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In which is considered, what events are to take place, according to Scripture Prophecy, before the beginning of the Millennium, and to prepare the way for it.
BY attending to the events predicted, which are to take place before the Millennium, and which are to introduce it, farther evidence will come into view, that it will not commence long before the beginning of the seventh thousand years of the world; nor 490much later; and therefore, that it will be in that thousand years, and begin about two hundred years from the end of the 18th century.
The seven vials or cups, which contained the seven last plagues, or remarkable judgments, which are to be executed upon the beast and his adherents, and upon the world of mankind, are to be poured out during the time of the reign of the beast, and the existence of the false church of Rome; and which will issue in the destruction of the beast, and of that church. This is evident from the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the Revelation. The first vial respects the beast and his followers, and brought sore calamities upon them, expressed in the following words: “And there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them who worshipped his image.”708708 Rev. xvi. 2. A number of these vials must have been already poured out, as the beast has existed above a thousand years already; and therefore the effects of the last vial, which include his utter destruction, will not reach much more than two hundred years from this time; and consequently these effects will soon begin to take place, if they have not already began in some measure. For as the pouring out or running of the seven vials, is limited to the 1260 years of the continuance of the beast, there are not 200 years for each vial; and some may run longer, and others a shorter time of this space.
Some acquaintance with the history of the calamitous events which have taken place, answering to the prophetic description under those vials which have been poured out, is necessary in order to know how and when it has been fulfilled, and how many vials appear to have already run out, and which is now running. Mr. Lowman has taken pains to show from many credible historians, that the remarkable calamitous events which have taken place, and which have especially affected the beast and his followers, and brought great and distressing evils upon them, have answered to the evils and events described in prophetic language, under the successive five first vials of wrath: And there appears to be satisfactory evidence that the judgments predicted under these vials, have already been executed on antichrist, and his supporters and followers: And that the reformation began by Luther, and the remarkable events attending it was the judgment predicted by the pouring out of the fifth vial, to be inflicted on the beast and the church of Rome. This vial was to be poured out on the seat, or, as it is in the original, the throne of the beast—“And his kingdom was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues for pain.”709709 Rev. xvi. 10. When the protestant reformation came on, protestants wad light, had discerning and wisdom, prosperity and joy: But the Pope and his followers suffered great vexation and anguish, every event turned against them, their light was turned into darkness, their policy and counsels by 491which they had prospered and obtained their ends before, were now turned into foolishness; and they were baffled and confounded, and their attempts to suppress the northern heresy, as they called it, and to crush the protestants, proved abortive, and turned against themselves in a remarkable manner. And those events proved like a lasting, painful sore to them, from which they have not recovered to this day. “And they blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” They blasphemed God, by attributing what took place in favour of truth and the cause of Christ, to the exertions and obstinacy of wicked men, and calling the truths of the gospel and holiness, espoused and propagated by the reformers, the delusions and works of Satan, and treating the reformation, and the work of God, as if it were the work of the devil. They also blasphemed the God of heaven, by persisting in their gross idolatry, worshipping saints and images, in the face of the light exhibited by the reformers, which idolatry is called blasphemy in the Bible. And the famous council of Trent, which was called by the Pope at that time, and sat eighteen years, were so far from complying with the reformation, that they anathematized the persons, doctrines and practices, by which it was introduced and supported. And formed decrees in favour of the power and tyranny of the Pope, and the superstition and idolatry of the church of Rome, and in some instances went beyond any thing that had ever been decreed by any council before, in favour of these abominations. “Thus they repented not of their evil deeds.”
This vial began to be poured out near the beginning of the sixteenth century, in the year 1517, when Luther began to oppose the wickedness of the church of Rome, and the power and evil practices of the Pope: And from that time, the influence and power, or throne, of this man of sin, has been diminishing, and he is in a great measure deposed, and has fallen almost to the ground from that high throne, and unlimited power in church and slate, to which he had, before that, aspired and risen. As it is near three hundred years since the fifth vial was poured out, there is good reason to conclude, that the sixth vial began to be poured out, and has been running from the latter end of the last century, at least, i.e. for an hundred years or more; that it is near run out, and the seventh and last vial will begin to run early in the next century. Whether this be so or not, may be determined with greater and more satisfactory evidence, by attending to the prophetic description of the events which are to take place under those vials. And as the sixth vial is supposed to be now running, there is reason to pay a more particular and careful attention to the prophetic language, by which the events under this vial are expressed, that the meaning may be understood, and applied to the events which are pointed out, so as to be clearly discovered, and the signs of these times be discerned by all who will properly attend to this interesting subject.492
“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates: And the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.” Ancient Babylon was a type of the antichristian church of Rome. By that, the church of Israel was afflicted and reduced to a state of captivity seventy years, until it was taken by Cyrus and Darius, whose kingdoms were east of Babylon. So the church of Christ has fallen under the power of this antichristian church, and power is given to the beast to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, and to continue forty two months: Therefore, the church of Rome is called Babylon in the Revelation.
The river Euphrates ran through Babylon, under the walls of the city, and a wide and deep moat, filled with water from the river, encompassed the city on the outside of the walls; so that the river was not only a defence to the city, but afforded a supply of water and fish, and other provisions, brought into it by water carriage. Cyrus, who came against Babylon with an army of Medes and Persians, took the city, by turning the water of the river from the usual channel, in which it went under the walls of the city, and ran through it, and dried up the water in that channel, by which a way was opened for his army to pass into the city under the walls in the dried channel, where the river used to run. Accordingly the army marched in, and look the city in the night, when the inhabitants were either asleep, or intoxicated with drinking, as that was the time of a great festival. In that night the king of Babylon was slain, and Cyrus took the kingdom for his uncle Darius, the Mede.710710 Dan. v.—See Prideaux’s Connexion, Part I. Book II.
In this prophecy there is an allusion to this manner of taking Babylon, by Darius and Cyrus, the kings of the east. The church of Rome is the antitype of Babylon. By the kings of the east, are meant those, whoever they may be, who are, or shall be enemies to the church of Rome, and wish to reduce and destroy it, and shall be made the instruments of it; as the eastern kings took Babylon, by drying up the river Euphrates. The riches and power of the Pope and the church of Rome, and whatever serves as a defence and support of that church, answer to the river Euphrates in old Babylon; and the removal of those is meant by drying up the river; which will prepare the way for the enemies and opposers of this church, to take possession of it, and destroy it.
The river, in tins sense of it, has been drying up for a century or more, while this sixth vial has been running; and there have been more remarkable instances of it in this century, some of which have been mentioned above, by which the riches of the church of Rome are greatly diminished, and she is stripped and becoming poor: And the power and influence of the Pope is become very small and inconsiderable, and he is but little regarded by those who once worshipped him; and the way is fast preparing 493for the Pope and his church to be hated, made desolate, and burnt with fire.”711711 See Edward’s Humble Attempt, &c. page 153.
John goes on to relate a farther vision which he had of events which are to take place under this vial, in the following words: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. And he gathered them together into a place, called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon.”712712 Rev. xvi. 13, 14, 16. This is the first time that the false prophet is mentioned: And it appears from what is said of this false prophet, in the twentieth verse of the nineteenth chapter, that he is the same with the second beast, which is described in the thirteenth chapter, by which is meant the hierarchy of the church of Rome, or the Pope and his clergy, in their ecclesiastical capacity, claiming to have the sole jurisdiction, and to be infallible dictators in every thing that relates to christian faith and practice. The beast, as distinguished from the false prophet here, is the civil power of the Roman empire, with which the Pope is invested, which he has claimed and exercised, by which he became a beast.
The dragon is the devil, who is represented as a powerful, invisible agent, having a great hand in all the wickedness in the world, and has set up and animates the beast and false prophet, making them instruments to answer his ends, being the spirit who works with all his power and deceptive cunning, in these children of disobedience; and who are his children in a peculiar sense. These spirits are therefore the numerous spirits of devils who unite in one design, working miracles or wonders, as the word in the original is sometimes rendered, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world; that is, to all men who dwell on the earth, great and small, high and low. What is the tendency and effect of these invisible, evil spirits, what they design and do accomplish, when thus let loose, and suffered to go forth into all the world, there can be no doubt. They will corrupt the world, and promote all kinds of wickedness among men, to the utmost of their power and skill, and excite mankind to rise against God and the Redeemer, and oppose and despise all divine institutions and commands; and, at the same time, to hate and destroy each other, and attempt to gratify every hateful lust of the flesh and of the mind, without restraint.
If any distinction is to be made between those evil spirits which are united in this same design, and like frogs pervade all places and assault all men, as the frogs did the Egyptians, in their attempts to seduce and corrupt them; especially those who live in 494the christian world; that which comes out of the mouth of the dragon promotes infidelity, and influences and persuades men to renounce all religion; especially that which is inculcated in the Bible. The spirit which proceeds from the mouth of the beast inspires men with a worldly spirit, by which they are strongly attached to the things and enjoyments of this world, and eagerly pursue them; either by gratifying their fleshly appetites and lusts, in beastly uncleanness, and intemperance in eating and drinking, frolick and wantonness; or by indulging an avaricious spirit, which leads to all kinds of unrighteousness, and oppression of each other, according to their power and opportunity: Or they eagerly pursue the honours of the world, in the gratification of pride and haughtiness, striving to outshine others in dress and high living, or in distinguished posts of honour. And though some persons under the influence of the spirit of the beast are more inclined to some one of these, and others to another; yet the same person will often pursue them all, and seek to gratify the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And all these will prevail more and more, under the influence of the spirit of the beast; and at the same time promote infidelity and are promoted by that. The spirit which comes out of the mouth of the false prophet is a spirit of false religion and delusion, by which false doctrines and gross errors in principle and practice are imbibed and propagated.
These spirits of devils unite and are agreed in one design, to promote all kind of vice and wickedness among men, and to as great a degree as they possibly can, leading them to infidelity and impiety, and an endless train of gross errors and delusions, in matters of religion; and hurrying them on in a greedy pursuit of the enjoyments of this world, in the indulgence of their lusts, and the gratification of their love of their own selves, and their pride, in the practice of injustice and oppression, living in malice and envy, hating and speaking evil of one another, and engaging in fierce contention, cruel and destructive war, and murder. By this the world in general will be in arms against God, and his Son; and they will be gathered and knit together, as one man, in open war with heaven, and all the friends of Christ on earth. This is doubtless meant by these spirits of devils, going out into the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. It is not meant, that they shall be gathered into one place on this globe, or any where else; but that they shall be united with one heart in the same cause of sin and Satan, against God, and his revealed truth and ways, in whatever part of the earth they live; and thus take arms, and rise in open rebellion, provoking the Almighty to battle, and, in a sense, challenging him to do his worst. Thus they will be as really gathered to the battle, as an army are gathered together to engage in battle with another army, or to besiege a city.
