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the Revelations ; which great profeffedly of such things as were to befal the servants of Fefus [a], from the prophet's own days, down to that awful period, when all the mysterious councils of God, in regard to the Christian dispensation, fhall be finally shut up in the day of judgement. To these predictions, then, a more particular attention is due, the rather because they have been fulfilling from the time of their delivery — bebold I come quickly - and, above all, because a bleffing is pronounced on those, who keep, that is, who observe, who study and contemplate, the sayings of this book.
Affuredly, then, this study will be rewarded with signal benefits. And one sees immediately :
I. In the first place, that no small benefit must arise to those, who admit the conpletion of these prophecies, so far, I mean, as the tenour of the book makes it probable that they have been completed, from
. [a] Rev. i. 1?
the awful sense, which this conviction "must needs give them of the Christian dispensation itself.
That this dispensation, ushered in by so long a train of prophecies, should still be attended by others, through all the stages and periods of it; that fecular empires * should rise and fall, unnoticed, as it were, by the spirit of God, while the kingdom of his Son is fo peculiarly diftinguished, and its whole history, in a manner, anticipated, by the most express predictions: that Jesus should be, as he fays' of himself, the alphis and omega, the beginning and the end [b], of all. God's religious dispensations to inankind : 'that his first coming, or personal appearance in the flesh, should be fignified from the foundation of the world,
and from time to time more explicitly de. · 'clared in a variety of successive prophecies, 'till the great event, at length, fulfilled them all : and that, together with this event (the foundation of others, still more illustri Rev. ii. 8. xxi. 6.
"ous) his second coming, in the future and
gradual manifestations of his power (for they were to be gradual; should be diftinctly marked out, and duely accomplished, in the fortunes of the Christian church, or of that kingdom, which he came to erect in the world; while this subject, and no other, engaged the ultimate attention of all the prophets : There is, I say, in this scheme of things, something so astonishingly yast, something so much above and beyond
the attention that was ever known to be paid : to any other person or thing in the compass of
universal history, as must strike an awe into the hearts of all men, who consider Christianity in this point of view; and must compel the most negligent to confess, or suspecte at least, That such a dispensation is a matter of no light moment, but, indeed, the most important in the eyes of providence, and the most interesting to mankind, that can be conceived, or expressed.
If, then, there be reason, to admit the completion of such prophecies, respecting
fuch a subject, in any considerable number of instances, within that space of time which is already elapsed; and, therefore, to expeet that the remaining prophecies will, in like manner, be fulfilled, The conclusion is, that the dispensation of God through Christ is of the last consequence to the inhabitants of this world: And the obvious use of this conclusion will be, that it further obliges all serious men who have thus far profited by a study of the sacred oracles, to put that falutary question to themselves —How hall we escape, if we megleit so great salvation [C].?
Connected with this use of prophecy,
II. A second is, That it fets before us, not the importance only, but the truth of Christianity, in the strongest light.
So many illustrious events falling in, one after another, just as the word of prophecy foretold, they should, muft afford the most convincing proof, That our Religion is, as it claims to be, of divine in[e] Heb. ii. 3.
ftitution : a proof, the more convincing, because it is continually growing upon us ; and, the farther we are removed from the source of our religion, the clearer is the evidence of its truth. Other proofs are fuppofed to be, and, in some degree, perhaps, are, weakened by a length of time. But this, from prophecy, as if to make amiends for their defects, hath the peculiar privilege of strengthening by age itself: till hereafter, as we presume, the accumulated force of so much evidence fhall overpower all the scruples of infidelity ; and bring about, at length, that general conversion both of Jew and Gentile, which the facred oracles have so expressly foretold.
In both these ways, then, by impressing on the mind the 'most affecting sense of Christianity; that is, by giving us, first, the most awful view of its pretenfons, and then, by producing the firmeft convi&tion of its truth, the word of prophecy hath an evident tendency, in proportion as we fee its accomplishment, to promote the great