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with the mighty Images, the Pomp of Description, and loud Thunder of Eloquence, wherewith the inspired writers usher in the preparations for the last Judgment, describe the Resurrection of the Dead, and the Dissolution of the Things we now see, The Inequality of human Talents to this subject, and our Need of Scripture-aid, are matters confessed by Burnet him. self; whose Powers and Strength of Mind, in describing the Great, the Marvellous, and the New in things, was never exceeded by those of any man, Tis se our unhappiness, says he, to be so much used to " trilling things in this life, that when any thing Great " is represented to us, it appears fantastical, the idea 66 of some visionary and contemplative Brain. I will “ not venture, therefore, without premising Grounds "out of Scripture, to write concerning this glorious " appearance of Christ's coming to Judgment. As " to the Burning of the world, I think we have already "“ laid a foundation sufficient to support the highest s description that can be made of it; but the Coming " of our Saviour, being wholly out of the way of Na. 4 tural Causes, it is reasonable that we should take “all Directions we can from Scripture, that we may " give a more fitting and just account of that sacred “pomp.”
In the investigation of Scripture for aid in the description of this last coming of Christ, and a future judgment, we shall find that the subjects were not all at once, but gradually opened unto man. The full blaze of such light, poured upon him instantaneously, would have been too much for his weak organs; and the Almighty, in his wise Economy and Dispen
sation of heavenly Light to Man, by his divine Providence, directed the matter otherwise. !
The Prophets indeed gave some hints concerning the perishable Nature of this World, and its Dissolution by Fire; but they were very slight hints, and only as Smoke and Sparks of Fire, seen at a great distance-(fumum aliquem, et Scintillas perituri Mundi, quasi longinquo conspicere.) The Apostles beheld it as if near at hand, and in more full view (aut comminus, & de proximo, viderunt Flammas;) but St. Peter, especially,* describes it as if he was standing close at hand, and saw with his eyes the raging Fire, and the burning World; in the very act of Dissolution, and passing away from the sight. “ The Day of the Lord,” for so the Day of Judgment is distinguished from all other Days in Scripture• The Day of the Lord will come, as a Thief in the “ Night; in the which the Heavens shall pass away “ with a great noise, and the Elements shall melt “ with fervent heat; the Earth also and the works “ that are therein shall be burnt up;" [wherefore] “ in all holy conversation and godliness, let us be “ looking for, and hastening unto the coming of that “ Day of God, wherein the Heavens being on fire " shall be dissolved, and the Elements shall melt with “ fervent heat.” And he goes on to mention what is to follow this final Dissolution of the old world by fire—“ Nevertheless we, according to his promise, “ look for new Heavens, and a new Earth, wherein 66 dwelleth Righteousness."
Now, as we have just said that the holy Scriptures gave only gradual openings of those great events, first darkly, and then with greater light, let us examine some of those Scripture Texts on this Subject, in the order of place, in which they stand in the Bible; beginning with the Writings of Moses, and reaching down, through the writings of the Prophets, Evangelists and Apostles, to the Revelation of St. John; a period of about Two thousand Years. We begin with
lst, Moses. Now, what has been relied upon from him, by some great men, as prophetical of the Dissolution of the World by Fire, and by others treated only as a Threatening or Denunciation of temporary evils upon the Jews for their Disobedience of God, and Disregard of his holy Commandments, is taken from Deuteronomy (Chapter 32. Ver. 22). “A Fire " is kindled in mine Anger; and it shall burn unto " the lowest Hell, and shall consume the Earth with “ her Increase, and set on Fire the Foundations of “ the Mountains.”
2dly, David. “On the Wicked he shall rain Snares, Fire and Brimstone, and an horrible Tem. pest;” (Ps. xi. 6.) “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a Fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him-He shall call to the Heavens from above, and to the Earth, that he may judge his people—Gather my Saints unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by Sacrifice,” (Ps. 1. 3, 4, 5.)—"Clouds and Darkness are round about him: Righteousness and Judgment are the habitation of his Throne. A Fire goeth before Him, and burneth up 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,” (Ps. xcvii. 2, 3, 4, 5.)_" Of old hast thou laid the Foundation of the Earth, and the Heavens are the work of thy hands—they shall perislı, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a Garment, as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have to end.” (Ps. cii. 25, 26, 27.)
3d, Isaiah. * « Behold the Day of the Lord cometh_The stars of the Heaven, and the constellations thereof, shall not give their light: The Sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the Moon shall not cause her Light to shine.” “Feart and the Pit, and the Snare are upon thee, O inbabitant of the Earth! 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 shal' 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"... Andt all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the Heavens shall be rolled together as a Scroll; and all their Hosts shall fall clown as the leaf falleth off from the Vine, and as a falling Fig from the Fig-tree. For it is the Day of the Lord's Vengeance, and the Year of Recompences for the Controversy of Zion. And the Streams thereof shall be turned into Pitch, and the Dust thereof into Brimstone, and the Land thereof shall become burning Pitch. It shall not be quenched Night nor Day: the Smoke thereof shall go up forever." " Then the Moon shall be confour.ded, and the Sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously."*
* Isaiah, Ch. xiji. Ver. 9, 10.
Ch. xxxiv. Ver. 4. 8, 9, 10. * Isaiah, Ch. xxiv. Ver. 23. Ch. li. Ver. 6. Ch. Iss. Ver. 17. || Ch. Ixvi. Ver. 15. ** Dan. Ch. vii. Ver. 9, 10. 13, 14.
“ Liftt up your eyes to the Heavens, and look upon the Earth beneath; for the Heavens shall vanish away like Smoke, and the Earth shall wax old like a Garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner; but my Salvation shall be forever, and my Righteousness shall not be abolished. Beholdt I create new Heavens, and a new Earth, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into Mind--Beholdll. 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.”
4th, Daniel. "I beheld** till the Thrones were cast down; and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose Garment was white as Snow, and the Hair of his Head like pure Wool---his Throne was like the fiery flame, and his Wheels as burning Fire---a fiery stream issued and came forth from before him; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand