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my, all the other powers that had ever existed in the world : a power which should not only kill the two witnesses of God*, but even deny his existence, as well as defy his omnipotence. He treats distinctly of the dreadful exploits, by which this power should kill the two witnesses of God: of its superlative wickedness and atheism ; the lamb-like and innocent appearance of its code of jurisprudence ; the lying ronders, artful tricks, and delusive frauds, it should exhibit and commit to deceive mankind; the effects of those wonders and frauds on the minds and actions of the people ; the image it should make and deify, for the people to worship ; the measures and decrees it should pursue to compel them to worship it; and he concludes with a number, the name of the beast, by which it should be known, and which, when rightly understood and applied, no considerate mind can doubt of its allusion to atheistical France.t
Thus we have had before us a summary view of the great events, foretold under the seven seals, and first six trumpets ; and he immediately adds I, “One woe is past.; and, “ behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” Now if we may place any confidence in the facts related by historians, and the testimony of our own eyes, all the events predicted under the seven seals, the first six trumpets, and the first
* See the comment on the beast of the bottomless pit, chap. v.
† See the comments on the beast of the bottomless pit, and on the beast of the earth.
Chap. xiii. 14
and second woe, have already come to pass ; and the great truths, figuratively represented in them, have been completely fulfilled before, and in our day, in the same order of succession in which they were foretold. What then remains of all the events predicted in the Apocalypse (and which is allowed, by all commentators, to be a prophetic history of all the principal and important events that were to come to pass, from the time it was written to the consummation of all things), except those of the seventh trumpet, or the third and last woe-trumpet, which is to introduce the seven vials or last plagues of the wrath of God ? If no other leading events are left untold in this book, have we not great reason to believe, from the regular succession and completion of past events, in the order they were foretold, that the third woe, which is to come quickly, that is, presently, or rather before the second woe is ended, is already upon the earth? And is not this reason rendered yet more probable, from the present dark and depraved condition of the world? A state in which we see kings and governments no longer observant of the faith of treaties; no longer abstaining from rapine and blood, than their pride and lust for power dictate the time and measure: a state in which nations entirely depart from their belief in God, and even presumptuously treat with ridicule and contempt the idea of his existence : a state, alas! in which we contemplate scenes of poisonings, assassinations, mas
sacres, insurrections, rebellions, and civil wars, convulsions of nations, revolutions in states, and the wrecks of whole kingdoms, together with a havoc and destruction of mankind, of which the now astonished and affrighted world heretofore has never known an example. When we duly consider, I say, all these circumstances, is there not a strong probability that the second woe being nearly finished, the third woetrumpet has begun to sound, and that the seven angels, having the seven vials filled with the last plagues of a just and long-forbearing God, have already begun to pour out his wrath upon the atheistical, blaspheming, idolatrous, sensyal part of mankind?
This conjecture respecting the present time, as the last days, or the last period of time foretold by the prophet, is so far from being chimerical, that its probability is countenanced by the highest authorities, before, as well as after, the first coming of Christ. The Jewish rabbies antecedent to, and the primitive fathers after that blessed event, believed that the world was to endure seven thousand years; viz. six thousand before the first resurrection and the second coming of Christ, and the remaining one thousand years during his reign upon earth ; and that at the end of that period, the second general resurrection and consummation of all things were to succeed. This faith prevailed in the church of Christ during many ages, and until it became lost in Mohamedan and Papal ignorance and apostacy: it was revived soon
after the reformation, is entertained by many pious christians at this day, and is certainly supported by the Scriptures. If then, this belief is well founded, and there is any dependance to be placed on the chronology of the world, founded on holy writ, and received as true by all christian nations, six thousand years are nearly past. If we calculate by Julian, there are not two hundred to come ; if by prophetic years, a very little more than a single century. In either case, is there not a strong probability that we are living in “ the last days," or the last period of time; and un-. der the third and last woe-trumpet, which was to announce the pouring out of the last seven vials of the wrath of God, upon the ungodly of every description ? upon christian hypocrites, Pagans, Mohamedans, Papists, and Atheists, in order to separate « the sheep from the goats *,
*,” and - the wheat from the chafft;' and to prepare the righteous remnant of the church for the kingdom of Christ ?
But let us not place an implicit faith in the opinions of others, however high their authority, while we are able to search the Scriptures, those divine oracles of unerring truth, for ourselves; for this we are commanded to do by Christ himself f. Here we may find many texts which, in their description of “ the last days,” support the doctrine. I shall, however, confine my inquiry to the declarations of
Matth. xxv. 33. | John, v. 39.
† Chap. iii. 12.
St. Paul, St. Jude, and St. Peter, respecting the state of the world in “ the last days and times," and compare them with the corresponding features of the present age. These Apostles concur in describing those days as more depraved and sinful than any that had preceded since the flood; and each of them gives different signs, by which they may be known by the true believers in the word of God, when they should arise.
1. St. Paul, after exhorting Timothy, his " dearly beloved son,” to “ be strong in the
grace that is in Jesus Christ *;” and to “in“ struct, in meekness, those that oppose it t," that they may “ recover themselves from the snares of the devil," intimates in the next chapter, that in “ the last days” more perilous times shall come, in which men shall be so 'desperately wicked, and so obstinately sinful, 'that they shall persevere in their sins to their rown destruction, although “their folly shall “ be made manifest to all men [.”-“Know " this also,” says he, “that in the last days, per“ ilous times shall come;" meaning times more abandoned, and therefore more perilous, and more difficult to be resisted by the true believers than those in which he lived. He then proceeds to give a minute description of those times in these strong and too descriptive words 8 :-“ Men shall be lovers of themselves, “ covetous, boasters, blasphemers ; disobedient
* 2 Tim. ii. 1.
Chap. iii. 1.
+ 2 Tim. ii. 25, 26.