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days, when Christians should“ give heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons;" and should be deceived
" the working of Satan in all signs, and lying wonders,” previously to “ the coming of the Lord.” This “ seeking of the living to the dead,” the doctrine of " or concerning demons," as it is called in the New Testament, has in these latter ages discovered itself to be the Romish doctrine of the mediation of saints, which has withdrawn à deluded people from the doctrine of the one atonement in the blood of Christ : and the various superstitious mummeries of the papists, and of other apostate churches, may well be compared to the unmeaning monotony and mysterious muttering of the ancient enchanters and magicians.
The twentieth verse will now open upon us in its true meaning :
20. To the instruction, and to the testimony;
If they speak not according to this word,
Let the book of God, with its sure word of prophecy, be your only standard. When professed disciples bring not their doctrines to this test, it will lead to the manifestation of that wicked one, on whom no blessed morning of the second advent shall dawn; but for whom, and for his followers, “the blackness of darkness is reserved for ever."1 What follows is most remarkable :
Bishop Horsley proposes the following: “To the doctrine, and to the testi
See if they do not say, according
to the proverb, That there is not a ray of light
21. And transgressing this, he shall be heavily pressed and
famished; And it shall be, when he is famished, he shall fret himself, And shall curse bis king and his God.
The history of papal Europe has explained this. Departing from the written word of God, transgressing this rule, by giving heed to " seducing spirits,” the Roman Catholic church became heavily oppressed, by all the cruel exactions and hard services imposed by a tyrannical priesthood, and oppressive civil governments; while the souls of men were famished for want of the knowledge of God's word. When this state of things had reached its appointed limits, what followed? The oppressed people “ vexed,” or “ fretted themselves ;" as the word properly signifies: they so worked themselves up into anger, that it at length burst forth. What a description of the causes, and of the manner of their operation, that gave rise to that extraordinary revolution, which has taken place in Christendom in our day! An historian of the times would scarcely make use of any other description of the causes and rise of revolutionary principles in Europe: and how plainly are the consequences marked! “ He shall curse," or lightly esteem “ his king and his God.” This portrays those principles of insubordination and Atheism, which we have learned to distinguish by the term Jacobinism. In the scenes of the French Revolution it developed itself to the world in traits of character deeply drawn; and whatever better principles may do for
I should, in this case, interpret the passage as predictive of the denying the perusal of the Scriptures by the
Romanists, under the pretence of their obscurity.”
a remnant in Protestant nations, it does not appear from what we shall read hereafter, that the Roman Catholic world will ever be cured of this infection of disloyalty to lawful governments, and of infidelity towards God, so remarkably mixed with it: “ Blasphemers," " traitors,” according to the apostle, mark the “ last” “ perilous times” *_“ promising them liberty, when they themselves are the servants of corruption.”+
22. And he shall cast his eyes upward, and glance them on the
As this relates to things to come, we can but conjecture its meaning. It may be considered as a general picture of great distress. The afflicted world, reaping the fruits of anarchy and irreligion, shall look around for some alleviation of their miseries; but heaven and earth shall deny it to them. Nothing but darkness and distress meet their eyes, whichever way they turn them. A rising storm comes driven along, and threatens to overwhelm them all in perpetual darkness. If this be the meaning, it is parallel to Daniel, xii. 1, and to Luke, xxi. 25, 26. But, perhaps, we are to explain the looking up of the apostate foe as a proud defiance against the Most High;
• 9 Tin, iii.
t 2 Peter, ii. 19.
mp3 gun,“ splendour of condensation;" not light, but darkness visible, or gvo, may be derived from sy, “ faintness." — ParkHURST. “ Dissolutio.” — Vulg.
Perhaps, “ darkness of tribulation," “ blackness of despair."
ma obox, “ darkness of impulse," “ accumulated darkness." -Lowth.
his “ glance upon the earth,” or “ upon the land,” perhaps we are to explain, as some scheme of ambition, probably, against the Holy Land. This last interpretation, I think, to be corroborated by the connexion of what follows; though we must confess the language to be involved in difficulties. 1. I would venture to explain it: in this state of things in “ Chittim,” amidst these apostates of the last days, shall be gathered the materials of that mystic storm, which, you have learnt from prophecy, must at that season burst on our land from the north, and carry desolation through it, from one end to another. A storm is now, indeed, brooding, (the prophet referring to his own times), on the same border, which is the immediate occasion of
'The passage is unquestionably difficult. I have preferred the rendering which, upon the wbole, I think most correct. Bp. Lowth translates: “ But there shall not hereafter be darkness in the land that was distressed; in the former time he debased the land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtali; but, in the latter time, he hath made it glorious : even the way of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations." — Bishop Stock translates: “ Nevertheless, the gloom shall not be as when the sore pressure was upon her; as in the former season he made vile,"
vile;” and of “ making glorious :" but I prefer the meanings given in our public translation--would only refer them to the gloom of the storm of the former line; it should first pass lightly over, but at a future period should rest heavy upon the land. I think this is strongly corroborated by the manner in which the evangelist has quoted this passage; he omits the lines containing Spoo and 7a3n, which, could they be rendered “ to make vile," and “ to make glorious," the country, would have been particuTarly to bis purpose. But he only mentions the countries specified,
and points them out as the scene הכביד and הקל .c& : are clearly in
opposition to each other, and will bear the meanings ascribed to them by these right reverend commentators, of “ Jebasing," or“ making
of what the next verse describes. Bishop Horsley, however, contends for the senses of " debasing," and making “ glorious."
the prophecy : but this is not that mystic storm of the ancient prophets, though you may, in the ravages of the proud Assyrian, behold a type of the last invader symbolized thereby.
1. Surely not the gloom that is about to overwhelm it!
At the first period it shall lightly afflict
The storm that was to desolate the whole land of Israel and Judah, had now gathered, and had begun to settle on their northeru border; they saw it, as it were, hanging black and gloomy on their horizon, and threatening speedily to pass through their country. But, at a future period, when Ashur and Heber should be destroyed, a greater storm would gather in that district. You see, indeed, this country, at this present time, overwhelmed in the gloom of that black tempest, which hangs suspended over it: but that country, previously to that more awful storm of the last days, is to be a scene of peculiar mercies :
2. The people who were walking in darkness,
Have seen a great light:
The land now metaphorically overwhelmed in the gloom of the approaching storm, and over which a heavier
* Chap. ix.
+ Numb. xxiv. 24.