« AnteriorContinuar »
tion, having a most magnificent court and leading men into every sensual passion, into every kind of incontinence, irreligion and impiety. Here, according to the text, Satan and his angels were “cast:" here he took his stand; and here he laid his plan of farther persecuting the church, and of leading mankind into perdition. But what artifice, what fraud, what scheme was now left untried which promised success? He had led our first parents to believe that they should be “ as gods*;" he had betrayed the antediluvian world, a single family excepted, into such a state of corruption and wickedness, as led to their destructiont. He had seduced the posterity of Noah into polytheism. He had betrayed the church of Christ, and indeed the Christian world, into Mohamedan and Papal darkness, which in a inanner excluded the true word of God from the hearts of men. But being defeated in all these infernal projects, what then remained so promising of success, as a scheme of leading men into atheism, or a belief that there is no God, no future state of rewards and punishments; and that death is only an eternal sleep of the soul? This was a doctrine more artful, deep, and fascinating to the fallible reason of man, than any he had before invented. It opened at once an unlimited lield for the utmost gratification of the worst passions, and the perpetration of every sin with impunity. It released them from the incessant reproofs of right reason, the dreadful remorse of a neverdying conscience in this world, and from all fear of punishment in a future life. Nor has he been idle in his work, since the reformation. He has converted, or, as his instruments call it, fraternized the nation of France, consisting of 25,000,000 of people (a few pious christians excepted), and millions upon millions of other countries into his infernal project; and he has in the four quarters of the globe his emissaries and agents at this moment, poisoning mankind with atheism and anarchy. But, fool! that God, whose existence you deny, and whose holy word you have treated with ridicule and contempt, and who has defeated all your former schemes, shall say to you, “ Hitherto shalt “s thou come, but no further ; and here thy “ proud waves (of wickedness) shall be stay« ed.*"
* Gen, ii, 5
† Ibid. vi. viii.
Ver. 10.-" And I heard a loud voice,
saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, " and the kingdom of our God, and the powo" er of his Christ; for the accuser of our “ brethren is cast down, which accused them “ before our God day and night.”
The prophet having foretold the reformation, here represents, by “ a loud voice in heaven,” the great joy of the church, upon that
Job. xxxviii. 11,
great and blessed event. And where was the real christian, whose heart was not made joy. ful by the Diet at Augsburg, and the treaty of Westphalia, by which religious liberty became established, and the Gospel of Christ in a manher released from Papal captivity and darkness ? And is there not great reason to believe, from the tenor of the Scripture, and preceding events, that the reformation is the prelude to the kingdom of God, and the power of his Christ * upon earth; inasmuch as Satan, the
accuser (seducer) of the brethren, is cast “ down ; which accused (seduced) them before “ (or in the presence, or by the permission of) “ their God, day and night.”
From this construction of the verse, which I humbly apprehend is the true one, it is evident that the prophet could not mean, by the war between Michael and the dragon, the contest between the church and the persécuting Pagan emperors; because he had foretold, that after they should be no more, she should be persecuted by the barbarian nations, and afterwards led by Satan into Mohamedan and Papal captivity, all of which has since come to pass; and therefore she could not rejoice and and say with propriety, upon her deliverance from Pagan persecutions.. “ Now is come the
kingdom of our God, and the power of his “ Christ :” for they were not come, nor had begun to come. But she could say it at the time of the reformation, if that great event was the prelude to her perfect reformation, and prepa
ration for the kingdom of Christ. Nor could she say
that Satan, the accuser of the brethren, was cast down, unless his power had received so mortal a wound, that he should not be able hereafter to persecute her but for a “ short time," and so as not to stop the progress of her final reformation : a truth which we shall presently find was also foretold.
Ver. 11.-" And they overcame him “ (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by “ the word of their testimony; and they “ loved not their lives unto the death."
Here the prophet concludes his prediction of the reformation, and informs us, that it should not be obtained so much by temporal force as by a faith in Jesus Christ, or the power of the truth and word of God: “And they (the re“ formers) overcame him (Satan, or his tempo“ral instrument, the Pope) by the blood of the « Lamb;" that is, by their faith in the death, resurrection, and ascension of the immaculate Son of God; and by their « testimony,” or by the eternal truths of the word of God, to which, in their doctrines, they bore witness.
" And they loved not their lives unto the death ;" evidently alluding to those dreadful martyrdoms which were suffered by the first reformers; it applying not to those pious christians who were lately most barbarously murdered, because they would not abjure Christ, and deny the existence of a God,
Ver. 12.-" Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell therein. Woe to “ the inhabiters of the earth, and of the sea : “ for the devil is come down upon you, hav“ing great wrath, because he knoweth he " hath but a short time.”
Here I presume the prophet foresees, that in the beginning of their reformation, the reformers would not be unanimous in their interpretation of the word of God, but divide into different churches; for it is not unworthy of remark, that, in every instance before that event, he describes the church by the word “heaven," in the singular number, but here he makes use of the plural, “ rejoice ye heavens ;” and yet he makes no distinction between those who, incited by the love and fear of God, and faith in Christ, opposed and fed from Papal superstition and oppression. But as it will not admit of a doubt, that those who excel in the right interpretation of the word of God, and act accordingly, are the best reformists, and the best christians; and as, in all probability, the church of Christ must become unanimous in its faith, and form one righteous body, before she can be fully reformed, before she can be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints*;" or before she shall have “ made herself ready” for the marriage of the Lamb,” or the kingdom of Christ t; is it not much to be lamented, that
Rev. xix, 8.
† Ibid. ver. 7.