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referved to himself the knowledge of Futurity;
We are not therefore to be difcouraged by reastrable, fon of the difficulty; we are not to look upon the Prophecies as abfolutely impenetrable. We must feek, that we may find; we must ask, that we may receive; we must humbly and devoutly knock at the Gate of Heaven, that it may be open'd to us.. We are obliged to thofe Interpreters who have gone be fore us for if they had discovered nothing, it may be, no entrance being made, we fhould never have attained the knowledge of thefe mysterious truths. But we are not to stop at their labours, and acquiefce in what they have done, as if they had fucceeded well in every thing. This is fo far from being true, that the contrary is much more fo. For one Truth which they have hit upon, they have mifs't several. The misforture of other Interpreters hath not difheartn'd me, hoping that I have discovered many things, which to them were concealed. But I may fay, that I did not out of choice apply my felf to the study of the Prophecies : I found my felf forced to it by a kind of viclence, which could not refift.
They arç not Impe
Two things led me to it. 1. The cruel and horrible Perfecution, which at this day makes fuch terrible ravage and defolation in the Church: Endea vouring fome confolation under the deepest forrow I ever felt, by fearching into the grounds, we may have to hope for a speedy deliverance of the Church, and not finding them other where, I inquired after them in the Prophecies, which foretell the deftiny of the Church, and the moft remarkable changes through which the is to pafs. 2. The next thing that made me refolve to dive into thefe facred Oracles, was the concurrence of fo many Prophecies, (obfcure indeed, & of an uncertain and doubtfull original,) which fore-tell a fpeedy and perfect Deliverance of the Church. For Example, the fa- The con mous Prophecy of Usher Arch-bishop of Armagh, currence who fore-tells a most terrible Perfecution at hand, Prophecies the most dreadfull of any which the Church hath concerning the fall fuffer'd hitherto; but withal, the shorteft: after of Antiwhich fhall come the fall ofthe Antichriftian Empire. The Prophecies of Cotterus, Chriftina Poniatouski, and those of Drabitius, and feveral other more obfcure ones, which I have heard and con fidered, without giving much credit to'em.
I compared thefe Prophecies fo univerfally spread, and coming from fo many feveral places, to the general rumours about the time of the birth of Chrift, that were every where divulged throughout the Roman Empire, of a Great King that should be born in the East, to whom all the World should pay obeyfance. I did not find my felf much difpofed to give credit to thofe modern Prophecies. Credulity being the ordinary fource of much delufion, I always ftood upon my guard in that perticular as much as poffible. Nevertheless, I could not but be toucht with a fecret opinion, that in all this there might be * 4 Tome
fomething more then humane, fomething of an hand of Providence therein. As the Holy Virgin, kept thefe fayings in my heart, without paffing a judgement, I waited till farther Time, (which is the only true Touch-ftone) would distinguish foo-> lifh vifions from real Prophecies.
I found fomething furprizing and extraordinary, in the Prophecies of Cotterus, Christina, and Drabitius, which are publifht by Comenius. Cotterus, who is the first of the Three, is Great and magnifick; the images of his vifions have fo much majefty and grandeur, that those of the ancient Prophets have hardly more: They are alfo admi rably laid together, every thing fupports it felf, and one part doth not contradict another. I cannot conceive how a fimple Artifan could have imagined fuch great things without Divine affiftance. The two years of the Prophecy of Chriftina, are in my judgement a train of as great Miracles as have ever been fince the Apostles days, and even the Life of the Greatest Prophets hath nothing in it more miraculous, than what happened to that maid. Drabizigs hath alfo his Heights and Excellencies, but for the most part he is obicure. These three Prophets concur to fore-tell the Ruin of the Antichriftian Empire,as a thing that fhall shortly come to pass;but withal they have fo many things that offend, that no man can fatisfy himself to rely upon what they fay. Therefore I refolved to look into the Fountain it Telf of the Holy Oracles, to fee ifthe Holy Ghost would not teach me fomething more certain and more exact, concerning the approaching ruin of the Antichriftian Empire, than what other Interpreters have difcovered from thence.
I will freely acknowledge, that when I first lookt fato the Divine Oracles, my opinion was in favour
of what I fearcht for; being altogether inclined to believe, that we were near the end of the Kingdom and Empire of Antichrift. I was alfo fully perfwaded of this truth, that the Papacy is the Antichristian Empire; and that the principal Character of that Antichriftianifm, is the fuperftition which for more than twelve hundred years hath disfigured the Church, and made her defolate. Many things, without reckoning the modern Prophecies, made me Hope, that we were near the end of that Period of 1260 years, at the close whereof Babylon muft fall, the Heathen be converted, and the Kingdom of our Lord Jefus Chrift be fully fettled.
First, I reflected on the long duration of that Idolatry, which hath been establifht in the Chri ftian Religion. I faw that it began about the end of the fourth Century, that is, thirteen hundred years ago; it feem'd to me, that no inftance could begiven, where God fuffered fo great a Corruption, for fo long a time, without giving fome remedy and relief. I cónfidered farther, that in the laftage, God gave a terrible blow to the Antichriftian Empire and the Pagan Religion. The Kingdoms of England, Swede, Denmark, the Proteftant States of Germany, the United Provinces, the Switzers, and a great part of France, broke from the Papacy all at once, appeared to me fo confiderable a matter, that I could nor perfwade my felf, but that God had made mention of it in the Revelations. And yet I found no fuch thing among the Expofitors of that Book: or I found that they had lookt for it in those Places, where I faw plainly that it was not. Hereupon I fufpected, that that part of the Apocalypfe, which defcribes the degrees and Circumstances of. the end of the Antichriftian Empire, was not well under
understood; and confequently, that it was much nearer than was commonly thought.
Confidering the Reformation of the laft Age,as one half of the ruin of the Kingdom of Antichrift, I fuppofed that the other half could not be far off, there being already near 200 years from the one to the other. When God makes great Empires fall, and not all at once; the diftance is not commonly fo great between the first part of the Fall and the fe
After this, I confidered the prefent posture of the World, and it feem'd to me, as if all things were prepared for fome great Revolution. 'Tis as eafy with God to work in one moment, and without preceding difpofitions, as to take time, and prepare the matter. Nevertheless, we fee that by fecret methods, which men perceive not, he opens the way to his greatest works. For Example, the Fall of Paganism by the preaching of the Gospel, and the converfion of the Heathen World, was a great Revolution. God prepared all things for this great Event many ages before it came to pafs, by admirable means, of which no man then knew the tendency and defign. 1. He reduced the World to two Languages, which were almoft univerfal, the Greek and Latine, that the knowledge of the Gofpel might the more eafily be communicated; Difference of Languages being a great hinderance of fuch a communication. 'Tis true, the Apostles had the gift of Tongues, and could fpeak all Languages; but we are not to imagine, that all the Preachers of the Gospel had the fame priviledge. 2. The world was almost wholly united under one Empire, viz. the Roman: which was another means to facilitate the Converfion of the Nations. For if the Earth. had been divided into many little Principalities, under