« PoprzedniaDalej »
cate the accomplishment of those predictions, about which so much has been written and said. Now, when the judgInents of God are made manifest, and he is avenging the cause of his oppressed church, scarcely a mouth is opened to give him glory, or hardly any sensation is produced, unless of regret, and of indignation against the instru. ments that God sees fit to employ. It is next to treason to talk of Antichrist, unless you transfer the character to infidel France; and to ascribe those calamities which now desolate the nations, and lay low the kings of the earth (Isa. xxiv. 20—22.) to the retributive justice of God; or to consider them as the accomplishment of the sacred prophecies; is stigmatized as wild enthusiasm. We know not how to distinguish between the crimes of the instruments and the equity of Providence; and therefore our passions impel us to take part with the destroyers of the earth, (Rev. xi. 18.) and to mingle in a temper, which, if we were wise, we should do every thing to avoid ; lest, haply, we be found fighting against God; for though the instruments may be wicked, yet God is just ; and we might be sure at the first glance, if we would reflect dis. passionately, that what is passing is no common work, nor likely to have a common issue.
Although the author does not suppose, that what will be found in the following pages is perfectly free from mistakes, yet he has candidly acknowledged such former ones as, either by his own more mature reflections, or by the assistance of others, he may have discovered; and has endeavoured to correct them.
The most material alteration which will be found in this edition respects the beast which ascended out of the bottomless pit, and is said in Rev. xi. 7. to have made war against the witnesses, and to have killed thein, when about to finish their testimony. Seeing, that when I first wrote on this
subject, I concluded, as I do now, that the tenth part of the city, which fell in the earthquake (ver. 13.) was France; and, consequently, that the street, or the platea, of the great city, where the witnesses lay dead three days and a half, and that all which is found from ver. 8th to ver. 13th inclusive, must be referred to the same country; and seeing that I also understood the second beast in chap. xiii. which persecuted and killed the men who would not worship the first beast and his image, to signify the French tyranny, I hence concluded also that the beast in chapter the 11th and 7th must signify the same monster.* But in making this conclusion I have, for some years, thought myself not justified; and in my last edition of The Destiny of the German Empire (p. 92,) attempted to offer a more satisfactory explanation.
Although I have no doubt, but that the whole scene of the witnesses lying dead three days and a half, their resurrection, &c. from ver. 8th to ver. 13th, is laid in France; yet there is reason to believe, that what is said of the persecutions of the beast in the seventh verse, is a concise prophecy of the general persecution carried on against the witnesses, towards the close of their 1260 years sackcloth-prophesying, by the papistical party, through all the beast's empire; for, their entire suppression was effected about the same time, in all the popish dominions. But, as representing the exact time of their lying dead, their resurrection, and concomitant circumstances, in every one, or in several, of the kingdoms, could but have created confusion, and as it was sufficient, for authenti
* It appears that Archbishop Usher was of opinion that the two witnesses were to be slain, not by the pope, but by the kings of France. It is likely that he was led into this mistake-if it be one-much in the same way as myself; as far, at least, as relates to the street, or tenth part, of the city. See Illustrations of Prophecy, p. 100.
cating the prophecy, to give a scene of these in one of the kingdoms, France appears to have been preferred; for what reason we are not obliged to account before we believe. It might be because this was, in many respects, the chief of all the papal kingdoms, the platea, the forum, or the chief street of public resort and elegance; and because, from the first breaking out of the light of reformation, it had been the most remarkable scene, both of the activity and of the sufferings of the witnesses, from the reign of Louis VII. about A. D. 1170, when IValdus, and the Pauperes de Lugduno first taught at Lyons, “ that only the Holy Scripture is to be believed in matters pertaining to salvation; that there is but one mediator, Jesus Christ; and that the usurpations of the pope are not to be acknowledged,”* till they were slain by the tyrant Louis XIV. A. D. 1685. It might also be, because, here they were first to be restored to life, and because this country was to be the theatre of the most interesting events, and to act a most important part, in the scheme of the Divine Providence, at the time of their resusci, tation,
Besides a Second Appendir, consisting of thoughts suggested by the progress of events, and the present awful state of things, many notes are now added, for the further illustration of the subjects discussed. And seeing that the several parts were originally published at different times, and having supposed when I wrote each part that that would be the last, I was induced, for the sake of connection, to embrace some subjects which had not much en. gaged my attention, and which coming afterwards to be more particularly considered, occasioned redundancies. This blemish—as well as that of discrepances--I have endeavoured to remove as much as possible, as well in this edition as in the former ; and hope the whole will now be found more uniform and correct, as well as more interesting to the reader.
* Status Ecclesiæ Gallicanæ, p. 96.
Should any one think that the author ought not to have confined his corrections so much to expository matter, but have extended them also to the spirit and style of many passages, where, some may think, a too sanguine expectation appears to have got the better of judgment, and the character of the French revolution and revolutionists to be set too high, I might plead in excuse for any blemishes of this kind, that it was early in the progress of the French revolution, when all was agitation and hope, that I commenced writing on these subjects, and was, for aught I know, the first who wrote on them at any length, and therefore some allowance ought to be made; though warmth and hurry should, in some instances, not only have occasioned some too unqualified expressions, but even induced deception ; yet I shall only - , say, I wrote as I thought and felt at the time, and though some things might have been more accurately and coolly expressed, yet I think I should be more likely to spoil than mend, by attempts at correction, and that the reader bas a right to them as they are; only recollecting that though I may, now and then, amidst the astonishment and agitation of the times, have forgotten to guard sufficiently against being misunderstood, yet, I certainly never considered “ the miscreants and cut-throats” who mingled in the tumults of the French revolution, and who at length got the ascendency, as the genuine witnesses of God: though I believe them to have been the executioners of his wrath, and the proper instruments which Providence employed to avenge on a merciless government, an impious priesthood, and a thoughtless cruel people, the blood of the innocent martyrs of Jesus.
Among the notes will be found the most essential parts of my reply to Mr. Faber's objections in his Dissertation on the Prophecies. His Answer to my Reply made its appearance after I had prepared the following sheets for the press. But wishing every one to think and judge for himself, and seeing no good likely to result from an extended discussion-there being no question or subject, however plain and simple, if not capable of a mathematical demonstration, but may be disputed, and be clouded by ingenious objections--I have not retraced my labours to encounter every new objection. And I have the rather desisted from further trespasses on the reader's time, because there are no new objections that seem of consequence, but what are anticipated in some of the notes, which are already sufficiently numerous and extended.
Many, most certainly, could have fulfilled the task here undertaken with much greater ability ; but the author
; has written as he thought, fearless of opinion, and has the pleasure to reflect, that he has endeavoured, in the best manner he was able, to discharge what he considered as his duty, and hopes--whatever the imperfections—that his efforts to illustrate the word and providence of God, and to smooth the way to the study of the prophecies, may be of some use to the pious inquirer, who, amidst the darkness and tempest which surround him, is anxiously asking, Watchman, what of the night ? *
And here let me be permitted to observe, that although I have discovered, and endeavoured to correct, some mistakes and inaccuracies in my first opinions on the subjects discussed in the following pages, yet these were such as related more to times and circumstances, than either to the
great realities of the subjects investigated, or to the
Isa. xxi. 11.