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from heaven and other terrible judgments, they all perish. And thus ends that impious enterprise of Gog, of which we have been reading in Ezechiel a full history rather than a prophecy.
Satan is here again defeated; nor is he now allowed to make further attempts. He has done immense mischief, by seducing mankind into idolatry, and raising up a most hor. rible persecution against the faithful servants of God. He has by his agents desolated countries, and destroyed a prodigious multitude of the human race: “for he was a murderer from the beginning." John viïi. 44. But, though he has acted by the suggestion of his own malice and hatred against God and man, yet it has not been done without the Almighty's permission, and it all serves the unfathomable purposes of divine wisdom. But now the period of the releasement of Satan is elapsed, in consequence of which St. John informs us:
Chap. xx: 9.“ And the devil who seduced them, was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone,
V. 10. - Where* both the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Here the prince of the infernal regions is cast down again into his prison, there to be closed up; and is plunged into the lake of hell-fire, there to be tormented for evermore with Antichrist and the false prophet. One may suppose that the greatest part of his hellish crew are banished along with him, to undergo the same fate. Some determinate number of them may perhaps be permitted to remain upon earth to tempt mankind: as seemed to be the case when Satan was bound up in the abyss after the persecutions of the first Christian ages: but the power of these fiends will be circumscribed within much narrower bounds than it was before.
One cannot but here take notice, that our incomparable prophet opens to us a particular piece of history, which we were little acquainted with, namely, that of Satan, the prince of the apostate angels. In chapter xii. we see him falling down from heaven with his proud associates. We see his character described, and among other names there given him, he is styled the old serpent, that is, the very serpent which deceived Eve, and by her seduction ruined all mankind. After having done that mischief, he proceeded by crafty insinuation to work upon mankind, and prevailed upon the greatest part
* In the Greek, " where the beast and false prophet are. And they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
of them to abandon the worship of their Creator, and to substitute idolatry in its place; that is, in reality, the worship of Satan himself, and thus he seduced the whole world. At the rise of Christianity, we see him exerting his utmost efforts to crush it in its birth: for which purpose he stimulated the Roman emperors, and others, to oppose with all their might the propagation of the Christian religion. Christ, with his superior power, frustrated all these attempts; and expelled Satan from the face of the earth, and confined him in the infernal dungeon, Apoc. ch. xx.; where he is to remain for an appointed period of time, after the expiration of which he will be released for a short while. His employment will then be to reestablish idolatry, and to persecute the Christian religion. Antichrist will be his great instrument for these purposes. But after the extermination of that son of perdition, and the destruction of Gog, Satan himself will then be remanded back to his infernal prison, never more to go forth from it.-Now to resume the thread of our history:
The expulsion of Satan from the earth, who was the author of idolatry, and the extermination of Antichrist, who was its supporter, are followed by the extirpation of idolatry itself. For such seems to be the language of the prophets : “ The loftiness of men shall be bowed down,” says Isaiah, “and the haughtiness of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And idols shall be utterly destroyed," ii. 17, 18. Thus also speaks the prophet Sophonias: “The Lord shall be terrible upon them, and shall consume all the gods of the earth,” ï. 11. In like manner we see the same work of the divine hand announced to us by the prophet Zachary: “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I will destroy the names of idols out of the earth, and they shall be remembered no more,” xiii. 2. It is fit the offspring should follow the parent, and that idolatry should disappear with Satan.
And now we seem to be arrived at the glorious epocha of the triumph of the Church over all her enemies. The tyrants, that domineered over her, are crushed; the boisterous winds of persecution are ceased; and the anger of God, before inflamed by the excessive wickedness of mankind, is now appeased and gives way to mercy. Idolatry is vanished, and the Cross of Christ is the sole standard that is acknowledged and resorted to. Christ has suppressed all adverse powers, both earthly and infernal, and now extends his dominion from one extremity of the earth to the other. People and kings
equally bow down to receive his commands, and join in professing their submission to his Church, as we learn from Daniel : " And judgment shall sit," says he, “ that the kingdom and power, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven, may be given to the people of the saints of the Most High: whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all kings shall serve him and shall obey him," vii. 26, 27. " He shall rule from sea to sea," says the psalmist speaking of Christ, “and from the river unto the ends of the earthAnd all the kings of the earth shall adore him; all nations shall serve him." Psalm lxx. 8, 11.
