Page images
PDF
EPUB

fuddenly and at once; which not being the case, it seemed to follow, that the prophecies were false, or at least ill understood: when yet, surely, they were then fulfilling under the eyes of these scoffers.

It will be considered, how far these hints may go towards rescuing some re, fpectable interpreters (for I fpeak only of fuch) from that contempt, which has fallen upon them, and, from them, on the prophecies themselves, for some hazardous conclusions, or (if you will) predictions, formed and given out by them, concern, ing the reign and fall of Antichrist. My meaning, however, is not to make myself responsible for these conclusions. They may not be rightly drawn from the prę, mises, laid down; or the premises may be such, that the precise date of those tranfactions cannot be determined from them, at least, not, till the scene of prophecy be closed, or, in the prophetic language, till the mystery of God be finished [n]. In the · [n] Rev. x. 7 .

mean

mean time, it is not clear and undeniable that there is no ground at all for such conjectures: or, if it were, it would only follow that they, who made them, had been rafh and indiscreet in commenting too · minutely and confidently on prophecies unfulfilled; and it would be weak, as we have seen, to contract a prejudice against the subject itself from the mistakes of such commentators.

V. After all, the main and master prejudice, I doubt, is, that levity of mind which disposes too many to take their notions on this, and other subjects of moment, from certain polite and popular, it may be, but frivolous and libertine writers : men, who have no religion, or not enough to venerate the prophetic scriptures ; who have no knowledge, or certainly not enough to understand them.

But with such cavillers, as these, I have no concern ; this Lecture, and the subject of it, being addressed to men of another

character,

character, to fair, candid, sober, and en: lightened inquirers, only: For fo the infpired person, who first announced these wonders concerning Antichrift, to mankind, expressly declares, or rather prophefies -None of the wicked fall understand: but THE WISE fball understand [o).

[0] Daniel xii. 10.

SER:

SERMON IX.

The Prophetic Style considered.

Ezekiel XX. 49.
They say of me, Doth be not speak

Parables ?

TN recounting the various prejudices, 1 which have diverted many persons from giving a due attention to the prophecies concerning Antichrist, I may be thought to have overlooked one of the most conliderable: which ariseth from the peculiar Style, in which they are delivered. But this being a subject of larger compass, and nicer inquiry, than the rest, in which, too, the credit of all the prophetic scriptures, as well as those respecting Antichrist, is con

; ceraed)

aca

cerned) I have purposely reserved it for a distinct and separate examination.

WITHOUT DOUBT, a plain man, brought up in our customs and notions, and unacquainted with theological studies, when he first turns himself to the contemplation of the Jewish and Christian prophecies, will be surprised, perhaps disgusted, to find, that he understands little, or nothing of them. His modefty may incline him to think, that such writings are too mysterious for his comprehension: or, his laziness and presumption may dispose him to reject them, at once, as perfectly unintelligible ; to consider the language of them, as a jargon, to which no ideas are annexed ; for, at least, as a kind of cypher, of fo wild and fanatical a texture, that no clear and certain construction can be made of it.

Now, this prejudice, whichever way it points, will be obviated, if it can be shewn,

1. That the prophetic style was of common and approved use, in the times, when

the

« PreviousContinue »