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VI. It is customary with the prophets in describing the latter enemies of the church, to call them by the names of her former persecutors, This, at first view, occasions a misapprehension of the prophet's meaning. When we find the actors in any particular scene described to be nations that have no longer.an existence in the world, we are apt hastily to conclude, that the prophecy respects the past, not the future, But it by any of the rules already laid down, (for instance, the state of the Jews or the Millennium connected with the prophecy,) we lcarn, that it points to the latter ages, we ought to consider the names of the actors as a . disguise, and referring the prophecy, to its proper place, We shall find that the sense is, both intelligible and clear, :,:,:ariage
! That the prophets do make.. use of such dif. guise, is evident, from the teim Babylon being used in the Apocalypse", to signify Rome, and from the description of the same city as spiritually Sodom and Egypt?, ?
This artifice was partly necessary; for as, the latter enemies of the church had no name or existence when the prophet wrote, as they de: rived their names afterwards from languages, having little or no affinity with that of the prophet, How could he convey to us their names
intelligibly !!) Rev. xvii, and xviii. 17.11. (2) Rev. xi. 8.
intelligibly in his own language? It was an easy matter for the Spirit of God to have revealed the name of each, and for the prophet to have written them; but that name could only have had a certain fimilarity in found to the real name; it would have been readily referred to a Hebrew origin, and this would have involved the most attentive reader in inextricable difficulty'. But fupposing this artifice not absolutely necessary; it was highly expedient. A certain degree of obscurity is competent to prophecy, to prevent its interference with the completion, and to try the fincerity of those who believe it, by affording exercise to their time and talents, in discovering its meaning. - Now, the lowest degree of obscurity is that which withholds the names of the persons concerned, when their actions or sufferings are minutely described.
It is not always easy to investigate, nor is it perhaps material to know the reasons which in. duce the prophet to use the name of one ancient persecutor in preference to that of another. But in general, he seems to have in view à certain ve .. . . .. resemblance - (1) Calling Cyrus by name, Ifa. xlv: will not overturn this argument. The affinity betwixt the Hebrew and the Persian languages, as well as the actual existence of the name in both languages, rendered it abundantly intelligible; but neither of these circumstances can apply to the latter enemies of the church,
resemblance of character; and when the character, described is complex, he calls it some. times by one name, sometimes by another.. Thus Rome is called Babylon, for her oppreffion of the people of God; Sodom for her impurity; Egypt for her idolatry; and by the Old Testament prophets, Tyre for her traffic, Idumea or Edom for her carnal relation to Chrif. tians, by profefsing their religion. By this rule, it appears, that the song of triumph for the fall of the king of Babylon, (Ifa. xiv.) refers whol. ly to the head of mystical Babylon; the destruc. tion of Idumea, (Isa. xxxiv.) to papal Rome; and the destruction of Pharaoh and his allies, re. corded, Ezekiel xxxii. 17.–32. to Antichrist and his adherents, in the battle of Armageddon. • The prophet fometimes changes the name in the same discouse, to hint, I suppose, that we are not to take it literally Thus, what is said of the king of Babylon, Isa. xiv. 4.–23. is with the fame breath said of the Assyrian, ver. 23.-27. to shew that neither a Babylonian nor Affyrian is literally intended, but one in whom the characters of both unite. At other times, the pro. phet repeats the same expressions, in two different sections of prophecy, but varies the name of the person to whom they are applied. Thus the same expressions applied to the King of Edom, Jer. xlix. 19. are repeated, Jer. 1. 44. and ap
plied to the King of Babylon, with a design to few that the name is a disguise, and that the two passages refer to the same persons, and the same times.
Another reason by which the prophets seem to be led to the choice of a name, in describing the latter enemies of the church, is, to point out the country they inhabit when the prophecy. is accomplished. Thus in the description of Gog and his forces, Ezekiel xxxviii. the names of the sons of Noah, among whom the earth was first divided, are introduced, to shew that these enemies shall come from the countries which the persons mentioned originally poffefsed. The prophet Daniel is directed by this reason, in describing the subjects of the blafphe. mous King, Dan. xi. 43. And the prophet Ezekiel seems to be influenced by the same reafon in enumerating the allies of the same power, Ezekiel xxxii. 22.-30.
VII. The prophets describe the spiritual worThip enjoined by the Gospel, in terms borrowed from the Mosaic Economy. This is obvious from the use of these terms in the New Testament. The Temple of God is put for the Church'; devout affections are called spiritual
facrifices; (1) 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17. Eph. ii. 20, 21. 2 Thell. ii. 4. facrifices'; vials of odours or incense, signify prayer”; The use of these terms, therefore, in any particular prophecy, must not prevent our applying it to the Gospel times, if there are other reasons which direct us so to apply it.