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perfecution is in all its Circumstances, let us consider it in its success, and with respect to those on whom it hath succeeded. I look upon that general Defertion, an whole Kingdom in a manner changing its Religion in four moneths time, asa thing that cannot be parallel’d. 'Tis true, the Roman Empire hath been feen to become Arrian in a very littie while, by the persecution of the Emperors. But Arrianism was a speculative Herely, and the Arrians cheated the People by equivocalConfessions of Faith, which taken in good sense, might now be subscribed unto. And for other things, their Worship, Prayers,Ceremonies, Altars,Bishops, Government,'twas all alike; and fo the passage from one to another was very easy, But here is the greatest difference imaginable , in worship, the object of adoration, the manner of it, in Ceremonies, Government, and Discipline. The Reformed Religion and the Roman differ as Day and Night; so that there must have been a prodigious Current , for the passage from one to another in so little time. 'Tis a frightfull and surprizing thing to fee Peoplemake less difficulty to change their God, than good Subjects would do to change their Prince; in cale an Enemy break into any Country,he would not find People fo ready to abjure their former Qath of Fidelity. Tistrue, this kind of persecution, which is made use of against the reformed , seems to me more cruel and more likely to overcome their constancy, then Massacres, and Fires, Wheels, and Gibbets. When a man can fee to the end of his fúfferings, though that endbe death, he may be able to stand his ground: but when he is given over to an hundred Executioners, who are commissioned to torment him by turns, without giving him the least repose, I confess, this is the ready way to despair. If they did nothing morcchan hinderaman from Acep,
it were sufficient to make him distracted, and to make him do whatever they would have him. 'Tis certain then, that several of those who have yielded, would more willingly have suffer'd death for their Religion, and have earnestly and seriously desired it. But what is very strange, is that the greatest part have not tarried for these Perfecutors. At the very approach of the Dragoons they cowardly complied, and a small number of True Believets remain'd victims, exposed to the Rage of an Army of an hundred thousand men, which were let loole upon the Kingdom.
This, I say again, is without Example in any Hiftsry.S. Cyprian in his Treatise de Lapfis,seems to say that some such thing happened in the persecution of Decius; but he himself in his Epifles makes it evident , that the Apostacy was not so general : forhe remitsthose who had fallen tobe judged at the return of Peace in the Assemblies of the Faithful who persevered; so that the number of those that persevered must have been considerable. In our time it would be difficult out of every Flock to make up an Affembly of such as persevere to judge the reft. 'Tis therefore an Event, wherein we must admire the depth of Divine Providence. 'Tis a speaking Prodigy, which tells us, we are now in those last days, when Chrift should come, and not find true Piety, or true Faith upon Earth. This is a Touch-stone for all Proteftants ; their Brethren of France were not more wicked than others: Wherefore we may believe that the same thing would happen in any other place, on supposition of the fame Circumstances; and consequently, that Christian courage and true Faithareat this day very rare., and few Instances to be found. Lastly, this Affair tells us, that God would melt the Heart of that people, and fuffer
them to Gink and be swallowed
that he may hortly raise to himself another, a new People. These are the Characters of this persecution, which makes me regard it as very singular and extraordinary in its kind,and consequently as a presage that God willfhorțly finish the eitablishment of his Kingdom, and the Ruin of that of Antichrist. If we only confider, how this persecution hath been more effectual than any the Church ever sufferd, it were enough to make us judge, that the Devil now imploys his uimost force and power, as apprehending'tis the last Time, and that the ruin of his Kingdom is at hand. WhenPaganism was ready to fall under Constantine, he then excited the sharpest persecution under the Emperor Dioclesian.
These are the different Reflexions that conspired to possess me that the coming of our Lord was near, to destroy the wicked one by the Breath of his Mouth. I had a strong inclination to be certain and assured of the truth
of these Thoughts, which could no otherwise be done but by finding in the Apocalyple, the accomplishment of thote Circumstances, which were to precede and accompany the fall of the Babylonish Empire. With this design I betook my self to read over the Apocalipse, not the several Commentators on that Book, but the Book it felf, only with the Exposition of loseph Mede , whom I formerly look’t upon as a man inspired for the Interpretation of the Prophecies. His Kcy of the Apocalypse , and annexed commentary, did heretofore charm me. I could find nothing like it in all the other Expositors. I added that of his Chronicles, and his Book called The Apostacy of the latter Times which is a large Commentary on · Tim. Chap. 4: V.1,2,3,4. And the Spirit saith exprefy, obat in the laff times there shall be some who
shall depart from the Faith. Besides several excellent and curious things, (a part whereofyou will find in this Treatise) I met with in that Author the thing which I so eagerly sought for, viz.. the true Epocha of the 1260 years, during which Time the Antichristian Empire should last; he makes them to begin about the year of our Lord 450. or 455. by dateing them from thence, they must end about the year 1910, or 1915. which agrees very well with my conjecture. But Iofeph Mede, who let me right at first in the beginning of the true path, forsook me in the middleof the way; and when the circumftances and preliminaries of the fall of Babylon were to be adjusted according to this Calculation, which are so exactly described in the Apocalyple, I found no afbftance at all from him; on the con-'
he led me out of the way, wherin he himself had put nie; and to make me wander and go astray. According to the Epocha which he himself had mark't, for the beginning of the 1260 years for the reign of Antichrist , I ihould see the end of it in 25 or 30 years, but according to Mr. Mede there must be many Ages to accomplish all things which are to be fulfilled before the period of the King dom of Antichrist.
In the 11th, 14h, & 16th, Chapters we have an account of the Circumstances and degrees of the Fall of that Empire; the Eleventh Chapter speaks of the death of the two Witnesses for three days and half, of their Resurrection, and of the fall of the tenth part of the City, &c. In the 14 , Chap. where the Fall of Babylon is divided into two Acts , one is called the Vintage, the other the Harvest. In the 16th. Chap. where the seven Periods of the declenfion and Fall of the Antichristian Empire, are set forth by feven viols and seven Plagues; of all this
joseph Mede understood nothing; yea , supposing as he doth, that of those seven Plagues not above two or three were come to pass in his Time, he remits us far enough off for the accomplishment of the five others. The Periods described by every Viol are each of them more than one Age: so that we fhould have four or five hundred years yet to come , before the end of the Kingdom of Antichrift. Ifevery one of the four viols, that remain to be poured out, were but of fifty years, we should have yet two hundred years longer to wait.
I confess, that after having read those places of the Apocalypse, and reviewed them twenty times, I understood nothing more therin ; I was only inore and more confirmed that no man had rightly understood them. In the midst of these distractions I
yet begun my work, without knowing well where I went. But I can say, that God so opened inine eyes in the way, that gave me unexpressible consolation ; for after having consulted the Eternal Truth abové an hundred times, with a deep Humility, and very great Attention, at length I received an answer at least I believe so, and think it very plain ; that all that must precede the last Fall of the Antichriflian Empire, is fully accomplisht. I have no right to require the same affufance from others, neither do I requireit. But that which I demand at least, is a little of that attention, which I imployed in the meditation of those divine Oracles, and then I am perswaded ; that if you are not as fully convinc'd as I am, you will
yet see reason enough not to condemn meof rashness.
In the firit part of this work, you will find nothing new for the substance of it; for’tisa long time that Rome hath been called Babylon , and that the Characters of the Antichristian Empire