« PreviousContinue »
mountain, as it slopes down towards the brook Kedron. (Travels, v. ii. p. 348.)* Thus was literally fulfilled the ancient prophecy of Micah also, (Mic. 3. 12,) "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest." The Jerusalem of Sacred History then is no more. And, after having been successively destroyed by the Babylonians and Romans, and taken by the Saracens, Crusaders, and Turks, in the possession of the latter of whom it still continues, not a vestige remains of the capital of David and Solomon; not a monument of Jewish times is standing. The very course of the walls is changed, and the boundaries of the ancient city are become doubtful. The Monks pretend to shew the sites of the sacred places; but they have not the slightest pretensions to even a probable identity with the real places. The Jerusalem that now is, howeyer, called by the Arabs El Kouds, or the holy city, is still a respectable, good-looking town, of an irregular shape: it is surrounded by high embattled walls, enclosing an area not exceeding two miles and a half, and occupying two small hills, having the valley of Jehoshaphat on the east, the valley of Siloam and Gehinnom on the south, and the valley of Rephaim on the west; and containing a population variously estimated at from 20,000 to 30,000 souls.t
(23.) Prophecies respecting Anti-christ, the man of sin, or the grand apostacy from the faith.
2 Thess. ii. 3-14. "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctifica
tion of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This Epistle bears the highest evidence of its divine inspiration, in this representation which it contains of the papal power, under the characters of the 'Man of sin,' and the Mystery of iniquity.' The true Christian worship is, the worship of the one only God, through the one only Mediator, the man Christ Jesus; and from this worship the church of Rome has most notoriously departed, by substituting other mediators, invocating and adoring saints and angels, worshipping images, adoring the host, &c. It follows, therefore, that the man of sin' is the Pope; not only on account of the disgraceful lives of many of them, but by means of their scandalous doctrines and principles; dispensing with the most necessary duties, selling pardons and indulgences for the most abominable crimes, and perverting the worship of God to the grossest superstition and idolatry. He also, like the false apostle Judas, is the son of perdition;' whether actively, as being the cause of destruction to others, or passively, as being devoted to destruction himself. He opposeth;' he is the great adversary of God and man; persecuting and destroying, by crusades, inquisitions, and massacres, those Christians who prefer the word of God to the authority of men. "He exalteth himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped;' not only above inferior magistrates, but also above bishops and primates, kings and emperors; nay, not only above kings and emperors, but also above Christ, and God himself; 'making even the word of God of none effect by his traditions,' forbidding what God has commanded, as marriage, the use of the Scriptures, &c.; and commanding, or allowing, what God has forbidden, as idolatry, persecution, &c. So that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.' His sitting in the temple of God' implies plainly his having a seat in the Christian church: and he sitteth there, 'as God,' especially at his inauguration, when he sits upon the high altar in St. Peter's church, and makes the table of the Lord his footstool, and in that position receives adoration. At all times he exercises divine authority in the church; shewing himself that he is God;' affecting divine titles, and asserting that his decrees are of the same, or greater authority, than the word of God. The foundation of popery was laid in the Apostles' days; but several ages passed before the building was completed, and 'the man of sin revealed,' in full perfection; when that 'which hindered,' the Roman empire, was dissolved. His coming is after the energy of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders,' &c.; and does it require any particular proof, that the pretensions of the Pope, and the corruptions of the church of Rome, are all supported and authorized by feigned visions and miracles, by pious frauds, and impositions of every kind? But, how much soever the man of sin' may be exalted, and how long soever he may reign, yet, at last, the Lord shall consume him with the Spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy him with the brightness of his coming.'
⚫ See Newton on the Prophecies, Dissertation xxii. Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to 2 Thessalonians.
The same Anti-christian power is denoted by the Apostle in 1 Tim. iv. 1-5, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils speaking lies in hypocrisy ; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."
This prophecy is manifestly similar in the general subject to that in the second Epistle to the Thessalonians, though it differs in the particular circumstances; and exactly corresponds with that of the prophet Daniel on the same subject, (Dan. xi. 38.) This important prediction might be more correctly rendered, 'Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall apostatize from the faith, giving heed to erroneous spirits, and doctrines concerning demons, through the hypocrisy of liars, having their consciences seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats,' &c. How applicable these particulars are to the corruptions of the Church of Rome need scarcely be insisted on. The worship of saints and angels in that church is essentially the same with the worship of demons among the heathen; which has been established in the world by books forged in the name of the Apostles and saints, by lying legends of their lives, by false miracles ascribed to their relics, and by fabulous dreams and relations; while celibacy was enjoined and practised under pretence of chastity, and abstinence under pretence of devotion. None but the Spirit of God could foresee and foretell these remarkable events.*
(24.) Prophecies respecting the seven churches of Asia.
