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Is then England the great maritime power, to which the high office of converting and restoring a large part of his ancient people is reserved by the Almighty? To this question, I am compelled to say, that we have no right positively to answer in the affirmative. England may, or
The thing is certainly not improbable in itself; and I will even add, that the present aspect of affairs by no means contradicts the conjecture, that our hitherto highly favoured country may be the protestant European naval power intended by Isaiah : yet I must likewise add, that such an opinion, should it be entertained by any, can be considered in no other light than that of a mere conjecture; a conjecture authorized indeed, as some may imagine, by existing circumstances and by the high probability that we are not far removed from the time of the end, but a conjecture, totally unauthorized by the prophet himself. This however I may safely say, that, the more true piety increases among us, the more likely will it be that England is the great maritime power in question. At the present awful period, when the judgments of the Lord are so manifestly abroad in the earth, the accession even of every individual to the cause of vital religion and Christian holiness renders us more strong and more secure; and increases the probability that the maritime power may be England, because it makes us more fit for the task (a task meet only for the sincerely pious) of converting and restoring the lost sheep of the house of Judah. A wicked nation can be expected to furnish no very suitable missionaries. So great a labour of love will require proportionable purity of heart and conversation, and proportionable devotedness to the service of God. If" iniquity therefore increase, and righteousness decrease, among us; I may say, without pretending to the spirit of prophecy, that we certainly cannot be that naval power, which the Lord will delight to honour by delegating to it the venerable office of carrying the Gospel to his ancient people. the hand of God to scourge the guilty inhabitants of the papal Roman empire. The irruption of the northe power into the south-western regions of Europe will most probably take place, unless I be mistaken in supposing such an irruption to be predicted, during the absence of Antichrist in Palestine and Egypt. More will be said on this subject hereafter.
It will be proper for me now to make a few remarks on the mode of exposition, which will be adopted throughout the following pages.
Between chronological prophecies and unchronological prophecies there is a striking difference, which ought always to be kept in mind. A chronological prophecy, that is to say, a prophecy consisting of a series of predictions which succeed each other in regular chronological order like those of Daniel and St. John, is incapable from its very nature of receiving a two-fold accomplishment; because every link of such a prophecy is exclusively confined to a particular period of history by the links which both precede it and follow it, and therefore can only be applied to a single event. In short, a chain of chronological predictions is simply an anticipated history: and each link is just as incapable, and that for the very same reason, of a double completion,, as each fact recorded in history is of a double meaning *. unchronological prophecy, that is to say, a prophecy which only predicts certain future events without specifying the precise time when those events will come to pass and without so connecting them with any preceding series as to compel us to assign them to some one particular era exclusively, is not restricted in the same manner that a chronological prophecy must necessarily be. Instead of being incapable of a double accomplishment, we perpetually find predictions of this nature evidently constructed with the express design of receiving a double accomplishment. They are first fulfilled in an incohoate manner, and afterwards will be fulfilled more amply at a period to which they ultimately and principally refer. This is remarkably the case with prophecies, which treat of the restoration of the Jews, and the advent of the Messiah : insomuch that Í believe Bp. Horsley not to have been guilty of the least exaggeration, in asserting, “that a far greater proportion of the prophecies, even of the Old Testament, than is generally imagined, relate to the second advent of our Lord; that few comparatively relate to the first advent by itself, without reference to the second ; and that of those, that have been
* See this point discussed in the preface to my Dissert. on the 1260 years.
supposed to be accomplished in the first, many had in that only an inchoate accomplishment, and have yet to receive their full completion *.” Such a mode of foretelling future events seems to have arisen from, or perhaps rather to be a part of the grand scriptural system of types and antitypes. The first advent is a type of the second advent : hence they are both styled the great day of the Lord; and hence they are frequently predicted conjointly, certain matters which received their full accomplishment at the first advent being inserted (parenthetically as it were) in a prophecy which strictly and principally relates to the second advent. In a similar manner, the Ba. bylonian captivity of the Jews is a type of their subsequent dispersion by the Romans ; hence many of those predictions, which from the elevation of their style and from other circumstances connected with them must ultimately and indeed chiefly be referred to the yet future restoration of the Jews, probably received a sort of inchoate accomplishment in their return from Babylon f. Some however there are, which must be exclusively applied to the return from Babylon; because they are connected with a specific number of years, and therefore become chronological prophecies incapable of any further completion f. And
* Letter on Isaiah xviii. P. 3.