“And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” Armageddon is the mountain 495of Megiddo, at the foot of which the memorable battle was fought between the Canaanites, the enemies of Israel—and Barak, and the army under him, when Sisera and his host were defeated and utterly destroyed; which was a complete overthrow of the Canaanites, and issued in the final deliverance of Israel from their yoke and power. This was a type of the total defeat and overthrow of the enemies of Christ and his church, which will issue in the peace and prosperity of the church in the Millennial state. This is intimated in the concluding words of the song of Deborah and Barak, in which this victory and deliverance is celebrated. “So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: But let them who love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.”713713 Judges v. 31. There is therefore an allusion to the type, in this prophecy of the event which was typified by it, viz. the overthrow of all the combined enemies of Christ and his church, in the battle of that great day of God Almighty. It cannot be reasonably inferred from this prediction, that there will be a decisive battle between Christ and his followers, and their enemies, in any particular place. All that is signified by these words is, that as Jabin king of Canaan gathered together a great army under Sisera, to fight with the God of Israel and his people, at the foot of the mountain of Megiddo; who were there overthrown and destroyed in battle, when “they fought from heaven, the stars in their courses fought against Sisera:” So by the agency of the spirits of devils, under the superintendance and direction of divine providence, the world of mankind in general, and especially those in Christendom, will be so corrupted and obstinately rebellious, in ail kinds, and the greatest degrees of wickedness, as to be united, and, in this sense, gathered together, all armed in a spiritual war against God, his cause and people. And their iniquity being full and they ripe for the battle, God will arise as a man of war, and in his providence contend in battle with them, till they be utterly destroyed from the face of the earth. Thus “The wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs, they shall consume: Into smoke shall they consume away,” and by this, way shall be made for the meek to inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.714714 Psalm xxxvii. 11, 20.
But this battle is to come on under the next vial, which is the seventh and last. When mankind shall be prepared and gathered together, by the great degree of all kinds of wickedness, while God has been waiting upon them, even to long suffering, in the use of very powerful, and all proper means to reclaim and reform them, he will arise to battle, and by doing terrible things in righteousness, will manifest and display his awful displeasure with them, for their great wickedness, and obstinacy in rebellion against him; and the events will then take place which are predicted under the seventh vial.496
“And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air: And there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying. It is done.” This vial being poured out into the air, denotes that it should affect and destroy Satan’s kingdom, and his followers in the world in general, who is the prince of the power of the air. And the voice from heaven, saying, It is done, is a prediction that the events under this vial, by which the battle before mentioned is to be carried on and completed, will utterly destroy the interest and kingdom of the devil in the world, and finish the awful scene of divine judgments, on the antichristian church, and the wicked world in general. The prophecy then goes on to give a general and summary account of the battle of that great day, from the seventh verse to the end of the chapter, and the great and marvellous effects it will have upon great Babylon, i.e. the church of Rome, and upon the nations of the world in general. There will be the greatest convulsions and resolutions in the political and moral world, that have ever been, attended with awful judgments upon men; which are predicted in prophetic language. “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”—“And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: And great Babylon came into remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” The great city, and great Babylon, seem to be one and the same thing, the church of Rome. In the next chapter, this same false church is called “Babylon the great,” and “The great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”715715 Rev. xvii. 5, 18. What is meant by this city being divided into three parts will be better known, when the prediction shall be accomplished. It doubtless intends, that which shall break the antichristian church into pieces, and will issue in the ruin of it, the fatal blow being struck. Perhaps it intends a division and opposition among those who have been the members and supporters of that church, by which this spiritual Babylon shall fall, or which shall hasten on the ruin of It; as a kingdom divided against itself, cannot stand, but is brought to desolation. In the prophecy of this kingdom of antichrist by Daniel, in the latter end of it, he says, “The kingdom shall be divided; and by this it shall be partly broken.716716 Dan. ii. 41, 42.
“And the cities of the nations fell.” Divine judgments, and a peculiar measure of wrath shall fall upon the christian world, in which the antichristian kingdom has been set up; but the rest of mankind shall share in the calamity of that day, and be punished for their wickedness, to which this expression seems to have respect. The cities of the nations of the world are their strength, defence and pride. These shall be demolished and wholly taken away, that they shall no more be able to tyrannize over one another. 497The pride and power of Mahometans and heathen nations, shall be made to cease by a series of divine judgments. “The day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up, and he shall be brought low. And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low, in that day. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”717717 Isa. ii. 12, 15, 17. xiii. 11. The same is predicted in the following words: “1 have cut off the nations, their towers are desolate; I have made their streets waste, that none passeth by: Their cities art destroyed, so that there is no man, there is none inhabitant. Therefore wait upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: For my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.”718718 Zeph. iii. 6, 8. These words doubtless have reference to the events which were to take place under the sixth and seventh vials, when the nations and kingdoms of the world are to be gathered, and God will rise up to battle, to the prey, and pour upon them his indignation, even all his fierce anger, for their obstinate continuance in sin and rebellion against him; and all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of his jealousy; and thus the cities of the nations shall fall; the nations shall be cut off; their towers made desolate, and their cities destroyed.
The prophecy under the seventh vial goes on. “And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: And men blasphemed God, because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.” There is reference in those words to the destruction of the Canaanites, in the great and terrible battle, when the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them, and they died, and there were more that died with hailstones, than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.719719 Josh. x. 11. And God says to Job, “Hast thou seen the treasures of hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war.”720720 Job xxxviii. 22, 23 Therefore, when great judgments and awful destruction of men are predicted, they are represented by storms of great hail. “Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail, and a destroying storm, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies. The Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of devouring fire, with scattering and 498tempest and hailstones.”721721 Isa. xxviii. 2, 17. xxx. 30. “Say unto them who daub with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: There shall be an overflowing shower, and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall, and a stormy wind shall rent it. I will even rent it with a stormy wind in my fury: And there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it. And I will plead against him with pestilence, and with blood, and I will ram upon him, and his bands, and upon many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire and brimstone.”722722 Ezek. xiii. 11, 13. xxxviii. 22. All these passages.723723 Unless that in Ezekiel be an exception, which is a description of the punishment of Gog and Magog, by which name the multitude of wicked men are called, who shall rise up when the Millennium is ended, and will be destroyed when Christ shall come to judgment. These words may have their ultimate accomplishment then. But as the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel represent the wicked world which shall be destroyed before the Millennium begins, as well as those who shall rise up when it will end; this passage has a primary, if not an ultimate reference to the destruction of the former. will doubtless have their ultimate and most complete fulfilment, under the seventh vial, and in the same sore calamities and judgments which are predicted in the words under consideration, by the great hail which fell on men out of heaven. The hailstones are represented as weighing an hundred pounds, which is the weight of a talent, to denote the greatness of the judgments and destruction predicted, the sore and awful distresses which shall come on men: “For the plague thereof was exceeding great.” These judgments will not reform the obstinate enemies of God, on whom they shall fall; they will be exasperated and blaspheme God the more, until they are utterly destroyed, and swept off from the earth; agreeably to the prophecy “which may be considered as referring ultimately to this dreadful scene. “And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: And it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they shall look unto the earth; and behold, trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish: and they shall be driven into darkness.”724724 Isa. viii. 21, 22.
This battle is more particularly described in the nineteenth chapter, from the beginning of the eleventh verse, to the end of the chapter. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he who sat upon him was called faithful and true, and in righteousness doth he judge and make war.” This person is farther described, by which he appears to be the Lord Jesus Christ. “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” This does not mean, that the inhabitants of heaven, or the saints on earth, will join in a visible army, and personally fight with the enemies of Christ and his church, and destroy them: But 499only that these shall join with Christ and be on his side, when he shall arise in his providence, and by his power destroy his and their enemies. In this sense, all heaven will be with him, when he shall come forth to battle in his providence, and execute his wrath upon men, in awful successive judgments, in which the angels may be used as invisible instruments of his vengeance: And he will do all this, in answer to the prayers of his church on earth, and in their cause, to vindicate and deliver them, and prepare the way for the prosperity of his church on earth. That he will be the great invisible agent in this battle, appears from the following words: “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron: And he treadeth the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” This is the battle of that great day of God Almighty. This awful scene proceeds and is yet farther described: “And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven. Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both small and great.” This is a strong, figurative, prophetic expression of the great slaughter and terrible destruction of mankind, when God Almighty shall come forth to battle, and manifest his hot displeasure and terrible wrath, in the judgment he will inflict on them. The representation of this battle, and the issue of it goes on, and “I John saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together, to make war against him who sat on the horse, and against his army.” These are the same who are mentioned, chap. xvi. 14, 16, as gathered together to the battle of that great day of God Almighty, the meaning of which has been explained. And in this war and battle, the beast and the false prophet were taken and destroyed, with their adherents. “And the remnant were slain with the sword of him who sat upon the horse, which sword proceedeth out of his mouth, and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” By the remnant, are meant the rest of mankind, who by their sins make war with Christ, and are not included in the beast and false prophet, and their followers, who belong to the kingdom of antichrist. Their being slain by the sword which proceeded out of the mouth of Christ, does not mean their conversion, but their falling victims to his vengeance, which is expressed by the fowls being filled with their flesh.
The same battle and slaughter of men is represented and predicted in figurative prophetic language, in the fourteenth chapter, where John describes a vision which he had of one like unto the Son of man, who sat upon a white cloud, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And it was said unto him, “Thrust in thy sickle and reap; for the time is come 500for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he thrust in his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.” And it was said unto him, “Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine press of the wrath of God, And the wine press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine press, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.”
Upon this vision it is to be observed, that by the harvest of the earth, and the clusters of the vine of the earth, are meant the inhabitants of the earth, or mankind in general. And reaping the harvest, and gathering the clusters of the vine of the earth, signifies the slaughter and destruction of the inhabitants of the earth; not every one of them indeed; for in the harvest and vintage, some ears of corn are commonly left standing, which escape the sickle, and a few scattering grapes are left on the vine when the clusters in general are gathered: And that this slaughter and desolation, which shall be made of the inhabitants of the world, will take place in consequence of their apostasy, and obstinate continuance and increase in sin, until they are become ripe, fully ripe, for this dreadful execution and destruction, by divine vengeance: Therefore, that this reaping, and the harvest, and gathering the clusters of the vine of the earth, will not be a merciful dispensation towards the inhabitants then in the world; but the execution of divine vengeance, and an awful exercise and display of the displeasure and wrath of God, in the evils which shall fall on men, for their perseverance and increase in wickedness. This is represented and expressed in a striking manner, by the figure of casting the vintage into the great wine press of the wrath of God, and the large and amazing quantity of blood which proceeded from thence; signifying the great and general slaughter, and terrible sufferings of mankind, when this time of his wrath shall come.
From this view of the events predicted under the sixth and seventh vials, it appears, that while the sixth vial is running, the way will be preparing for the overthrow of spiritual Babylon.
One event will take place after another, which will greatly weaken and remove the power and influence of the Pope, among the nations in Christendom, by taking away his riches, by drying up the stream of wealth, and the removal of other things, by which the church of Rome has been made strong, and stood as impregnable for many ages. But this will not be attended by any general reformation of professing christians, or revival and great increase of the true church of Christ; nor will the moral state of the christian world, or of mankind in general, be reformed and grow better, but the contrary. By the evil influence which the 501beast and the hierarchy of the church of Rome, has had in the world, and by the power and agency of Satan, the unrestrained lusts of men will hurry them on to all kinds of wickedness; so that it will rise to a greater degree, and be more universal than ever before. Infidelity, deism, and atheism, and the most open and gross impiety and profanation of every thing sacred, will prevail and abound. And false religion, and the grossest errors and delusions of all kinds, will take place and spread among those who do not discard all religion. And a worldly spirit will be very strong and prevalent, among old and young, urging them on to the gratification of their sensual inclinations and lusts, in all kinds of intemperance and lewdness; and prompting them to acts of unrighteousness, oppression and cruelty; which will promote mutual hatred, bitterness and contention, and spread confusion and every evil work, in fierce and cruel wars, and horrid murders. It is certain, that the unclean spirits, like frogs, those spirits of devils, when they go forth to the whole world, will promote all kinds of disorder and wickedness to the greatest degree, and set mankind against God, and all his revealed truth, and against each other, and every thing good and excellent; and make this world as much an image of hell as they possibly can; by which the inhabitants on earth, in general, will be united and gathered together in arms against heaven, and become wholly ripe for destruction from the Almighty, for the battle of that great day, which will come on under the seventh vial, and will be conducted, fought and finished by Christ himself, against an ungodly world.
