« 上一页继续 »
wherein dwelleth righteousness"-" bewaring lest we also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from our own stedfastness : ” but “growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” In full faith in these things, and full confidence in the grounds on which they are founded, we trust that the Spirit will further lead us, and all who look to His teaching, into all truth necessary to be known, and keep us and them stedfast therein even to the end.
Mr. M. has endeavoured to represent us (p. 32) as contradicting ourselves, in maintaining that the early Christians must have interpreted the three days and a half of Rev. xi. 9-11 as three years and a half, while we also asserted that they" could not have understood the prophetic times :" and he adds,“ perhaps it was only just conveniently in that one place that they must have understood days to mean years." Whether conveniently or not, this was our meaning, and this we endeavoured to express, saying, “ This
“ This solitary expression” they “must have understood symbolically, and interpreted three years and a half:” but“ prophetic times” they certainly did not understand; for they thought this very period, tbus interpreted, to be only a different mode of expressing the thousand two hundred and sixty days, the forty-and-two months, and the time, times, and half a time.
We could reply with satisfaction to all Mr. M.'s other points, but have not room to spare; and therefore only tell him, that putting leopard for goat, and month for day (p. 9), has not in the least lessened our objections to his hypothesis. We request him to observe, too, that Peter's reply, which he quotes in the same page, was before he understood or “ interpreted” the vision, and therefore belongs to the vision, not to the interpretation; for it is written (ver. 17), “ Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean." We remark, too, that when Mr. M. reprehended Mr. Frere, the thirteen names in the note from Bullinger to Whiston were not at all to the purpose. Mr. Frere spoke in the present tense, -" are universally admitted :" Mr. M, should therefore have referred to examples in the present time.- Mr. M. says (p. 44), that as seven years were shewn to Pharaoh by seven kine, so might the time in Daniel's visions. Does he mean that there might be two thou.sand three hundred goats seen!!!-Mr. M. (p. 48) does not see the absurdity of so interpreting the Apocalypse as to represent “ the world groaning in hopeless misery, under plagues like those of Egypt,” when the agents are called by Christ “my two witnesses,” and when they are described as prophesying in sackcloth : and, if “ killing infallibly all who attempt to hurt them,” it is not easy to understand how they themselves get killed. All these inconsistencies, and many misapprehen
sions of our meaning, we would gladly draw out at length, but should be falling into something of Mr. M.'s own fault, who has taken fifty-three pages to reply to our ten ; and, after all, has not replied to one of our arguments, but has spent all his time in petty cavils on points beside the main question.
LETTER OF THE LATE MR. FLETCHER OF MADELEY.
A very remarkable letter, written to Wesley by Fletcher of
Madeley, is printed in his Works, vol. ix. p. 368. It is so strikingly applicable to the present times, that we insert it entire; and the errors are so few, and so easily rectified, that
we give it without note or comment. “Rev. Sir,- I was very much surprised to hear you read part of a letter, written on the impending revolutions; they have often been, for some years, the subject of my meditations, and of many conversations with a great Divine abroad. That gentleman, as eminent for his uncommon learning, as he is remarkable for the use he has made of it, from his youth, shewed the greatest inclination to dive into the apparent obscurities of the prophecies contained in the Bible. That inclination increased with his knowledge and piety; it followed him every where. When upon his travels, he generally got what light he could, from the learned in that uncommon branch of knowledge, and had several conferences with Sir Isaac Newton and others.
“ For these fifty years, he has spent his time in making himself perfectly master of the Oriental languages, which are become as familiar to him as Greek and Latin; and in comparing and explaining the various prophecies scattered in the Old and New Testament. Therefore, if his labours have been attended with a blessing from above, and a measure of God's Holy Spirit, he is, in all appearance, a man most likely to discover what God has been pleased to hide, for a time, under the veil of prophetic figures. As I have often read his works, both those that have been printed, and those which he has not yet been able to publish, on account of the strong opposition of several people, I shall take the liberty to give you a short account of his system.
It is, as far as I can judge, pretty much the same as the gentleman's whose letter you read lately; and supported by the numerous train of his arguments; it seldom fails either to silence or convict those tha
with the tenor of the whole Bible; it gives such grand ideas of God's justice in punishing the wicked, and bis faithfulness in remembering the gracious promises he has made to the faithful. It squares so
well with history and chronology, (I would almost say with the present state of the world,) that, if it is not true, one must coufess it is at least very probable. This has been owned by numbers of clergymen, and even by some of those who, because the Lord delays his coming,' think that the world shall always remain in the.same state.
“ Let me beg of you, sir, for the sake of that gentleman, whom I have great reason to honour, not to judge absolutely of him by what I shall say; considering that clear water rnnning through a foul pipe may easily contract a disagreeable and muddy taste. I confess, I want a competent knowledge of Scripture, and the degree of profane learning, necessary to illustrate it: so that if you observe in these sheets any
inconsistency, it is, probably, all my own.
According to that divine's opinion we are come to the last times: the grand catastrophe of God's drama draws near apace; he shall soon be avenged, first of his unfaithful servants, and next of his barefaced enemies : in a few years he will purge his floor, and burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. Every Christian ought, then, to prepare himself for that day, which will come as a thief in the night; and to labour for a living faith, the ark which alone will carry us safe to the harbour, amidst the universal deluge of woe which is going to overflow the earth.
