Billeder på siden

send them against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge... Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria and the glory of his high looks. For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man. Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more stay again upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth" (Isai. x. 5-20).

For this stoutness and pride of heart Nebuchadnezzar was rebuked, that he might know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will (Dan. iv. 25). And he was taught by the punishment of God to praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment, and who is able to abase those that walk in pride: and he blessed the Most High, and praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? And he was established in his kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto him (iv. 36).


But his grandson, Belshazzar, for still greater arrogance, was utterly cast off, in these words: "O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom and majesty and glory and honour; and for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up, and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him, till he knew that the Most High God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but

hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know; and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified. Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians" (Dan. v. 18-28).

[ocr errors]

Darius the Median, who took the kingdom, feared the God of heaven, and made a decree that in every dominion of his kingdom men should fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end (Dan. vi. 26): and of Cyrus the Lord saith, "he is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure (Isai. xliv. 28); and "thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him.. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name; I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me." And he, thus called, made a decree, saying, "Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem" (Ezra i. 2). And he restored the vessels of the house.

We have been thus particular in shewing the exact standing of these first two of the Gentile monarchies, as they were servants of God, and had work appointed them to perform; Assyria in chastening Israel, and Persia in restoring them after the appointed chastisement of seventy years; and that we may shew how the Grecian and Roman monarchies became the tools of Satan, instead of the servants of God; and, in common with the other heathen nations, have been the terror of the Almighty in the land of the living; for which they shall all be brought down to the pit together, when the Lord shall cause His terror in the land of the living (Ezek. xxxii. 32), in preparation for setting His glory in the land of the living (Ezek. xxvi. 20).

The throne of Shekinah glory shall be planted in the midst of the restored tribes of Israel, in the temple which shall be built on mount Zion; Christ's personal presence being the heavenly Jerusalem to be revealed at the same time, where the Lord will dwell for ever in the midst of his raised and glorified church: He and his bride, then seated with him on the heavenly throne, governing all things; in heaven and in earth (Rev. iii. 21; Matt. xxviii. 18): the tribes of Israel receiving His mandates from the cloud of glory in the most holy place of the temple, as in the days of old; and the world blessed under their rule, as they under the rule of Christ and his church. (Compare Isai. lxv. 17; Jer. xxxi. 31, xxxiii. 15; Ezek. xliii., xlvii; with Rev. xxi. xxii.)

[blocks in formation]

The first two of the Gentile monarchies (the Assyrian and Persian) were not at once abandoned to their own wickedness and to the power of Satan, but were chastised for their pride, and allowed a time for repentance. But the last two monarchies (the Greek and Roman) seem from the beginning to have been under the instigation of Satan; so that he could say at any period of their history, "All this power is delivered to me, and to whomsoever I will I give it" (Luke iv. 6). The Greeks and Romans, when "they knew God, glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind," and to those abominations of which so fearful a catalogue is given in many parts of Scripture. (Rom. i.; Eph. iv. v. &c.)

Unless the account of Alexander's respect for the high priest may be deemed an exception, there is no instance of the fear of God among the Greeks till after the time of our Lord, when the monarchy had passed over to the Romans. And the Romans, who are lauded for their policy in tolerating all religions, were tolerant only of error, and most determined enemies of the truth. Of Pagan and Papal Rome this is notoriously true, and needs no proof; nor would the proof be difficult, even of Rome under Constantine, were that short period deserving of being regarded as any thing more than an exception to the general character of the fourth monarchy given in many parts of Scripture. Rome is called the special engine of Satan; and to him that ruleth there Satan giveth, from the commencement of the Apocalyptic vision, his "power, and his seat, and great authority" (Rev. xiii. 2). Satan, who gave them power, is the being they worship; and God they blaspheme continually His name, His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven (xiii. 4, 5). And the power of Satan in this his strong-hold is maintained to the last; for the beast which shall be cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev. xix. 20) exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him" (xiii. 12): " and Satan there holds his court, making Rome to become "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird (Rev. xviii. 2).

