« VorigeDoorgaan »
in those parts of the earth to which the general word of prophecy refers.
Daniel thus speaks of it; or rather, the celestial Being who came to instruct Daniel : “ At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people ; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.” Dan. xii. 1. This is mentioned as taking place at the time of the destruction of what we have every reason to believe is the Turkish empire; and synchronizing with the duration of that empire, is the period of 1260 days mentioned in Rev. xii. 6, at the end of which we are told, “ There was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his angels." The whole passage has already been given, (page 24 ;) and the concluding words are terribly impressive, “Rejoice ye heavens, and them that dwell in them. Wo to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea ! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time,”' (verse 12.) The tribu. lation then, which excites the exclamation of "wo!" from the heavenly voice, is the work of Satan, permitted to plunge the world into one great final trouble ; overruled for the purification of God's children, and the destruction of his enemies. In the message to the church of Philadelphia, which has endured to this day, the same period is probably referred to. 6. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Rev. iii. 10. Such being the declared purpose of God, and Satan being the immediate inflicter of the terrible chastisement, let us, with awe, reverence, and godly fear, yet confident in Him through whom we shall be enabled to escape every snare, and to be “ more than conquerors," approach this subject; convinced that whatever he has caused to be written, was written for our learning.
We are told by our Lord that “wars and rumors of wars, distress of nations and perplexity,” shall usher in these fearful times. War is an element that Satan must exceedingly delight in; for it often cuts off in their sins more souls in a day than by natural death he can hope to grasp in many years. It fosters every bad passion; its origin is in the lusts that war in our members, desiring things that in God's providence are withheld from us, and wading to them through the blood of our brethren. A hateful, an accursed thing it is; wholly irreconcilable with the gospel, or with any one precept of the gospel ; yet Satan prevails to make “ wars and fightings” not only a branch of their policy, but even a matter of boasting among nations professedly Christian. One of his first achievements in this closing convulsion, will be to put the nations in battle array, one against another, and all against God. Earthquakes, famines, pestilences, fearful sights, and supernatural signs, domestic treachery, and public hostility, are all enumerated as concurrent evidences of the time when the three “spirits of devils,” (Rev. xvi. 13,) shall have entered upon their infernal mission. It were easy to speculate as to the precise nature of their
pe alions, and the particulars of the tremendous battle-field into which they will bring the deceived hosts ; but the subject is too solemn for such guess-work; it better becomes us to receive with reverent thankful. ness the intimations actually given, and to wait patiently the appointed time for making manifest what the Lord hath decreed. The “ fearful sights” which are spoken of in such connexion as to make it plain they will be of a supernatural character, are here represented as the performance of miracle-working devils. The great Antichrist, Popery, is described as him “whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and all deceivableness of unrighteousness ;” (2 Thess. ii. 9 ;) and though, in a measure, this has been characteristic of the Papacy from its first rise, still we are led to expect a very great accession of devilish power at that time, when the Lord is approaching to destroy the Deceiver with the brightness of His coming. There is, so to speak, an antagonist “coming" of Popery described when the Lord himself comes to judge and to reign: when the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, each contribute a missionary devil, invested with extraordinary powers, to tempt the kings and nations of the earth to battle against the Lord God Almighty. Great indeed must be the liberty given to the evil One when thus far he will prevail ; and that he lacks only liberty to accomplish it is clear enough. When leave was granted him to afflict Job, we have seen how his herds, flocks, servants, houses, children, and health passed away, as it were, in a moment ;
“like a rolling thing before the whirlwind." Le Satan therefore, receive a temporary power to convulse our globe, and what fearful "earthquakes” will ensue? Let the ripening harvest be delivered up to his disposal, and “famine" will stalk abroad in forms never before witnessed; while the “pestilence” in his fierce, ma. lignant hand, will transform the healthiest population into heaps of loathsome corruption.
God can arm his spiritual creatures with a terrible power over mortal life. The destroying angel who smote the Egyptians, is an instance of the rapid move. ment with which a multitude may be mown down; and it is remarkable also in being not a promiscuous slaughter, like that of Sennacherib's army, but a careful selection made from every family in every house. An angel, too, smote the people of Israel when David had numbered them, the description of whose proceed. ings is awfully grand. 1 Sam. xxiv. 26. And in the next verse we are told, “ David saw the angel that smote the people;' therefore to resolve it, as some attempt to do, into a figurative mode of expression, is unwarrantable: it was a real angel of God; such was Satan before he fell; and what a holy angel can do by a divine command, that can the foul apostate also do by divine permission.
But a far more perilous feature of these predicted times of trial, is the seduction to be practised. Satan understands the varieties of the human character; he knows there are many whom open persecution would rouse rather than intimidate, and for them, and for (iod's true people, he has snares in reserve.
make his own murderous acts appear as the righteous judgment of the Most High. In the Revelation we are told, that the Papal beast “ doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire to come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,” Rev. xiii. 13; and that he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, by means of those miracles which he hath power to do. We may naturally conclude, that his object is to assume divine authority for what he does, by bringing the destructive element down, as when the Lord rained fire and brimstone upon the cities of the plain ; for even so he wrought to terrify Job, while he stripped him of his possessions.
Domestic treachery, arming kindred hands, is also predicted Luke xxiv. 16; so that a man's foes shall be “they of his own household.” This is a very ancient device of Satan: he first rendered Eve the deadliest foe of her husband and of her whole posterity, by leading her to transgress: he then guided the hand of the first man born into the world to slay his brother: and history, sacred and profane, is but a record of his successful plots against the peace of families and of kingdoms, by means of every species of treachery. Here, as of old, he will make his delusions avail to draw the deluded into all cruelty and bloodshed. His terrible craft is able to persuade a man that falsehood is truth, and that in slaying the righteous," he doeth God service;" hence the snare against which the Lord most fully and emphatically warned his first disciples, and against which he also warns us—false Christs, and false prophets. We know that just previous to the destruc