The prophet Zachary acquaints us of the same, thus : " And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name shall be one,” xiv. 9: his name shall be one, or there shall be but one religion over the whole earth. These are the halcyon days of the Christian people, during which the Almighty pours forth the abundance of his spiritual and temporal blessings. To the storms of persecution and war succeed the calm of peace and the sunshine of joy and prosperity. And to this period seems to belong the following admonition:
Apoc. xiv. 13. “ And I heard," says St. John, “a voice from heaven, saying to me: Write, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. For henceforth now, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labours: for their works follow them.'' Or rather, according to the Greek text: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth. Certainly, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labours : but their works follow them.” Those are here pronounced blessed, who from henceforth, that is, from the time of the extermination of Antichrist and all external enemies, or who, during the time of peace, having no expectations of the crown of martyrdom, nevertheless live in the constant practice of virtue, and so merit to die in the favour of their Lord. The Spirit or Holy Ghost confirms the sentence of their happiness, not only because at the moment of their departure their hard labours and penitential exercises cease, but their souls are admitted to a glorious immortality, the recompense of their good works.
Such is the extraordinary happiness of this period of time, that, as in the days of the birth of Christianity, so now the supernatural gifts of the Holy Ghost descend plentifully upon the zealous Christians.“ And it shall come to pass after this,'' says the Lord by Joel," that I will pour out my spirit upon
wine of them; and shall make gardens, and eat the fruits of them. And I will plant them upon their own land: and I will no more pluck them out of their land, which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.” Such is this remarkable æra of peace, prosperity, and spiritual blessings.
One may naturally suppose that the Christians, at their emerging from the severe trials they had been subjected to, were uncommonly full of zeal and religious fervour: and so it seems to be intimated by the above-cited passages out of the prophets. But the human mind from its native inconstancy soon forgets the greatest troubles, when they are passed. Prosperity also is a charm generally productive of inattention and neglect, and contributes much to revive in man his natural propensity to licentiousness. Such will be the case of this last period of time, in which mankind will gradually relax in their fervour, and degenerate in their morals. Our Saviour has told us to beware of the last day, to watch, and he ready to appear before him at the bar of judgment: “ Watch ye," says he, “ because ye know not what hour your Lord will come. Be you ready, because at what hour ye know not, the Son of man will come.” Matt. xxiv. 42, 44. And again he speaks in the Apocalypse :—“ Behold I come as a thief," xvi. 15. St. Peter also gives us the same warning: “ The day of the Lord will come as a thief.” 2 Pet. iij. !9. But these admonitions will by degrees lose their influence, and be forgotten, the human passions will recover their power, and the pleasures of the world will become again the common pursuit of men; as we learn from our Saviour's own words; “ As in days of Noe," says he, “ so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that in which Noe entered into the ark. And they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away: so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.” Matt. xxiv. 37, 38, 39. Thus then the generality of mankind having degenerated into a state of forgetfulness of God, employed now in indulging themselves in sensual gratifications, unmindful of all the ominous alarming signs that had preceded, and the repeated admonitions given them, Behold! The seventh seal is opened.
THE HISTORY OF THE SEVENTH AGE OF THE CHRISTIAN
The seventh Seal is opened. A poc. viii. 1. “ And when he (the Lamb) had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven, as it were for half an hour.” The Lamb having opened the seventh seal, there follows a silence in heaven for a while, in appearance about half an hour. During this time the Almighty thinks fit to disclose to the whole heavenly court of angels and saints, his eternal and inscrutable decrees respecting mankind and the existence of this world.* The heavenly auditory attend in silence and with profound respect, while he graciously unfolds to them the whole system of economy, by which he has governed the world ever since its creation, and the whole course of his great and inerciful dispensations to man. The Almighty is willing to display before them the immense and superabundant store of blessings, that have flowed from the inexhaustible source of his paternal affection upon mankind, ever since the first moment of their existence. He shows that his tenderness and bounty towards mankind have been without measure, and that if a great number of them perish, their perdition is owing to themselves. He then makes known his intention of putting an immediate stop to the whole human race, and bringing them to judgment; he signifies, that the time he had fixed for the existence of the world is now expired, and he is now going to put an end to it. † Upon which
The seventh Trumpet sounds. • Chap. xi. 15. “And the seventh angel sounded the trumpet: and there were great voices in heaven, saying: the
* This he does, not in words, but by secret interior communication, such as is suitable to the nature of spirits.
+ That such are, in part, the divine intimations on this occasion, may be collected from the applauses of the heavenly choirs expressed in the following trumpet. As upon the opening of the seventh seal the period of the world finishes, it is just that at that time the wise and bountiful economy of Christ through the whole government of his Church should be acknowledged. For that reason benediction or praise was solemnly offered to the Lamb. Apoc. v. 12. See page 43.