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the reformed churches should be in perpetual quarrel and variance with one another respecting the most plain, and intelligible, and perfect system of theology and righteousness ? and, instead of adopting some measures to reconcile the different subjects of their controversy (which have little to do with the essential principles of the Gospel), they are continually widening the breach? Should one of the churches, perceiving the advantage given to the infidel, and the impediments to a perfect reformation, occasioned by those different opinions in matters of christian faith, come forward with a plan for ascertaining and settling the plain and essential truths of the Gospel of Christ, and thereby unite the several churches into one body, what energy would it not give to the reformation, and what honour and glory would be derived from the accomplishment of it! But perhaps the time is not yet come : and it is certainly the duty of every christian to say always, and upon every occasion, “O God! thy “ holy will be done?”
But to return to the text. The prophet, having foretold the beginning of the reformation, proceeds to the events which were to follow it; in which he gives the churches reason to believe, that they should be such as to afford them abundant cause of joy: “ Rejoice ye heavens (ye churches), and then that dwell therein;" and then he denounces this woe upon their enemies and former oppressors : “ Woe
to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea." Here an important question presents itself. What nation or people did the prophet allude to by the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea ” I find the word earth figuratively used to denote the wicked in general*; wicked and ungodly oppressors ti the nation of the Jews in its wicked and abandoned state, by Jeremiah and Christ himself f; and the beast of the earth, to denote atheistical France, by the
prophet in this book $. And I have shown before, that the earth, being an opake body, having no light of its own, and incapable of receiving light when cast upon it, is a beautiful symbol of an atheistical power. And further, a " beast rising up out of the sea Il,” is the type of the church of Rome. In the last sentiment all Protestant commentators agree. Hence I am led to conclude, that the prophet, by the inhabiters of the earth, describes REVOLUTIONARY and ATHEISTICAL FRANCE ; and by those of the sea, the church of Rome, and all who adhere to her superstitious idolatry, whether in France, Germany, or Italy. Recent events fully justify this construction, and clearly fulfil the meaning of the prophet thus explained. We have lately seen these countries afflicted with woes, which no language can describe : we have seen, as the text expresses it, “ the
Isaiah, xi. 4.
† Ps. x. 18. xlvi. 6.
|| Rev. xiii. 1.
devil come down unto them;" and, through his terrible instrument and agent, the atheistical power of France, overwhelming them with misery and desolation. This political monster, foretold by Daniel, under the type of the little horn *; by the prophet, under that of a “ beast ascending out of the bottomless pit t," and that of the beast of the earth I ; and by St. Paul, under that of “ the man of sin g;” we have seen, I say, this “ son of perdition” reared by the devil out of insurrection, treason, and rebellion, and supported by deception, rapine, massacres, and legalized murders, until he has made France the theatre of horror and blood; until he has made war upon Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and every Roman Catholic country, carrying havoc and destruction whereever he trod. And what is yet more dreadful, because more injurious to mankind, and therefore a favourite point in the diabolical project, until he has scattered the fire-brands of atheism and anarchy over those devoted countries. And he has done all this, in strict verification of the text, “ in great wrath,” or with many threats and indications of vengeance, “knowing that he hath but a short time" allowed, by a God of infinite mercy, to perfect his meditated mischief.
Ver. 13.-" And when the dragon saw " that he was cast out into the earth, he per
“ secuted the woman, which brought forth or the man child;"
And when Satan Ivand that all his former schemes had failed, and nothing was left but to lead mankind. to believe that there was no God, or into atheism, he industriously set about it. But knowing that the church, or those that believed in God and his Christ (of which description of people, there can be no doubt, there were many Roman Catholics, as well as Protestants, in-France, who, rejecting the idolatrous and blasphemous parts of the Papal creed, had led moral and pious lives), he determined to destroy them. And no means were left unessayed, to accomplish that purpose, by the republic. To the persecution of these people, as members of the church, the prophet refers, when he says, “ the dragon persecuted " the woman, which brought forth the man
child.” For it is well known, that the French revolution was brought about by the atheistical part of the nation, and that it was no sooner formed into a system of government, than it publiekly announced that there was no God, but reason ; as publickly abjured the Son oj God as an impostor ; asserted that death was only the eternal sleep of the soul, and made use of every
artifice, delusive falsehood, fraud, and tempting promise, to prevail on the nation to adopt those positions as their creed, and rule of the public faith ; but, failing of success, it established the civil constitution of the clergy, with intent to separate and distinguish the new converts to atheism, from the professors of christianity. This line of distinction being made, all persons withi the power of the republic, who dared to profess a belief in God and Jesus Christ, or even to mention their names with veneration or respect, were put to death as fanatics, excepting those who saved their lives by a precipitate flight to the neighbouring nations. And thus the woman was persecuted” through her members resident in France ; a persecution more severe and dreadful, the time of its duration considered, than any she had before suffered from Pagan Rome. Many tens of thousands of innocent and pious christians, who would not forsake their trust in God and his blessed Son, and embrace the doctrines of atheism, were massacred without trial, without evidence, or the least notice of their fate; and it was a persecution so general throughout France, that this period of the revolution is described by her own historians as " the reign of terror and of death,” and the country as one great tomb.