[ocr errors]

In the composition of the fourth monarchy the evil characters of the three preceding ones are united; and the beast by which it is symbolized is a combination of the destructive qualities of the leopard, the bear, and the lion (Rev. xiii.): and the Prophet Daniel saw in distant vision the monstrous compound by which this fourth form of evil was symbolized, with far deeper emotion than the symbols of the powers then existing, or soon to arise; partly from the anomalous and non-descript

nature of the thing, but chiefly from its being the last form of evil before the coming of the Son of Man to set up the promised kingdom of righteousness and peace under the whole heaven; when dominion shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. "After this I saw in the night visions; and, behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns" (Dan. vii. 7). It is a vision of such terror that nothing is seen but the great iron teeth, the stamping feet, and the ten horns: and when the prophet asks for explanation, the same terrific imagery is all which seems present to his mind : "Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; and of the ten horns that were in his head" (ver. 19). He seems unable to look steadily at the appalling vision, or define the form of the monster, so as to say where lay the strength, or how put forth he sees the members of destruction, not the feature and limb of the beast; the instruments of terror, not the power which made them terrible. And this is also the case with us, in contemplating the Roman usurpations, either looking back in the page of history on consular and imperial Rome, or looking around us now on the workings in Papal Rome, which still render it terrible even in dotage and decrepitude; or on the iron teeth of the ten kingdoms of Christendom, which render each one kingdom a terror to the others, and the whole confederacy a terror to the rest of the world.

When Rome, from being a den of robbers, was working its way to become mistress of the world, none could say wherein its strength lay, or define its terrible form; the terror of its name alone subdued many kingdoms. And the terror of the Papacy is undefinable, but the stoutest and the wisest of monarchs have been made to quail before an unseen power, mightier than themselves in their own dominions; which, because without apparent form, they despised; though before the instruments of this formless power they were forced to crouch: witness Henry and Thomas a Becket.

Again, in our own day it is matter of astonishment how that formless, palsied thing which the Papacy seems to be, can put forth such a terrible power of destructiveness as we see at this moment working in Ireland, in Portugal, and in Spain, where we can recognise no form of organization, but only know that the beast is there, diverse from all others,

exceeding dreadful; which "devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet." And throughout all Christendom another power is at work, also of mighty energy, though formless and undefinable, by which greater havoc and woe will be wrought upon the earth than any thing that has yet been witnessed, the instinctive apprehension of which already fills the hearts of the considerate with terror so great that they shrink from the attempt to prognosticate its form while those who know the truth turn their eyes for the most part from so fearful a sight, and look upwards, and onwards, to behold "one like the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, to whom is given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages, should serve him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed " (Dan. vii. 14).

The difference between the coming tribulation and all preceding woes lies chiefly in the fact, that Satan and his angels, being then cast down to earth, will be mustering all their strength in one last desperate effort to retain possession of the territory over which they have lorded ever since the Fall; to the last verge of which they will then have been driven, ready to be swept into the bottomless pit, and thence for ever consigned to the lake of fire. Of which time it is proclaimed beforehand, "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Rev. xii. 12).

Already is Satan forecasting this his last struggle, and preparing instruments to employ in his service; and one of his principal devices for that end is blinding men's eyes to the approaching time of trouble, and cheating them into a belief that halcyon days of peace and plenty are at hand; when he knows perfectly well that his time is short, and short therefore the time of his deluded votaries. He well knows the time; for God has revealed it, and every creature of understanding may know it; but such knowledge would impel every one to press eagerly forward to enter in at the strait gate which leadeth to life, while the time of acceptance lasts and the day of salvation continues. "He worketh with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish."

And though we know not the exact form which the last head of power shall assume, so as to say in what place or persons the manifestation of the man of sin shall begin, nor yet the exact time of commencement for the tribulation, we do know the kind of instruments which Satan shall employ, and are warned against those delusions by which he is even now endeavouring to prepare them for his purpose; nay, by which he hath already prepared multitudes to be his instruments: the observation of

« ForrigeFortsæt »