The prevailing, unrestrained wickedness of men, which has been now mentioned, by which they shall be gathered unto this battle, is described by the Apostle Paul, in the following words:. “This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, covenant breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”725725 2 Tim. iii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. All these evil characters have been in every age of the world; but they will then, in these last days, take place to a greater degree, and more universally, than ever before.
The true church of Christ will subsist and continue in this evil time of the prevalence of the powers of darkness; but the number of real christians will be small; and many, even of them, if not the most, will probably be weak and low in their christian exercises, by the influences and uncommon power of those evil spirits, and in too great a degree conformed to this world. They will be hated, opposed, and trodden down by the wicked, arid be in an afflicted, suffering state in this dark and evil day. They will be in a great measure hidden and unknown, and the cause 502of Christ and of truth will be reproached, and appear to be almost lost; and the true followers of Christ, his sheep, will be scattered into corners in this cloudy and dark day.726726 Ezek. xxxiv. 12. Whether wicked men, and enemies to the true servants of Christ, will persecute them unto death, and renew this horrid work, of which so much has been done in former ages, in this time when iniquity will abound to such a great degree, cannot be now determined, by any thing said in scripture respecting it. It is thought by most, that since the Pope is brought so low, and his power and influence is still sinking so fast; and so much light is spreading in favour of civil and religious liberty, showing the reasonableness and importance of it, and the unreasonableness and folly of a persecuting spirit; and liberal sentiments respecting religion are propagated and increasing, persecution on account of religious sentiments or practice is near come to an end, and never will be revived and practised again. This may appear most probable: But though the antichristian church should never persecute the faithful followers of Christ again, and a persecuting spirit should wholly cease among professing christians of all denominations; yet infidels, who condemn all religious persecution, in every degree and form, in which it has been practised, and boast of their liberal sentiments and spirit, with respect to this; and use it as a strong and conclusive argument against christianity itself, that professed christians have, in so many instances, persecuted others: even these infidels, or their successors, may find true christians, their doctrines and practices, to be so disagreeable and hateful to them, and, in their view, so hurtful to society, and so contrary to all that in which they place their own happiness, and that of mankind, that having all restraints taken off, and the power being put into their hands, they may think these men ought not to be suffered to live; and that it is for the good of society to have them extirpated, and put to death, unless they can be brought to renounce their sentiments and practices, by persuasion or punishments; and so become as determined, cruel persecutors of christians, as any have been in past ages. If this should take place, it will make a new, and perhaps greater and more striking discovery of the wickedness of the human heart, especially of the hearts and real character of this sort of men, than ever has been exhibited before. And they who now know what is in man, from the character given of him in scripture, and by the discovery mankind have made of their hearts, by words and deeds, and from a true acquaintance with their own hearts, must be sensible that nothing can prevent even men of this cast persecuting christians, but restraints from heaven. But, however, perhaps this discovery of what is in man, is reserved to be made after the Millennium shall be over, in the rise of Gog and Magog, when it may be exhibited, in many respects, to greater advantage, and so as to answer more important ends.503
Though the true church of Christ must be in a low, dark state, in many respects, under this vial, yet there will doubtless be revivals of religion, and an increase of converts to real christianity, in many different places, and truth may be getting advantage, and more clearly distinguished from error, by those who have eyes to see: and christianity be more and more refined in doctrines and practice, from the various errors and corruptions, which have been introduced among the true followers of Christ; and every thing, and all events, will serve to bring on and introduce the Millennium, in the best manner, and in the most proper time.
The battle of that great day of God Almighty. is to come on under the seventh vial, as has been observed. When the iniquity of the world of mankind shall be full, and they shall be united in open rebellion, and, in this sense, gathered together, and armed against heaven: And after God has waited long upon them in the use of all proper means to reclaim them, especially the christian world; and they are become fully ripe for destruction, he will come forth to battle against them, and execute most tearful judgments upon them, and destroy them in a manner and degree, which shall manifest his awful displeasure with them, for their obstinacy in all kinds of wickedness. When these briars and thorns are set against God in battle, he will go through them and burn them together.727727 See Isaiah xxvii. 4. The destruction of the world of mankind by a flood, when the wickedness of man was become great, and the earth was filled with violence; and they continued obstinate in disobedience, while the long suffering of God waited upon them in the days of Noah, was an emblem of this battle: As also was the destruction of the inhabitants of Canaan, when their iniquity was full, which prepared the way for the people of God to take possession of that land. So God punished the nation of the Jews, by destroying them, and laying waste Jerusalem, and the temple. When they had filled up the measure of their sins, wrath came upon them to the uttermost. This was a figure or type of this greater, more dreadful and general battle, under the seventh vial, when “The Lord shall come out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.”728728 Isa. xxvi. 21.
This battle, it has been observed, will not consist in the church or christians’ raising armies, and fighting and carrying on war with the antichristian party, or with the wicked world; or in a conflict between the former and the latter, respecting the truths and cause of Christ: But it will be commenced and carried on by Christ, while invisible in heaven, invested with all divine power in heaven and earth, in the exercise of his providence, bringing judgments upon his enemies, and a wicked world, in such remarkable ways and manner, as to be a clear and remarkable manifestation of his presence and power; of his displeasure with a 504wicked world, for opposing him, his church and the gospel; and an incontestible evidence of the truth of christianity, by fulfilling his predictions and promises, taking vengeance on the enemies of his people, and effectually supporting them, and their cause. He will doubtless make use of instruments in this battle.
The holy angels may be made the instruments of many events which shall be full of evil to wicked men. And the true church of Christ, his witnesses in his cause, and against the delusions and wickedness of the antichristian church, and of the world, are represented as having a hand in bringing upon their enemies all the evils which will come upon them; because they will take place in answer to their prayers, in their cause, and in order effectually to avenge his own elect of their adversaries.729729 Luke xviii. 7. Therefore, it is said of them, “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not, in the days of their prophecy: And have power over waters, to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”730730 Rev. xi. 6. And the wicked themselves will be instruments of afflicting and destroying each other, in a very cruel and dreadful manner, by opposing and fighting with one another, and carrying on destructive and bloody wars, killing men by thousands, and laying waste whole countries and nations; by which the earth will be in a great degree depopulated; and rivers of blood will be shed by the unrestrained pride and cruel rage of man. And many will probably put an end to their own lives, and instances of suicide will be greatly multiplied.
But multitudes of mankind will be destroyed by the more immediate hand of God, by famine and pestilences, which will prevail in many countries, at different times, in an extraordinary manner, and to a degree never known before; by which vast multitudes will perish suddenly, and in circumstances very surprising and awful. And there will be earthquakes, and terrible storms of lightning and thunder, and inundations of water, by which many cities and places shall sink and be overflowed, with all the inhabitants; and multitudes will perish by these, and innumerable other evil occurrents, which will take place in an unusual manner, and in quick succession; so that the hand of God will be visibly stretched out against the inhabitants of the world, to punish and destroy them for their wickedness; and the following prediction will be fulfilled, in the full and awful extent of it. “Fear, and the pit, and the snare are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth. And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear, shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit, shall be taken in the snare: For the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage, and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again.”731731 Isa. xxiv. 17, 18, 19, 20.505
This battle will not be fought at once, so as to be soon finished; but will be carried on through a course of years, probably for more than a century and an half, in order to make a suitable and sufficiently clear display of the displeasure of God with a wicked world; and to give opportunity to men to repent and reform, when they are warned, called upon, and urged to it, by being made to suffer such a variety and long continued series of calamities, for their sins; and to discover, and set in the most clear and striking light, the hardness, obstinacy and wickedness of the heart of man, while they continue disobedient and inflexible, under all these terrible dispensations of providence, suited to awaken and reform them, to teach them the evil of sin, and the awful displeasure of God with them; and to warn them to fly from the wrath to come, and unto Christ, as the only refuge; and go on to revolt yet more and more, and blaspheme the hand which inflicts these evils, By all this will be more clearly manifested, than ever before, how totally lost and infinitely miserable mankind are, and their infinite need of a Redeemer; that no means that can be used, or methods taken to reclaim and save them, will be in the least degree effectual, unless the Spirit of God be given to change and renew their hearts, and therefore that the salvation of men depends wholly on the mere sovereign grace of God, even all that good, holiness and salvation, which shall take place in the Millennium; and it will, in this respect, prepare the way for that day of grace.
This battle and terrible slaughter and destruction of men in so many ways, and for so long a course of years, will greatly lessen the number of mankind in the world; so that in the close of this terrible scene, comparatively few will be left alive. Those will be the christians who shall be then members of the churches, and descendants from good people who have lived in former ages, and others who will then be true penitents, who will look back on the terrible scene which had taken place in the battle of the great day of God Almighty, and see, and have a clear and affecting conviction of his displeasure with mankind, for their sins and the terribleness of his wrath; and will acknowledge the righteousness of it. They will consequently see the guilty, miserable, and utterly lost state of man, and their need of a Redeemer, to make atonement for their sins, and the necessity of the Holy Spirit to renew their hearts, and form them to right, and truly christian exercises: And will be clearly convinced of the truth of all the great and important doctrines of the gospel, and cordially embrace them. And they will repent and humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, and earnestly, with united hearts, cry to heaven for the forgiveness of their sins, and for mercy on themselves, and on their children, acknowledging their infinite ill desert, and flying to Christ, and sovereign grace through him, as their only refuge and hope. And then the scene will change. The battle will be over, divine judgments will cease, and there will be no more frowns on man, 506in the providence of God; but all dispensations and events will be expressions of kindness and mercy; and the Holy Spirit will be poured out on them and their offspring, and all shall be holiness to the Lord; and the Millennium will begin, and men will multiply and soon subdue the earth and fill it with inhabitants
As antichrist and the church of Rome will have a large share in the cup of indignation and wrath which will be poured out; so all the christian world will have a distinguished portion of it, as the inhabitants of it are much more guilty than others. There is no reason to consider the antichristian spirit and practices to be confined to that which is now called the church of Rome: The protestant churches have much of antichrist in them, and are far from being wholly reformed from the corruptions and wickedness, in doctrine and practice, which are found in that which is called Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth. Her influence in promoting delusion and wickedness extends, m some degree, to all the inhabitants of the world, and more especially the christian world. She is the Mother of all the false doctrines, superstition, infidelity and abominable practices in the protestant world. And where can the church be found, which is thoroughly purged from all these abominations? Some churches may be more pure, and may have proceeded farther in a reformation than others; but none are wholly clear of an antichristian spirit, and the fruits of it. There may be, and in many instances doubtless there is, much of the exercise of the spirit of antichrist, in opposing what is called antichrist, and the church of Rome; and by running into as great extremes another way. The Apostle Paul said, this mystery of iniquity, the man of sin, which is antichrist, began already lo work in the churches even in his day.732732 2 Thes. ii. 7. How much of this then, may it be reasonably thought, it, to be found in most, if not all the churches now? In this view, the spirit and operation of antichrist are very extensive. And how few churches, or individual christians, have so far come out from this mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth, as not to be in any degree partakers of her sins, so as not to receive of her plagues! And while the sixth vial continues to run, it is not to be expected that the protestant churches in general will grow more pure; but the evil spirits which are gone forth will promote and spread still greater corruption in doctrine and practice, by which they will be more ripe for divine judgments, and prepared to suffer in the battle under the seventh vial. The purest churches, and real christians, will suffer much in this battle, and few will go wholly unpunished. By this, the rebels, or false hearted professing christians, will be purged out from among real christians, and these shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly.”733733 Dan. xii. 10.
