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times better; it will direct me to be concerned, that whether I live, I may live to the Lord, or if I die, that I may die in the Lord; it will teach me to acknowledge God in all my ways, and encourage me to cast all my care upon him; it will tell me that my times are in his hands, and teach me to bless the Lord at all times. It will not absolutely assure me what God will do as to any of my outward concerns; but it will assure me, if I am a christian, that he will deal well with me, he will surely do me good: it will teach me, that as I know not what is good for me, of all that is before me, I ought, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Surely it is much better for me to know what I ought to do to-day, than to know what will come to pass to-morrow. I had much rather know the duties of one hour, and have a heart to do them, than have a revelation of all the future events of my life. Now, I am thoroughly convinced of this important truth, which I dare confidently assert and maintain, viz. that common sense, a Bible, and a right spirit, will always in form a christian what is present duty. They will not always direct him to action, because his present duty may be patient waiting. They will not inform him how he may certainly avoid a variety of troubles, (though they will probably assist him to escape many difficulties, which he would otherwise meet with), but they will teach him how to glorify God, by bearing all unavoidable troubles in a becoming manner.
Thus also the supports and consolations of the Bible will be found quite sufficient for every christian in the worst of troubles. Place me in the worst condition that ever a child of God was in, and let God only enable me truly to understand, and fully to realise, what he has already said, in his good old revelation, and I should have support and comfort enough; I should need no new revelation to make me easy. By the old revelation, I mean the scriptures in their original sense and meaning, understood as saying nothing more to me than what they say to all christians in the like circumstances ; so that every other christian would learn just the same things from them which I do, if he had but an equal measure of spiritual light. By a new revelation, I intend all sorts of impressions concerning supposed facts not already discovered in scripture, or concerning future events not already foretold, whether these impressions are made in the words of scripture, or by any other words strongly fixed on the mind. If detached sentences of scripture are made use of, that makes the case none the better, unless the sense gathered from them was originally contained in the Bible.
Perhaps you will stand me out, that you have known some such instances of these sorts of impressions being fulfilled, that I can never persuade you they are always delusive. As to myself, I only say, that I have no better opinion of these tales, than I have of tales concerning ghosts and apparitions. I should not care to affirm, that no man, in any one instance whatsoever, really saw an apparition; but I believe, that out of a hundred such tales, half of them are barefaced lies, and probably forty-nine of the other half were merely the effect of a strong imagination; and if one in a hundred should be true, I do not wish to experience the truth of either kind of wonders myself: nor have I any more desire to receive a true new revelation, than I have to receive a visit from a real ghost.
However, I must be more positive in maintaining, that, supposing them both to be real, there is no more token of grace in the one case than the other. Indeed it is possible, that a new revelation, if it were really made to a gracious man, might be attended with the exercise of grace; and so might his seeing an apparition. But certainly, it is a far better evidence of grace for a man to bear up under trials, by means of scriptural consolation, while he is uncertain of future events, than for him to be supported and comforted, by the certain foreknowledge of some agreeable change in his outward circumstances.
Suppose that you were in a state of poverty, and, being greatly distressed on that account, were to be relieved by an express revelation, that some distant relation should soon die, and leave you a large fortune; I think verily, you would not have the opportunity of exercising such grace, and giving God such glory, as another person, who, though as poor and afflicted as yourself, should yet be composed, and resigned to the will of God, notwithstanding he had no expectation of any remarkable alteration of circumstances in his favour, but who should rely on the providence of God, to supply him with absolute necessaries, submitting to his wisdom and sovereignty, and rejoicing that he had chosen the poor of this world, to be rich in faith, and heirs of his king. dom.
I wish you, my dear friend, to pray earnestly for more spiritual understanding of the good old revelation already made: be content that the Bible has said already, to all believers, enough to support them in their worst distresses, and do not indulge a wish to make it say more than it has said. There is much instruction and consolatioir treasured up therein, which we have as yet but a very imperfect acquaintance with ; let us study that, leaving secret things to the Lord, and being thankful that he has given us such an ample revelation of his holy will.
It is more flattering to spiritual pride, to hold an immediate dialogue with the Almighty, and to foretel our own future prosperity, and I know not what besides, than to study the plain word of God, and learn no more from it than what all our christian brethren might learn by the same means: and indeed this tendency, of such sort of impressions, is one great objection to them. But the other method is much more honourable to God, and to his written word, more favourable to the exercise of grace, and, in the issue, more comfortable and safe for ourselves. At best, I may be mistaken as to these new revelations; but the old can never prove false. If I were desirous of changing my circumstances in life, a revelation of my certain success in courtship might disappoint me; but an assurance, that God would perform the thing he had appointed for me, could not. If I were in poverty, a promise of riches might fail; but a promise that God will add all that is really needful to them who seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, cannot deceive me. If I were under trials, an impression that they should have an end at a given period, might fail; but a promise, that they shall issue, some way or other, to the glory of God, and my real welfare, cannot fail, for God has ensured this to all believers.
