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Prophecy only with certainty to be interpreted by the
SIGNS OF THE TIMES.—Great changes in the Roman Empire foretold in prophecy.--Corresponding indications of them in the present time. - The Scourge of Popery, or the Breaker, compared to Cyrus, in respect of his success, as God's instrument of destruction. Allusions in the Prophets to the termination of his wonderful career.
EVERY attempt that has been made to apply the divine predictions of the prophets to events that are altogether in the womb of time, and of which none of the previous indications have yet appeared, has shewn the precarious nature of conjecture in such instances, by the total failure of the most delicate and fine spun webs of speculation, woven by many ingenious theorists. It is declared in plain terms, and the reason of things requires it, that
phecy should not be perfectly understood until the events foretold in it have taken place. “ But thou, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end."*
We see, indeed, to our utter astonishment, that even when time and stubborn facts have actually verified the words of prophecy in the persevering unbelief of the jews, and the cruel persecutions of the saints, by THE MAN OF SIN, the persons implicated either cannot, or
, will not see the accomplishment of them, but persist each in the error of his way, until in the end, the judgments denounced fall upon them, and “they receive that recompence
of their error which is meet.”—“ Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried ;---but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.”
That mistakes in the interpretation of prophecies still future, should have been made
* Dan, xii. 4.
Dan, xii. 10.
by even well designing persons, is therefore not surprising. But as there must be a time when even those that have been the least understood will become perfectly clear, we must wait for the indications given in the prophecy itself, and the “ signs of the times," by which the season of its approach will not fail to be distinguishable. Those great changes in the outward state of the world, by which the interests of religion were to be deeply affected, and which have been therefore made the land marks, or signals, to guide us from one period of prophetic time to another, will scarcely be mistaken (and not understood as the true objects of their respective prophecies) by persons of candid minds, having neither interests nor prepossessions that stand in the way, to bias their judgment in the interpretation.
When occurrences of a very remarkable nature, and followed by consequences little expected, but of powerful and extensive influence upon the affairs of men, have fixed the anxi- . ous attention of mankind in every land, where
, christianity is known, and given a new face
and form to a great part of the world that was once the empire of the Cæsars, and which hath since been subjected to the spiritual rule of the holy Roman catbolic church and Pontiffs ; it may
then be not deemed premature to enquire into the prophecies of the last times, with a view to the better understanding of them.
However wide of the truth our present conceptions may turn out to be, concerning the full establishment of the kingdom of Christ, in the MILLENNIUM, as that is still future, it is probable that we are less liable to any material error in the interpretation of those prophecies, which relate to the overthrow of THE KINGDOM OF ANTICHRIST, and the principal characteristics and prophetic marks, by which THE BREAKER (or the instrument of Providence who is to act as proxy for Christ in executing his threatened vengeanee upon his enemies,) may be distinguished, when he appears.
How difficult and dark soever the prophecies were before, yet when the time is at hand,
and it is needful that they should be understood, they certainly cease to be so, (if mankind will open their eyes and see,)* that thus the candid and faithful may avail themselves of that light, (in the general darkness which infolds the unbelieving and unprepared,) and may give way to the means by which the will of God (previously revealed in prophecy, and now manifested by corresponding signs,)
* This is remarkably exemplified in the prophecies of popery: Time was when almost all the world wondered after the Beast, and worshipped him, and received his doctrines as divine, But when “God suddenly shot at him with a swift arrow (from the quiver of LUTHER,) and he was wounded,”-his errors became palpable and manifest, his doctrines were “ doctrines of devils,” and his miracles and reliques all “ lying wonders.”—“ Yea their own tongues shall make them fall," and POPERY shall be. come the object of contempt and derision, no arguments being more forcible against it than those which are drawn from the admissions and claims of its ablest advocates, who convict themselves of antichristianism and idolatry by their own words;' and that so clearly, that all men of any candour cannot fail to see the fulfilment of prophecy in their case, as manifestly as in that of the jews.--" They shall say, this hath God done, for they shall perceive that it is his work.” (Psalm lxiv.) D.ubtless the very same will happen when the total overthrow of popery is to be accomplished. The prophecies of that event will be no bonger dark, nor denied by any but papists themselves.