The Jews have suffered greatly for their peculiarly aggravated wickedness, in rejecting and crucifying the Son of God; and 507they are now, and have been for near two thousand years, in a state of great affliction, and under the manifest displeasure of Heaven, to a great and distinguished degree. They yet continue a people, distinguished from all other nations, though scattered all over the world, as outcasts and vagabonds; and will continue thus a distinct people down to the Millennium. But though they have suffered so much, they yet continue as obstinate as ever in rejecting Christ, and in all their sins. And there is reason to think they will not escape the battle of the great day of almighty God; but great and new calamities will fall upon them, by which they may be much diminished, so as to be left few in number, compared with what they have been, or are now. And the threatening denounced against that people by Moses will then be executed on them, in the full meaning and extent of it. “And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude: Because thou wouldst not obey the voice of the Lord thy God.”734734 Deut. xxviii. 62. But God will not make a full end of them, which he probably will do of some, if not of many other nations.
The revolutions which will take place in this battle will open the way for their return to the land given to their ancestors; and they which are left will repent and return to the Lord Jesus Christ, against whom they and their fathers have sinned, and unto their own land, and will become an eminently excellent part of the christian church, who shall multiply, and fill all that vast tract of land given to Abraham and his posterity, from the river of Egypt, to the great river Euphrates,735735 Gen. xv. 18. which has never yet been fully possessed by them. And their being thus received into the church of Christ, will be as life from the dead to them, and to the Gentiles.
But whether they will continue a distinct people from all other christians, through the whole time of the Millennium, or be so intermixed with others, as not to be distinguished from them, will be determined by the event: But the latter is most probable, as the ends of their being preserved in such a state of distinction, will then be answered; and those circumstances and things, which have been, and still are, the means of their continuing a distinct and separate people, will then cease; such as circumcision, and their observance of other Mosaic rites. When they shall become christians, their name by which they are now distinguished will be lost, and they will be absorbed in the christian church, the true Israel of God, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, but all are one in Christ: And then there will be one fold, and one shepherd. And then, by this event, the following prediction will be fully accomplished: “And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen! For the Lord God shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name.”736736 Isaiah lxv. 15.
That the above representation of this battle, which will be previous to the Millennium, and will introduce it, taken from the 508passages in the Revelation which have been considered, is just, and agreeable to the true sense of them, farther appears, and is confirmed by other parts of holy scripture, especially by the prophecies of this same event, recorded in the Old Testament.
The destruction of the world of mankind by a flood, and the preservation of Noah and his family, who were by this brought into a new world, to be replenished by them, may be considered as a typical and prophetic representation of the great battle with the wicked world, previous to the Millennium; by which the wicked will be swept off the earth, and the true church of Christ will be delivered and preserved, and the way opened for its prosperity, and filling the earth.
The series of judgments brought upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, for their disobedience to Jehovah, and oppressions of his people, and their dreadful overthrow in the Red Sea, to prepare the way for the deliverance of Israel, was also a prophetic type of this great battle. So was the destruction of the inhabitants of Canaan, in order to introduce the people of Israel, and put them in possession of that land. Therefore, reference is had to this in the representation of the battle of that great day, as has been observed.
David was a man of blood, carried on great wars and destroyed much people, and many nations, who were enemies to him, and the people of God; and by his conquests prepared the way for the peaceable and glorious reign of Solomon, and the building of the temple. In this, David was a type of Christ, when he shall go forth, clothed with a vesture dipt in blood, and in righteousness make war, and destroy the nations of mankind, his enemies, to prepare the way for the Millennium. Solomon was a type of Christ reigning in the Millennium, when the church shall rise to a state of beauty and glory, of which Solomon’s temple was a type, when the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
The coming of Christ, in favour of his church, and of the redeemed, is spoken of as a time of vengeance to his and their enemies, in which they shall be punished and destroyed, and his people shall be avenged on them. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all that mourn. “For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.”737737 Isa. lxi. 1, 2. lxiii. 4. “And shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them: I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.”738738 Luke xviii. 7, 8. “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God: For true and 509righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.”739739 Rev. xviii. 20. xix. 1, 2.
Balaam, in his remarkable prophecy of Christ and his kingdom, speaking of this latter day, when the Roman empire shall come to an end, and Christ shall have the dominion, represents this event as attended with great destruction of men. “Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth in the city. And he took up his parable, and said, “Alas, who shall live when God doth this!” This expresses a great and general destruction of men, so that comparatively few of them will be left alive.”740740 Num. xxiv. 17-24. The same is predicted in the song which God directed Moses to rehearse to the children of Israel, to be preserved by them.”741741 Deut. xxxii. 40, 41, 42, 43. “For I lift my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever. If (or when) I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with their blood, (and my sword shall devour flesh) and that with the blood of the slain, and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people; for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.” This prophecy is very parallel with that which has been mentioned, which relates to the great battle.742742 Rev. xviii. 20. xix. 1, 2. The same events are predicted in the following words of Moses: “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: And he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee, and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone. The fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew.”743743 Deut. xxxiii. 26, 27, 28. In these words, God is represented as riding forth to thrust out and destroy the enemies of his people; and upon this the prosperity of his church, the true Israel, is introduced. This prophecy therefore coincides with the description of the battle in the Revelation, as introductory to the Millennium. The same events are predicted in the prayer or song of Hannah. “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces: Out of heaven shall he thunder upon them. The Lord, shall judge the ends of the earth, and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.”744744 1 Sam. ii. 9, 10.
This battle, by which the wicked will be destroyed, and the reign of Christ and his church on earth introduced, is frequently 510brought into view and predicted in the book of Psalms. The following predictions of this kind are worthy to be observed:—“Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shall break them with a rod of iron, thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”745745 Ps. ii. 8, 9. There is reference to this prediction and promise in the following words of Christ: “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to pieces, even as I received of my Father.”746746 Rev. ii. 26, 27. The followers of Christ are said to do what he does for them, and in their behalf in destroying their enemies, as they are engaged in the same cause, and are with him in these works of vengeance, and they who have overcome, and have arrived to heaven, will be with him in a peculiar manner, when he shall come forth to fight this great battle, and dash the nations of the world into pieces, as a potter’s vessel is broken. Therefore, there is again reference to those words in the second Psalm, when Christ is represented as riding forth to the battle there described, followed by the armies in heaven, comprehending all who shall then have overcome. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron: And he treadeth the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”747747 Rev. xix. 14. 15. This is certainly the same with the battle of that great day of Almighty God, mentioned in the sixteenth chapter, as has been shown; and is predicted in the words now quoted from the second Psalm.—There is a prediction of the same battle described in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, in the following words: “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty; with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth and meekness, and righteousness: And thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies, whereby the people fall under thee.”748748 Ps. xlv. 3, 4, 5. In the next Psalm, the prosperity of the church is predicted, which will take place in the Millennium; and the battle by which it will be introduced and effected is also described. “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of our God. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered his voice, the earth melted. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth, he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder, he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will he exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”511
The twenty first Psalm contains a prediction of Christ, and foretells the destruction of the wicked, as introducing his reign on earth, and the prosperity and joy of the church. “Tlune hand shall find out all thine enemies, thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: The Lord shall swallow them up m his wrath, and the fire shall devour them. Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men: For they intended evil against thee; they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform. Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings, against the face of them. Be thou exalted, Lord, in thine own strength: So shall we sing and praise thy power.”749749 Psalm xxi. 8-13.
That the wicked shall be cut off and destroyed from the earth, that the saints may inherit it, is foretold throughout the thirty seventh Psalm. “Evil doers shall be cut off: But those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be; Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace. Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shalt exalt thee to inherit the earth; When the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. The transgressors shall be destroyed together; the end of the wicked shall be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord,” &c.
The same thing is brought into view in the seventy fifth, seventy sixth, and ninety seventh Psalms. “God is the judge, he putteth down one, and setteth up another. For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture, and he poureth out of the same; but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them. All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted. In Judah is God known, his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey. The stout hearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: And none of the men of might have found their hands. At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep. Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared and was still, when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. He shall cut off the spirit of princes: He is terrible to the kings of the earth.” “The Lord reigneth, let the people rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth 512up his enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the world: The earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord; at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols.—Worship him all ye gods.” This battle is brought into view, and foretold in the 110th Psalm. “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath, (i.e. in the great day of battle.) He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound me heads over many countries.”
In the prophecy of Isaiah, this battle, as it has been explained, is often brought into view, as connected with the prosperity of the church of Christ on earth, and introductory to it: Some instances of this will be mentioned. In the five first verses of the second chapter there is a prophecy of the happy state of the church in the last days, that is, in the Millennium In the four next verses is a description of the corruption, worldliness and idolatry of the visible church. and consequently of the world in general, as the reason of the displeasure with them, and his punishing them. And from verse 10, to the end of the chapter, the manifestation of his displeasure in his fighting against them and punishing them is described. “Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up. and he shall be brought low. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.”
The eleventh chapter contains a prediction of the Millennium, and of the slaughter of the wicked of the earth, which shall make way for it. “with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity, for the meek of the earth: And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”750750 Isaiah xi. 4. These last words are parallel with those in the Revelation, by which this battle, and the effect of it, are expressed “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him who sat on the horse, which sword proceedeth out of his mouth.”751751 Rev. xix. 15, 21.
In the thirteenth chapter is a prediction of the same thing: “Howl, ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as 513a destruction from the Almighty. Behold, the day of the Lord Cometh, cruel both with wrath, and fierce anger, to lay the earth desolate: And he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. And will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and 1 will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.”752752 Isaiah xiii. 6-11. What is said in this chapter has reference to ancient Babylon, and the destruction of that, and of other nations in order to the deliverance and restoration of Israel. But it evidently has chief reference to the destruction of spiritual Babylon, and all the wicked in the world, in order to the deliverance and prosperity of the true, spiritual Israel of God, and will be most completely fulfilled in the latter, of which the former are types and shadows: As those prophecies which have a primary respect to the type, do generally, it not always, look forward to the antitype; and have their lull and chief accomplishment in that, and the events which relate to it.
The twenty fourth chapter is wholly on this subject, and describes the battle of that great day of God Almighty, and tie slaughter of the wicked, in clear and striking language in consequence of which the church and people of God shall spread and prosper. “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. The earth shall be utterly emptied; for the Lord hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away: The world languisheth and fadeth away: The haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth is also defiled under the inhabitants thereof because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they who dwell therein are desolate: Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men left. The city of confusion is broken down: Every house is shut up, that no man may remain. In the city is left desolation, and the gate is smitten with destruction. When thus it shall be, in the midst of the earth, among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning of grapes, when the vintage is done. They shall lift up the voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord,” &c.
Upon this prophecy it may be observed, that it is a prediction of great calamities on the inhabitants of the world in general, as a punishment for their sins, by which the earth is defiled; they having transgressed the laws of God, changed his ordinance, and broken the everlasting covenant. They have broken the covenant of grace and peace made with Noah and his children, which, if it had been strictly observed, would have transmitted blessings, both holiness and happiness, to all mankind, to the end of the world. By violating this covenant, corruption and iniquity, and all the idolatry and abominations which have taken place, or ever will be practised among men, have been introduced. And by breaking 514the everlasting covenant made with Abraham, and transgressing the laws, and changing the ordinances, which have been given and published by Moses, and the Prophets, by Jesus Christ, and his Apostles, which, had they been observed, would have preserved the church uncorrupt, and spread true religion and holiness over the whole earth; by disregarding and violating all these, the world is filled with wickedness, which will continue and increase, until mankind in general shall be ripe for that punishment, which God will inflict in those calamities and judgments, which will destroy and sweep from the earth the greatest part of the inhabitants; so that there will be but comparatively few men left, like the few olives which remain on the tree, after it is shaken, and the scattering grapes, which hang on the vine, alter the vintage is over. Those who shall be left when the battle is over, will lift up their voice, and sing for the majesty of the Lord. They will behold the terrible works of God, in which they will see his terrible majesty, and tremble, submit, approve, and adore, and praise and pray. And then the Millennium will begin.
