« PreviousContinue »
ment, yet in the divine economy, the means are mostly well proportioned to the end, and the natural cause to the effect.
To shine amongst the glorious destroyers of mankind a star of the first magnitude, requires the cruel spirit of the ferocious tyger, and the deceitfulness of the crocodile; an heart of adamant, and an hand of iron, inflexible from its purpose. The ear must be deaf to the melting voice of pity, and the breast insensible to the pang of remorse. There is a certain greatness of mind which can sit down unmoved upon the wreck of once happy and flourishing nations, and coolly calculate upon future havoc, while every fresh acquisition, like the rivers pouring in vain their accumulated stores into the boundless ocean, adds nothing of satiety to the restless spirit of subjugation, while there yet remains any thing to be added, by fresh conquests, to the sufferings of human nature. Neither the restrictions of religion, nor the ties of honour, the faith of oaths and treaties, or the rights of man, must be suffered to in3 U
terfere with the will of the conqueror, to silence the call of glory, or to interrupt the full career of victory; and the gordian knot, which cannot be untied by political circumvention, must be boldly cut asunder with the sword of superior force.
The extraordinary rise of these candidates for historic glory, and their wonderful progress to the utmost heigth of earthly greatness, affords continual evidence of the hand of Providence, made bare in his indignation upon offending nations. They have God on their side, as long as they are employed in executing the work which his counsel has before determined to be done; and they receive a present recompence of their toil in that fading glory of this world, which passeth soon away, and beyond which they have no ambition.*
*This view from behind the scenes, of the brief and empty pageantry of heroic greatness, brings strongly to mind those lines of Virgil,
"Sic vos non vobis, nidificatis aves,
Sic vos non vobis, fertis aratra boves" &c.
These dreadful revolutions in the world, which the prophecies have ascribed to the LAST TIMES, are the necessary measures for the introduction of as great a calm, after the hurricane has subsided; when "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. This kingdom of Christ, which requires all the kingdoms of the world to be broken in pieces, that are found (in this time of trial) to be established upon principles inconsistent with it, is again described in Daniel vii. 27, in similar terms. "And the kingdom, and dominion, and the
Build,-build, ye little birds, your feathery nests,
Not for yourselves ye bear the useless toil !
How strongly does this recommend to the humble christian "who by patient continuance in well doing, seeks for glory and bonor and immortality," his far preferable choice of that reward of his labor which fadeth not away, and the possession of that "kingdom which shall not be left to other people!"
greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him."
I have already shewn, that the present state of things is so very much at variance with this predicted universal subjection to Christ, and a time of such general holiness and uninterrupted peace, that the most violent changes must take place before it can be introduced, or could subsist for any long time, if it was, That which, during 400 years after St Paul's prophecy of the man of sin, "let," or prevented his appearance, has for 1260 years now again (though subsisting in a changed form) hindered the rise of this promised kingdom of Messiah, and is at this time, actually removing to give place to it.—The GREAT IMAGE, or mystical representative of the four universal monarchies, was, until of late, still standing upon "its feet and toes of iron mixed with miry clay;" the prophetic emblem of the ROMAN EMPIRE, in its mo
dern state of decrepitude and weakness; the cause of which imbecility, and the particular meaning of that remarkable allegorical description, I have before endeavoured to explain.
The "STONE cut without bands out of the mountain," has been already presented to the eyes of the admiring world, by such extraordinary measures of God's mysterious providence, and so much in contradiction to the common course of the probabilities of things, that it seems to indicate the fulfillment of the remainder of the prophecy, at no very great distance of time. It has been lifted up on high by the invisible power of God, and hurled with a force more than belongs to the mere arm of flesh. Like a fiery comet, it passed through the once radiant circles of the political heavens, its magnitude and velocity increasing as it flew; and it has fallen upon the feet and toes of the image. And no doubt, the holy prophet so particularly marking the part of the image on which the dreadful concussion should first take effect," on its feet, which