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ticular elucidation should be given of the prophecies concerning the monstrous wickedness, and terrible doom of Babrlon, besides what the immediate words conveyed, in which they had been delivered. Yet it seems to have been understood by the ancient jews (perhaps by means of tradition from the prophets,) that some further meaning, and a great mystery, lay concealed under that prodigious variety of magnificent figures, which had been employed by those inspired penmen to give expression to their descriptions, equal to the then unknown importance of the subject. But when the time arrived, that the supernatural agency of the holy Spirit, in this way, was about to be withdrawn, and no living prophet should any more be sent to instruct and comfort the church, against the heavy pressure of her approaching afflictions under the long tyranny of Antichrist, a different
procedure was necessary. It then seemed good to the divine wisdom to give additional lights, for the better comprehension of those prophecies; and such as should clearly shew that they had not received their whole accomplishment in the overthrow of ancient Babylon, but for the greater part remained yet to be fufilled; and to give such further inarks, as should help future ages to make the right application of them, in the season of their accomplishment.
St Paul first opened to the affrighted christians the prophecies of the coming of the MAN OF sin, “after the energy of Satan,
SIN with all power, and signs, and lying wonders,” to deceive the world, and to wage an impious war against Christ and his saints; as Daniel had expressly foretold, and as Antiochus EPIPHANES, (in a lesser degree, and as a type of the ANTICHRIST himself,) had done to the maccabees.* And last in order of time of all the inspired writers, St John, called the divine, for the clear view he has given in his gospel of the divine nature of the Logos, or Christ, has employed his pen to the same effect, in the book of Revelations. +
• See the first book of Maccabees, in the Apocrypha, and Prideaux's Connections, part ii. book iii.
+ The book of Revelations, probably owing to the mystiçal nature of its contents, and the numerous forgeries amongst
This mysterious book closing the sacred canon, the design of it seems to have been serve as a clue to the unravelling of the hille to perplexed thread of the prophetic historya so far as it relates to the last times; and to gather together the scattered lights which lay spread (in orderly confusion, and without much regard to connection or order of time,) in the writings of the prophets. This seeining negligence was not without design, and was for those times expedient. when the time was at hand that some of these prophecies should begin to take place, and the seven seals be opened, in regular succession of time, by their corresponding events in the history of the church; the scheme of a regular chain of prophetic history was revcaled to St John, and carried on in several visions, down to the end of the world. The construction of this system of prophecy seems to be so contrived, especially in the latter and more important parts of it, which relate to the long tyranny of Antichrist, and is of great consequence to be well understood, and to be applied without almost a possibility of mistake,) that a transient and general view of the subject is first given, which is aftertvards unfolded in its several parts, by so many tinct visions following, and representing the several scenes of the mystical drama.
the early heretics, was not so soon received universally as most of the other sacred writings. But its wonderfully exact correspondence with historical facts from that time to this, as well as with the prophecies previously established, must have settled its authenticity beyond all other evidences with every friend to divine Revelation,
When the angel, sent with this communication, had ended the eventful narrative, he said to the holy writer, seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at band.* But when the same messenger of heaven had revealed to Daniel the original matters, of which St John's prophecy is as it were a republication with cnlargements, the writer is commanded to shut them up,-intimating that they would not be understood yet for a great length of time, but should remain as a book sealed, and which cannot be
* Rev. xxi. 10.
read, till the time for opening it is arrived. “ Wherefore shut thou up the vision, for it shall be FOR MANY DAYS."* It relates to events which are yet at a great distance of time. And so again, in Dan. xii. 42 thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal
O the book, even to the TIME OF THE END that is, until the end of the mosaic oeconomy, when a revelation more explicitly unfolding all these mysteries of God, should be given in the christian scriptures; or, perhaps, by " the time of the end," meaning the end of the antichristian tyranny therein spoken of, and which would not be fully understood (especially in regard to the ptophetic dates of the times) until explained by the events themselves, which are to be the fulfilment of these prophecies. “ Whent the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets :"~Until then, continues the angel, “ go thy way, Daniel, for the words are closed up, and sealed, till the TIME OF THE END."$
* Dan, viii. 26.
t Rev. 8. 7." f Dan, xii. 9,