§ 1. Concerning the church of Ephesus, Rev. ii. 1-7. Ephesus, a much celebrated city of Ionia in Asia Minor, and the metropolis of proconsular Asia, was situated on the river Cayster, and on the side of a hill, about 35 miles north of Miletus, 40 south of Smyrna, 100 west of Laodicea, and 5 miles from the Ægean sea. It was particularly famous for a magnificent temple of Diana, 425 feet long, and 200 broad; which was supported by 127 columns 70 feet high. It had become a ruinous place when the emperor Justinian filled Constantinople with its statues, and raised the church of St. Sophia on its columns, A. D. 528-566; and all that remains of this once splendid city, about half a mile from the village of Aiasaluck, when visited by Dr. Chandler, was inhabited by a few Greek peasants, living in extreme wretchedness, dependance, and insensibility.' An American clergyman who visited it in 1821, says, 'not a human being lives in Ephesus; and at Aiasaluck there are merely a few Turkish huts.' The candlestick has now been removed out of its place.†
• For a full discussion of this subject, see Newton on the Prophecies, Dissertation xxiii.
§ 2. Concerning the church of Smyrna, Rev. ii. 8—11. Smyrna, now Ismir, is a celebrated city of Asia Minor, situated on the shore of the Egean sea, about 183 miles W. by S. of Constantinople, 100 miles N. of Rhodes, and between 40 and 45 miles N.W. of Ephesus, in lat. 38°. 29′. N. and long. 27o. 25'. E. It is at present about four miles in circumference, extending about a mile along the shore, and has a very handsome appearance; its population is about 120,000 souls.**
§ 3. Concerning the church of Pergamos, Rev. ii. 12-17. Pergamos, now Bergamo, the ancient metropolis of Mysia, and the residence of the Attalian kings, is situated on the river Caicus, about 60 miles north of Smyrna, long. 27°. E. lat. 39°, 11'. N. It still retains some measure of its ancient importance; containing a population of about 15,000 souls; and having nine or ten mosques, two churches, and one synagogue.t
§ 4. Concerning the church of Thyatira, Rev. ii. 18-29. Thyatira, now Ak-hissar, is situated on a branch of the Caicus, in an extensive plain, between Pergamos and Sardis, 48 miles S.E. of the former, and 10 hours N.W. of the latter, and about long. 27o. 49′. E., lat. 38°. 45'. N. It consists of about 1000 houses and 200 or 300 huts, nine mosques, one Greek church, and one Armenian; but the streets are narrow and dirty, and every thing marks poverty and degradation.†
§ 5. Concerning the church of Sardis, Rev. iii. 1-7. Sardis, the once proud capital of Lydia, and the residence of its opulent monarchs, is now reduced to a wretched Turkish village called Sart, the habitation of herdsmen, buffaloes, and oxen, situated at the foot of mount Tmolus, on the banks of the Pactolus, between thirty and forty miles east from Smyrna, about long. 28°. 5′. E., and lat. 38°. 25′. N. The ruins of Sardis are peculiarly grand, and lift up their heads, as if to assert their ancient glory; but it now contains not a single Christian family.†
§ 6. Concerning the church of Philadelphia, Rev. iii. 8—14. Philadelphia, so called from its founder Attalus Philadelphus, still exists in the town called Allah-shehr, the city of God,'-'a column in a scene of ruins.' It is situated on the slopes of three or four hills, the roots of mount Tmolus, by the river Cogamus, 27 miles E.S.E. from Sardis, about long. 28°. 40′., lat. 38°. 23′. The number of houses is said to be about 3,000, of which 250 are Greek, the rest Turkish; and the Christians have 25 places of worship, 5 of them large and regular churches, a resident bishop, and 20 inferior clergy.†
§ 7. Concerning the church of Laodicea, Rev. iii. 15-19. Laodicea and Hierapolis were both cities of Phrygia in Asia Minor, between which, and equidistant from each, was situated Colosse. Laodicea was situated near the Lycus, about 63 miles east of Ephesus; and became one of the largest and richest towns in Phrygia, vying in power with the maritime cities. It is now called Eski-hissar, the old castle; and besides the whole surface within the city's wall being strewed with pedestals and fragments,
• Comprehensive Bible, Note on Rev. 1. 11.
+ Idem, Note in loco.
the ruins of an amphitheatre, a magnificent odeum, and other public buildings, attest its former splendour and magnificence. But, when visited by Dr. Chandler, all was silence and solitude; and a fox, first discovered by his ears peeping over a brow, was the only inhabitant of Laodicea.*
(25.) The prophecies concerning the church and the world contained in the Revelation of St. John.
§ 1. The opening of the seven seals. (i.) The first seal, Rev. 6. 1, 2. "And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer." This seems to be a representation of the person and dignity of Christ, and the mild and beneficent triumphs of his Gospel over all the powers of paganism. Accordingly, accurate historians are of opinion, that Christianity spread more rapidly and extensively just after this time (A. D. 96), than it had done before.† (ii.) The second seal, Rev. 6. 3, 4. "And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and there was given unto him a great sword." This refers to the divine judgments of God on the enemies of Christianity under Trajan and Hadrian, from A. D. 100 to 138, in which period, by the most horrid wars and slaughters, 580,000 Jews, and even a greater number of Greeks and Romans, are computed to have perished.†
(iii.) The third seal, Rev. 6. 5, 6. "And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo, a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." This indicates the dreadful scarcities with which Christ fought against the enemies of his church, in the time of the Antonines, from A. D. 138 to 193; during which, all the care of the emperors and their ministers could only just prevent the horrors of entire famine. The word 'measure,' choenix, signifies a measure containing one wine quart, and the twelfth part of a quart. This measure was one man's daily allowance, as a penny, 7 d., was his daily wages.†
(iv.) The fourth seal, Rev. 6. 7, 8. "And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and