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tions, which profess the purity of the protestant religion, were providentially preserved from danger.
Not that all protestant countries have escaped. The mere name of protestantism is of little importance, when its spirit is no more. They, who have apostatized from the religion of their fathers, must expect to partake of the vials of God's wrath. Though Antichrist has reared his head in a popish country, and though he has prevailed most in regions once devoted to the papal superstition, yet the Apostacy was not to be his only stage of action. His principles have tainted numbers even under protestant governments, agreeably to the sure word of prophecy, that the false teachers of the last days should “allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error :" upon which the Apostle remarks, “ It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”+
II. It will be proper for me now to consider an objection, which may possibly be urged against the foregoing interpretation of the character of the infidel king : The French people have at present thrown aside their atheistical hatred to Christianity, and have once more avowed themselves Papists.
1. To this it might be sufficient to answer, that, although Popery be once more established in France, it is evidently a mere political puppet, as little regarded by the people as by their rulers. I The fiat of a convention
* Zouch on Prophecy, p. 62, 63.
# 2 Peter ii. 1, 18, 21. We may form a tolerable idea of the present state of religion in France by attending to the confessed machinations of the chief of the Illuminati. “All the German schools,” says this indefatigable propagator of atheism ; " and the benevolent Society, are at last under our direction- Lately we bave got possession of the Bartholomew Institution for young clergymen, baving secured all their supporters. Through this we shall be able to supply Bavaria with fit priests – We must acquire the direction of education, of cburch management, of the professorial cbair, and of the pulpit. We must preach the warmest concern for humanity, and make people indifferent to all other relations. We must gain the reviewers, and the journalists, and the booksellers.” (Hist. the Inter. Vol. ii. p. 194, 195.) Accordingly, when Christianity was nominally at least restored in the year 1795 by the repeal of the laws of intoleration, pastoral letters were published by the revolutionary bishops, those meet successors of Judas in the Apostolical college, in which the Gospel is represented as being the original declaration of the rights of man, and in which the pinion of the throne and the altar is stated to be the most antichristian of political
or of an usurper may set up a form of religion ; but it is not so easy a matter to eradicate the work of years, to weed out of the minds of the governed those principles of atheism and infidelity which have long been so industriously disseminated among them.* Hopeless indeed must be the task of converting a whole nation, when it is undertaken, as at present, by one who has alternately professed himself an Atheist, a Mohammedun, and a Papist.
2. Perhaps however a more weighty answer than this may be furnished to the objection now under consideration. Humanly speaking, and judging from the existing political appearance of Europe, the concurring prophecies of Daniel and St. John, relative to the duration of the great Apostacy, would not have received their complete accomplishment, had not Antichrist become the avowed supporter of it. If we cast our eyes over a map of the world, we shall perceive, that protestantism is securely planted in the North of Europe and America, and in most of the numerous colonies of the English ; that the Greek church, under the powerful protection of Russia, occupies all the East and North-East of Europe ; and that the southern regions of that continent, with their dependent foreign possessions, alone acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope. Now it is an undoubted truth, that the whole of those southern regions, with the solitary exception of the Austrian states and those debilitated and dispirited by a long and unsuccessful war, are to all intents and purposes mere provinces of France, trembling at her nod and subservient to all her tyrannical schemes of aggrandisement.* This being the case, where would have been the papal Apostacy, had France persevered in her profession of atheism ; and had she further determined, according to the original plans of the Jacobinical Iluminati, that all her vassals should be atheists likewise ? She laboured under no physical inability of overturning the Papucy, and had once actually to all appearance entirely subverted it : but her blind fury was restrained by Him, who with equal ease can calm the troubled ocean, and still the madness of the people. The end was not yet: the 1260 years had not expired : and the Apostacy had to run that part of its career which was contemporary with the reign of Antichrist. Hence, rather than one jot or one tittle of all God's word should fail, the infidel king has become, by the overruling providence of God, a supporter of the very superstition which he had once laboured to destroy.
or religious institutions. “These bishops were commonly recommended from tbe great mother club at Paris" (the united club of atheistical Jacobins and German Illuminati, who had now, according to the wily advice of their founder, acquired the wbole maragement of the church, and would doubtless take care to supply France with fit priests " to the affiliated societies, and by their means elected. Of course the only qualification, regarded in prelates so chosen, was the orthodoxy, not of their religious, but political creed." Very few indeed of the new rectors and vicars were men of character ; and as, after all, many were still wanting for the vacant cures, many of the laity were ordained with little or no inquiry." We may judge what a horde of banditti these republican clergy are, since the constitutional vicar general to the new Bishop of Perigueux has had the grace to acknowledge that even be is ashamed of them. With much truth, I doubt not, he represents them as a set of “ vagabonds and libertines, who had not found admittance into civilized society." He seems however for a moment to have forgotten, that such were the fittest subjects for the recommendation of the great mother club at Paris, the very men after Voltaire's and Weishaupt's own hearts. Hist. the Interp. Vol. ii. p. 255, 256, 257.