The prophecy goes on, and the same events, as to substance, and this battle, and the consequence of it, are described in oilier words: “Fear and the pit, and the snare are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be moved like a cottage, and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again.” This battle is described in the Revelation, in the same figurative language: “And there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”753753 Rev. xvi. 18, 20. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison; and after many days shall they be visited.754754 What is meant by the host of the high ones, and the kings of the earth being visited after many days, Is not so clear, at first view, and perhaps it is not now understood. God is often said in scripture to visit those whom he punishes, and the word here in the original is frequently translated, to punish. They who are shut up in prison are often confined there, to be taken out after same days, and receive their punishment. When it is here said, “And after many days shall they be visited;” may not the meaning be, that those high ones, and kings of the earth shall no more appear in this world; but shall be shut up in prison until the day of judgment, when they shall be brought forth and punished? As the fallen angels are bound in chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment, so these unjust men will be reserved unto the day of judgment, to be punished. When it is said of Zedekiah, that he should be carried a captive to Babylon, it is added, “And there shall he be, until I visit him, saith the Lord,” Jer. xxxii. 5. That is, until God should take him out of the world by death, and to judgment; so that he should never reign as king any more. Then the moon shall be confounded, 515and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.” This prediction respects the great men and kings of the earth, who exalt themselves in pride and wickedness, and tyrannize over men, and describes their overthrow in this battle. They shall be taken as prisoners, be punished for their pride and tyranny, and shut up that they may do no more mischief. Thus God “will cut off the spirit of princes, and be terrible to the kings of the earth.”755755 Ps. lxxvi. 12. And it is here said, that the Millennium shall follow upon this, in the reign of Christ and his church, “When the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.” “Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed.” That is, then there shall be such spiritual light and glory in the flourishing of the kingdom of Christ on earth, and so superior to all the light and glory of the natural world, as that the latter shall be utterly eclipsed, and appear to be worthy of no regard, compared with the former.
The three next chapters are a continuation of prophecy of the same event, viz. the judgments which are to be inflicted on the false and degenerate professors of religion, and the world of mankind in general, previous to the prosperity of the church and kingdom of Christ in the world, which will be evident to the careful judicious reader; and that the predictions contained in them, coincide with those which have been mentioned. It is needless to transcribe any particular passage here, except the following: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpassed. For behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: The earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.”756756 Isaiah xxvi. 20, 21. This must be a great and dreadful day of battle, punishment and vengeance, which shall tall on the inhabitants of the earth in general, when all the blood which has been, and shall be shed, from the beginning of the world to that day, shall be required at their hands. There is no reason to think, that this punishment has yet been inflicted; but it will doubtless be executed by the battle of that great day of God Almighty, mentioned in the sixteenth chapter of the Revelation; and more particularly described in the fourteenth and nineteenth chapters, which have been considered; and in the foregoing prophecies of Isaiah, which have been now mentioned. The words which follow those transcribed above, are, “In that day, the Lord with his sore, great, and strong sword, shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent, and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.” The same event is here predicted, of which there is a prophecy in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, viz. of the dragon that old serpent which is the devil and Satan, being laid hold of, and bound and 516cast into the bottomless pit. And the same consequence of this with Inspect to the church is here foretold, as is described there, viz. the prosperity of it, by the special favour and presence of God. “In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine. I the Lord do keep it, I will water it every moment: Lest any hurt it, 1 will keep it night and day.” While the battle is going on, and God is punishing the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, his people will be hid as in a secret chamber; but when it is over, they will become as a flourishing, fruitful vineyard, producing abundance of red wine, in consequence of the peculiar favour and care of Jesus Christ, and the abundance of heavenly divine influences.
The thirty fourth and thirty fifth chapters of Isaiah contain a prophecy of the Millennium, and of the day of battle which will precede it, which will consist in the punishment of the world, for their iniquity. “Come near, ye nations, to hear, and hearken, ye people: Let the earth hear, and all that is therein: the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies. He hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion Strengthen ye the weak hands, confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart. Be strong, fear not: Behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert,” &c. “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
In the forty first chapter of Isaiah, God, speaking to the church, and promising the good things and prosperity which were in store for it in the days of the Millennium, says, “Behold, all they that are incensed against thee, shall be ashamed and confounded: They shall be as nothing, and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shall not find them that contended with thee: They that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. Behold, I will make thee a new, sharp threshing instrument, having teeth; thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: And thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.”
In the forty second chapter, God makes promises to his church, which are to be accomplished in their fulness, in the days of the Millennium, and speaks of the war and battle in which he 517will destroy his enemies, to open the way for the good things which was to be done for the church. “The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: He shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies. I have long time holden my peace, I have been still, and refrained myself: Now will I cry like a travailing woman, I will destroy and devour at once. I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools. And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not, I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”
The fifty ninth and sixtieth chapters are wholly on this subject of the Millennium. In the fourteen first verses of the fifty ninth chapter, the great degree of wickedness of the world of mankind is described. And then God is represented as greatly displeased, and rising to battle, to punish men for their evil deeds. “And the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and he wondered that there was no intercessor: Therefore, his arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness, it. sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breast-plate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense. So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” And to this battle, this work of judgment and vengeance, succeeds the day of light and salvation to the church: Those who are left, shall repent and humble themselves, and “fear the name of the Lord from the west and his glory from the rising of the sun. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to them that turn from transgression in Jacob.” It will be then said to the church, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” The prophecy of the Millennium goes on through the sixtieth, sixty first, and sixty second chapters.
There is a parallel representation of this battle in the sixty third chapter, as executed by the same person, who is exhibited in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, riding forth to make war in righteousness, and fighting this same battle, in which the wicked then on earth will be slain. “who is this that cometh from Edom, with died garments from Bozrah?757757 Bozrah was in the land of Edom. The Edomites were implacable enemies to the people of God, and are in the prophecies of Isaiah, and elsewhere, put for the enemies of God and his church in general, who shall be destroyed, as the Edomites were, of whom the Edomites, and their destruction were a type. This that is 518glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him who treadeth in the wine fat? I have trodden the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with me: For I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury, and the blood shalt he sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help, and I wondered that there was none to uphold: Therefore, mine own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.”
The same thing is predicted in the sixty sixth chapter: “A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord who rendereth recompense to his enemies. And the hand of the Lord shall be known towards his servants, and his indignation towards his enemies. For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire, and by his sword, will the Lord plead with all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many.” These predictions of the slaughter and destruction of the wicked are here intermixed with promises of salvation and prosperity to the church: “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye who love her: Rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: That ye may suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations: That ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb.”
A passage in the tenth chapter of Jeremiah seems to refer to the same event. The folly, idolatry, and great wickedness of the people and nations of the earth, is mentioned and described in the first part of the chapter, upon which the following prediction is uttered: “But Jehovah is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting King. At his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under those heavens.”
In the first part of the twenty fifth chapter, there is a prophecy of the captivity of the Jews, and of other adjacent nations, by Nebuchadnezzar; and when their captivity during seventy years should be ended, Jeremiah foretells the ruin of Babylon, and the land of the Chaldeans. And the evil that was coming on the 519nations of the earth, which should attend the destruction of Babylon, is represented by ordering Jeremiah to take the wine cup of wrath, and cause all the nations of the earth to drink of it. And as the destruction of ancient Babylon, and the judgments which came on many other nations, was an eminent type of yet greater and more remarkable destruction of spiritual Babylon, and of all the nations of the earth, which will attend that, the prophecy is carried on beyond the type, and looks forward to the antitype, which is common in scripture prophecy; and expressions are used which cannot be applied to the former, to the type, in their full extent and meaning, but to the latter, the antitype, and therefore the prophecy is accomplished but in part, and m a lower degree in the former; but fully and most completely in the latter: Therefore, the prophet goes on, and uses expressions towards the close of the prophecy, which refer chiefly to the battle in which antichrist and the nations of the earth will fall. Such are the following: “Therefore, prophesy thou against them all those words, and say unto them, The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation, he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth: For the Lord hath a controversy with the nations: He will plead with all flesh, he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day, from one end of the earth, even unto the other end of the earth: They shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.”758758 Verse 30-33. The prophet goes on to predict the evil that should come on the shepherds, and the principal of the flock, by whom are meant the kings and great men among the nations, who are to be brought down and destroyed in the battle,759759 Verse 34-38. which is agreeable to the forementioned prophecy in Isaiah,760760 Chap. xxiv. 21, 22. and to the representation of the same battle in the Revelation.761761 Rev. xix. 18.
There is another prophecy of this in the thirtieth chapter of Jeremiah. Here the deliverance of the church from her oppressors, and from all her sufferings and trouble, is promised; which shall be attended with the utter overthrow and destruction of the wicked, and all her enemies. That this prophecy looks beyond the deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, and the evil that came on their enemies then, to the greater deliverance of the church from spiritual Babylon, and the general destruction of the wicked, which shall attend it, of which the former was a type, is evident, not only from a number of expressions and promises which were not fully accomplished in the former, and have respect to the latter; but from the express 520promise, that God will raise up David their king to reign over them, by whom must be meant Jesus Christ, the Son of David, and of whom David was an eminent type. This will appear, by attending to the following passages: “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be delivered out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him. But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them. For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee. Though 1 make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee. Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind, it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: In the latter days ye shall consider it.”762762 Jer. xxx. 7, 8, 9, 11, 23, 24.
In the book of Daniel, there is prophecy of the same event. “And at that time,” (i.e. when antichrist is to be destroyed, which is predicted in the paragraph immediately preceding these words) “shall Michael stand up, the great Prince who standeth for the children of thy people,) (that is, Jesus Christ, who will support and deliver his church.) “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time,” (this is the time of the battle of that great day of God Almighty.) “And at that time, thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” This is the time of the deliverance of the church from the power of antichrist, and from all wicked men, her enemies, and of her entering upon the prosperous, happy slate, in which the saints will reign on earth a thousand years.
The Prophet Joel speaks of the same events. From the twenty eighth verse of the second chapter of his prophecy, is a prediction of the Millennium, and the preceding evils that shall be inflicted on mankind: “And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,” &c. This prophecy began to be fulfilled when the Holy Spirit was first poured out after the ascension of Christ; but this, as has been before observed, was but the first fruits, and the prophecy will be fulfilled only in a very small part before the harvest shall come in the days of the Millennium. At the same time he speaks of the great evils, and terrible events which shall take place: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be delivered.” The prophet goes on in the next chapter to speak more particularly on this subject: “For, behold, m those days and in that time, when 1 shall bring again the captivity 521of Judah, and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehosaphat, and will plead with them there for my people, and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.”
