Page images
PDF
EPUB

A

ADVERTISEMENT.

NEWBUP.Y, March 11, 1794. TH HE many excellent things which have been written

by the friends of liberty, of our constitution, and of humanity, against the present war, and on the necessity of reformation, and a change of measures, may make it seem almost needless to say more than has been said; for interested men would not believe though one should rise from the dead. But although little, that is new can be expected to be advanced on a subject which is so plain to the dispassionate and disinterested, yet, as the argument in the following pages is placed, if not in a new point of light, yet, in such an one as has not been considered in any degree proportioned to its vast importance, I am therefore induced to submit it to the public attention.

It may be thought that the Author has not entered so fully into the discussion of some particulars as he should have done, nor bestowed the pains upon them which their importance required. As to those in the former part of the book, as they have been so ably treated on by numerous voluminous writers, and as he had but little to produce that was new; he did not think it necessary to enter farther into the consideration of them than appeared needful for preparing the way for the vindication of what he advances respecting those subjects which some may be disposed to reject because novel. And as to the execution of the whole, he must beg leave to plead the constant toils of his profession, which leave him but now and then an hour for such investigations.-Nothing but a conviction of duty could have induced the Author to present this to the Public; he has no selfish or party views to serve; and he hopes for all the indulgence which candour, with justice, can bestow, and no more.

The love of peace, anxious apprehensions for trembling liberty, concern for the fate which threatens our country, benevolence towards mankind, and a motive which a Christian and a Protestant ought not to be ashamed to avow, urge me again to address my fellow-citizens at this

dangerous and awful crisis-May the evils which the signs of the times portend, and of which I have such strong apprehensions, never fall upon my country!--May those measures which alone can save us, be speedily adopted! -But, should it be otherwise, may the hearts of the true friends of our constitution and liberties never have to accuse them that they foresaw the approaching evil, but wanted virtue to exert their talents, great or small, in the cause of peace and order, justice and liberty.—May the genuine servants of God, who worship not the mammon of unrighteousness, nor esteem the Bible a composition of fables, never shrink from their duty, because the world frowns and scoffers revile!

Religion is a reality ; uncorrupted Christianity is the greatest benefit that ever God bestowed upon mankind; but the deformities occasioned by the corruptions of priests, and the perversions of statesmen bave brought it into long disgrace, and prevented the intended good. The all-wise God, for reasons inscrutable to us, has permitted it to be so. This is one of the many mysteries of his providence; but his word will be accomplished; the kingdom of Antichrist will perish, and uncorrupted Christianity will revive from the moment of its ruin. We are sure of the event; but by what particular means this is to be accomplished, and when, is not so clearly ascertained. These are left for events to elucidate.

Our duty is to watch the signs of the times, and be ready whenever the season of reckoning may come. That its approach is to be knowable is put beyond a doubt, for otherwise the delineation of the signs, and the command to inquire and watch, as well as the promise that the wise shall understand, would all be nugatory.

There is a prevailing prejudice that deserves some attention, and of which it may be as proper to take notice in this place as any where. It is very usual to hear people say of the prophecies, and particularly of those in the book of Revelation, “ They are so obscure, and the opi. nions of the learned respecting them are so various, that it seems impossible to come at any certainty: and I there. fore never trouble myself about them.” It is true that there are a great diversity of opinions, and many strange and wild interpretations and conjectures have been started. But to what description of prophecies does this chiefly apply? Not to those which have long been accomplished, but to sach as remain unfulfilled; for though there may

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

not be an exact conformity of sentiment as to every particular re pecting these foriner, yet there is a pretty general agreement among our writers in their interpretation of them. What wild and incoherent notions had the fathers, as they are called, the writers of the early centuries, about Antichrist, the man of sin, and the beast with seven heads and ten horns, in Rev. xii. And why? Because these prophecies were not sufficiently realized. But what Protestant commentators now differ about the general appli. cation of these predictions ? Scarcely any. To say nothing concerning the prophecies in the Old Testament, which referred to the humiliation of the Messiah, and which were never understood till after their fulfilment, observe the progress of the elucidation of the book of Rea velation. The prophetic parts, to the end of the ninth chapter, are tolerably well understood, and though there may not be an exact, yet there is a pretty general agreement in the interpretations of our most approved writers, as there is also about those other parts that have, for some time, been accomplished. For instance, scarcely any body now doubts but that the fifth and sixth trumpets refer to the depredations of the Saracens and Turks; and almost all allow that the corruptions and persecutions of the Papal church, and its supporters, are represented by the treading under foot the holy city, for forty and two months, and by the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth 1260 days, or years, chap. xi. The reason of this general agreement is, because we see the fulfilment. But, in the interpretation of some other parts of this book, authors are very various, and for this obvious reason, because unaccomplished. But this is not always to be the case.

When therefore they are fulfilled, and the correspondence of events with the predictions suggests the true interpretation, it would be the height of folly to reject such interpretations on account of their novelty, or because former commentators entertained different opinions. I do not pretend to have any clear and specific ideas of what remains unfulfilled, but I apprehend that the events signified in the tenth and in the eleventh chapters of Revelation, so far as extends to the nations being angry, and the coming of the wrath of God, are now accomplished, or accomplishing. I think this is as demonstrable as a thing of the kind can possibly be-as demonstrable as that the seventy weeks of Daniel referred to the coming of the Messiah, or,

as that the fifty-third of Isaiah was a prediction of his sufferings and exaltation.

Some, it is probable, may think that the Author has expressed too much confidence respecting the supposed approaching calamities, and manifested too much of what some will call enthusiasm, for the occasion; he can only say, that whatever diffidence he may entertain as to some single and detached hypotheses, both in this part and the former, yet he has no doubt remaining as to the great facts, and expected events; and under the impression of this confidence it would be criminal apathy to treat them as common occurrences, and to feel as though but little were at stake.-When Jesus beheld the capitol of his guilty devoted country, he wept over it. ----Whether I write as a wild enthusiast, or as one in his sober senses, who has some reason for what he advances, a short time will determine; and, if the reader will suppress his censures, and engage himself diligently to watch the signs of the times but for a few years only, I am willing to refer to future events for the proof that what is now bursting upon us tends to ne common issue.-Yes, it is more than probable, that many will think the Author a mistaken enthusiast, but were this the universal opinion, (which is far from being the case,) he is not destitute of support against immoderate mortification.

If I am deceived by seeming correspondencies, or led away by the illusions of fancy, to adopt sentiments which may have a tendency to create unnecessary uneasiness, I shall esteem myself under obligations to the man who will endeavour, candidly, to convince me of my delusions ; and if such an one can produce any well-grounded arguments to overturn what is advanced in the following pages, or in the former Part of The Signs of the Times, I hope I am neither so pertinacious, nor so enthusiastic, as to be incapable of conviction. But while no better arguments are advanced than, “ Others have been deceived-opi. nions are various when an author wishes to support an hypothesis of this kind, it is no difficult task, in any age, to find events suited to his purpose—these prophecies might be applied to any other country or events as well as to those brought forward," &c. I must beg leave still to maintain my confidence.

Christians believe that the predictions of the prophets are some time to be fulfilled. Whenever that time comes, and a certain number of the predicted events

« PreviousContinue »