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Seeing that God, by his servants the prophets, has condescended in various known and allowed cases, (as may be seen by comparing the writings of the prophets with history) to reveal his purposes concerning the fate of nations, and that for the confirmation of his word, and the edification of mankind, it certainly becomes us to examine whether there be any tokens or signs by which we may know the present times, lest the judgments of God come upon us when we are not aware, and find us, instead of waiting for him, as his faithful servants, in arms against his providence, and in league for the support of his enemies, and the enemies of his children.
There never were greater or more important events, since the world began, than those to which we are witnesses ;-events apparently big with the most awful con.. sequences. Though what we have advanced respecting the termination of the power of the Turks in or about the year 1697, and the accomplishment of the seven thunders, by the seven periods of war which have been since that time, may not, by itself, prove that the time is arrived for the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and for the commencement of that woe which is to bring Antichristian idolatry, corruption, and oppression to an end, yet, in conjunction with other prophecies and events, it is pos. sible that it may form a strong probability-a probability as near to a demonstration as can be expected on such subject, and in the present stage of the business. Compare attentively. În that whole-piece picture (if I may so call it) contained in chapter the eleventh, we are in. formed that after the two witnesses, or two descriptions of witnesses, had lain politically dead in one of the streets of the Antichristian city, the mystical Babylon, for three prophetic days and a half, the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them who saw them. This is a Jewish manner of describing the great political changes of nations from bondage to liberty, as may be seen by comparing this place with Isa. xxv. 6–12. xxvi. 12, 19, 21. Ezek. xxxvii. 1-14. What the prophets in the passages referred to have described as the resurrection of the Jews froin the dead, is allowed on all hands, to be their rising to civil and political existence, when they shall be restored from their dispersions and bondage to their own land and to liberty; and the spirit which is promised, Ezek. xxxvii.
14. to be put in them that they may live, is not that which is promised Jer. xxxi. 33. and Ezek. xi. 19. but the spirit of political and civil life, preparatory to that greater blessing of the renovating spirit of God. Upon the rising of these witnesses from their state of death, they heard a great voice from heaven, (ver. 12.) that is, from the Supreme Power, saying unto them, “ Come up hither," assume the privileges and rights of freemen.
26 And the same hour there was a great earthquake;" (ver. 13.) or, in plain language, without prophetic figure, a great national convulsion, from the struggles which the supporters of corruption and tyraırny made against the vindicators of the civil and religious rights of mankind. “ And the tenth part of the city fell." This for ages past has been supposed to refer to France, the tenth part of the Antichristian city, and events seem to verify the conjecture. This doubtless appears to point out one of the ten Papal states or monarchies which had been the great supporter of the persecutions and oppressions of the whore of Babylon, and which was to fall some little time before the sounding of the seventh trumpet for the great and desolating woe; and no one of them has been, all through, so conspicuous in her cause as France.
“ And in the earthquake”—not at the moment of the falling of the tenth part of the city, but in the earthquake which terminated in that event, were slain of men seven thousand ;" or, of the names of men, as it should be read. This has also, for near two centuries back, been supposed to be a prediction of the abolition of titles in France, and of the perishing of those privileged orders of men who have been the principal supporters of despotism, and the chief actors in the persecutions which have raged against God's servants, as may be seen more at large in the First Part of The Signs of the Times.
Immediately after the fall of this tenth part of the city, the third woe commences. Ver. 14. “ The second woe is past, and behold the third woe cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” That is, those judgments now commence, which are speedily to effect this happy change; but Babylon the Great is to fall first, and this is to be accomplished by terrible things in righteousness. The nations are to be angry, (ver. 18.) and oppose the designs of
God; the consequence of which will be, he will gather them together, (chap. xvi. 16. xix. 17-21. and pour upon them his wrath, and thus destroy those (whether secular or ecclesiastical) who destroy the earth.
Let us now return to the seven thunders, and see whether our interpretation of them agree with what is here predicted respecting the tenth part of the Antichristian city, and the events which have taken place. The last thunder, or period of war, as we have seen, began in 1788, just before the earthquake in France commenced, and continued till 1791, or, if we exclude Russia and Turkey, 1790. It entered far into the period of the earthquake, and was a means, under Providence, of forwarding the consequences of that convulsion. In this part of the earthquake the names of men were slain, that is, the titles and distinctions not only of the ecclesiastics, but of the secular nobility were abolished. The titles of these latter were abolished, June 9, 1790. Their cries for vengeance excited the sympathy and pity of the surrounding courts, but they were at present in no condition to help them.
