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and mischievous error arifen from a zealous anxiety to rescue the church of Chrift from the wretched flavery and captivity of the Papal church, which has led them to reprefent it as the fource of all manner of evil, and to appropriate all the marks, however inapplicable and difcordant, of "the man of “fin, the son of perdition," foretold by St. Paul; all the marks of "antichrift," foretold by St. John; and all the marks of the beaft of "the bottom"lefs pit," or the beaft of the earth, and of the "great whore, &c." to the Papal hierarchy, and thus to load it (already abundantly loaded with its own peculiar fins and abominations) with all "the abominations of the earth;" with all the idolatries, fenfuality, and crimes of all the enemies of the church of Chrift, from its rife to its final redemption? This, I humbly apprehend, in the expofition of the apocalyptical history, is a very great error; an error which robs it of that perfpicuity of chronological narration, which it certainly poffeffes, renders it a very defective hiftory of the church of Chrift, and involves it in confufion.
EIGHTEENTH CHAPTER OF THE REVELATION.
The awful Sentence of Divine Juftice paffed upon the ungodly Confederacy, and the laft Summons from Chrift, to thofe that fear God, to feparate themselves from it.
IN this chapter the prophet foretels the deftruction of the ungodly confederacy of IDOLATERS, A POSTATES, and ATHEISTS. And as it has been his uniform method, when predicting events, which are to take place in the courfe of divine Providence, to defcribe them figuratively, by an angel fent into the world
for that purpofe, fo here he reprefents this dreadful event in the fame manner. He fees "an angel "coming down from heaven, having great power, "and the earth was enlightened by his glory, and "he cried mightily with a strong voice;" to denote the immutability of the decree, the perfect juftice upon which it is founded, and the dreadful effects of the wrath of God, when it shall be poured out upon the confederacy. This angel proclaims the awful decree, faying, "Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen, and is "become the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage "of every unclean and hateful bird. For all na"tions have drunk of the wine of her fornications, "and the kings of the earth have committed forni"cation with her, and the merchants of the earth "are waxed rich through the abundance of her "delicacies *" In thus announcing the dreadful decree, the angel speaks in the prefent tense, "Baby"lon the Great is fallen," and repeats "is fallen* to fhow that the decrees of a God of infinite wisdom, power, and juftice, are fixt and irreversible, and as foon as paffed, are to be confidered as executed.
* Ver. 1, 2.
The decree thus announced, the prophet paffes to a defcription of the tender mercies, and abundant love of the eternal Son of the most high God, towards his church, at that critical period. Proofs of this ineffable love, from the rife of the church, to the end of the world, run throughout the Scripture. We are there told that "the mercy of the Lord is from "everlasting to everlasting upon thofe that fear him." I fhall, therefore, only recite a few inftances of it, which feem neceffary to introduce an explanation of the two verfes, following those I have already commented upon.
+ Pfalm ciii. 17.
Juft before he foretold the deftruction of Jerufalem, we find our Saviour, with forrowful tenderness, mourn ing over her in this beautiful and expreffive lamentation: "OJERUSALEM, JERUSALEM, thou that killeft the prophets, and stoneft them that are fent unto thee; "how often would I have gathered thy children to "gether, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under "her wings, and ye would not *.'
Again, after his mercilefs crucifixion, and his afcenfion to his Father, when his flock had loft their thepherd, he fent his angel to the prophet to affure them, that "a crown fhould be given to them, and "that they should go on conquering and to con"quer +."*
Again, forefecing that his church, notwithfianding her triumph and exaltation over the heathen world, would ungratefully and wickedly forfake the word of God, to which alone fhe would be indebted for her peace and happiness, and fall into abominable herefies; and alfo knowing the dreadful § vifitations of God to be inflicted upon her by the barbarian nations, he fent his angels to the prophet, forewarning her of them, that the might avoid their rapine and bloody ravages, by repentance and returning to her father's houfe.
* Matth. xxiii. 37.
+ Rev. vi. 2.
How accurately and completely was this affurance of Chrift, foretold in the firft century, fulfilled in the fourth, when Conftantine the Great, then emperor of Rome, the mistress of the heathen world, became converted to the Chriftian faith, and the head of the church!
§ Thefe dreadful vifitations of God upon the church, thus foretold in the firit, began in the latter end of the fourth century, and continued down to the middle of the fixth, when they became completely fulfilled. See Newt. Diff, vol. ii. p. 202–207.
Rev. viii. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.
Again, forefeeing that the would obftinately perfevere in her iniquity, and the juftice of God would pour down upon her woes yet far more fevere, and of longer continuance, through the means of Mohamed, the Pope, and revolutionary France, he again preadmonished her of her danger, that the might reject their blafphemous falfehoods, and avoid the confequent judgments. This gracious and,merciful admonition the prophet defcribes in these words*: "And I faw an angel flying through the midst of "heaven," meaning, throughout all the regions of the church then planted in all parts of the earth, faying, woe, woe, woc, to the inhabiters of the "earth," that is, to all the members of the church, who had known the word of God, and now obeyed it not, but had become "earthly, fenfual, and "devilish.".
But it may here be asked, What is this angel, and when did we hear of his flying through the midst of the church? The answer is not difficult, if we tranflate the verse from its figurative, into its literal fenfe. The prophet has, in other places, reprefented the word of God, or the Gospel of Chrift, by the figurative expreffions of "The holy city," "the "temple of God," "the altar," and "the two "witneffes." Here again varying the figure, as it is common in the beautiful and myfterious language of prophecy, he ufes, with equal propriety, the word
*Rev. viii. 13.
We have feen thefe vifitations of God, as it were, fulfilled, and still fulfilling before our eyes. We have feen that Mohamed, the Pope, and atheistical France, are come, and brought in their train all the feductive decrees, falfehood, lies, and blafphemies, and overwhelming the church of Christ with darkness, filth, and blood; and we have feen the fall of the fecond, or the Pope, within these laft four years; and, in all probability, we fhall fee thofe of the first and third in less time than half a century, as foretold by the prophet feventeen hundred years past.
James iii. 15.
"angel," to convey the fame idea. Taking the verfe, then in its literal fenfe, we fhall find, that this pure and holy angel, the word of God, did "fly through the midst of" the church from one end of it to the other, carrying with it the admonition here foretold, before the time when the vifitations of God were to fall upon the church. For if we may give credit to hiftory, this angel of the Gospel of Chrift, through the miffionaries of the church, fpread the word of God over the inhabited part of the earth, in the moft rapid manner, in the fixth century: it was proclaimed and practifed from China in the Eaft, to Ireland in the Weft, fome time before the rife of Mohamed, and the Pope, in the feventh and thus the literal meaning of the text became completely fulfilled.
Again, after the prophet had foretold the fallen and abject ftate of the church, loft to the pure light of the word of God, and overwhelmed with the pollutions and dark nefs of Mohamedan and Papal apoftafy, and French blafphemy, together with the fall of thefe, her three great enemies, in the former parts of the Revelation; in the begining of the fourteenth chapter, he figuratively represents Chrift and his faints as preparing, with the utmoft joy, to raise the church from its impurity and darkness, and to reform it in fuch manner as to prepare it for its final redemption and eternal happiness in his kingdom, on the earth *. To effect this glorious purpose, he mercifully fends before him his meffenger, to preach the Gospel to the fallen world. "And I faw," fays the prophet," another angel flying in "the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gofpel "to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and peo"ple, faying, with a loud voice, FEAR GOD AND
* Ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5•