Judah and Jerusalem are put for the church of Christ, being a type of that, as has been observed. The captivity of the Jews in Babylon, and their return from it, is typical of the afflicted, suffering state of the church during the reign of antichrist, and the deliverance of it from this state on the fall of antichrist, and in the Millennium. This is therefore meant, when it is said, “In those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem.” When the children of Moab, Ammon and Edom came with a great army, combined together to destroy Judah, Jehosaphat was directed to go forth with the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem and meet them; and had a promise that he should have no occasion to fight with them; but should stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, because the battle was not theirs, but God’s Accordingly they went out, and stood still, and saw their enemies fall upon, and destroy each other, until they were all wasted away. Jehosaphat and his people went out to their camp, and found great riches, silver and gold, and much spoil; and they spent three days in gathering it; and on the fourth day they assembled in the valley to bless and praise the Lord, which was from that called, “The valley of Berachah.” This is the valley of Jehosaphat. And to this story, these words of the prophet Joel refer.763763 See 2 Chron. 20th Chapter. Moab, Ammon, and Edom, the enemies of Israel, were a type of the enemies of the church and people of God, under the gospel dispensation, among all nations. This battle and their destruction of the enemies of Judah and Jerusalem in the valley of Jehosaphat, was a type of the overthrow of all the enemies of Christ and his church, when they shall be gathered to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. This prophecy therefore is a prediction of the same event which is described in the sixteenth chapter of the Revelation. Here it is said, “I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehosaphat, and will plead with them there for my people.” That is, will punish and destroy them for their opposition to me and my church. There it is said, “The kings of the earth and of the whole world were gathered to the battle of that great day. And he gathered them together to a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon.” Which passage has been before explained.
The Prophet farther enlarges on this subject in the following part of this chapter:764764 Joel iii. 9, &c. “Proclaim me this among the Gentiles: Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and 522gather yourselves together round about: Thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord. Let the heathen be wakened and come up to the valley of Jehosaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get you down, for the press is full, the fats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision; for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord shall also roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.” Every one who attends to this passage, will observe what a striking similitude there is between this description of a battle, and that in the Revelation, which has been considered. God is here represented as fighting the battle against all the heathen, and destroying multitudes on multitudes. All the heathen, even all nations are gathered together, all armed for war, and come up to the valley of Jehosaphat, and there are cut off in this valley of decision. In the Revelation all the nations of the earth are gathered together to battle at Megiddo, typifying the same thing with the valley of Jehosaphat, and there they are slain. God causes his mighty ones to come down. And John says, “I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse: And he that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and in righteousness doth he judge, and make war. And his name is called. The word of God And the armies in heaven followed him upon white horses.” Here, there is a command to “put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: Come, get you down, for the press is full, the fats overflow, fop the wickedness is great.” Much the same representation is made of this battle in the Revelation,765765 Chap. xiv. 14, &c., which has been particularly mentioned already. The Prophet Joel goes on to the end of his prophecy describing the happy state of the church, which shall succeed this battle, which has never yet taken place, and is like other descriptions of the Millennial state, by the Prophets. “Then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no stranger pass through her any more. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk. Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.”
The Prophet Micah prophesied of Christ and his kingdom, in the extent and glory of it in the latter day; and of the destruction of the wicked men, and the nations of the world, in favour of the church of Christ, and in order to the prosperity of his people. All this is contained in the fifth chapter of his prophecy. “And He (i.e. Christ) shall stand and feed in the strength of the 523Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God: And they shall abide; for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, in the midst of many people, as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep; who if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lift up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off. And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.”766766 Verses 4, 8, 9, 15.
The prophecy of Zephaniah has respect to the battle of that great day of God Almighty, and the succeeding happy and prosperous state of the church in the Millennium. It has indeed a primary respect to the evils and punishment brought upon Jerusalem and the Jews by the Chaldeans, for their apostasy and idolatry; and to the calamities and destruction which came upon the nations at that lime, and previous to the restoration of the Jews; and to their restoration from their captivity, and return to their own land; which were types of the much greater and more important events, in the last days, in which all nations will be more immediately concerned; and to which the prophecy has an ultimate and chief respect. It was fulfilled but in part, and in a small degree, in the former events; and will have the chief and complete accomplishment in the latter; as has been before observed concerning other prophecies of the same kind. Jerusalem, in her most pure state, when the statutes and ordinances which God had prescribed, were in some good degree observed, was a type of the true church of Christ. Therefore, under this name, and that of Mount Zion, and Israel, the Prophets speak of the true church m all future ages. But Jerusalem, considered m her most corrupt state of apostasy, was a type of the false church of Rome, and of all christian churches when they apostatize from the holy doctrines and precepts of the gospel. Therefore, Christ is said lo be crucified in the great city, by which is meant the apostate church of Rome, and all who partake of her corruptions; because he was crucified at Jerusalem, which was then a type of that great city, in her apostasy, and enmity against Christ, and his true church.767767 Rev. xi. 8. The nations round about the land of Israel and Judea, and all those who at times afflicted and oppressed the visible people of God, and were enemies to them, were types of the enemies of the church of Christ, in the time of her affliction; especially of all the idolatrous nations and wicked men, who oppose the prosperity of the church, and are to be destroyed, in order to her deliverance and salvation. With these observations in view, this prophecy may be read, and the whole of it applied to the battle and events which will take place previous to the introduction of the Millennium, predicted in the Revelation, under the seventh vial; and to the prosperity of the church which will then commence. Then it will have its full accomplishment; 524and many of the expressions in it, considered in their most natural and extensive meaning, cannot be accommodated to any events which have taken place, and are not yet fulfilled. Some of these will be now mentioned. The prophecy begins with the following words: “I will utterly consume all things from off the land,768768 The word in the original translated land, is the same which in other places in this prophecy, and in many other places in scripture, is translated earth, and doubtless should have been so translated here, and in some other passages which will be transcribed. saith the Lord. I will consume man and beast: I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked, and I will cut off man from off the land, (the earth) saith the Lord Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: For the day of the Lord is at hand: For the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. The great day of the Lord is near: it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord. The mighty men shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: And their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as dung. Neither their silver, nor their gold, shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath; but the whole land (earth) shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: For he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land (earth.) Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness; seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. Therefore, wait upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, and all my fierce anger:—for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” The parallel and likeness between this prophecy, and that of the battle in the Revelation, is worthy of particular notice. This is called “The great day of the Lord: the day of the Lord’s wrath: a day of distress and desolation: the day that God will rise up to the prey, to gather the nations, and assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them his indignation, and fierce anger.”—in the revelation, the whole world were gathered to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. The words, that great day of battle, seem to have reference to some day which had already been made known, and undoubtedly refer to the great day of God’s wrath, which is mentioned in the prophecy before us, and by the other prophets. “And he gathered them together into a place, called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon. And the seventh angel poured out his vial (of wrath) into the air. And there were voices, and 525thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great. And the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him who sat on the horse; and the fowls were filled with their flesh.” In this prophecy it is said, “The Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.” In the Revelation the fowls of heaven are invited to come to the supper of the great God, to eat the flesh of kings, &c.
According to this prophet, when the nations and kingdoms of the world have been gathered, and God has poured upon them his indignation, even all his fierce anger; and all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of his jealousy, the scene is changed, and the remnant which are left in the earth, the few afflicted and poor people, shall repent and pray, and humble themselves before God, and return and put their trust in him alone: and God will return to them in a way of mercy and build them up, and they shall be comforted, rejoice and prosper. This is represented in the last chapter, from verse ninth to the end of the prophecy: “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, my suppliants, even the daughters of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering. I will also leave in thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. Sing, O daughter of Zion, shout, O Israel, be glad and rejoice with all the Heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee. Thou shalt not see evil any more,” &c. to the end of the prophecy. This is set in much the same light in the Revelation.769769 Chapters xix, and xx. When the battle there described is over, the Millennium is introduced.
There is a prophecy by the Prophet Haggai to the same purpose with the foregoing: “Again the word of the Lord came unto Haggai, saying, Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, and I will overthrow the chariots, and those who ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, I will take thee, O Zerubbabel my servant, and will make thee as a signet; for I have chosen thee.”770770 Hagg. ii. 20, 21, 22, 23. Zerubbabel was a type of Christ, and what is here said of the type was not fulfilled in him; but is to be fulfilled in Jesus 526Christ the antitype, when he shall reign on the earth, and his church fill the world, and “he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.”771771 Isa. lii. 13. In order to this, the great changes are to take place, represented here by shaking the heavens and the earth, and by overthrowing the throne and strength of all the kingdoms and nations, and their being destroyed by the sword: which is the battle represented in the Revelation, by thunders and lightnings, and a great earthquake, and the falling of the cities of the nations, &c.
The prophet Zechariah also speaks of these things. He prophesies of the Millennium, and of the destruction of all the people and nations who oppose the interest of the church, as preceding the days of her prosperity, and introductory to it. “And in that day will I make Jerusalem (the true church of Christ) a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it, shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness; and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and he that is feeble among them at that day, shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”772772 Zech. xii. 3, 4, 8, 9. “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” This is the gathering of the kingdoms and nations of the whole world, unto the battle, by the unclean spirits which go forth to corrupt the world, and arm them against God, and his people, by the practice of all kinds of wickedness, by which the best part of the church will be greatly corrupted; and the saints will suffer very much, being besieged on all sides by very wicked men, mentioned in the Revelation,773773 Rev. xvi. 13, 14. which has been explained.
The Prophet goes on to describe the battle of that great day of God Almighty, which is mentioned in the Revelation: “Thep shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall consume away, while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.”774774 Zech. xiv. 3, 12.
Malachi prophesied of the Millennium, and the preceding slaughter of the wicked, in the battle of that great day of God Almighty, in the following concise and striking language: “Behold 527the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves in the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet, in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.”775775 Mal. iv. 1, 2, 3.
From the above detail it appears, that the prophecy in the Revelation of the Millennium, and of the manner in which it will be introduced, is agreeable to the ancient prophecies of these same events: That previous to this, the christian world, and mankind in general, will become more corrupt in the practice of all kinds of wickedness: That God will rise out of his place, and come forth to do his work, his strange work, to punish the world for their wickedness, and manifest his high displeasure and anger with mankind, for their perverseness and obstinacy in rebellion against him, and in opposition to his church: That this is the battle of that great day of God Almighty, in which he will, by a course of various and multiplied calamities and sore judgments, greater and more general, and continued longer than any which have taken place before, reduce and destroy mankind, so that comparatively few will be left; an afflicted and poor people, who will repent and humble themselves before God, and trust in the mighty Saviour; for whom he will appear in great mercy, and pour down the Holy Spirit on them and their offspring; and they will multiply and fill the world. And thus the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, and the church will reign on earth a thousand years.
It appears reasonable and proper, that God should manifest his displeasure with the inhabitants of Christendom, and of the world, for their long continued abuse of his goodness, and of all the means used with them to reclaim them; and their perseverance in their opposition to Christ and his people, and increasing in all kinds of wickedness, while he has been waiting upon them, even to long suffering; by inflicting on them severe and awful judgments, and remarkably fearful punishments, to vindicate the honour of his own name; and avenge his church and people, who have been so greatly injured, despised and trampled upon: and that it may be made known by this, as well as in other ways, that the God of christians, the God and Saviour revealed in the Bible, is the true God. And this will give great instruction to those who shall be left, who will have a heart to perceive and understand. They will have before their eyes a lesson, suited most effectually to teach them the exceeding depravity and wickedness of man; and how real and dreadful is the divine displeasure and anger with sinners: How undone and utterly lost forever all men are, without a Redeemer 528and Sanctifier; by whom they may be recovered from the power of sin and Satan, and obtain the forgiveness of their sins, and the favour of God: How dependent they are on sovereign grace for all good, for every thing better than complete destruction; by which alone they are distinguished from those who persevere in their sins, and perish. And ail this will tend to guard them against sin, to promote their repentance and humiliation, and to lead them to more earnest, constant and united prayer to God for mercy, than was ever exercised before by men: And to ascribe all the favours they shall receive, which will then be much more abundant than ever before, to the free, sovereign grace of God; and to give him the praise of all.