The thunder ceased.-Aug. 25, 1791, several potentates and princes entered into a treaty at Pilnitz, and agreed to prepare for the invasion of France, and to unite their forces to restore the ancient despotism, and with it the invaded privileges of the nobility and priesthood. The affairs of France advance fast towards a crisis. The angel swears by Him who liveth for ever and ever, that delay shall be no longer.-Aug. 10, 1792, the monarchy falls. -The seventh angel sounds.—The nations are angry, and God's wrath is come.
Thus there hitherto appears to have been the most exact, conformity between the representations to John, and the events which we have been considering, especially as to the rising and sinking of the Turkish power, and the periods of war which have afflicted the Latin church, these western parts of the world, since the termination of the violence of the second woe, and preparatory to the third ; as well as to the revolution in France, and the commotions of nations which have followed the fall of the Papacy and monarchy in that country. A correspondence this, which is calculated to excite the most serious alarm on account of our present situation, and of what we have to expect. But it is happy to reflect that this is not all; it is calculated also to cheer the hopes of all those who are waiting for the fulfilment of the promises of God, for the morning
cometh as well as the night, and at evening time it shall be light, (Zech. xiv. 7.) But would we escape the evil, and participate only in the good? The likeliest means to insure this, is, without delay, to withdraw from this un. happy and inauspicious war, and apply ourselves to a universal reformation,
THERE are also other signs of the times which very pointedly indicate what we have to expect, but which we shall only briefly touch upon.
From comparing what Ezekiel says, (chap. xxvi. xxvii. and *xviii.) concerning the fall of Tyrus, and the consequent calamities, from the failure of commerce, with what is said respecting the fall of Babylon the Great, Rev. xviii. serious conclusions might be deduced. As there might also, not only from that general indifference which prevails as to every thing which concerns religion, but from com. paring Rev. xvi. 2, 13. with existing events. The union of Protestants and Papists, (though it must be supposed that they do not in general mean this,) for the support of that which heretofore they thought it their first duty to oppose, and for the overthrow of which they pray in all their churches, is a singular phænomenon.— Yes, charity obliges us to hope that the majority of Protestants would revolt at the idea of leaguing themselves with Papal tyrants, for the direct purpose of supporting Popery. I beJieve that this is not the idea of the people in this country, and I hope that none of our treaties (though they say that with Naples does) will ever bind us to fight through thick and thin for the perpetual safety of all the states of Italy. For as the day (if God's word be true) will certainly come, and, it is likely, very soon, when God's wrath will be poured out upon that seat of spiritual tyranny, this would involve us in an awful situation indeed, to the most distant hazard of which no wise Protestants would expose their king and country. They who would do this, let them abuse the French infidels as much as they will, are deeper in infidelity than they. No; the people of this country, in general, think nothing about Popery, or of the policy of supporting it. This is not esteemed even a secondary end of the war by them. But it is too evi
dent, that the violent advocates for religious hierarchies, tithes, &c. among Protestants, although they might approve of some reformation in the Gallican church, and would not have found themselves inclined to oppose any alteration which might have brought it to a nearer conformity to their own several systems, yet when the French reformers abolished tithes, and restored to the people their ancient and natural right of choosing their own pastors, and especially when they abolished all religious establish ments in that extensive country, and placed the different sects upon an equal footing, and made all the ministers of religion dependent upon their several flocks for support, who might reward them in proportion to their own abi. lity, or according to the opinion entertained of their deserts; this reduction of things to the original state in which Christ and his apostles left them, was beyond bearance, and they had rather that all the absurdities and oppressions of the old Papal establishment should be restored, than such a dangerous example be set up in the heart of Europe. This appears evidently to be the sentiment of those who wail and howl so dreadfully about the contempt into which their “ dear Brethren in Christ" (the Popish çlergy, who can no longer shew their mitred fronts in Parliaments) have fallen, and for the overthrow of the holy altars of the idolatrous whore of Babylon. But let us pass on.
When I read or hear of the ravings of Mr. Burke, and of such like orators, who are listened to with admiration and wonder, while they so feelingly describe the merits of the t'apal priesthood, the sanctity of all religious establishments, and the enormous impiety of touching this ark of God;—when I hear right reverend prelates, of a Protestant church, drawing the most invidious comparisons between the priests of the bloody whore of Babylon and the dissenting ministers of this country, (than whom, with the whole body of Protestant dissenters, there are none who are more sincere in their loyalty to the king, 'in their attachment to the constitution, or more uniform in their obedience to the laws—but enemies to corruption, and friends to civil and religious liberty ;)—when I hear them, before the most august assemblies, breathing out nothing but brotherly love to the former, and nothing but wrath and bitterness against the latter, and all because these differ from them in opinion about tithes and religious establishments ;-while I hear them exerting all their eloquence,