« PreviousContinue »
the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness; and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.” (Zech. xii. 3, 4, 8, 9.) “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the cities shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” This is the gathering of the kingdoms and nations of the whole world unto the battle by the unclean spirits which go forth to corrupt the world, and arm them against God and his people, by the practice of all kinds of wickedness, by which the best part of the church will be greatly corrupted; and the saints will suffer very much, being besieged on all sides by very wicked men, mentioned in the Revelation, (Rev. xvi. 13, 14,) which has been explained.
The prophet goes on to describe the battle of that great day of God Almighty, which is mentioned in the Revelation : " Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem: their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes
shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” (Zech. xiv. 3, 12.)
Malachi prophesied of the millennium, and the preceding slaughter of the wicked, in the battle of that great day of God Almighty, in the following concise and striking language: “ Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall
. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet, in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts." (Mal. iv. 1-3.)
From the above detail, it appears that the prophecy in the Revelation of the millennium, and of the manner in which it will be introduced, is agreeable to the ancient prophecies of these same events; that previous to this, the Christian world, and mankind in general, will become more corrupt in all kinds of wickedness; that God will rise out of his place, and come forth to do his work, his strange work, to punish the world for their wickedness, and manifest his high displeasure and anger with mankind, for their perverseness and obstinacy in rebellion against him, and in opposition to his church ; that this is the battle of that great day of God Almighty, in which he will, by à course of various and multiplied calamities and sore judgments, greater and more general, and continued longer than any which have taken place before, reduce and destroy mankind, so that comparatively few will be left — an afflicted and poor people, who will repent and humble themselves before God, and trust in the mighty Savior, for whom he will appear in great mercy, and pour down the Holy Spirit on them and their offspring; and they will multiply and fill the world. And thus the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, and the church will reign on earth a thousand years.
It appears reasonable and proper, that God should manifest his displeasure with the inhabitants of Christendom, and of the world, for their long-continued abuse of his goodness, and of all the means used with them to reclaim them, and their perseverance in their opposition to Christ and his people, and increasing in all kinds of wickedness, while he has been waiting upon them, even to long suffering, by inflicting on them severe and awful judgments, and remarkably fearful punishments, to vindicate the honor of his own name, and avenge his church and people, who have been so greatly injured, despised, and trampled upon; and that it may be made known by this, as well as in other ways, that the God of Christians, the God and Savior revealed in the Bible, is the true God. And this will give great instruction to those who shall be left, who will have a heart to perceive and understand. They will have before their eyes a lesson suited to teach them the exceeding depravity and wickedness of man; how real and dreadful is the divine displeasure and anger with sinners; how undone and utterly lost forever all men are without a Redeemer and Sanctifier, by whom they may be recovered from the power of sin and Satan, and obtain the forgiveness of their sins and the favor of God; how dependent they are on sovereign grace for all good, for every thing better than complete destruction, by which alone they are distinguished from those who persevere in their sins and perish. And all this will tend to guard them against sin, to promote their repentance and humiliation, to lead them to more earnest, constant, and united prayer to God for mercy, than was ever exercised before by men, and to ascribe all the favors they shall receive, which will then be much more abundant than ever before, to the free, sovereign grace of God, and to give him the praise of all.
In the beginning of this section it was suggested, that by attending to the events which are to take place, according to Scripture prophecy, before the commencement of the millennium, further evidence would come into view, that this will not be much sooner or later than the beginning of the seventh millenary of the world. This evidence has been now produced. The sixth vial is now running, and probably began to be poured out before the end of the seventeenth century, and will continue to run a considerable part of the next century, under which the power of antichrist is to be greatly weakened, and the way prepared for his utter overthrow; and at the same time, the Christian world, and mankind in general, will be so far from reforming, that they will grow more and more corrupt in doctrine and practice, and greedily run into all manner of vice and wickedness, until they are prepared for the battle of that great day, and ripe to be cut down and destroyed by a series of divine judgments, which will be inflicted under the seventh vial, and will issue in the introduction of the millennium.
