« PreviousContinue »
After the destruction of Gog, the church, at least that of the Jews, enjoys an uninterrupted calm, till the day of judgment! Compare ver. 10. with Ezek. xxxix. 22.
Another passage which appears to me to refer to the invasion of Gog is, Zech. xiv. 1, 2, 3. The Prophet having mentioned an attack upon Jerusalem, and the consequences, promises that God shall interpose for the deliverance of his people, in the fame manner that he interposed on a former occasion. “ As when he fought in “ the day of battle ;' the former battle to which the reference is made being likewise future, the Prophet begins to describe it, as well as what precedes and follows after it, from 'verse 4. to the close. The circumstances mentioned clear. ly shew, that the battle to which he alludes, is that of Armageddon : Now the only battle pofterior to Armageddon, is that of Gog and Magog : therefore the battle first mentioned ; and referring to Armageddon as a prior event, must be that of Gog and Magog.
When we compare these paffages, and receive their united light, we have as distinct a view of this last perfecution as we could reasonably expect or defire, of an event not accomplished.
The agents in this persecution are diftinely noted. The great invisible adversary is the first mover of this, as of every former perfecution, while the Sovereign Ruler sees meet to
permit this last effort of the enemy, by taking off the restraint under which he was laid for a season, (Rev. xx. 7.) not only to try the faith and patience of his people, but likewise to feparate the chaff from the wheat. It appears clearly, that the church had much declined by long continued prosperity, and harboured multitudes of hypocritical professors in her bosom, for these lay hold of the first opportunity that offers, to throw off the mask, and join the standard of an enemy against her.
As to the visible agents, the leader of the army in this expedition is described by the country in which he resides, and his occupation: “Gog, in the land of Magog, the chief
prince of Meshech and Tubal,” Ezek. xxxviii. 2. The inspired writers commonly denominate nations by the names of their progenitors, and countries by the names given them on the first partition of the earth betwixt the fons of Noah. Now, it appears from Genesis, chap. x. 2. that Magog, as well as Meshech and Tubal, were sons of Japhet an, d all the learned agree, that they originally settled in the neighbourhood of each other, to the east and north-east of the Euxine Sea, and that Magog is the fa. ther of the Scythians and Tartars. It appears to me, that the intention of the prophecy is to show, that some adventurous Tartar prince residing near the Euxine Sea, and reigning over
the neighbouring countries, shall at the end of the Millennium, set up the standard of rebellion againft the church. But we are carefully to observe, that besides his natural subjects, he is joined by malcontents, from all the corners of the earth. So the Apostle says expressly, (Rev. XX. 8.) and the prophet Ezekiel says as much by implication ; for he enumerates, not only “ Gomer and his bands, Togarmah and his “bands, out of the north quarters ;" but he likewise mentions Persia, Ethiopia, and Lybia, countries widely diftant from each other, and from the land of Magog, and with respect to Judea, situated at the four quarters of the earth.
The motives which animate these enemies of the church are various. The grand adverfary, under the influence of the old enmity, endeavours, in this last effort to suppress religion by open violence, not to undermine it as formerly, by the beast and false prophet".
(1) The latest Popish writers on the subject of Antichrist, apply the prophecy concerning Gog in Ezekiel to Antichrift, and triumph in it, as containing an ample vindication of the Papacy; for Gog appears to be an individual, not a fucceffion of individuals; an Afiatic, not an European prince; an open, not a secret enemy of reli, gion. But the answer is easy; Antichrist and Gog, though both enemies to religion, are very different powers, rising in very different ages of the world, the appearance of the last distant from the final fall of the first 1000 years.
The leader of this expedition appears to be chiefly under the influence of covetousness. “Thou shalt fay, I will go to them that are at “ reft, -to take a spoil, and to take a prey; to 6 turn thine hand upon the people,
which “ have gotten cattle and goods. The mer• chants of Tarfhish shall say unto thee, Art “ thou come to take a spoil? haft thou gathered “thy company to take a prey? to carry away “ silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, “ to take a great spoil,” Ezek. xxxvii. i1, 12, 13. The multitudes who join his standard from all corners, besides the expectation of booty, seem to be actuated by resentment against the discipline of the church. It would appear, they consider themselves oppressed by the reftraints of religion, and have recourse to him for protection. This is implied in the Prophet's ironical address to the leader, “ Be thou “ a guard unto them,” ver. 7. The holiness and happiness of the Millennial state, cannot permit any species of oppression; if therefore the followers of Gog claim his protection to deliver them from the dominion of the church, it must be a defire to be set free from the re. ftraints of religion. No oppression is so grievous to an unfanctified heart, as that which arifes from the purity of Christianity. A desire to Ahake off this yoke, is the true cause of that op
position Christianity has met with from the world in every period, and will, it is most likely, be the chief motive to influence the followers of Gog in his time. It would appear, that all parties joining in this expedition are encouraged, by the hope of obtaining an easy conquest; a fentiment they would readily adopt from the state of the church a thousand years before: “ Swords were beaten to plowshares, and spears “ to pruning hooks, nation did not lift up fword " against nation, neither did they learn war." As they felt no injury, and feared no danger, they were ignorant of the art of war, and neglectful of thofe means of defence, which the jealousy and fear of mankind provided in more perilous times.
The Prophet introduces Gog meditating on this circumstance in his own mind, and then communicating it to his followers, “ At the “ same time shall things come into thy mind, " and thou shalt think an evil thought. And 66 thou shalt fay, I will go up to the land of un. " walled yillages, I will go to them that are at 6 reft, that dwell fafely, all of them dwelling « without walls, and having neicher bars nor gates,” Ezek. xxxviii. 10, 11.,
The terror and dismay occasioned by Gog and his formidable army in Judea, is described by the prophet Isaiah: “ Behold, their valiant