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to enter farther into the confideration of them than appeared needful for preparing the way for the vindication of what he advances refpecting thofe fubjects, which fome may be difpofed to reject because novel. And as to the execution of the whole, he muft beg leave to plead the conftant toils of his profeffin, which leave him but now and then an hour for fuch inveftigations.— Nothing but a conviction of duty could have induced the Author to present this to the Public; he has no selfish or party views to ferve; and he hopes for all the indulgence which candor, with juftice, can bestow, and no more."
The love of peace, anxious apprehenfions for trembling liberty, concern for the fate which threatens our country, benevolence towards mankind, and a motive which a Chriftian and a Proteftant ought not to be afhamed to avow, urge me again to address my fellow-fubjects at this dangerous and awful crifis. May the evils which the figns of the times portend, and of which I have fuch strong apprehenfions, never fall upon my country!-May thofe measures which alone can fave us, be fpeedily adopted!-But, should it be otherwife, may the hearts of the true friends of our conftitution, and liberties never have to accuse them that they forefaw the approaching evil but wanted virtue to exert their talents, great or small, in the cause of peace and order, juftice and Liberty! May the genuine fervants of God, who worship not the mammon of unrighteousness, nor efteem the Bible a compofition of fables, never fhrink from their duty, because the world frowns and fcoffers revile!
Religion is a reality; uncorrupted Chriftianity is the greatest benefit that ever God bestowed upon mankind; but the deformi. ties occafioned by the corruptions of priests, and the perverfions of statesmen, have brought it into long difgrace, and prevented the intended good. The all-wife God, for reafons infcrutable to us, has permitted it to be fo. This is one of the many mysteries of his providence; but his word will be accomplished; the kingdom of antichrift will perish, and uncorrupted Christianity will revive from the moment of its ruin. We are fure of the event; but by what particular means this is to be accomplished, and when, is not fo clearly afcertained. Thefe are left for events to elucidate.
Our duty is to watch the figns of the times, and be ready whenever the seafon of reckoning may come. That its approach is to be knowable is put beyond a doubt, for otherwife the delineation of the figns, and the command to inquire and watch, as well as the promife at the wife fhall underftand, would all be nugatory.
- There is a prevailing prejudice that deferves fome attention, and of which it may be as proper to take notice in this place as any where. It is very ufual to hear people fay of the prophecies, and particularly of those in the book of Revelation, "They are fo obfcure, and the opinions of the learned refpecting them are fo various, that it seems impoffible to come at any certainty; and I therefore never trouble myself about them." It is true that there are a great diverfity of opinions, and many ftrange and wild interpretations and conjectures have been started. But to what defcription of prophecies does this chiefly apply? Not to those - which have long been accomplished, but to such as remain unfulfilled; for though there may not be an exact conformity of fentiment, as to every particular refpecting thefe former, yet there is a pretty general agreement among our writers in their interpretation of them. What wild and incoherent notions had the fathers, as they are called, the writers of the early centuries, about antichrift, I the man of fin, and the beast with seven heads and ten horns, in Rev. xiii. And why? Because these prophecies were not fuffciently realized, But what Proteftant commentators differ about these predictions now? Scarcely any. To fay nothing concerning the prophecies in the Old Teftament, which referred to the humiliation of the Meffiah, and which were never understood till after their fulfilment, obferve the progrefs of the elucidation of the book of Revelation. The prophetic parts, to the end of the
inth chapter, are tolerably well understood, and though there may not be an exact, yet there is a pretty general agreement in the interpretations of our most approved writers, as there is alfo about those other parts that have, for fome time, been accomplished. For instance, fcarcely any body now doubts but that the fifth and fixth trumpets refer to the depredations of the Saracens and Turks; and almoft all allow that the corruptions and perfecutions of the papal church, and its fupporters, are represented by the treading under foot the holy city for forty and two months, and
by the witneffes prophefying in fackcloth 1260 days, or years, chap. xi. The reafon of this general agreement is, because we fee the fulfilment. But, in the interpretation of fome other parts of this book, authors are very various, and for this obvious reafon, becaufe unaccomplished. But this is not always to be the cafe. When therefore they are fulfilled, and the correspondence of events with the predictions fuggests the true interpretation, it would be the height of folly to reject fuch interpretations on account of their novelty, or because former commentators entertained different opinions. I do not pretend to have any clear and fpecific ideas of what remains unfulfilled, but I apprehend that the events fignified in the tenth and in the eleventh chapters of Rev-lation, fo far as extends to the nations being angry, and the coming of the wrath of God, are now accomplished, or accomplishing. I think this is as demonftrable as a thing of the kind can poffibly be as demonftrable as that the feventy weeks of Daniel referred to the coming of the Meffiah, or, as that the fifty-third of Ifaiah was a prediction of his fufferings and exaltation.