In the beginning of this section it was suggested, that by attending to the events which are to take place, according to scripture prophecy, before the commencement of the Millennium, farther evidence would come into view, that this will not be much sooner or later, than the beginning of the seventh millennary of the world. This evidence has been now produced. The sixth vial is now running, and probably began to be poured out before the end of the 17th century, and will continue to run a considerable part of the next century; under which the power of antichrist is to be greatly weakened, and the way prepared for his utter overthrow: and at the same time, the christian world, and mankind in general, will be so far from reforming, that they will grow more and more corrupt in doctrine and practice, and greedily run into all manner of vice and wickedness, until they are prepared for the battle of that great day, and ripe to be cut down and destroyed by a series of divine judgments, which will be inflicted under the seventh vial, and will issue m the introduction of the Millennium.
The river Euphrates has been drying up, and the way has been preparing, for near a century past, for the utter ruin of the Pope and the hierarchy of the church of Rome, and the time of the utter overthrow of antichrist appears to be hastening on. But this is not accompanied with any reformation in that church, or in the Greek church, or in the protestant churches in general; but very much to the contrary appears. Ignorance, error and delusion, and open vice and wickedness abound, and are increasing; and infidelity is rapidly spreading in the christian world. The unclean spirits, like frogs, appear to have gone forth to all the kings’ courts, and the great men in Christendom; and the greatest corruption and abominable vices are spread among them, and real christianity is neglected, run down and opposed. And the multitude in general, both learned and unlearned, are going the same way. Deism, and a multitude of errors which lead to it, and even to atheism, are increasing. A spirit of irreligion, selfishness, pride and worldliness, is exceeding strong and prevalent, producing all kinds of wickedness, and a strong and general opposition to true religion, and the great truths and doctrines of the gospel. And the heathen world are no more disposed to become 529christians, than they ever were: And the way to their conversion to christianity appears to be more obstructed; and the few attempts that are made to christianize any of them, are generally unsuccessful. And Mahometans and Jews hate and oppose christianity as much as ever they did, if not more, and are sinking farther down in stupidity, ignorance, infidelity, worldliness, and all kinds of vice.
It is certain, that most of the evil things now mentioned, have been found among the body of mankind, in a greater or less degree, in all ages; and the pious friends of God, and true religion, have complained of, and lamented them. And it is probable that the representation now made, will be considered by many, only as the revival of the old complaint, by those who are of an illiberal, gloomy cast of mind, and wholly without foundation, in truth and fact. But this opinion, though it should be generally imbibed, and asserted with great confidence, will not be any evidence that the representation is not true and just; but it will rather serve to confirm it. For it is commonly, if not always the case that in times of great degeneracy, and the prevalence of ignorance, error and vice, they who are the greatest instances of it, and most sunk in darkness and delusion, are deluded in this also, dud entertain a good opinion of themselves, and of others who join with them, being ignorant of their true character. They put darkness for light, and light for darkness, and call evil good, and good evil And while real christianity and true virtue, founded upon principles of truth and genuine piety, are abandoned, opposed and forsaken, they perceive it not, but think all is well, and much better than before. And they may undertake to reform christianity and think it is greatly reformed, when every doctrine and duty is excluded from it, which is contrary to the selfishness, pride, and worldly spirit of man, and little or nothing is left of it, but the mere name, to distinguish it from the religion of infidels or heathen; and nothing to render it preferable to these.
An appeal must be made, in this case, from the judgment of those of this character, to those who are born of the Spirit of God; are created in Christ Jesus unto good works; by which they are become new creatures, and turned from the darkness of this world, to marvellous light: Who are not conformed to this world, but have overcome it, and are transformed by the renewing of their minds, so as to know and distinguish what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, which is revealed in the scriptures. They who are thus spiritual, judge of all things respecting the doctrines and duties of christianity, in some good measure, according to the truth. To such, especially those of them who have a general knowledge of the state of religion in the christian world, and of the deluge of ignorance, error and vice with which it is overflowed, it is presumed, the above description will not appear exaggerated, and that there are greater strides, and swifter progress made in infidelity, and irreligion, 530error and false religion, in vice and all kinds of wickedness, than have been ever known before; and that all these are more common, have a wider spread, and are carried to a higher degree at this tune, than in former ages; and threaten to bear down all truth, and real christianity before them: And that the appearance of things, in this respect, is just such as might be reasonably expected when the unclean spirits like frogs, the spirits of devils, are gone forth with a license and design to spread their influence among men, and deceive and corrupt the whole world.
There is reason to conclude, from what has already taken place of this kind, and from the prophecy of these unclean spirits, that they have not yet finished their work; but that the world, especially that part of it called christian and protestant, will yet make greater and more rapid advances in all kinds of moral corruption and open wickedness, till it will come to that state in which it will be fully ripe, and prepared to be cut down by the sickle of divine justice and wrath: And it may take near half a century from this time for these evil spirits to complete their work, and gather the world to this battle. But during this time, whether it be longer, or shorter, and before the battle shall 6ome on, there will probably be great and remarkable judgments, and sore, unusual and surprising calamities, in one place and another, suited to awaken and warn mankind, and lead them to fear God, repent and reform; which being by most disregarded and abused, will become the occasion of greater hardness of heart and obstinacy, which will be a prelude and provocation to the battle of that great day, in which mankind will be destroyed in the manner, and to the degree which has been described above. This battle, as has been before observed, will not be fought and finished at once; but by a series of different and increasing calamities and sore punishments, mankind will be reduced and brought down, and every high thing levelled to the ground, in which the hand of God will be remarkably visible, and his arm of power and vengeance made bare. And it may take more than a century to effect all this in the wisest and best manner: so that it will not be finished till near the beginning of the seventh millennary of the world.
It has been observed, that while antichrist is coming down, and the way preparing for the utter extinction of the church of Rome, and all her appendages, the world in general, and especially the christian world, will make swift advances in delusion and all kinds of wickedness; and infidelity will make great progress under the influence of the spirits of devils, which are gone forth to the whole world. And it may be here observed, that the increase and spreading of this wickedness, and spirit of infidelity, will doubtless be the means of weakening and preparing the way for the overthrow of that church. The ten horns or kings, which shall hate the whore, and make her desolate and naked, and cat her flesh, and burn her with fire, will do this from a selfish, worldly spirit, and under the influence of infidelity, and opposition 531to all kinds of religion. And the prevalence of deism and atheism in popish countries and nations, which are the natural fruit and offspring of the abominable practices and tyranny of the antichristian church, has been the means of exposing the superstition and wickedness of that church, and weakening the papal hierarchy. And deists, and other wicked men, may be made the instruments of pulling down that antichristian fabrick yet farther; as the heathen Romans were of destroying the corrupt church of Israel. If so, the fall of the pope will be so far from implying a revival of true religion, that it may be attended with the contrary, viz. infidelity, immorality, and all kinds of wickedness, as the means of it, so far as it will be effected by the instrumentality of men.
When John is describing the vision under the sixth vial, of the unclean spirits like frogs, going forth to the whole world to gather them lo the battle, he stops before he has finished the relation, and Jesus Christ himself speaks the following words: “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”776776 Rev. xvi. 15. By which he warns those in particular, who shall live when this vial is poured out, of their danger of being seduced by those evil spirits, and those who are corrupted by them, and behaving unworthy of their christian character; and sets before them the strongest motives to deter them from apostasy, and induce them to be faithful to him, to watch and keep their garments: To continue spiritually awake, and properly attentive to all those things which concern them as christians; to their situation and state, their own exercises and conduct, to the cause of Christ, and the enemies with whom they are surrounded; to maintain their christian profession, and act agreeable to it, in the exercise of all christian graces; trusting in the great Captain and General, who only can save them, and his church; and waiting for him with a patient continuance in well doing. He comes as a thief. The thief does not make his presence and designs known to any but those who are joined with him, being his friends, and engaged in the same design with him. So, though Christ be present with his church and people, and is in the midst of his enemies, having all men and devils in his hands; and ordering and conducting every thing that is done by them, in this time of the greatest degeneracy, and high handed wickedness: and knows how to answer his own ends by it and them, and to protect his people, and bring the wheel over his enemies; yet, in this, his coming and presence, he is not seen or thought of by the corrupt wicked world: They think nothing of his presence, and see not his hand; He is seen only by his friends, who are engaged in the same cause with him, who watch and keep their garments. They see his hand in all those things, behold him present, and doing his own work; and are protected from all evil by him, while the wicked fall into mischief, and are destroying 532themselves. And when he comes forth to the battle, and rises up to the prey, and to punish the world for their wickedness, the wicked will not see him, they will not know their danger, or believe he is come, or will come, till evil falls upon them, and it is too late to escape. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them; and they shall not escape.”777777 1 Thess. v. 3. And they only are safe, who watch and keep their garments, and see and adore his hand and presence ill all his works of terror and wrath. “Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.”778778 Psalm ii. 10, 11, 12.
It is of the greatest importance to christians, who live at this day, and those who shall live in the time when the battle shall come on, that they should attend, and discern the signs of the times, and watch and keep their garments; as this is the only way to be safe and happy, Our Lord gave the same direction and command, as to substance, when he was on earth, with reference to these same events: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all those things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”779779 Luke xxi. 34, 35, 36.
It will probably be suggested, that the representation of such a dark scene, and evil time, to take place before the Millennium will come, is matter of great discouragement, and tends to damp the spirits and hopes of christians, and to discourage them from attempting to promote it, or praying for it; especially as it is set so far off from our day: so that none in this or the next generation are like to see it.
To such suggestions it is easy to reply.
1. If it be true, and clearly and abundantly foretold, that such evils are to take place, before the prosperous state of the church comes on, it is proper and desirable that all should know it, and attend to it, and it cannot be of any disadvantage to any, to know the truth in this case, but the contrary. This is revealed to the church for the instruction and benefit of christians, that they may be informed and warned of what is coming, and be prepared for it, and not be disappointed in their expectations, and surprised when it shall take place; but when they see these things coming to pass, their faith may be strengthened, and they lift up their heads and rejoice, knowing that the redemption, the deliverance and prosperity of the church draweth near.
2. These evils, both natural and moral, however undesirable and dreadful, in themselves, are necessary for the greatest good 533of the church of Christ, and to introduce the Millennium in the best manner, and there will be then, and forever, more holiness, joy and happiness, than if these evils had never taken place. In this view, they are kind and merciful dispensations to the church. The apostles and prophets, and all the inhabitants of heaven, are represented as rejoicing in the evils, the punishment and destruction of the enemies of Christ and his church.780780 Rev. xviii. 20. xix. 1-6. The affliction and servitude of the children of Israel in Egypt, and the wickedness, oppression and cruelty exercised towards them by Pharaoh and the Egyptians; and the successive calamities and punishments brought on them by the hand of God, and their final overthrow and destruction in the red sea, were an unspeakable advantage to the former, and afforded matter of joy and praise. Therefore, christians may now not only acquiesce, but even rejoice in these events, as ordered by God for wise ends, and necessary, in order to the greatest display of his righteousness and goodness, and to promote the best good and greatest happiness of his church.
