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- in the stars; and upon the earth, distress of
tidings to another, for it will be sudden as the lightning which cometh from the east, and shineth unto the west. “ This sudden and universal noto
riety that there will be of our Saviour's last glo“rious advent, is signified by the image of lightning, 6 which in the same instant flashes upon the eyes of “spectators in remote and opposite stations.”* In Luke xxi. 24, our Lord adds, that the Jews “shall “ fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led
away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem “shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the « times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
The third division of our Saviour's prophecy, contains an answer to the question.
66 What shall " be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the "age?” Having predicted that Jerusalem was to be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled, Christ adds, “Then + “shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and
“ nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves “ roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and “ for looking after those things which are coming
on the earth : for the powers of heaven shall be “ shaken. And then shall they see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
And when these things begin to come to pass, " then look up and lift up your heads ; for your
* Bishop Horsley's Sermons, voi. i. p. 32, 33.
+ " The copulative noi, ver. 25, is to be taken, after the Hebrew “ manner, ordinativè, for tum, deinde, which you know is frequent “ in the scriptures : Then shall be signs." Mede's Works, Book iv.
“ redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them
a parable : Behold the fig-tree and all the trees, “ when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of
your ownselves that summer is now nigh at hand. “ So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to
ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at 66 hand.”
The corresponding passage in Matthew begins at the 29th verse of the chapter already quoted, and ends at the 33d verse. The expression, “ im“mediately after the tribulation of those days," with which the clause begins, must not be understood as referring alone to the troubles of the Jewish nation at the siege and taking of Jerusalem ; for “ the tribulation of those days ” extends to the whole time of their captivity and dispersion, even to the close of the times of the Gentiles. *
I am now to consider the above signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, in connection with the present inquiry concerning the commencement and end of the prophetical period of twelve hundred and sixty years.
It is manifest that the signs spoken of by our Lord, are in the symbolical, and not the natural heavens; for we are informed, in the subsequent part of our Saviour's discourse, that during the occurrence of these signs, the world in general shall be immersed in carnal security, and anxious occu
* This is the sentiment of Mede; see his Works, in the place quoted above. It was also the opinion of Bishop Horsley ; see his Sermons, vol. i. p..55 : of Episcopius and Tillotson; see Illustrations of Prophecy, p. 392. Indeed this supposition is necessary to reconcile the two evangelists with each other.
pation about the things of this life, which could hardly be the case, if the signs described were in the natural heavens. Indeed, these signs have never been understood in a literal sense by any person conversant in the language of sacred prophecy.
By the signs in the celestial luminaries we are therefore to understand the fall of kingdoms, and the dethronement or humiliation of the sovereigns and princes of those states which are the scene of the chronological prophecies of Daniel and St. John, i. e. the body of the Roman empire in its last state.
The awful events which have taken place in Europe since the fall of the French monarchy, are evidently the fulfilment of these signs. At a very early period of the progress of these events, they appear to have arrested the attention of versed in the language of prophecy, and to have excited in their minds suspicions that our Lord's portentous prophecy had begun to be accomplished.
The late venerable and excellent Bishop Porteus, in a Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of London, in the year 1794, used the following words : “ The present times, and the
present scene of things, in almost every part of " the civilized world, are the most interesting and “ the most awful that were ever before presented “ to the inhabitants of the earth; and such as “must necessarily excite the most serious reflections " in every thinking mind. Perhaps all these sin
gular events, to which we have been witnesses,
unparalleled, as they undoubtedly are, in the page “ of history, may be only the beginning of things;
may be only the first leading steps to a train of
“ events still more extraordinary, to the accomplish“ment possibly of some new and unexpected, and “ at present unfathomable designs, hitherto reserved “ and hid in the councils of the Almighty. Some
we know there are, who think that certain pro'phecies, both in the New Testament and the Old, “are now fulfilling; that the signs of the times are
portentous and alarming; and that the sudden “extinction of a great monarchy, and of all the splendid ranks and orders of men that supported “ it, is only the completion in part of that prediction “in the Gospel, that 'the sun shall be darkened, " and the moon shall not give her light, and the “ stars shall full from heaven, before the second
appearance of the Messiah to judge the earth : ' “ all which expressions are known to be figurative “ emblems of the great powers and rulers of the “ world, whose destruction, it is said, is to precede " that great event. As to myself, I pretend not to - decide on those arduous points ; I pretend not “ either to prophesy, or to interpret prophecy ; “nor shall I take upon myself to pronounce whether “we are now approaching (as some think) to the “millennium, or to the day of judgment, or to any “other great and tremendous and universal change
predicted in the sacred writings. But this I am
sure of, that the present unexampled state of the “ Christian world is a loud and powerful call upon “all men, but upon us above all men, to take pecu“ liar heed to our ways, and to prepare ourselves for
every thing that may befal us, be it ever so novel, ever so calamitous." Since the above sentiments were uttered by the
venerable prelate, we have witnessed a series of events the most astonishing that have ever happened in the history of the world. I cannot better describe these events than by quoting a passage on the subject from an able writer of the present day. “ The fall of the French monarchy,” says
this author, was marked with all the characters of
SUDDENNESS. and MYSTERIOUS POWER, which peculiarly appertain to the times of God's extra
ordinary visitations. Those characters are thus “ drawn to our hands by two of the most dis
tinguished geniuses of that day, who were living “ witnesses, together with us, of that stupendous " event.
“ In that its acme of human prosperity and greatness," said Mr. Burke, “ in the high and PALMY STATE OF THE MONARCHY OF FRANCE, it fell to the ground without a struggle." “ Remember,” said Mr. Gibbon,
" the PROUD “ FABRIC OF THE FRENCH MONARCHY ! Not four years
ago it stood founded, as it might seem, on the rock « of time, force, and opinion; supported by the
triple aristocracy of the church, the nobility, and “ the parliament. They are crumbled into the dust, they are vanished from the earth!”
“ Since the departure of these two eloquent writers “ we have seen a NEW Power, assuming the dignity “ of Empire, suddenly rise up, and establish his “ throne upon the crumbled ruins of that proud and “ ancient monarchy; a power which has finally - obliterated the name of ROMAN EMPIRE; has extinguished the PAPAL MONARCHY; has overthrown
* On the French Revolution.