תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

manifest from the state of those nations at the close of the millennium, as it is described both by Ezekiel and St. John. In the writings of those two prophets, they appear as a regularly organized body of men, making no attempt upon the pious Christian governments, which jointly constitute the fifth great monarchy, or spiritual empire of the Messiah, during the space of a thousand years; but at the end of those years assailing them at the instigation of Satan with the utmost rancour,' and perishing in consequence of it. Hence it may be collected, that, when their dominion is said to be taken away, the meaning must be, not their temporal dominion within their own limits, but their power of injuring the Church.*

In a spiritual or ecclesiastical sense, a beast is a superstition affecting universal dominion ; for universality, as I have already observed, is the peculiar characteristic of a beust, as opposed to the horn of a beast. On the same grounds, a horn, in an ecclesiastical sense, is a spiritual kingdom : and, as such, it may be represented, either as springing out of a secular beast, or out of an ecclesiasti cal beast. In the former case, its geographical origin is pointed out; in the latter case, its connection with, and subserviency to, a spiritual empire. An ecclesiastical kingdom however may increase into an ecclesiastical empire, and it may then have ecclesiastical kingdoms subservient to it. Hence, what is symbolized in one prophecy by the horn of a secular beast, may hereafter in another prophecy be symbolized by a distinct spiritual beast, hav, ing a proper head or supremo governor and proper horns or ecclesiastical kingdoms of its own. There is only one such beast mentioned in the whole Bible ; and he supplies the place of what in a collateral prediction had been represented by a little horn gradually acquiring unlimited power : while, to prevent the possibility of mistaking his character, he is expressly denominated a false prophet.

These beasts have both a natural and a spiritual origin. Hence the same beast is sometimes said to arise both out

* Ezek. xxxviii. xxxix. Rev. xx. 1-10.

+ Compare Dan. vii. 7, 8, 11, 20, 21, 24, 25. with Rev. xüü. 1, 11, 16. and xix. 20. 'The specific character of the two apocalytic beasts will be discussed at large hereafter.

of the sea, and out of the bottomless pit; the former expression denoting his physical birth out of contending nations, and the latter his infernal extraction.

The sovereign and instigator and spiritual parent of the various beasts or idolatrous empires, that have persecuted the Church, is the drugon or serpent. This fierce and noxious reptile, when simply mentioned, is the devil, that old serpent which deceiveth the whole world, poisoning the principles of its inhabitants, and introducing death both temporal and eternal : but, when described as being connected with certain other marks or symbols, it is the devil considered as acting through the instrumentality of the power or powers thus marked or symbolized. Accordingly the great red dragon of the Apocalypse is, as we are repeatedly assured by St. John, the devil : and, inasmuch as he is said to have seven heads and ten horns, he can only be thus described, because he acts through the instrumentality of the seven-heuded and ten-horned beast ; to whom he is said to have given his power, and his seat, and great authority. *

CHAPTER III.

Concerning the scriptural phrases of the latter days, the

last days, and the time of the end.

FOR the right understanding of prophecy it is necessary to ascertain the meaning of certain phrases, which are used by the inspired writers to describe different future periods. The phrases, to which I allude, are the latter times or days, the last times or days, and the end or the time of the end.

Bp. Newton remarks, that the two former of these phrases “ signify primarily any time yet to come ; but de. note more particularly the times of Christianity :" and he

• Rev. xiii. 2.

cately as it must the Old Towns and last any

........... adds, that sometimes this phraseology relates, not only to the whole period of the Christian dispensation, but likewise to the latter or last days of the latter or last times.*

In this observation there is much that is true : but I cannot think, that it is by any means stated so accu. rately as it might have been.

Throughout the Old Testament, the two apparently different phrases of latter days and last days never once in reality occur. The single expression, which our translators thus variously render comparatively and superlatively, (as if there were two different expressions in the original,) is simply Diamonx, the end of days. Consequently, the latter days and the last days of our present translation of the Old Testament must mean the very same period, whatever that period may be ; because they are each equally a version of one and the sume phrase, which literally and properly ought to be rendered the end of days.

T'he end of days means primarily, as Bp. Newton very justly remarks, any time yet future : f but I much doubt, whether it ever signifies the whole period of the Christian dispensation. On the contrary, whenever it is not used in its primary sense, I believe it exclusively to re- , late to that portion of time, which begins at the termination of the great Apostacy of 1260 years, and which expires at the end of the Millennium and at the consummation of all things. This great period Mr. Mede styles the kingdom of the mountain in opposition to the kingdom of the stone ; in other words, the triumphant reign of Christianity after the 1260 years, in opposition to its depressed state before the expiration of that term. The end of days therefore includes not only the millennium, but the 75 years which will intervene between the end of the 1260 years and the proper commencement of the Millennium ; which 75 years will be occupied in the res

• Dissert. iv-Dissert. xxiii. 3. See also Mede's Apostacy of the latter Times, Part I. Chap. 11.

+ In this case, perhaps it might more properly be translated the succession of days, as denoting what Mr. Mede calls a continuation or lengtb of time : for nonnix signifies either the wbole length of any period, or the end of tbat period,

toration of the house of Israel, and in the destruction of God's enemies.*

See Dan. xii. 6,7, 11, 12, whence it appears, that, between the expiration of the tbree times and a balf or tbe 1260 years, and the commencement of tbe season of blessedness at the end of 1335 years, just 75 years intervene. The three texts, which Bp. Newton cites to shew that the phrase of the latter or last days or the end of days denotes the times of Cbristianity, seem to me plainly to relate to tbe millennian period or the reign of the mountain,

“ And it shall come to pass in the last days, or at the end of days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills ; and all nations shall flow unto it." Isaiah i. 2.

