Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

and a mouth speaking great things. By this is' plainly meant the system of the paparchy, or the power of the popedom, with its triple crown, uniting the sword and the keys; as if the fugitive or suppliant pope in our own day were truly God on earth! But if his mystic person is described, so the doom is written of him and his, long ago, in the oracles of God: in Daniel, in Paul, and in John, with grand coincidence, and one would think, with unmistakable certainty. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake : I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws : and they shall be given into his hand, until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion to consume and to destroy it unto the end. The seventeenth chapter of Revelation corresponds with this part of the seventh of Daniel. The ten horns are there; and the connection with them, patronizing and tronized, of the infamous harlot that affects to be the spouse of Christ, and is not, is well displayed : and said the angel to John, in the progress of the vision, the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire ; an operation, my brethren, in the providence of God, somewhat gradual, well deliberated, perfectly controlled, and now in process, though seemingly prolonged, before our eyes. Can we not discern the signs of the times ? What need be more intelligible than the late events in Europe, as far as they go, touching the man of sin, the son of perdition, that ANOMOS of prophecy, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming ?

The removal of the Roman Antichrist, in which I include the habitudes of oriental Rome and the Romanizing corruptions of the total Greek church, the execrable formalism, east and west, which, having murdered Christianity in their own way, are now decorating and worshipping the residuary corpse, as if it were alive; the destruction of all this multiform organization of hor

rors, inimical alike to reason, to piety, and to Scripture, is probably the event next proximate to our own times, which we are to expect. Here indeed we are to be modest, not dogmatical ; as some scholars and theologians of eminence have not only required us, very justly, to separate between opinions and oracles, but have also not disdained to spurn all calculations of the time as visionary and fabulous ; dismissing with a sneer our millennial arithmetic, as they call it, and scouting it away from them, as they sit serene on their intellectual thrones, incorruptible and non-committal and unenvied. But I demur, observing these two things: 1) They seem to do rather a cheap work; they destroy, but do not replace or edify. They deal themselves in negations, of no use, annoying to honest faith, and quite as dogmatical, to say the least, as are any positions which they so learnedly decry. 2) Where in the mean time leave they the millennial arithmetic of the Holy Ghost ? They lose it-in Germany. I read what they say, and return to my blessed Bible, to find vacuity, insipidity, and worse than the ambiguity of the heathen oracles. Hence I neither thank them for their wisdom, nor choose to receive it; surely thinking that the old is better.

God has never written the prophecies, says Sir Isaac Newton, to make men prophets ; but that when the event appears to explain the prediction, his own foresight, not that of the interpreter, may be acknowledged and honored. I add, it is also his plan to give all necessary and practical instruction to his people, of the fortunes that are before them, of the system of his providence, of the prospects of his church, of the ends of his government, and of the great events, affecting the destinies and the duties of his servants, which he intends to order and effectuate. Hence, his frequent benediction pronounced on the sober, the humble, and the devout study of prophecy-all other methods or kinds of study being justly cursed with the plague of blindness, as well as the sin of pride.

With these things premised, I announce my own conviction, that the revealed lifetime of the papacy is twelve centuries and three-fifths of years ; that this famous period of twelve hundred

and sixty, is a number not literal and absolute, but medial and proportional; that if we seek in vain for its terminus a quo or starting point, in order to find its terminus ad quem or point of termination, this is not so wonderful, as that wise and pious men should repudiate or stultify the very words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, because they have not yet learned their proper import or use. The great epochs in the gradual rise of the man of sin, which history signalizes, may be intrinsically of less importance than we imagine. The events which occasioned them are but signal developments, of that pre-existing apostacy from Christ and his gospel, which God saw and noted, if men did not, irrespective of those developments. A ferocious and treacherous pard, is a beast of terror and blood independent of his color, his attitude, or his cage; the same in character when dormant, or couchant, or levant, as when guardant, or rampant, or saliant, or combatant ; to use the language of the heralds. Sleeping or waking, fawning or devouring, its spirit is one and the same. As the great mystery of iniquity, it was alive, though not suspected or known, in the days of Paul. It was then in recent embryo, working and growing for future manifestation, that he might be revealed in his time ; for birth, augmentation, maturity, and ultimate destruction too!

