Page images

gives us an account of the overthrow first of the Roman Antichristian confederacy, and afterwards of the Magogian confederacy.

I consider the whole of Ezekiel from the 34th to the 39th chapter inclusive, as one continued prophecy: for, if we attempt to divide these evidently connected chapters from each other, where shall we draw the line? where shall we say that the one prophecy ends, and that the other begins ? · Ezekiel first notices the dispersion of Israel through the tyranny of their shepherds or rulers, who, after grinding their faces and treating them in all respects as a conquered and debased people, instead of ruling them with gentle. ness and consulting their political happiness, at length became instruments in the hand of God of dispersing them through all countries. From these shepherds, or (in literal exactness of speech) from their successors and representatives the powers of the Roman empire in its last or broken form, God, at the time of the end, will require his flock. He will set his face against these tyrannical shepherds, who have so long persecuted his scattered people, and will cause them to cease from feeding the flock. He will not suffer them to feed themselves any more, or to harrass, like their Roman predecessors, the wretched Jews with endless extortion and oppression: but he will deliver his flock from their mouth that they may be no more meat for them. As soon as the appointed period shall arrive, he will search his sheep, and bring them back into their own land from all the coun. tries whither they have been dispersed. He, will feed them in a good pasture upon the mountains of Israel, by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places : and will set up one shepherd over them, the mystical David, even

Christ the Lord. 1. At this era however of their first restoration, or the restoration of Judah, the prophet notices a remarkable distinction in the flock, which will serve to explain an apparent contradictoriness of some prophecies to others. We are generally led to conclude, that the Jews will be converted previous to their restoration, but Zechariah un

doubtedly speaks of their being converted after it *. How then are we to reconcile this discrepancy? Ezekiel teaches us, that at the time of the restoration God will judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he-goats. He will make a marked distinction be. tween the fat cattle t, and between the lean cattle ; between those that trample down the pastures and foul the 'waters, and between those who are constrained to eat what is trodden down and to drink what is fouled ; between those that push with the shoulder and thrust with the horn, and between the weak who are scattered abroad by this unnatural cruelty of their fellows. Yet both these different descriptions of cattle are equally considered as the flock ; and are placed in contradistinction to the beasts of the earth, or the tyrannical Roman powers under the influence of Antichrist and the false prophet. By the goats therefore we must obviously understand certain unconverted Jews; and by the rams, such as are converted. Now it manifestly appears from the tenor of the prophecy, that both the rams and the goats will equally return to Palestine ; and that, when they have thus returned, there will be a bitter dissention between them, the goats labouring by all possible means to injure and expel the rams. It further appears from other prophecies, that the rams or converted Jews will be restored by the instrumentality of the then prevailing protestant European maritime power; and that Antichrist and his host will at that period invade Palestine, and occupy Jerusalem. Thus we learn, from comparing these several prophecies with each other, that four different descriptions of persons will then be collected together in Palestine: the great maritime power; the converted Jews; the Antichristian confederacy; and the unconverted Jews. The converted Jews we know will be restored by the agency of the maritime power: and how are we to account for the appearance of the unconverted Jews, at the same time, in the same country, and in direct opposition to their converted brethren, except by supposing that they are in league with Antichrist, and have been brought back into their own land for political purposes by his instrumentality? In the dreadful conflict many of the goats will perish; for God hath declared, that he will destroy the fat and the strong: many also of the rams will be slain; for God hath taught us, that, although he will surely chasten his people in exact measure, yet he will not make a full end of them, as he will of the nations their enemies. But at length, when the appointed time shall come, such goats as survive the slaughter of their fellows will perceive their error, and repent them of their sins. They will look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn for him as one that mourneth for his only son*. They will acknow. ledge their fault to their converted brethren, and will be reconciled to them. And they will jointly form only one Alock, under one shepherd, David their king. "

* See Zechar. xii. 9..-14.

+ Abp. Newcome translates Chap. xxxiv. ver. 16. I will keep the fat and the strong, instead of I will destroy the fat and the strong ; substituti: g por for the common reading 720 This alteration appears to me very injudicious, for the prophet is plainly distinguishing between the fat and the strong and the lean and the feeble. Accordingly the distinction in question is afterwards pointed out again, and the reasons for making it are stated at large. See rer. 20. and ver. 17 ---23. But his grace's alteration entirely destroys the distinction; and, as it seems to me, materially injures, instead of improving, the sense of the passage.

Thus, so far as matters of this kind are capable of proof, the opinion of Bp. Horsley, or at least something very like his opinion, seems to be proved t. “I have an unfashionable partiality," says he in his letter to Mr. King, “ for the opinions of antiquity. I think there is ground in the prophecies for the notion of the early fathers, that Palestine is the stage, on which Antichrist, in the height of his impiety, will perish. I am much inclined too to assent to another opinion of the fathers; that a small band of the Jews will join Antichrist, and be active instruments of his persecutions 1. And I agree with

King;d in the prophes the stage, on Wh. I am much

* Zechar. xii. 10.
† Vide supra Comment. on Proph. VII.