Since I was first acquainted with religion, I have known many instances, of the sad consequences of giving heed to impulses, both in those that I believe were truly gracious, and in others whom I could not but suspect to be destitute of divine grace. I have seen repeated instances of persons carried away by these impressions, who have appeared for a long time exceedingly confident of the fulfilment of the imaginary promises of certain events, which they desired; but yet, instead of waiting God's time for their accomplishment, they have been subject to the most violent and disorderly sallies of passion, upon any appearance of a disappointment, even while they have professed to retain their confidence, that God had indeed said such and such things to them; a sad indication to me, that their faith in this particular was not the gift of God. And when real christians, as I verily believe, have for a while been drawn into such snares, how have they been tempted to throw away all their experience, good and bad together, when events had taken place quite contrary to their expectations! I wish to use all possible tenderness in attempting to rectify mistakes of this kind, but have some
times had cause to repent not speaking my mind more plainly and fully.
I pray, therefore, my friend, that you may be contented with inquiring into present duty, and satisfied with the stores of consolation, already treasured up in the divine word, as the common stock of the people of God. ,Perhaps you are ready to reply, Well, but then the Bible will not assure me to the contrary, but that I may be as poor as Job or Lazarus! Very true; it will not secure you from any one affliction that other believers are liable to; but however, as it assures you the Lord will never fail you, nor forsake you; that he will cause all things to work together for your good; that though for the present, if need be, you may be in heaviness through manifold temptations; yet, the trial of your faith, being more precious than that of gold, which perish, eth, though it be tried with fire, will be found to glory and honour, and praise, at the appearing of Christ Jesus; you will, in the issue, find cause to say, This is enough; God hath spoken in his holiness, and I will rejoice, since he in all things shall be glorified.
Hoping you will take all my freedom in good part, I subscribe myself, Yours, &c.
or Daniel xi. 2. to xii. 8. I wish to call the attention of your readers to the concluding part of the last prophecy of Daniel. This prophecy, (which commences at the second verse of the eleventh chapter, and terminates at the third verse of the twelfth) describes a series of events, that were to happen in regular succession, from the time of Daniel, to the very end of the world; consequentiy, it is the business of its interpreter, to follow undeviatingly the stream of history. Our Lord himself, hath been pleased to determine one period in the prophecy, by referring the abomination of desolation, mentioned in Dan. xi. 31, to the destruction of Jerusalem, by the Romans. Hence, all those events, which are detailed by the prophet, subsequent to his mention of the abomination of desolation, must evidently be posterior in point of time, to the destruction of Jerusalem. Accordingly, in the thirty-second and thirty-third verses, of the same chapter, the persecutions of the primitive christians are set forth: in the thirty-fourth, the conversion of the empire, under Constantine, is mentioned; an event, which, as it increased the temporal prosperity of the church, caused many worldly characters to cleave to it with flatteries: in the thirty-fifth verse, the reformation is noticed; and, in the thirty-sixth, thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth, and thirty-ninth, the corruptions of popery are described: the fortieth verse points out the downfal of the papacy, and at the same time exhibits to us the rise of another formidable power, denominated the king of the north. The king of the south, whatever prince be designated by that name, shall merely push at the tyranny of the pope; but the king of the north shall pour upon him like a resistless torrent. He shall enter likewise into Palestine, but Edom, and Moab, and Ammon shall escape out of his hand. Egypt, however, shall be subjected by him; and the Libyans and Ethiopians shall be at his steps. At length tidings out of the east, and out of the north shall trouble him ; whereupon he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And now he shall seize upon the holy mountain Zion, situated between the Dead and the Mediterranean sea; but, notwithstanding all these exploits, he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. At this precise time, a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, the restoration of the Jews shall take place.
Such is this celebrated prophecy of Daniel; and the question is, who is pointed out to us, under the title of the king of the north? The eventful history of this personage is sufficiently detailed; but the two most prominent features in it, are his subversion of the pahal power, and his contemporaneousness with the return of the Jews. I suspect that some further light will be thrown upon his character, by referring conjointly to a prediction of Ezekiel, and to a part of the Revelation of St. John. In the former of these prophecies, a prince is described, under the name of Gog, (Ezek. xxxviii. 2.) who should proceed out of the north with an immense armament, (ver. 15.) attended by the Persians, the Cushites, and the children of Phut, who should make a grand attack upon the Israelites, now resettled in their own country, and who should there meet with a complete defeat. In the latter, two invasions of Gog seem to be pointed out; the one before, and the other after the millennium, (Revel. xix. 17. and xx. 8.) Both attempts, however, completely miscarry; and St. John and Ezekiel, equally invite the fowls of the air to feed upon the flesh of the slaughtered army. It is observable, that Ezekiel, in his account of Gog, makes no mention of the downfal of popery; whereas St. John, represents the destruction of Rome, the mystic Babylon, as coëtaneous with the