Its nature is quite intelligible to any one that understands the character of fallen man. It is that germ and form of þuman depravity, that commonly prefers self to God; that continually says excelsior to its own vaulting ambition ; that agitates no other apostolic question, with half so much sincerity or engagedness, as this—who shall be the greatest ?and that, blinded and blinding, by the very glare of sacredness that

" Mark 9 : 34. The original here has only two words, more strong, graphic, familiar, and natural, than any translation--els uelswr. The insidious pravity of that impulse has deceived, actuated, and ruined—how many! Our ecclesiastical history is mainly a record of crimes and enormities as the consequence. Yet the history of the external church, through the long night of THE APOSTACY—as Paul calls it, ý ánooraoia, 2 Thes. 2: 3–is often the history of apostates only: while the saints of God fled into the wilderness, and constituted the church invisible in more senses than one; leaving corruption to its own orgies, and glories, and miseries in the end. An apostatical succession of religionizing criminals in the main ! Rev. 11:1-13. 12: 14-17.

surrounds it, in the high places of the church, becomes presently, yet by degrees there, an idol substitute for the living God himself; eclipsing and superseding Christ in his own palace, and dictating right and law to the nations, with a spurious and factitious dignity that exalteth itself above all that is called God or that is worshipped !

Hence we .apply: the number as the seventy years of the captivity, are applied ; not absolutely and from one epoch; for the epochs there are several, signal, and lasting through a score of years. The decree of Cyrus for the return of the Jews, was not seventy years from the destruction of Jerusalem and the .conflagration of the temple, but only about fifty. It was about

seventy however from the first deportation. They were removed gradually and through successive years and periods ; and in the same way were they restored : while seventy years show the exact and proper period, medial and proportional, of their whole captivity. Analogously we apply the twelve hundred and sixty years of the grand apostacy as the predestined period of its horrible lifetime. And if in this we truly learn the very lesson which God designed to teach, we may be not the less wise, whatever others are, since we are more than contented with it; knowing enough in the main, till events in providence become the perfect exposition and gnomon of the words of prophecy.

We all know how long, how gradual, how exacting, how cumulative, and how successive, were the demonstrations of its rise ; why should we not think its downfall will be similarly graduated and prepared and done? Look back to the signal times of Wicklif, or earlier, to the condition and migration of the popes and their retinues just before the day began to break on the thick and palpable darkness of the medieval ages; to that bewildered policy that first broke the chain of their time-honored and saintly treason against God and man; to their selfexpatriation from Rome to Avignon in the early part of the fourteenth century. After seventy years they returned—but shorn miserably of their strength ; like Samson from the lap of Delilah. Since then, they have never recovered what they

lost. On the whole, all their changes, as ordained and ruled in providence, have been mainly like those of the invalid, growing weaker and weaker, till consumption ends in death. What is papacy now to papacy in the eleventh century; what Pius Ninth to Gregory Seventh, the noted Hildebrand ? The differ ence is great indeed; for beastly terror and persecuting dismay, comparable only as the roar of Niagara to the wail of infancy ; for boldness and power, only as the politics of the nursery to the march of Hannibal, or the whine of mendicity to the wrath of Theodosius. The dead corpse of the papacy may be galvanized by the doctors, or the spasms of dissolution be mistaken for the vigor of convalescence: but dying or dead, on the scaffold or in the sepulchre, it is a doomed traitor, and its end is at hand ; its sentence is written irreversible, its punishment is capital and inevitable, and God himself is the executioner, in his own omnipotent and adorable providence. Its orgies were suffered only for a limited season; and only for ends sublime, tremendous, wise! Its epitaph was written before its birth-its wickedness cursed in heaven, from all eternity and to all eternity, with equal justice, truth, and power.

When this grand obstacle to the truth is removed, others will soon follow in course : as the fall of Islam, or the ruinated delusion of the prophet of Arabia ; the conversion of the Jews to the true Messiah; the universal propagation of the gospel and its ascendency among the nations; the ages of the long-desired millennium, the earth being full of the knowledge of the glory of God, and all flesh rejoicing together in his salvation. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth ; in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. As truly as I live, so hath God sworn, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.

Our text is full and conclusive. It is not so much a star of the first magnitude, in the vision of faith, as a constellation of glories ; glowing, in the firmament of power, as with the sweet influences of the Pleiades or the guided grandeur of Arcturus with

Rich, vast, and overwhelming as is the thought,

his sons.

« PreviousContinue »