« PreviousContinue »
appointed. The continuance of the preceding distress is measured by time, times, and an half, three prophetic years and an half, or 1260 years, calculating from the beginning of Antichrist's reign, formerly represented by the little horn, whose duration is measured by the same numbers, Dan. vii. 25. At the clofe of which, God shall put an end to the perfecutions of Antichrist, which previously scattered the power of his holy people, so that they never could appear either in force or in numbers.
The same æra, with similar circumstances of folemnity, is represented to the apostle John, Rev. X. 5,6,7. " And the angel which I saw “ stand upon the sea, and upon the earth, lifted “ up his hand to heaven, and swear by him that « liveth for ever and ever, who created the “ heaven and the things that therein are, and " the earth and the things that therein are, and " the sea and things which are therein, that so there should be time no longer, (that the « time should not be yet). But in the days of “ the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall “ begin to found, the mystery of God should “ be finished, as he hath declared to his fer. " vants the prophets.” Here the æra of deliverance is fixed at the founding of the fe. venth trumpet, but that event takes place immediately after the remarkable events already mentioned. In the same hour that the wit
nesses nesses arise from the dead, that an earthquake overturns the tenth part of the city,—that the second wo is past,-behold the third wo cometh quickly. What is meant by that wo we learn from what follows: " And the seventh angel " sounded," then the glorious deliverance effected by his sounding is laid before us in general terms : “ 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 ;” Rev. xi. 15.
This period may be properly called the æra of prophecy. The completion of Scripture prophecy which before this period was like the dawn of the morning, evident only to a few, shall now shine with the refulgence of noon. day and appear convincing to every intelligent and unprejudiced mind; it shall therefore prove the great mcan in the hand of God, of giving success to the gospel among the benighted na. tions of the world, and breaking down the re. maining bulwarks of superstition and idolatry; from thenceforward, “ the testimony of Jesus - shall be the spirit of prophecy.
At this period likewise, the dates annexed to the several remarkable events, may be calculated with certainty. By going back 1260 years, the beginning of Antichrist's reign may be disco
vered with precision, and most of the other calculations refer to that æra ; whereas, at pre. sent the dates are unavoidably involved in a certain degree of obscurity, and give room for various conjectures.
State of the Church at the founding of the seventh
FROM this period to the commencement of the Millennium, the prophecies continue to give a twofold view of the church. On the one hand, they represent the progress of the gospel ; on the other, they describe the steps by which fpiritual Babylon is brought to its final ruin, and at length all opposition to the truth is overcome.
The first view given of the progress of the gospel, we have, Rey. vii. 9.“ After this I be“ held, and lo, a great multitude, which no “ man could number, of all nations, and kin“ dreds and people, and tongues, stood before " the throne, and before the Lamb, cloathed " with white robes, and palms in their hands; as and cried with a loud voice, saying falva“ tion to our God which fitteth upon the
66 throne, and unto the Lamb. And one of the “ elders answered, saying unto me, What are " these which are arrayed in white robes ? and “ whence came they? And I said unto him, “ Sir thou knowest. And he said to me, These “ are they which came out of great tribulation, “ and have washed their robes, and made them
white in the blood of the Lamb: Therefore “ are they before the throne of God, and serve
him day and night in his temple; and he " that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among " them. They shall hunger no more, neither 6 thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on " them, nor any heat : For the Lamb who is 6 in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, “ and shall lead them unto living fountains of « waters ; and God shall wipe away all tears « from their eyes."
The multitude, with palms in their hands, are represented here as succeeding the 144,000 sealed ones. After this, I beheld also a great multitude. The 144,000 fealed ones run along the whole period of Antichrist's reign, Rev. xiv. 1. ; but at the close of his reign, they give place to the palmbearing multitude. The description of these, compared with that of the fealed ones, shows how different the state of the church now is, from its former condition, ever since Christians began to decline from purity of faith and man
ners. Previous to this æra, real Christians were few, as the great body who profeffed Christiani. ty were destitute of the spirit of it ; but now they are a great multitude, which no man can number of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues. Formerly the true fervants of God worshipped him sincerely in secret, but their voice was not heard in the world, for fear of the perfecution of their enemies ; but now they cry with a loud voice, making a public profeffion of their faith, and attending on the ordinances of religion, without fear or danger. Formerly true Christians were traduced as schismatics, heretics, and persons abominably wick. ed; but now their innocence is vindicated, their righteousness is brought forth as the noon-day ; for they all, and they only, are esteemed righteous, who are justified by the blood of Christ, and fanctified by the influence of his Spirit. They are cloathed with white robes, washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. For, merly the faithful followers of Christ were every where persecuted and overcome; but now they hold palms in their hands, as emblems of victory over their enemies. They were former, ly in great tribulation. They experienced eve.' ry kind of distress outward and inward. They were exposed by the virulence of their enemies, to fire and sword, to hunger and thirst, to cold