3. God revealed to Abraham the evils which were coming on his posterity in Egypt, previous to their deliverance and prosperity, and the wickedness and punishment of the Egyptians; not to discourage him, and sink his spirit, but to support and animate him, and strengthen his faith; and this did not damp his joy; but in the view of the whole, he rejoiced. And Jesus Christ foretold to his disciples the great evils which were coming on them, upon the Jews, the church and the world, not to discourage and deject them, but that they might be forewarned, and expect them, so as not to be disappointed when they came, but have their faith confirmed, and possess their souls in patience when the dark scene should come on; and that they might be encouraged and rejoice, considering these events as tokens that their deliverance was at hand. He therefore said unto them, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up» and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”781781 Luke xxi. 28. This may be applied to christians now. While you see the world gathering to the battle of the great day of God Almighty, and view this battle near at hand, lift up your heads and rejoice, that the church has got so near the end of darkness and affliction; and that the happy day of her deliverance and prosperity is so near at hand.
4. As to the distance of that happy day of salvation from this time; two hundred years, or near so many, will pass off before it will arrive, according to the calculation which has been made from scripture; so that none, now on the stage of life, will live to see and enjoy it on earth. But much may be done by christians who live in this age, to promote its coming on in the proper time, by prayer, and promoting the interest of religion, and the conversion of sinners: For that good day would not come, unless the cause of Christ be maintained to that time, and sinners be 534converted to keep up the church, and prevent the total extinction of it. In order to this, thousands must he converted, and there must be a succession of professing and real christians down to that day. The doctrines, institutions, and duties of christianity? must be maintained; and there will doubtless be remarkable revivals of religion in many places, and knowledge will increase among true christians, and there will be advances made in the purity of doctrines and worship, and all holy practice, by bringing all these nearer to the standard of the holy scriptures: And the churches will be formed into a greater union with each other; being more and more conformed to the divine pattern, contained in the Bible. Here then is work enough to do, by those who desire and are looking for such a day, to prepare the way for it, and it may be introduced in the proper time; and there is no want of encouragement to do it, even in this view, to be steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as they may know, that their labour will not be in vain in the Lord.782782 1 Cor. xv. 58.
And christians may now have a great degree of enjoyment of that day, and joy in it, though they do not expect to live on earth till it shall come. True christians are disinterested and benevolent to such a degree, that they can enjoy and rejoice in the good of others, even those who may live many ages hence, and in the good and prosperity of the church, and the advancement of the cause and kingdom of Christ in this world, though they should not live to see it. The stronger their faith is, that this good day is coming, and the clearer and more constant view they have of it, and the more desirable it appears to them, that there should be such a time; the higher enjoyment, and greater joy they will have in it, and in the prospect of it. Thus Abraham looked forward by his faith, and saw this day of Christ, when all the nations of the earth should be blessed in him, and derived great comfort and joy in this prospect. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.”783783 John viii. 56. Christians know that it will come on in the best time, as soon as it can be introduced by infinite wisdom and goodness: That there is no delay, but “God will hasten it in his time.” In this sense, Christ will come quickly to set up his kingdom in the whole world He is on his way, coming as fast and as soon as he can, consistent with infinite wisdom. He is preparing the way, and ordering every thing in the best manner, so as in the most proper time, to reign with his church on earth; and no time is lost. And what christian can desire that it should be sooner, or before this time? Is it not enough that Jesus Christ has undertaken it, and will bring it on in the best manner, and the fittest time? And must not this give joy to every real christian?
It is further to be observed, that though the christians who live at this day will not see the Millennium come while they are in the body on earth; yet they will see and enjoy it, when it 535shall come, in a much higher degree than they could do, were they living on earth; or than those who will live on earth at that day. The powers, knowledge and views of the spirits of the just made perfect, are greatly enlarged in heaven, and they have a more clear and comprehensive view of the works of Cod, and a more particular knowledge of what is done in this world, especially of what relates to the work of redemption, the salvation of sinners, and the prosperity of the church and cause of Christ, There is joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner that repenteth. The spirits of the just made perfect are with the angels, and must know all that passes in their presence; and must rejoice in such an event, as much or more than they. How great must be their joy then, when whole nations, yea, all the world, become true penitents, and they see and know this, and what is implied in it, unspeakably to better advantage, and more clearly, than any can do who shall be then on earth!
The more christians labour and suffer on earth, in the cause of Christ, and the more they desire, pray for, and promote his coming and kingdom in this world, the more they will enjoy it in heaven, when it shall take place, and the greater will be their joy and happiness. And it will be unspeakably more and greater in heaven, than if they were in bodies on earth. Who then can reasonably desire to live in this world, merely to see and enjoy the happy day of the Millennium!
On the whole, it is hoped that it does appear from what has been said in this dissertation, that there will be a thousand years of prosperity of the church of Christ in this world; that this is abundantly foretold and held up to view in the Bible; that this will be about the seventh millenary of the world; that it will be a most happy and glorious day, in which the christian dispensation shall have its proper and full effect on earth, in the salvation of men; to which all the preceding times and events are preparatory: That the degeneracy and increasing prevalence of ignorance, error, and wickedness now in the world, especially in Christendom, is preparing for, and hastening on the battle of that great day of God Almighty, in which mankind will be punished, and the greatest part then on earth destroyed; and then the Millennium will be introduced:—That this is an important and pleasing subject, suited to support and comfort christians in all the dark and evil days which precede it, and to excite them to earnest, constant, united prayer for this coming of Christ, and patient waiting tor him, and to constant exertions in all proper ways, to promote his interest and kingdom in the world.
After the thousand years of the reign c f Christ and his church on earth, “Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the lour quarters of the earth. Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: The number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the 536saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”784784 Rev. xx. 7, 8, 9. In these words there is reference to what is said of Gog and Magog, in the thirty. eighth and thirty-ninth chapters of Ezekiel: which prophecy, there is reason to think, is not to be understood literally, but in a figurative sense; as no events have ever taken place answerable to this representation, if taken in a literal sense. The prophecy of Gog and Magog may be considered as having reference to two events, which are to take place at different times, and are similar in some respects, and differ in others, viz. The great and general corruption and wickedness of mankind, and their punishment and destruction which will precede the Millennium, which has been described in this section; and the apostasy and wickedness of mankind at the end of the Millennium, and the remarkable overthrow and destruction of them, when Christ shall come to judgment; predicted in the words which have been now transcribed. Some things said of Gog and Magog, of their designs, doings, and their punishment, and a number of expressions in that prophecy, are more applicable to the former of these events than to the latter, and some more applicable to the latter than to the former, and the whole cannot be well applied to one, exclusive of the other; but in both the prophecy is completely fulfilled. Both these, events respect wicked men, who have arrived to a great degree of obstinacy and wickedness; and they are both gathered together by the agency and deception of Satan, i.e. loose for that end. And they are both gathered together to battle against Christ and his church; and are destroyed in the battle.
This prophecy is figurative. It is not to be supposed that all this great multitude will be gathered together into one place; or that the church will be encamped together in one spot on earth, or collected in one city: But the gathering of the wicked, means their being abandoned to infidelity, and a very great degree of wickedness, in opposition to the church of Christ, and true religion, and being disposed to extirpate these from the face of the earth. In this sense, the wicked will be gathered together to battle, before the Millennium, by the spirits of devils, or Satan, who will go forth to the whole world for that end, as has been explained. The church will become small, and surrounded and assaulted by the wicked on every side, and ready to be swallowed up, and totally destroyed by them.
It has been a question, from whence this multitude of people, here called Gog and Magog, should c€me, after the church of Christ and true religion had prevailed in the world a thousand years? Some have supposed, that a number of people, and perhaps whole nations, would live in some corner of the earth, during the time of the Millennium, without partaking of any of the blessings of it; but will continue in a state of heathenism and wickedness all that time, till at length they will multiply so much, as lo be able to rise in opposition to the church, and destroy 537it, were they not prevented by the miraculous interposition of Heaven. And many have supposed, that this fact is inconsistent with all the inhabitants of the world being real christians, and eminently holy in the time of the Millennium. But this supposed difficulty may be easily solved; and the general and great apostasy accounted for, consistent with the supposition, that in the Millennium all mankind will be real christians. Near the end of the thousand years, the divine influences, which produced and continued the universal and eminent holiness in the Millennium, may be in such a measure withheld, as that real christians will, in their exercises and conduct, sink much below what had taken place before, and indulge a careless and worldly spirit to a great and sinful degree, and become more and more negligent of their duty, especially with respect to their children; and be really guilty of breaking covenant with God, in this important point. Jn consequence of this, their children will not be regenerated and converted; but grow up in a state of sin, real enemies to God and to the truth. And as the world will be then full of people, it will in this way soon become full of wicked men, and the church will be very small. And those who will grow up under the power of sin and Satan, in the face of all that light, truth and holiness, which had taken place through the Millennium, and in opposition to it, will naturally arrive to a great and amazing degree of hardness and obstinacy in sin, and become a far more guilty and perverse generation of men, than ever existed before; and will be greater enemies to truth and righteousness, and the church of Christ. And consequently will be united and engaged to banish all these from the earth. The world will have more wicked persons in it than ever before; and all these much more sinful, and engaged in all kinds and ways of opposition to Christ, and his cause and people. The church will be on the brink of ruin, just ready to sink and be swallowed up; and the appearance and coming of Christ will be less believed, expected or thought of, than at any other time. Then Christ will be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them who know not God, and obey not the gospel.
This apostasy and great wickedness of so many millions of mankind, the number of whom will be as the sand of the sea, and their consequent misery, is an awful dispensation indeed, and is, in itself, an evil infinitely beyond the comprehension of man. But there is the clearest evidence, and the greatest certainty, that this instance of evil, as well as all other evil which precedes it, and will succeed it, though it will be endless, will, by the overruling hand of God, be productive of overbalancing good; and is necessary, in order to effect the greatest possible good to the universe. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: The remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”785785 Psalm lxxvi. 10. This event will serve to set the total depravity, and the strong propensity of man to the greatest degree of wickedness, in a more clear and striking light than it had 538been, or perhaps could be before. That man should apostatize, and so soon arrive to such a high degree of wickedness, after all the light and holiness, and the wonderful goodness of God to man, displayed in the Millennium; and, in opposition to all this light and grace, and in the greatest abuse of it, join in rebellion against God, and trample on his authority, truth and goodness, contrary to the admonitions and warnings from the word of God, and all faithful ministers and christians; will make a new discovery, and greater than was ever made before, of fallen human nature, and of the great and desperate evil that is in the heart of man; and that it is utterly incurable by any means that can possibly be used, short of the almighty energy of the Spirit of God, by which the heart is renewed; and consequently of the guilt and infinite ill desert of man; which discovery will be of great advantage to the church and kingdom of Christ forever, and necessary for the greatest happiness and glory of it, and the highest honour of the Redeemer.
And this will make from fact, a new and greater discovery of the absolute dependence of man on the grace and Spirit of God, to prevent his greatest wickedness and endless destruction, and to form him to holiness and happiness; and of the great and sovereign grace of God, in converting and saving lost man, and in bringing on such a wonderful degree of holiness and happiness, and continuing it a thousand years; and that this is all to be ascribed to the sovereign power and grace of God, who has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. When all men shall be righteous and holy from generation to generation for a thousand years, and all the children which shall be born in that time, shall appear to be pious and holy as soon as they begin to act, and persevere in this to the end of life, the appearance will be, that mankind are now grown better, and that the evil nature of man is not so great; but he is naturally inclined to obedience and holiness: The sudden and great apostasy which will take place, will take off this appearance: and show, that the heart of man is naturally as full of evil as ever it was; and that all the good and holiness of the Millennial state was the effect of the power of the Spirit of God, and to be wholly ascribed to the infinite, sovereign grace of God. And this discovery will be remembered by the redeemed forever, and improved lo the glory of God, to the praise of rich, sovereign grace, and consequently to their own eternal advantage.
Even so come Lord Jesus.
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