Sidor som bilder

fornication with them. They had put to the most ignominious death upon the cross thy wellbeloved Son; whom, in the abundance of thy mercy, thou hadst sent to offer them pardon, to redeem them from everlasting perdition, and make them perfectly happy. They had seduced thy church, founded by thy blessed Son, and ruling over the heathen world, to abandon thy eternal truth, and overwhelm it with apostate sensuality and blasphemous idolatry; and now, that they might leave no crime, no sin not committed, they have avowedly bid defiance to thine omnipotence, daringly and contemptuously ridiculed thine infinite power, thy wisdom, justice, and mercy; nay, even denied thine existence. Hence it is that "thy wrath is come, and the "time of the dead, that they should be judged, "and that thou shouldest give reward to thy "servants the prophets, and to the saints, and "to them that fear thy name, small and great; and "shouldest destroy them that destroy the earth."


The Prophet resumes the general History of the Church, in which he foretels the REFOR


BISHOP Newton and others, I apprehend, have altogether erred in their explication of this chapter. They have thought that the prophet here resumes the history of the church from the beginning, and, of course, that it includes her state, while under the oppression of Pagan Rome; and they have contrived to twist and torture the prophetic signs into meanings never thought of by the prophet, to support their opinion. Upon only a cursory view of the chapter, it struck me in a different light; and upon a careful interpretation of the different figures, I am fully persuaded, that none of them refer to events ANTECEDENT to the fourth century, when the church became delivered from Pagan oppression, and exalted over the heathen world: and that the prophet only resumes the history of the church from that time. My reasons for this construction of the chap-ter, I will briefly submit to the candid consideration of the reader.

1. The prophet, in the first nine chapters, had brought down the general history of the church to the present times. He had foretold her rise, her wonderful success in propagating


the word of God, her triumph and exaltation over the heathen world, the peaceful and happy state of mankind under her influence and power; her subsequent ungrateful departure from the truth, and the divine judgments to be inflicted upon her upon that account, by the barbarian nations, and the Mohamedan apostacy. How then shall we find a reason that could induce him, after he had travelled more than one half of his journey, in the midst of his narration, to return back to the place whence he had first set out; and to detail, a second time, the events which he had before described and foretold? Would it not have been an useless and unnecessary repetition, if not an error, which we may be assured he never committed?

2. It may here be objected: Why then should he go back at all? The answer naturally arises out of the circumstances of the events. He had related those which properly belonged to the church at large, before it became divided into two parts, and had then proceeded with those of the eastern part down to the present times, omitting the contemporary events which related to the western part, after it was to be divided, in the fifth century, from the mother-church. And as it was necessary to make his general history complete, he introduces the events which affected the part so separated from it. Accordingly, we find, that in the tenth and eleventh chapters he digresses from his general subject to the particular

[ocr errors]

history of the western church. In this digrèssion he takes a summary view of his subject, and describes the principal events and characters which were to form his digressive history; namely, the Papal apostacy, which was to "tread the holy city (or church of Christ in the West) under foot forty and two months*; and "the beast of the bottomless pit (or revo"lutionary France), which was to kill the two "witnesses of God," in the latter end of that periodt. And then, in order to introduce those two characters into his general subject, he takes, in this chapter, a brief view of the state of the church in the fourth century, just before it became divided. Accordingly, we shall find, upon a right interpretation of the figures into their natural and literal meaning, that he begins it with a representation of the church in general, in her triumphant and exalted state over heathen idolatry; and then proceeds to the subsequent persecutions she should suffer from the church of Rome, the late reformation, the abolition of her influence and power in France, and the present war made with Great Britain by the French atheistical nation. That such is the subject of this. chapter, will appear more and more evident in every step we shall take, in the translation of its figures into their true prophetic senses.

Ver. 1.-" And there appeared a great † Ibid. 7.

* Chap. xi. 2.

"wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with "the sun, and the moon under her feet, and 66 upon her head a crown of twelve stars."

This verse plainly refers to nothing more than the state of the church in the fourth century, when she had, from a very small beginning, from a little spark, as it were, diffused the truths of the word of God, and their blessed influence, over the heathen world: a work, which is here called "a wonder in heaven;" that is, in the church; which is often typified by the word heaven in the prophecies. And was it not a wonder, a great miracle, that a system of theology and virtue, revealed by a poor carpenter's son to twelve men only, for the most part also poor, obscure, and illiterate, of the lowest ranks in life, without power or influence; a system professedly and directly tending to combat and subvert the long-rooted prejudices, the lustful desires and vices, and all the varieties of the long-established superstitions and religions of the whole world; that such a system should be propagated and embraced, without any earthly aid whatever, and in the teeth of the most dreadful persecutions, and the most discouraging and intimidating massacres, of hundreds of thousands of its converts; and that at length it should so prevail, as to become, as it were, placed upon the throne of the greatest of nations, and protected by the mistress of the world. Surely this was a great wonder, brought to pass by the super

« FöregåendeFortsätt »