But, in the last days, or at the end of days, it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills ; and people shall flow unto it.” Micah iv. 1.

“But this is that, which was spoken by the prophet Joel ; And it shall come to pass in tbe last days (saith God) I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” Acts ii. 16, 17.

With regard to the two first of these texts, let any person compare them with Dan. ü. 34, 35, 44, 45, and he will be satisfied, that they relate exclusively to the kingdom of tbe mountain, or tbe millennium : which was not to commence, as we are plainly informed by Daniel, till after the destruction of the feet of the image, or the ten-borned Roman beast : that is to say, they relate to the kingdom of Cbrist, when no longer symbolized by a stone, but when it shall have become a great mountain filling the whole earth.

As for the last of them, it is undoubtedly applied by St. Peter to the miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost upon the day of Pentecost ; yet it is as undoubtedly cited by him only in the way of application. The whole prophecy, of which that text forms a part, relates to tbe ravages of some fierce and lawless people symbolized by a fight of locysts, the restoration of the Jews, the overtbrow of Antichrist and bis congregated vassals between the two seas in the valley of concision, and the glorious rest of the people of God during tbe blessed days of the Millennium : consequently it can only have been applied by St. Peter to the times of the first advent of our Lord, as typical in some measure of the times of his second advent. It ought to be observed, that, although in bis citation of tbe text the Apostle introduces the phrase of the last days, (which undoubtedly in his application of it means the times of Christianity) the phrase does not occur in the original text of Joel : no argument therefore can be drawn from this circumstance to prove, that the Old Testament phrase of the end of days is equivalent to the New Testa ament phrase of the last days. (See Joel ii. ii. for the whole prophecy; and Joel ii. 28, for the text.)

The end of days then, I conceive, when not used in its primary sense of any time yet future, denotes the end of the present order of things, the end of the reign of the two little apostate horns, the end of the tyranny of Antichrist ; in short, the whole time of tbe end as the great day of the Lord's controversy is styled by Daniel, and be whole period of the Millennium. (See Hosea iï. 5.)

Instead of this phrase, Ezekiel, in a single instance, uses another ; which is precisely equivalent to it. Speaking of the attack, which should be made by Gog and Magog upon the Jews, now restored to their own country, he indifferently predicts, that it should take place at the end of years, and at the end of days. (See Ezek. xxxviij. 8, 16.) Now St. John specially informs us, that this invasion of Gog and Magog shall not be till tbe end of the Millennium ; and Ezekiel, in perfect harmony with him, asserts, that it shall be directed against the Jews a considerable time after their return, when dwelling in Palestine in unsuspecting security. (See Rev. xx. 7, 8. and Ezek. Xxxvül. 8, 11, 12, 14.) Since then the expedition of Antichrist and the expedition of Gog und Magog are both to take place at the end of days, and since the one expedition is to be at the beginning of the Millennium and tbe other at tbe end of it, it is evident that the end of days or tbe end of years reaches from the termination of the 1260 years to the termination of the Millennium.

On the other hand, when Daniel informs Nebuchadnezzar, that “ God maketh known to him what shall be in the latter days, or at the end of days," it is manifest, that .

In the New Testament, on the other hand, there is a real difference between the two phrases of the latter days, and the last days; a difference, carefully observed by the inspired writers, and with much judiciousness as carefully attended to by our translators. The latter times is the strict literal translation of volepou malpos; and the last days is the strict literal translation of εσχαται ημεραι : the one phrase is comparative, and the other is superlative : and these two phrases are never confounded together.

Whenever the phrase of the last days is used declaratively, and not prophetically, by the evangelical writers, it means the whole period of the Christian dispensution, as contradistinguished from the former days of the Pa. triarchal and Levitical dispensations. In this sense it is applied by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.* It is used in a similar manner by St. Peter. “Christ verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”+ It is used also in the same manner by St. John. “Little children, it is the last time : and, as ye have heard that the Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know, that it is the last time.

But, whenever the phrases of the latter days, and the last days, are used prophetically, and not declaratively, by the evangelical writers, they never mean the whole period of the Christian dispensution, but always two distinct and successive parts of that dispensation. Here I

futurity in general, not the Millennium in particular, is there intended by the expression : , because the king's dream rcaches from his own reign to the very commencement of the kingdom of the mountain. (Dan. ii. 28, 29.) Such also, as Bp. Newton justly remarks, is the meaning of the phrase in Gen. xlix. 1. Numb. xxiv. 14. and Deut. xxxi. 29. (See Dissert. iv.) Such likewise is its meaning in Dan. x. 14. The context indeed, as in the present cases, will usually shew, with abundantly sufficient clearness, wbicb of these two significations the Hebrew phrase of the end of days ought to bear in the different passages, wherein it occurs. Heb. i. 1, 2.

f 1 Peter i. 20. f 1 John ï. 18. The phrase of the latter times or days, is never used in the New Testament, like the phrase of the last times or days, in the sense of the whole period of the Cbristian dispensation,

« הקודםהמשך »