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TO THE FIRST EDITION.
THE events of the period, in which we live, are of great mag. nitude. To open in a connected and judicious manner the sacred Prophecies relative to the last days, with their fulfilments, must be a desirable object.
I am not insensible of the arduousness of this undertaking; and that some worthy men discountenance attempts to explain prophecies, till a long time after their fulfilment. Doubtless the prophecies generally will be more clearly understood, when they shall be viewed at a considerable distance past. But this should not preclude our present attempts to form correct opinions relative to those which are not fulfilled; much less, relative to the accomplishment of those, which are recently fulfilled; and of those, which are now in a train of fulfilment. The Jews were by our Lord reproved for not understanding the signs of the times; i. e. for not understanding the fulfilment of prophecies, then taking place before their eyes.
The prophecies were given, not only to evince the divine origin of Revelation, by being viewed afier their evident fulfil. ment; but also to direct and animate the people of God in the prospect of, and during their fulfilment. But this implies our duty to study them, while the events, which they predict, are taking place, and while they are future. Accordingly, when the Revelation was made to St. John, it was prefaced with this admonition; Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein; for ine-time is at hand. Repeatedly is it given in charge, in the midst of some of the darkest prophecies; Let him, that readeth, understand. We read; None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. They shall know the judgments of the Lord. Daniel previously understood by buoks the return of the Jews from Babylon. This knowledge excited his prayer for the accomplishment of the event. Simeon, Anna and others, who waited for the consolation of Israel, understood by prophecies the coming of the Mes. siah; and they discerned the accomplishment before their eyes, in the Babe of Bethlehem. We are told; The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him: And, The Lord God will do nothing, but he will reveal it to his servants the prophets. Not by new revelations; but by leading to a correct investigation of those already given. All the directions given to the people of God, relative to the perilous times just preceding the Millenniuin, clearly imply, that the Church will, at that day, understand the
most interesting prophecies then about to receive their fulfilment. Otherwise, how could the embassadors of Christ, as commanded, Joel ii, 1, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in God's holy mountain," when the day of the Lord is nigh at hand? Hence there is much encouragement to pray and study, that we may form correct views, in the light of prophecy, of the great events of our days.
The Church of Christ has been premonished respecting most of the signal events, in which she was to be much interested, in every age. In this the care and kindness of her divine Lord have ever appeared. And he has graciously so ordered, that his people should be led to form essentially correct views of the fulfilment of those premonitions. Shall the great events of this period of the world then, be an exception to this general rule? Shall the events of our days, more interesting than events of former ages, and wbich for more than twenty years have been alarming the world, and demonstrating the commencement of a new and important era, be supposed to be veiled in impenetrable mystery? It cannot be probable! Some of the most interesting prophecies of Revelation have recently received their accomplishment; which is leading on a train of events most important, and clearly predicted. And it must be important to Zion to be able rightly to view, in the light of Divine prophecies, the present, and the subsequent designs of Providence.
Attempts to write upon the prophecies have been, in the esti. mation of some, brought into disrepute, by the failing of even able and good men, in their conjectures upon the subject; and especially by the injudiciousness and enthusiasm of others. But shall occasion be hence taken to neglect this important and useful part of the word of God?
