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are to be the rule of our conduct. We know who hath said, Love your enemies, and do good to them that hate you. This is our rule.
Sir Isaac Newton had a very sagacious conjecture, which he told to Dr. Clark, from whom Mr. Whiston says he received it, viz. “ That the overbearing tyranny and power of the Antichristian party, which hath so long corrupted Christianity, and enslaved the Christian world, must be put a stop to and broken in pieces by the prevalence of infidelity, for some time, before primitive Christianity could be restored ; which seems to be the very means now working in Europe for the same good and great end of Providence. “ Possibly,” says the relater, he might think that our Saviour's words (Luke xviii. 8.) imply it. When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Or, possi. bly he might think no other way so likely to do it in hu. man affairs. It being, I acknowledge, too sadly evident, that there is not at present religion enough in Christendom, to put a stop to such Antichristian tyranny and persecution upon any genuine principles of Christianity. Whiston's Essay on the Revelation of St. John. Second Edit. Page 321. Printed in the year 1744.
This was a very sagacious conjecture indeed; and it is not unlikely that it may soon be realized. There are reasons for fearing that ere long infidelity willas generally prevail as the name of Christianity has done. Itisin vain to Hatter. It is too evident, that though the Christianity of individuals, among all ranks and sects, has been genuine, yet that of nations has been only in name. By their fruits shall ye know then. Tne generality of governments have been oppressive; a great majority of the ministers of religion have not only been men of the world, who have sought after nothing but gain, but they have been cruel lords over God's heritage, persecuting instead of feeding the flock; teaching men to hate, oppress, and murder one another, for opinions, instead of inculcating those lessons of love taught by Jesus Christ. Among the rich and great, even the forms of religion are scarcely to be found. The spoil of the poor is is their houses, and because they are full they forget God, and are waxed wanton. If we descend, pride, covetousness, deceit, oppression, riot, impurity, irreligion, inpiety, perjury, and baseness, present themselves, without secret search, at every step.
these are all Christians! But he who was taught the religion of Christ, not by man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ, has said,
Faith without works is dead. Alas! they have walked in a vain shew. But it is probable that this disguise, before the consummation of all things, will be stripped off, and the nations be made to appear in their true character, and thus may be fulfilled, in a sense that has not been suspected, that prediction of the prophet Isaiah (chap. xxv. 7). He will destroy the face of the covering (the mask) cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations— My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
The French revolution then may be of God, and designed to issue in good, although conducted by infidels, and disgraced by outrages which nothing can justify.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
signs of the times indicate the speedy downfal of all that spiritual and civil tyranny, which for so many, ages has prevailed, in opposition to the principles of the kingdom of Christ, the Prince of Peace, there are three inqui. ries which claim our attention.
The first respects the dragon and the beasts, which John saw in his visions. Rev. xi. 7. xii, and xiïi.
The second respects the witnesses, Rev. xi. and the third inquiry is, Whether all the numbers of Daniel and John, which refer to the latter days, will agree with the present times ? Let us, with that reverence and devout candour which become us when we apply to the word of God for instruction, attend to these several inquiries.
The grand scene of the prophetic visions of John opens in the fourth chapter of the Revelation, and is continued to the end of the book. The whole may be considered as a number of scenic pictures. Chapter the eleventh is a miniature picture of the history of the church (the western church especially) from the earliest times to the downfal of all Antichristian usurpations. The following visions are the same picture variegated, for our instruction, on a larger scale.
Ås there are some, into whose hands these pages may fall, who have not been used to attend to subjects like these which we are going to discuss, it may be proper, briefly to consider the origin of that sort of language, and of those hieroglyphic, or, more properly, symbolical representations, which we meet within the prophets.