t“ It has been concluded by judicious divines,” says Archdeacon Woodhouse, “that those partial prophecies and particular instances of the divine vengeance, whose accomplishment we know to have taken place, are presented to us as types, certain tokens and forerunners, of some greater events which are also disclosed in them. To the dreadful time of universal vengeance they all appear to look forward, beyond their first and more immediate object. Little indeed can we doubt that such is to be considered the use and application of these prophecies, since we see them thus applied by our Lord and his apostles. See Matt. i. 22, 23. xxvii.9.-.-John xv. 25. xix. 36, 37.---Acts ii. 20, 27. ii. 19, 22, 24.---Heb. iv. 7, 8. x. 27, 37.---Rom. ii. 5. Gal. iv. 24..--Eph. v. 14..--2 Thess. ii. 3, &c.---2 Pet. iii. 2---14; where the prophecies of the Old Testament are applied in a more extended and spiritual sense, than in their first and primary designation.” Apocalypse translated. p. 172, 173.
For observations on the double sense of divine prophecy, the Archdeacon refers us to Bp. Lowth. Prælect. xi. and note on Isaiah xl; Mr. Lowth on Isaiah vii. 15; Jortin's remarks on Eccles. Hist. p. 188.--228; Serm. v. 1, 124; Sir Isaac Newton on prophecy, p. 251 ; Bp. Hurd's sermons on prophecy, HI. IV. V; Bp. Sherlock on prophecy, Disc. 11 ; Bp. Warburton's Divine Legation, Book vi. 8; Bp. Horn's Preface to the Psalms; Jones on the figurative language of Scripture, Lect. VIII ; and Archdeacon Nares's sermonsat the Warburtonian lecture, 1805.
# See Jerem. xxv. 11, 12. xxix. 10. Dan. ix. 2.
others again there are, and these constitute by far the greatest proportion, which must be exclusively applied to the yet future restoration of Israel; because they are connected with such circumstances as prevent the possibility of any other application.
This typical mode of foretelling future events very materially affects the phraseology of prophecy. At the era of the restoration of Judah, some great confederacy of God's enemies will be destroyed. Such is the general voice of prophecy; while Daniel and St. John not only teach us that a confederacy of that nature will be destroyed, but intimate very unequivocally of what persons it will be composed. At least, recent events have rendered their predictions, relative to this confederacy, far less equivocal and difficult to be understood, than they once necessarily were; and I doubt not, that every day will throw an increasing light upon them. The confederacy in question is by the other prophets variously pointed out under the mystic names of various ancient enemies and oppressors of the house of Israel. Sometimes, as in the parallel language of the Apocalypse, it is styled Babylon, sometimes Nineveh, sometimes Tyre, but most frequently Edom *. In prophecies of this nature, it is obvious, that, where Babylon occurs, the destruction of the literal Babylon at the era of the first restoration of the Jews is primarily intended : but the same remark cannot be applied to the other types of the Antichristian confederacy. Neither Nineveh, nor Tyre, nor Edom, were overthrown at the era of the first restoration; and yet, since they have all long since been overthrown, it is manifest, that none of them can literally experience the vengeance of heaven at the yet future era of the second restoration. Nevertheless it is repeatedly declared, that they shall experience the vengeance of heaven at that very period: hence it is plain, that some mystical Nineveh, Tyre, and Edom, can only be intended. Such accordingly, as we
* It is excellently observed by Bp. Lowth, that, “ by a figure very common in the prophetical writings, any city or people, remarkably distinguished as enemies of the ple and kingdom of God, is put for those enemies in general. This on Chap. xxxiv. xxxv. See also his Præleot. Poet. P. 274.
seems to be the case with Edom and Bozrah.” Translat. of Isaiah. Notes
shall find in the sequel, at least in the case of Edom, is the interpretation given by the Jews themselves. With one consent their Rabbies declare, that Edom, when so described, can only mean the fourth beast of Daniel, or the Roman empire: and we, who are Christians, can add, on the authority of St. John, that it must mean the Roman empire in its very last state ; that is to say, the Roman empire when organized into the grand confederacy of Antichrist, now become the last head of the beast. The close connection of the overthrow of Nineveh, Tyre, and Edom, with the restoration of the Jews will sufficiently guard a commentator from the illusions of fancy. This single circumstance will be enough to teach him, whether in any particular prophecy he ought to understand those powers only literally, or whether he is warranted in looking beyond their literal to their mystical import.