Imagens da página


before him the two-leaved gates." (Isa. xlv. 1.) The same was true, when the dominion passed from “ the breast and arms of silver" to the sides and thighs of brass,” when the second beast was supplanted by the third; when “ the hegoat came from the west on the face of the whole earth,—and ran unto the ram in the fury of his power,—and smote the ram, and brake his two horns," and the Medo-Persian kingdom succumbed to the Grecian. Again, remarkable times arose when the kingdom descended from “the sides and thighs" of the image to “the legs of iron," when “ behold, the fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly, brake in pieces the third;" when “out of one of the four notable horns of the goat, came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land;" and yet more remarkable times succeeded, when “he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down." But, did they then cease? The thing is still true, when the hitherto consolidated power of the fourth kingdom assumed its second and subdivided form; and the iron dominion of the legs was supplanted by, and distributed among, the ten toes of the image;

when, amidst the ten horns that were in the head of the fourth beast, “ there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.” The times were still remarkable, and dreadful too, when " the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them.” But, though all this be true, it does not neutralize our first remark, that the times in which we live are remarkable. But, what are the circumstances which impress this character upon them? A period of peace, corresponding with that which marked the first appearing of our Lord in the flesh, has succeeded a long previous season of war, and has given a breathing time to the nations who had been engaged, more or less, in the preceding strife. The varied results of this peaceful season may be seen, in the successful application of the powers of the human mind to scientific researches: the facilities of international communication have occasioned many to run to and fro, and the increase, of knowledge has followed in this and other lands. A spirit of enterprise in carnal things, before unknown, has led many to make haste to be rich; and the rival powers of good and evil have each been labouring in their respective callings: whilst he that is spiritual rejoices over the great increase of religious feeling, and sees the Apocalyptic “angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation and kindred and tongue and people.” But, whilst our own day is thus distinguished, we must not omit the following feature of our times, the increasing attention which has been given to the yet unfulfilled portions of the Divine word. An important consequence has already resulted from this : Christian men appear to have become more sensible of the error of that axiom so long laid down, and so long almost slavishly obeyed, that Prophecy could only be studied legitimately in its fulfilment : thus excluding the most important of the objects for which it seems to have been vouchsafed. Men have now learned to think better things of the God with whom we have to do, and to believe that he acts upon a principle far more gracious and merciful; and that, if he design to bring judgments upon us or our children, he will give notes of warning of their approach; and, so far from teaching his family that these things shall come upon them unawares, without the opportunity of preparation, he has invited them to study the signs which shall precede their coming: yea, he has encouraged the most simple to do this, by showing that, if they can argue from the unfolding leaf that summer is nigh, they may conclude with no less certainty respecting those things which are coming upon the earth. Now it happens in this case, according to the promise, that“ in all labour there is profit;" and a measure of encouragement, proportionate to the increased attention which has been given to these portions of Divine truth, has been granted. God appears to have shown, that we “ do well to give heed” to it, according to his word (2 Pet. i. 19), that “ blessed is he that readeth, as well as they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein;" and some are sanguine enough to believe that, in the increasing measure of light, which has been thrown upon this part of holy writ, they find the fulfilment of another scripture, that as the words were to be shut up, and the book was to be sealed, to the time of the end (Dan. xii. 4), and no longer, this increasing light, or unsealing of the book, shows that the time of the end has arrived.

But in this case, as in that of every other good thing, our infirmities render us liable to err, and we freely confess this our natural liability, and wherever we may have erred, and so cast a stone of stumbling in another's way, we desire to be humbled before God because of it, and



every such case to fall back upon his Divine prerogative of bringing good out of evil, that he may so overrule our infirmities that out of very

weakness may come forth. strength. Here, however, we feel, that we are not claiming for ourselves or others more than God designed to give, when we claim, as our rightful possession, the whole of the written word. We well know that its several parts are diverse in character, diverse in application, and that diverse, accordingly, must be the manner of profiting thereby. But we also know that, if used as God designed, though there be all this diversity in them, there is one grand unity of object, which is to bring man to God: to take him out of the dynasty of the wicked one, in whom the whole world lieth, and to translate him into the kingdom of Christ: to separate him from the company of the fallen, and to exalt him to the society of the blessed: to bring him now in spirit to the citizenship of the new Jerusalem which is above (Heb. xii. 22), that he may hereafter become in very deed a denizen of that city: to teach him, in order to this end, how to think of God, to speak with God, and to walk with God; and, though surrounded by all the circumstances of time and sense, how to learn the hallowed lesson of spiritual abstractedness, namely, to withdraw

« AnteriorContinuar »