The first mode of writing appears to have been by pictures of things, and it must have been a long time before mankind arrived at any degree of perfection in the science of letters, as we now have it. To express ideas by a combination of letters, syllables, words, and sentences, is a more wonderful invention than most people imagine. The most natural way of communicating our
conceptions by marks and figures, is by tracing out the images of things; and this is actually verified in the case of the Mexicans, whose only method of writing their laws and history, when the Spaniards first visited them, was by this picture-writing. The hieroglyphics and symbols of the Egyptians and Hebreus, were an improvement on this rude and inconvenient essay toward writing. It would be improper to enter far into this subject here, I shall therefore say no more than just what may be thought necessary to shew that the figurative style, and the symbolical representations, which we meet with in the scriptures, are not so out of the way as some may be apt to imagine; nor the workmanship, as Dr. Warburton * expresses it, of the prophets heated and wild imagination, as our modern libertines would persuade us, but the sober, established language of their times.
In the symbols and hieroglyphics of the ancients, a lion stood for strength and courage; a bullock was a representation of agriculture; a horse of liberty; a sphinx of subtilty ; a pelican of paternal affection; a river-horse of impudence, horns of strength and pre-eminence ; among the Phenicians a horn was the ensign of royalty; and hence they came to be used by the prophets to denote sovereignty and dominion, states, and kingdoms. The sun, moon, and stars also, were the symbols of states and kingdoms, kings, queens, and nobility; their eclipse stood for the temporary disasters which afflicted them, and their extinction, for their entire overthrow. If this be considered, we need not wonder at what we meet with in the holy scriptures, and especially in the prophecies. The prophets speak in the language of the times in which they lived, and represent things under symbols then well understood; and though this mode of representing things is not so usual among us, yet we have something of it too. Modern heraldry is a sort of hieroglyphics, and we here meet with productions as fictitious and monstrous as a lion with the wings of an eagle, or as a beast with seven heads and ten horns.
In the prophetic writings, fierce and savage beasts are the hieroglyphic emblems of tyrannic monarchies and states, and the peculiarities of these monarchies and states are represented by suitable creatures, and by such appendages, as are proper to identify them, and describe their
• See Warburton's Divine Legation, Book iv, sect. 4. passim.
characters. Thus in Dan, vii. 4. the kingdom of Babylon is represented under the image of a lion with eagle's wings, to type out, not only its power, but the rapidity of its conquests, and the height of splendour to which it was raised. The kingdom of the Medes and Persians, (ver. 5.) is represented by a bear with three ribs in its mouth, to which it was said, Arise, devour much flesh. This was to shew the cruelty of these people, and their greediness after blood and plunder. Their character was that of the all-devouring bear, which has no pity. The ribs in the mouth of it represent those nations which they especially made a prey of.—The kingdom of the Macedonians, or Grecians, is characterized (ver. 6.) by a leopard, with four heads, and four wings of a fowl. The leopard is remarkable for its swiftness; hence, and especially with the wings on its back, it was a fit emblem of the conquests of the Macedonians under the command of Alexander, who conquered part of Europe and all Asia in six years. As the lion had two wings to represent the rapidity of the Babylonian conquests, so this leopard has four, to signify the swifter progress of the Macedonians. The four heads also · are significant. They are intended to represent the same
circumstance as the four horns of the he-goat in the eighth chapter. Fifteen years after the death of Alexander, his brother and two sons being murdered, his kingdom was broken,' or divided, by Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus, into four lesser kingdoms, which they seized for themselves.
It may not be amiss in this place, to take notice, that whereas, in this vision in the seventh chapter, the MedoPersian empire is represented under the emblem of a bear, and that of the Macedonians under that of a leopard, in that of chapter the eighth, the former is typed out by a ram (ver. 3.) with two horns, one higher than the other; and the higher came up last ; and the latter by a he-goat, &c. These were most apt representations of these empires. For a ram was the royal ensign of Persia, as the eagle was of the Romans, and as the lion is of England; and the figures of rams' heads with horns, the one higher than the other, are still to be seen among the remains of the ruins of Persepolis, as Sir John Chardin takes notice in his travels. That which came up last was highest, to denote that the Persian kingdom, though it was of a later date, should overtop the Medes, and make a greater figure in the world than the other; as it did from the time of