Let an eye-witness, and certainly no prejudiced eye-witness, be heard upon this point. “When I was myself in France,” says the late Dr. Priestley,“ in the year 1774, I saw sufficient reason to believe, that hardly any person of eminence in Church or State, and especially in a great degree eminent in philosophy or literature (whose opinions in all countries are sooner or later adopted by others), were believers in Christianity; and no person will suppose, that there has been any change in favour of Christianity in the last twenty years. A person, I believe now living, and one of the best informed men in the country, assured me very gravely, that (paying me a compliment) I was the first person he had ever met with, of whose understanding he had any opinion, who pretended to believe Christianity. To this all the company assented. And not only were the philosophers, and other leading men in France, at that time unbelievers in Christianity or Deists, but Atheists denying the being of a God." (Priestley's Fast Sermon, 1794.) The sect; of which Dr. Priestley was so strenuous an advocate, received as whimsical a compliment from Voltaire, as the Doctor himself did from the grave person mentioned by him in the preceding citation. The philosopher of Ferney was willing to tolerate the Socinians, during his war with Christ, “because," says he, “ Julian would have Savoured them ; and I hate what Julian would have hated, and despise what Julian would have despised."
3. The last and most conclusive answer however, which may be given to the objection is this. When thoroughly examined, the objection in question will be found in reality to afford an argument for the present mode of interpretation, instead of an argument against it. UnJess Antichrist, at some period or another of his exist. ence, had actually leagued himself with the Papacy, the prophecies, which relate to the great events that are a
• This observation is even more true at present (March 26, 1806), than when it was originally made.
bout to take place at the termination of the 1260 years, could not have been fully and exactly accomplished. At the time of the end, the infidel king, as we are taught by Daniel, is to engage in some war of a religious nature, is to invade Palestine, and is eventually to perish between the seas. At the same time of the end, u grand confederacy, as we are informed by St. John, of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the earth, is to be overthrown with dreadful slaughter at Megiddo ; which is a town of Palestine, situated, agreeably to Daniel's prediction, between the seas. St. John further marks the country where this is to happen, by describing it as extending 1600 stadia, which is found to be precisely the measure of the holy land. At the self-same time of the end likewise, as we are assured by Joel, war shall be sanctified ; but the impious wretches, who thus dare to profane the holy name of religion, shall be destroyed between the seas. Lastly, at this very time of the end, a time of unexampled trouble, the restoration of the Jews, as Daniel, Joel, and Zechariah,* all concur in affirming, will commence. Now from comparing these different prophecies together it appears, that the war of the infidel king in Palestine at the time of the end must necessarily be the same as the war of the beast in the same country and at the same period : and it further appears, that the reason, why this war will be styled by him a holy war, will be his union with the false prophet : in other words, it will be a war undertaken by him either against the protestants, or the Jews, or both, upon popish principles of extermination ; it will be a war begun under the pretence of advancing the honour of religion. Thus it is manifest, that the late re-establishment of Popery in France is so far from being any objection to the present mode of interpreting the character of the infidel king, that it abundantly confirms the propriety of it : for, unless the atheistical power, at some time or another, reunited itself with the head of the papal Apostacy, it certainly could not engage in a holy war along with the
Such indeed is the declaration of all the ancient prophets, insomuch that it is impossible to treat of the restoration of the Jews without likewise treating of the doo struction of Antichrist.
false prophet, as we are plainly taught that it hereafter shall do at the close of the 1260 years.*
At present therefore we may pronounce the king to be a motley monster, compounded of Atheism and Popery ; inwardly an atheist, † outwardly a papist ; still doing according to his will, and exalting himself ; still insulting and tyrannizing over his weaker neighbours ; and still scourging the members of that Apostacy, which he now professes to venerate and uphold. In this state, or in some state similar to it, he will continue to the end of thc 1260 years, and till the commencement of the restoration of the Jews ;I when like his brethren in fraud, violence, and iniquity," he shall come to his end, and none shall help him." Meanwhile, whatever may be his ostensible creed, he is still the same tyrant, as when he began his demoniacal career. The laws of nations, and the hitherto universally acknowledged rights of ambassadors, he violates with the same contempt of every
This subject will be fully discussed hereafter. We have already had a specimen of the holy zeal with which the present usurper of the throne of France espouses the cause of Popery. From a pious regard no doubt for the soul of his brother, he has caused the sovereign pontiff to pronounce a divorce between him and his wife, on the ground forsooth of her being a beretic. What may not be expected hereafter from such an auspicious beginning !
† It is unreasonable to suppose, that all the people of France, even fickle and volatile as they are, should suddenly have turned with sincerity from Atbeism to Popery. From what can be learned of the state of that country, Atheism and Irreligion seem to be little less prevalent than ever they were.
# It is expressly declared, that he shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished, (Dan, xi. 36.) and that at the time of the end he shall undertake the expedition which will terminate in his destruction. Thus is it doubly pointed out, that he shall be permitted to prosper till the end of the 1260 years : for both the time of the end commences, and the peculiar season of the indignation is finished, when those years terminate. Mr. Mede, in a manner not very consistent even with his own interpretation of the prophecy, supposes that the indignation was accomplished when the Roman empire ceased to be pagan under Constantine. (Apost. of latter times, Part. I. C. 17.) Bp. Newton, on the contrary, very justly thinks, that the indignation will not be accomplished till tbe Jews begin to be restored, and consequently till the end of the 1260 gears : but I much doubt, whether the period of the indignation means, as he supposes, “ the last end and consummation of God's indignation against his people the Jews.” (Dissert. XVII.) It seems to me to be plainly the same as the period of tbe wonders, which is to end at the expiration of the three times and a half (Dan. xii. 6, 7.); in other words, the same as the period of the 1260 years, which is ever represented as the peculiar season of God's indignation on account of the apostacy and degeneracy of his Church. Hence the latter part of Daniel's vision of the ram and the be-goat, which treats of the desolating transgression of Mobammedism, during the 1260 years, is represented as likewise treating of the Aaritb or latter end of the indignation, or, as it might be more properly translated, the succession, the continuance, of the indignesina. Dan. viii. 19.