Here follow some of the reasons on which his opinion is founded. Ist. Consider Nebuchadnezzar's dream, which is a rough sketch of the world's four universal revolutions : Three are past long ago; the empires of the Assyrians, Persians, and Greeks, have disappeared : the iron legs, that represented the strength of the Roman empire under the consuls and emperors, have had the same fate ; the feet only remain, which being 'made of clay and iron, partly weak and partly strong,' express plainly the remains of the Roman monarchy, which is nothing but a weak compound of spiritual and temporal power, that does not cleave better together than iron to clay. And whereas the feet of the statue ended in ten toes, so was the Roman empire divided into ten kingdoms; these were still united together by the clay, i. e. the pope's erroneous religion and idolatrous worship:
“In the days of these ten kings,' says the Prophet Daniel, shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed : for it shall swallow up all these kingdoms, and stand for ever: forasmuch as a stone cut from the mountain without hands' (a small number of true Christians sent from Mount Sion, without the hand of mortal man, and by the Spirit of God alone; or Jesus himself, the Corner-stone that was cut off by God's justice on Mount Calvary) shall smite the feet of the statue,' the last of the four monarchies; and the pieces of it shall become as the chaff, carried away by the wind, and no
place shall be found for them ; but the stone that shall smite the image will become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth.' 2dly. Compare with this the vision of the seventh chapter, where the fourth beast that had iron teeth, to devour all, answers clearly to the iron legs of Nebuchadnezzar's image; for as this had ten toes, so had that ten horns ; viz. the ten kingdoms into which the Roman empire was divided ; those of Burgundy and Lombardy, that of the Vandals, the Eastern and Western Empires, England, France, Spain, Portugal, and Poland. Betwixt these ten horns did another come up, i.e. the pope ;who aggrandized himself at the expense of the other kings, and before which three of the borns fell, the kingdoms of Lombardy, Burgundy, and that of the Vandals, who were once possessed of a great part of France, Spain, and Africa, but are now no longer known but in history.
“This horn had eyes ;' i. e. an appearance of wisdom, and a great deal of fraud ; and a mouth that spake great things against the Most High: it warred against the saints:' and so has done the pope; millions have fallen, as so many victims to his cruelty, pride, and persecuting spirit. But we are near the time, when, having fully ‘prevailed against them, they shall be given unto him for a time, times, and a division of time;' but after this last raging of Antichrist, bis body shall be destroyed; then the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess it for ever and ever.' l'his will be the end of the matter : and if any one meditates thereon with singleness of heart, his thoughts, like Daniel's, will be troubled in him, and his countenance changed, and lie will keep the matter in his heart. 3dly. Compare again this vision with that which is contained in the following chapter, where the prophet, having foretold the ruin of the Persian Empire, the conquest of Alexander, and the division of his dominions between four kings, comes at once to the little horn that should spring from one of them, namely, from that of Greece or Macedonia; for as the Spirit of God had shewn the prophet before, all that concerned the beginning of the fourth kingdom, he passes lightly over it, to come to the main point, the rising of the little horn, at whose destruction the empire of the saints shall begin.
“Let it be remembered here, that Constantine, having transported into Greece the seat of the Roman Empire, renewed, as it were, that of Macedonia, of which Byzantium was one of the chief cities; and that it was under him and his successors that the Bishop of Rome increased in honours, and began to lift up himself above all the bishops and patriarchs in the world; so that in two or three hundred years he 'waxed exceeding great in the pleasant land, and cast down, and stampt upon,' kings and emperors, those stars in the heaven of government; he
took away the daily sacrifice, abolished or quite disfigured the true worship of God and Jesus, and cut down the truth to the ground, with his army.
“ Here the prophet saw a saint asking another saint, How long the church should be thus corrupted and desolate ? And the answer was, till the end of two thousand three hundred days, and then the sanctuary should be cleansed. Here is a number given ; a number by which we may know that we are come to the very time the Spirit of God had in view; a number which fixes the beginning of the things that are coming upon the earth. Let us take some notice of it.
“1. When shall the sanctuary begin to be cleansed in such a measure as to deserve to be taken notice of by the Spirit of God? At the end of two thousand three hundred days; which are proved to be prophetic days, and to signify each a whole year, by the prophecy of the seventy weeks, and many other places of Scripture.
“ 2. What is the epocha from which we must begin to reckon those two thousand three hundred years? It is evident it must be the time of the vision itself, which the prophet has taken particular care to observe; for in the first verse of the chapter, . In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar,' says he, ‘a vision appeared to me, even unto me Daniel.'
“3. But how can we know certainly the time of Belshazzar's reign? I must own this question is not so easily answered as the others; but it can be resolved, with some knowledge of history and chronology; for if we compare the writings of sacred and profane historians, if we trust the canons of Ptolemy, which have been tried by astronomical observations, with Petarius, Usserius, Prideaux, and others, we shall agree that Belshazzar (the same whom the historians call Nirieasoolassar, or Neriglissor), having killed Evilmerodac, the son of Nebocolassar, or Nebuchadnezzar, seized upon the Assyrian throne A. M. 3476, i. e. 559 years before Christ, or, as Torniel will have it, about twenty years after; because asserting that Evilmerodac (instead of two years, that the above-mentioned chronologists give to his reign) enjoyed the diadem twenty-three years, which would make the reign of his successor, our Belshazzar, begin about five hundred and thirty-eight years before Christ. If we admit the first opinion, which is more probable, it follows that the third year of Belshazzar's reign falls in 556 years before Christ, which is the epocha wanted ; add to it four or five years, on account of the difference of the Judaical year of three hundred and sixty days, and ours that is three hundred and sixty-five and above; add three years more for the time that Belshazzar had reigned when Daniel had the vision, and we have about 550, VOL. II.-NO, 11.