The River Euphrates has been drying up, and the way has been preparing, for near a century past, for the utter ruin of the pope and the hierarchy of the church of Rome, and the time of the utter overthrow of antichrist appears to be hastening on. But this is not accompanied with any reformation in that church, or in the Greek church, or in the Protestant churches in general; but very much to the contrary appears. Ignorance, error, and delusion, and open vice and wickedness abound, and are increasing, and infidelity is rapidly spreading in the Christian world. The unclean spirits, like frogs, appear to have gone forth to all the kings' courts and the great men in Christendom, and the greatest corruption and abominable rices are spread among them, and real Christianity is neglected, run down, and opposed; and the multitude in general, both learned and unlearned, are going the same way. Deism, and a multitude of errors which lead to it, and even to atheism, are increasing. A spirit of irreligion, selfishness, pride, and worldliness is exceeding strong and prevalent, producing all kinds of wickedness, and a strong and general opposition to true religion and the great truths and doctrines of the gospel. And the heathen world are no more disposed to become Christians than they ever were; and the way to their con. version to Christianity appears to be more obstructed, and the few attempts that are made to Christianize any of them are generally unsuccessful; and Mahometans and Jews hate and oppose Christianity as much as ever they did, if not more, and are sinking farther down in stupidity, ignorance, infidelity, worldliness, and all kinds of vice.
It is certain that most of the evil things now mentioned have been found among the body of mankind, in a greater or less degree, in all ages; and the pious friends of God and true religion have complained of and lamented them; and it is probable that the representation now made will be considered by many only as the revival of the old complaint, by those who are of an illiberal, gloomy cast of mind, and wholly without foundation in truth and fact. But this opinion, though it should be generally imbibed and asserted with great confidence, will not be any evidence that the representation is not true and just, but it will rather serve to confirm it; for it is commonly, if not always the case, that in times of great degeneracy, and the prevalence of ignorance, error, and vice, they who are the greatest instances of it, and most sunk in darkness and delusion, are deluded in this also, and entertain a good opinion of themselves and of others who join with them, being ignorant of their true character. They put darkness for light, and light for darkness, and call evil good, and good evil. And while real Christianity and true virtue, founded upon principles of truth and genuine piety, are abandoned, opposed, and forsaken, they perceive it not, but think all is well, and much better than before; and they may undertake to reform Chris. tianity, and think it is greatly reformed, when every doctrine and duty is excluded from it, which is contrary to the selfishness, pride, and worldly spirit of man, and little or nothing is left of it but the mere name, to distinguish it from the religion of infidels or heathen, and nothing to render it preferable to these.
An appeal must be made, in this case, from the judgment of those of this character, to those who are born of the Spirit of God, are created in Christ Jesus unto good work, by which they are become new creatures, and turned from the darkness of this world to marvellous light; who are not conformed to this world, but have overcome it, and are transformed by the renewing of their minds, so as to know and distinguish what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God which is revealed in the Scriptures. They who are thus spiritual, judge of all things respecting the doctrines and duties of Christianity, in some good measure, according to the truth. To such, especially those of them who have a general knowledge of the state of religion in the Christian world, and of the deluge of ignorance, error, and vice with which it is overflowed, it is presumed the above description will not appear exaggerated, and that there are greater strides and swifter progress made in infidelity and irreligion, error and false religion, in vice and all kinds of wickedness, than have been ever known before; and that all these are more common, have a wider spread, and are carried to a higher degree at this time than in former ages, and threaten to bear down all truth and real Christianity before them; and that the appearance of things, in this respect, is just such as might be reasonably expected, when the unclean spirits like frogs, the spirits of devils, are gone forth with a license and design to spread their influence among men, and deceive and corrupt the whole world.
There is reason to conclude, from what has already taken place of this kind, and from the prophecy of these unclean spirits, that they have not yet finished their work; but that the world, especially that part of it called Christian and Protestant, will yet make greater and more rapid advances in all kinds of moral corruption and open wickedness, till ii will come to that state in which it will be fully ripe, and prepared to be cut down by the sickle of divine justice and wraih; and it may take near half a century from this time for these evil spirits to complete their work and gather the world to this battle; but during this time, whether it be longer or shorter, and before the battle shall come on, there will probably be great and remarkable judgments, and sore, unusual and surprising calamities, in one place and another, suited to awaken and warn mankind, and lead them to fear God, repent, and reform; which being by most disregarded and abused, will become the occasion of greater hardness of heart and obstinacy, which will be a prelude and provocation to the battle of that great day in which mankind will be destroyed, in the manner and to the degree which has been described above. This battle, as has been before observed, will not be fought and finished at once; but, by a series of different and increasing calamities and sore punishments, mankind will be reduced and brought down, and every high thing levelled to the ground, in which the hand of God will be remarkably visible, and his arm of power and vengeance made bare; and it may take more than a century to effect all this in the wisest and best manner, so that it will not be finished till near the beginning of the seventh millenary of the world.
It has been observed, that while antichrist is coming down, and the way preparing for the utter extinction of the church