# The reader will find the various sentiments of the fathers, relative to Antichrist, collected together by Calmet in his Dictionary. Among other matters he mentions the supposition, “that the Jews will be the first, who will declare for him, acknowledge his dominion, and enjoy the principal employments in his government. He will win upon them by his delusions, his ca. resses, and false miracles, and by all the appearances of goodness, piety, and clemency; so that this unhappy people will take him for the Messiah, and will flatter themselves with the expectation of seeing the kingdom of Israel restored, by his means, to its former splendor."

you, that it is not unlikely, that this small part of the Jews will be settled in Jerusalem, under the protection of Antichrist. But it is not to the settlement of this apostate band, that the prophecy of the 18th chapter of Isaiah relates.—The people, brought as a present to Jehovah to mount Zion, will be brought thither in a converted state.

The great body of the Jewish people will be converted previous to their restoration; and, being converted, will be assisted, by Christian nations of the uncircumcision, in settling themselves in their ancient seats. I agree with you, that some passages, in Zechariah in particular, make strongly for this notion of a previous settlement of worse than unconverted Jews. But I am not without hope, from the same passages, that the great body of the converted Jews returning will find those first settlers, broken off from the Antichristian faction, in a state of deep contrition, and ready to receive their brethren with open arms. So the whole race shall be offered to Jehovah at mount Zion, and not one of Israel shall be lost. And so far, but no farther, I can admit an inchoate restoration of the Jews, antecedent to their conversion; and a settlement of a small body of them, in the Holy Land, by the Antichristian powers.,

In some points of less moment I cannot quite agree with his Lordship, but I am persuaded that his opinion itself is perfectly well-founded. He seems to consider the destruction of Antichrist as being past, and the unconverted Jews as being penitent, at the time when their converted brethren arrive under the protection of the mari. time power. Whereas Ezekiel leads us to conclude, that the goats will war upon the rams; and, not content with acquiring a settlement themselves, will do all in their power to prevent their return. He likewise inclines to believe, that only a small body of the Jews will be re. stored in their unbelieving state by Antichrist; and that

In my Dissertation on the 1260 years, I have conjectured that the primary revelation of Antichrist took place in the year 1789, when the French revolu. tion commenced. It is somewhat remarkable, that Peter Dailly was of opi. nion, that, according to his observations, Antichrist must appear in this very year 1789; but I know not on what his observations were grounded (Calmet's Dict. Vox Antichrist). It is equally remarkable, that the present head of the Antichristian faction has recently been hailed by the Jews of Frankfort as their long-expected Messiah.

by far the greatest part of them will be brought back by the maritime power in a believing state. But when we consider the almost exclusive influence which Antichristian France already exerts over the papal Roman empire; and when we further consider, that at the close of the 1260 years it will have succeeded in completely organizing a vast confederacy of the whole of that empire*: we can scarcely suppose, that its power will be so limited as to extend only to a small body of the Jews. After the formation of this tremendous confederacy, it is not easy to conceive how the protestant maritime power will be able to take under its protection any Jews excepting such as are out of the reach of the confederacy; those, for instance, who will then be scattered throughout Britain, Sweden, the maritime parts of Russia, America, Africa, and the coasts of Asia. Those therefore, who are within the reach of the confederacy, that is to say, those who are scattered through the papal Roman empire, can hardly be thought to constitute only a small body; unless some very remarkable emigration of the Jews from popish into protestant countries should previously take place. This opinion seems to be confirmed by what Zechariah says on the subject. He represents the Jews, who will be . converted after their return, as constituting a very large body of men; so large indeed, that, were we not prevented by the explicit declarations of other prophecies, we should be in danger of fancying, as some actually have fancied, that the general conversion of the whole house of Judah would succeed their restoration. What proportion indeed the converted Jews restored by the maritime power will bear to the unconverted Jews restored by Antichrist, it is impossible, and therefore it would be absurd, to attempt to determine: but we may venture to say, arguing at least from probabilities, that a very large body will be brought back by each; and that the goats, or unconverted Jews, will attempt, in conjunction with the armies of An

* See Joel ii. 2. Zechar. xii. 2. Dan. ii. 34, 35, 44, 45.-vii. 11. Rev. xvi. 14.-xix. 18, 19, 20. The general expression of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the earth, that is the Latin earth or habitable world (01%8Mevn) as the Romans were wont to term their extensive dominions, certainly teaches us, that the confederacy will comprehend the whole empire of the revived beast, or the whole papal Roman empire.

« PreviousContinue »