibus similes;—\_Mugiti signifies literally, the Loviings or Sellcnsings of cattle, or of the Monoceros or Sea-Calf~\. The vast Ocean or Sea roared; the whole Heavens were convulsed and made a fearful Noise, succeeded by a sudden and mighty Crack, as if the Frame of Nature had broke, or all the Mountains of the Earth had fallen down at once.
"At last Vesuvius burst, and threw out of its Womb, first huge Stones, reaching to its highest Top; then an immense Quantity of Fire and Smoke, Darkening the Air, and hiding the Siot *s if in a total eclipse. I)»y was turned imp Night, and Light into Darkness; and the frightened People, supposed the Giants were again assailing, or preparing for war, against Heaven; many superstitiouslyjfe«c;7/;y that they saw the shapes and images of Giantt in the Smoke, and heard the Sound of their Trumpets: while others imagined that the world was either returning to its primifive Chaos, or about to be wholly consumed with fire. Amidst this universal confusion and consternation, men (not knowing where to be safe) run, some Out of their Houses, into the High-ways and Fields; and some, from the fields, back again Into their houses. In like Manner, some of those who were on the Waters, or at Sea, hastened to the dry Land, and others who were on the dry Land endeavoured to get out to Sea; each one thinking that any place was safer than that where he was.
"Together with those grosser masses of matter which the mountain vomited forth to its very To]), and over all the neighbourhood, there was thrown such a prodigious quantity of ash^, as covered the Land and Sea, and darkened the air round about; and (besidesother Damages) the Birds, Beasts, Fishes and Cattle, with Men, Women and Children, were destroyed; and moreover, two entire Cities, Herculaneum and Pompeios, •were overwhelmed, and buried under a deiuge of ashes, as the people were sitting in the theatre; nay these ashss were so copious, and cast about in all directions, that they were carried by the winds across the Mediterranean, into Africa, Egypt and Syria; so as to cover the land with a sudden Darkness, and to astonish the people to such a degree, that not
grand natural phenomena may aid the Imagination, and make deep Impressions on the Mind, they cannot (as hath been just hinted) create Expression, or give us Language adequate to the mighty theme. This is above all other Language, except that of the sacred Scriptures and the inspired writers. It hath been observed of the most eloquent Writers, that, however bold and sublime on other subjects, yet when they come to speak of the ways of Providence, and the mysterious and marvellous things of God, they seem to be oppressed and sunk down with Doubts and Difficulties, and to labour for Expression.
But not so the inspired Penmen. Always Majestic and equal to their Subject, they rise with their rising Theme, and reach the very Summit of Loftiness on sacred Subjects, as they require. All that is grand or beautiful in other writers, is scarcely seen or felt or heard, when brought to a Comparison with the mighty Images, the Pomp of Description, and loud Thunder of Eloquence, wherewith the inspired writers usher in the preparations for the last Judgment, describe the Resurrection of the Dead, and the Dissolution of the Things we now see. The Inequality of human Talents to this subject,and our Need of Scripture-aid,are matters confessed by Burnet himself; whose Powers and Strength of Mind, in describing the Great, the Marvellous, and the New in things, was never exceeded by those of any man. "'Tis "our unhappiness, says he, to be so much used to "trifling things in this 'ife, that when any thing Great "is represented to us, it appears fantastical, the idea "of some visionary and contemplative Brain. I will "not venture, therefore, without premising Grounds *' out of Scripture, to write concerning this glorious "appearance of Christ's coming to Judgment. As "to the Burning of the world, I think we have already "laid a foundation sufficient to support the highest "description that can be made of it; but the Coming "of our Saviour, being wholly out of the way of Na"turaV Causes, it is reasonable that we should take "all Directions we can from Scripture, that we may "give a more fitting and just account of that sacred "pomp."
having heard of the eruption of Vesuvius, they apprehended the Heaven* and the Earth were coming together, and the Sun falling down, and the Earth rising up to take its place above." Thus far the Roman Historian.
