« הקודםהמשך »
unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. Now let us compare the signs of the times with these declarations of prophecy; the extraordinary efforts which are making, and which have been unexampled at any former period, to propagate the Gospel amongst heathen nations; the general disposition to receive the truths of the Gospel, which is observable amongst them; and the general dissatisfaction which prevails amongst them with respect to their own superstitions; and, above all, the decreasing bigotry which has been remarked amongst the followers of Mahomet, and their disposition to adopt the literature, the manners, and the customs of European nations ;—surely these things afford no obscure evidence of the tendency of the events of the world to the fulfilment of the divine dispensations. The influence also of Papal Rome, which has always prohibited the circulation of the Scriptures, has no longer power to withhold the bread of life from the world : and still, amidst all the clouds which overhang the prospect, the signs of the times and the events of the world seem to point to the ultimate fulfilment of the promises of God.
Surely these considerations appear to call the attention of Christians, in general, to the earnest and serious study of all prophecy, and particularly of the Apocalypse, which is emphatically THE GREAT PROPHECY OF
CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION; the closing portion of that great scheme of prophecy, which extends from the first promise of a Redeemer to the end of all things. Whatever difficulties may attend this mysterious book,—difficulties which are inseparable from a prophecy which is connected with subjects so awful, and with events of unspeakable
OF THE APOCALYPSE.
magnificence and grandeur; of which the greater part are even now only in the course of fulfilment, and of which others extend even into eternity itself; —yet there is still enough to enable us to discern the great outlines of the prophetic scheme; to convince us that all the greatest corruptions of our religion were foreseen and foreknown by its divine Author; and that the same supreme authority has assured us of the final triumphs of his religion over all the powers of darkness. And when we consider the evidences, which this book contains of divine inspiration, in those prophecies which are already fulfilled, and in the characters of sublimity, which stamp it with the impress of a divine original; when we consider, moreover, the clear light which it throws over former prophecies, and which could proceed from Him alone who inspired the former prophets; the revelations which it unfolds of events which Omnipotence alone can bring to pass; and, finally, the sublime and awful view which it gives of the great doctrines of redemption, and particularly as they are connected with Him, who is the great Author of our salvation, the Redeemer, the Lord, and the Judge of mankind ;-all these things combine to invite our serious attention to the study of a book, upon which the especial blessing of heaven is pronounced; and which is eminently calculated to inspire us with feelings of grateful veneration towards that Being, who contrived and executed this stupendous scheme of mercy, for the everlasting happiness and salvation
NOTE A. Page 37.
NOTE 4. With reference to this subject compare Mr W. Lowth's notes on Isai. xi. 11, and Ezek. xxviii. 25. It appears to be impossible to avoid this conclusion, when we consider the direct nature of the promise contained in Deut. xxx. 3-5; at the same time that it ought to be regarded with the same diffidence, that we do all subjects connected with prophecies, which yet remain to be fulfilled.
NOTE B. p. 38.
NOTE 1. See W. Lowth's note on Isai. lxvi. 16. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, fc. It may perhaps serve to illustrate the argument contained in the preceding pages, if I subjoin the note of Mr W. Lowth on this passage, which appears to me to be very judicious, and to exhibit a right view of the spirit in which we ought to attempt the explanation of prophecies relating to events so distant: “ This,” he observes, (speaking of the prophecy con. tained in this and the preceding verses,) seems to denote the discomfiture of Gog and Magog, who are to be destroyed by fire; see Ezek. xxxix. 6–9. They are described in the 38th and 39th chapters of that prophecy, as coming with a great body against the land of Israel after the restoration of the Jews, and their return to their own land, and there receiving an utter overthrow. Or this may be understood of