The author of the following work is not insensible of the per. ils of the times, and the delicacy of his subject, at such a day as this. Permit him once for all to protest, that he is not knowingly governed, in any thing he has written, by the party interests of the day, viewing them merely as political events. He confidently appeals to all, who for twenty years have known the tenor of his public ministry, and of his life, that he is no party man. What he has written, is written under a solemn conviction of the infinite weight of evangelical truth; and of his accountability to God, as a minister of the Gospel. Events of a political nature are noted, 10 show their fulfilment of the word of God; to ascertain moral duties, moral turpitude, and the dangers of the times from the just displeasure of the Most High In this point of light, it is the duty of every minister of Christ to have his eyes open to political events. I am indebted to Mr. Faber for my conviction, that the prophecies concerning Antichrist, instead of being exclusively applicable to the Romish hierarchy, designate an Atheistical Power of later dare; and am indebted to him for finding in Dan. xi, 36, a prediction of this Atheistical Power; and finding a fulfilment of it in the French nation. But this author wrote before the government of France had assumed its Imperial form. There are striking traits of character in the above noted prophecy, and in various others, overlooked, or misapprehended by this author. On reading his application of the prediction in Dan xi, 36, to the French nation, I felt a difficulty from the seeming abruptness of such an application. But on consulting the preceding parts of the chapter, in .connexion with chapter xth, and learning, as I apprehended, the object of the revealing Angel, I found my doubts removed, and my confidence in the correctness of the application of the passage to the French nation, established. With this clew I lave endeavored to examine various other prophecies, which respect the same period, and some preceding, and, subsequent periods; with what success, the reader will judge. I acknowledge many expositions given in this work are new; at least they are so lo me; which has excited my fear and solemn attention in the investigation of the true sense of those passages. I have endeavored to consult and compare authors on this subject; and have long been in a habit of perusing them with some pleasure. But it will be seen that I have not been governed wholly by old opinions; but have endeavored to compare Scripture with Scripture, and to adopt its most obvious and natural meaning. I have no other apology to make for presenting this Dissertation to the public, than the fact, that gentlemen, whose judgment I venerate, have advised to it; and my own conviction of the truth of the scheme, and the weight of the subject here presented.
CHAP. I. We are taught in the prophetic parts of the sacred
Scriptures, to expect the rise of a terrible, atheistical Power, and a vast influence of Infidelity, in the last days, or just before the Millennium.
THERE are many predictions of this event, both in the Old and New Testaments; some of which will be noted in the following sections. This terrible power is to exist after the predominant reign of Popery, and not long before the battle of that great day of God Almighty, which is to prepare the way for Christ's mil. lennial Kingdom. This Power is not a fifth Monarchy on earth; but is comprised in the fourth; or is the last head of the old Roman Beast. It is, in the lan. guage of prophecy, the old bloody, persecuting Roman Empire revived, after it had long lain dead: Ascending out of the bottomless pit, in the last days; to accomplish God's works of judgment; and then to go into perdition. This I shall endeavor to substantiate. The rise of this Power is predicted as a new and terrible event.
Preliminary remarks upon the Xth and XIth chap- .
ters of Daniel. The first passage, which will be adduced to prove the proposition stated in Chap. I, is Dan. xi, from the 36th verse, to the end. To prepare the way for the consideration of this passage, let the following things be premised. The prophet Daniel had twice predicted the existence of the Roman empire; in the legs of iron; * and in the fourth beast strong and terrible, hav. ing great iron teeth.† Popery had been before pre. dicted, under the emblem of the little horn of the Ro. man beast, speaking great things against the Most High. I Mohammedism had been predicted, under the emblem of the little horn of the he-goat;) as Mr. Faber has ingeniously shown.||
In Dan. ix, we have an account of the prophet's fasting and supplication, relative to the return of the Jews from Babylon; upon which he has his vision of their return; of the seventy weeks; of the coming and death of the Messiah; and of the destruction of Jerusalem.
Then, in the beginning of chap. x, we are informed, In the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia, a thing was revealed unto Daniel, and the thing was true; but the time appointed was long. And the whole of the succeeding chapter is taken up in preparing to present this far distant thing to view. In verse 14th, the Angel says, Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befal thy people, in latter days; for yet the vision is for many days. No such formal preparation was made, nor notice given, of the great distance of the event, when the prophet was about to predict the Roman empire; or the introduction of Popery; or of Mohammedism; although the two latter were then ten or twelve hundred years future. Here was a new subject, a most interest thing to be revealed, the time of which was to be long posterior to those which had just before been predicted. The revealing angel seems to have but one thing in view: A thing was revealed to Daniel. It was to be a thing closely connected with what should befal the Jews in the latter days. This could not refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. For this had been before predicted; 7 and it was not by far
* Dan. ii, 34, 40.
+ Dan. vii, 7. Dan. viii, 9. || Vol. i, p. 158.
an, vii, 8, 24., Dan. ix, 26, 27.