Some, it is probable, may think that the Author has expreffed too much confidence refpecting the fuppofed approaching calamities, and too much of what fome will call enthusiasm, for the occafion; he can only fay, that, whatever diffidence he may entertain as to fome fingle and detached hypothefes, both in this part and in the former, yet he has no doubt remaining as to the great facts, and expected events; and under the impreflion of this confidence it would be criminal apathy to treat them as common occurrences, and to feel as though but little were at ftake.When Jefus beheld the capital of his guilty, devoted country, he wept over it. Whether I write as a wild, enthusiast, or as one in his fober fenfes, who has fome reafon for what he advances, a fhort time will determine; and, if the reader will fupprefs his cenfures, and engage himself diligently to watch the figns of the times but for a few years only, I am willing to refer to future events for the proof that what now bursting upon us tends to no common ifluc. Yes, it is more than probable, that many will think the Author a mistaken enthusiast; but were this the universal opinion, (which is far from being the cafe) he is not deftitute of fupport againft immoderate mortification,
If I am deceived by feeming correfpondencies, or led away by the illufions of fancy, to adopt fentiments which may have a tendency to create unneceffary uneafinefs, I fhall efteem myself under obligations to the man who will endeavor, candidly, to convince me 6 my delufions; and if fuch an one can produce any well-grounded arguments to overturn what is advanced in the following pages, or in the former part of The Signs of the Times, I hope I am neither fo pertinacious nor fo enthufiaftic, as to be incapable of conviction. But while no better arguments are advanced than," Others have been deceived-opinions are various -when an author wifhes to fupport an hypothefis of this kind, it is no difficult task, in any age, to find events fuited to his purpofe-thefe prophecies might be applied to any other country or events as well as to those brought forward," &c. I muft beg leave ftill to maintain my confidence.
Chriftians believe that the predictions of the prophets are fome time to be fulfilled. Whenever that time comes, and a certain number of the predicted events have taken place, it is likely that things will be placed in fuch a point of light as to convey conviction, to the pious and attentive obferver, of the true intent of the Spirit of God; and it is to be expected, that this will be in proportion to the advancement of the great fcheme to its perfect completion. Whether fuch a number of these events have taken place, and whether things are now placed in fuch a point of light, I hope the reader will candidly and seriously inquire. The Author thinks it is fo; and though he does not pretend to determine, from unfulfilled prophecies, either the exact time, or manner, of the accomplishment of any particular event, yet he thinks that, " from what has taken place, a pretty pofitive conclufion may be drawn refpecting the main events, and that they are very near; namely, the downfal of the papacy, and of all religious corruptions and ufurpations; the overthrow of all tyranny and op-, preffion; the general reformation and renovation of mankind, and of the overflowing calamities which are to effect, or prepare the way, for all this.
Such is the temper of the times, that fome filly or party spirited people will, poffibly, be ready to fufpect the Author of want of loyalty
loyalty to the king, of veneration for the conftitution, and of love for his country, for to similar suspicions was a wifer and better man expofed, (Jeremiah xxxviii. 4.) and all for a conduct which avouched the very contrary, and for which, inftead of perfecution and a dungeon, he deferved the thanks of his country. Should it be thus, the Author will be content to confole himself with that consciousness which he poffeffes of the falfehood of such surmifes, of the rectitude of his intentions, and the hope of His approbation who is the Judge of all, and to whom, and not to the will of men, we ought to live.
The Author does not profefs to fet himself up for the apologist of the French people; and far be it from him to attempt to justify their rafh and wicked deeds: he has not even fuppofed that every other people, in like fituations, and with like provocations, would have acted the fame part which they have; for that would be no alleviation of their guilt. The utmost that he has contended for, or fuggefted, is, that the overthrow of monarchy and popery in that country is the accomplishment of God's word, and in judgment for oppreffion and corruption; that their great leading principles are good, and that they have a right to legislate for themfelves, and choose what fort of government they please, uncontroled by any other power on carth.
Whether the French be right or wrong, in this or that, is no part of the queftion which it has been thought necessary to enter very deeply into ;-yet the truth feems to be, that there is a strange mixture of the greatest good and the greatest evil: much to be applauded and much to be lamented. But the argument against the prefent war is drawn from a higher fource than either the principles or practices of the French reformers; and the Author thinks that, whether the French be right or wrong, whether they triumph or perish, yet moft of the nations who have made war upon them have involved themselves in great blame by the rafhnefs of their proceedings, and that they hazard great danger by attempting to fupport that, which not only inspired wifdom, but general reason, has doomed to fall.- -But more than this; though the war, on the part of the combined powers, were ever fo juft, though as just as that of Ifrael against the proud king?