But if the eruption of one fiery mountain (continues Burnet, from whoim a great part of this note is collected) could occasion such convulsions and disorders in nature, and such alarms and terrors among the people within its reach: suppose all the Volcanos on the whole earth should be'prepared and set to a proper Time, (and that Time being come, and the signal given from God;) they should begin to play at once, and all those jiery Mountains burst out together, and discharge themselves in Flames of Fire, throwing up hot burning Stones, and Streams of flowing Metals and Minerals—and if we add to these Appearances on Earth, the Appearances in the Heavens, the Judge descending, the Trumpet sounding, and the universal Dread of nations—Yet all this would not be a full Description; and we must return to the Language and Descriptions of Scripture.
In the investigation of Scripture for aid in the description of this last coming of Christ, and a future judgment, we shall find that the subjects were not all at once, but gradually opened unto man. The full blaze of such light, poured upon him instantaneously, would have been too much for his weak organs; and the Almighty, in his wise Economy and Dispensation of heavenly Light to Man, by his divine Providence, directed the matter otherwise.
The Prophets indeed gave some hints concerning the perishable Nature of this World, and its Dissolution by Fire; but they were very slight hints, and only as Smoke and Sparks of Fire, seen at a great distance—(fumunt aliquem, et Scintillas perituri Mundi, quasi longinquo conspicere.J The Apostles beheld it as if near at hand, and in more full view (aut comminus, fe? deproximo, viierunt Flammas;) but St. Peter, especially,* describes it as if he was standing close at hand, and saw with his eyes the raging Fire, and the burning World; in the very act of Dissolution, and passing away from the sight.— 44 The Day of the Lord," for so the Day of Judgment is distinguished from all other Days in Scripture— 44 The Day of the Lord will come, as a Thief in the 44 Night; in the which the Heavens shall pass away 44 with a great noise, and the Elements shall melt 44 with fervent heat; the Earth also and the works 44 that are therein shall be burnt up;" [wherefore] 44 in all holy conversation and godliness, let us be 44 looking for, and hastening unto the coming of that 44 Day of God, wherein the Heavens being on fire 44 shall be dissolved, and the Elements shall melt with 44 fervent heat." And he goes ou to mention what is to follow this final Dissolution of the old world by fire—" Nevertheless we, according to his promise, 44 look for nco Heavens, and a new Earth, wherein "dwelleth Righteousness."
2 Ptt. Ch. 3. Ver. 10—12—IS.
Now, as we have just said that the holy Scriptures gave only gradual openings of those great events, first darkly, and then with greater light, let us examine some of those Scripture Texts on this Subject, in the order of place, in which they stand in the Bible; beginning with the Writings of Moses, and reaching down, through the writings of the Prophets, Evangelists and Apostles, to the Revelation of St. John; a period of about Two thousand Years. We begin with—
1st, Moses. Now, what has been relied upon from him, by some great men, as prophetical of the Dissolution of the World by Fire, and by others treated only as a Threatening or Denunciation of temporary evils opon the Jews for their Disobedience of God, and Disregard of his holy Commandments, is taken from Deuteronomy (Chapter 32. Ver. 22). "A Fire "is kindled in mine Anger; and it shall burn unto "the lowest Hell, and shall consume the Earth with "her Increase, and set on Fire the Foundations of "the Mountains."
2dly, David. "On the Wicked he shall rain Snares, Fire and Brimstone, and an horrible Tempest;" (Ps. xi. 6.) "Our God shall come,and shall not keep silence; a Fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him—He shall call to the Heavens from above, and to the Earth, that he may judge his people—Gather my Saints unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by Sacrifice," (Ps. 1. 3, 4, 5.)—" Clouds and Darkness are round about him: Righteousness and Judgment are the habitation of his Throne. A Fire gocth before Him, and burneth up his Enemies round