Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

rules of conduct ;-that, however, in the reign of Tarquin when it now began to be as it were adult, it cast off the yoke of servitude, preferring to obey laws rather than Kings;—that when its minority was terminated at the end of the Punic war, it began, having now obtained full strength, to wax wanton; for Carthage being destroyed which had so long been the rival of the Roman empire it stretched its hands over the whole world both by sea and land, until all kings and nations being subjugated, when now the material of wars ceased it badly used its strength, by which means it injured itself. This was its first old age, when torn by civil wars and pressed with intestine evil it again fell to the government of a single person, as if it were going back to another infancy. For when liberty was lost, which it had defended under the conduct of Brutus, it displayed the symptoms of decay to such a degree that it seemed incapable of sustaining itself except by the assistance of rulers. But if this be the case what remains, except that death should follow old age. And that that is indeed about to be the case in a short time, the oracles of the prophets declare under the concealment of different names lest it might be easily understood by every one. Yet the Sybils openly declare that Rome will perish, yea, and moreover by the judgment of God, because it has hated his name, and out of hatred to righteousness has persecuted the people that fostered the truth. Hydaspes also, who was a very ancient King of the Medes, from whom the river Hydaspes received its name, has handed down to posterily an admirable dream, indicating that the Roman name and empire would be taken from the earth.

THE PROGRESS OF THINGS AFTER THE FALL OF PAGAN

ROME. But I shall proceed to shew how that will he, lest any one should think that it is incredible. In the first place, the number of kingdoms will be multiplied, and sovereign power being subdivided and cut up, will be diminished, then civil discord will arise perpetually, nor will there be any cessation from destructive wars until ten kings exist together, who will divide the earth between them, not so much to rule as to consume it. These having collected immense armies will destroy the fruits of the ground, they will desolate all things, diminish, and devour.

Then suddenly a most powerful enemy will arise against them from the extreme limits of the north, who will destroy three of their number, namely, three who will then hold Asia. He will then be taken into alliance by the others, and will be constituted the chief of all. He will harass the earth with an insupportable tyranny. He will mix together things human and divine. He will attempt things unutterable and execrable. He will revolve new counsels in his breast that he may effectually estabJish his own power. He will change old laws-he will enact new ones out of his own head. He will contaminate, pillage, spoil, slay. In fine, the name of the empire being changed and its seat removed, confusion and perturbation of the human race will follow. Then, indeed, there will be a detestable and abominable time, in which life will be disagreeable; states will be entirely overthrown and will perish, not only with the sword and with fire, but also with continual earthquakes, by inundations of water, by frequent diseases and constant famines, for the air will be infected and become corrupt and pestilent. Sometimes by unseasonable rains, sometimes by a withering drought, sometimes by cold,-sometimes by immoderate heat the earth will be rendered unfruitful. The crops will be unproductive, the trees and vineyards will not yield fruit,-but when in the flower they have encouraged the greatest hope they will deceive in the produce. Fountains and rivers will be dried up so that there will be a deficiency of water to drink; the waters will be changed into blood, and will become bitter. Hence, the cattle will fail in the earth, the birds in the air, and the fishes in the sea. Also wonderful prodigies in the heaven will confound the minds of men with terror. The tails of comets, the darkness of the sun, the colour of the moon, and the falling of stars, will fill mankind with alarm. These prodigies will not take place in the usual manner, but they will exist suddenly and unexpectedly. The stars will be concealed, the sun will be darkened, so that there will be scarce a difference between the night and the day. The moon will not now in the usual way be invisible for three hours only at the change, but it will be covered with perpetual blood, and will accomplish extraordinary courses, so that man will be unable to recognise the course of the stars or the return of the seasons. Summer will occur in winter, and winter in summer. Then the year will be shortened, the month diminished, and the day contracted into a brief space. The stars will fall in great numbers, so that the heavens will appear altogether dark without any luminaries. The loftiest mountains will fall and be levelled with the plains. The sea will become innavigable ; and to fill up the cup of misery of the earth and its inhabitants, a trumpet will be heard from heaven, which the Sybil mentionsin these words:

“The trump will sound its doleful blast from heaven.” All will tremble and shudder at that mournful sound. Then through the anger of God against those men who have not known his righteousness, sword, fire, famine, pestilence, will rage furiously; and fear will hang over all. Then they will pray to God and he will not hear; death will be wished for, and it will not come; night will give no repose from alarm ; sleep will be banished from their eyes. Trouble and watching will wear out the minds of men. They will lament and groan and gnash with their teeth; they will congratulate the dead and lament for the living. By these and other evils the earth will become a solitude ; it will be deformed and desert which is also thus foretold in the Sibylline verses.

“The earth unearthly men undone shall see.” Thus the human race will be destroyed-not a tenth

part of men will be left remaining. Where there was a thousand there will scarcely be a hundred. Of the worshippers of God two parts will perish and the third which will be approved will remain.

But I shall explain more plainly how that will be. When the time of the end approaches, a great prophet, gifted with the power of working miracles, will be sent from on high to turn men to the knowledge of God. Wherever men will not hear him he will close the heavens, hold back the rains, change water into blood, torment them with thirst and hunger, and whoever will endeavour to hurt him, fire will proceed from the prophet's mouth and burn up that adversary. Through these wonders and signs he will convert many to the worship of God. When his course shall be fulfilled, another king will arise from Syria, born of the evil Spirit. He will overthrow and destroy mankind-he must himself perish with the remains of former evil. He will fight against the prophet of God. He will conquer him, and kill him, and suffer him to lie unburied; but after the third day he will live again, and while all are looking on with astonishment, he will be carried into heaven. But that most wicked king will become himself a prophet of lies, and will appoint and call himself God, and order himself to be worshipped as the Son of God; and power will be given unto him to do signs and wonders, by which he will seduce men to worship him. He will order fire to descend from heaven—the sun to stand in the midst of his course—an image to speak, and these will be done at his word. Very many, even of the wise, will be thus enticed to serve him. Then he will endeavour to pull down the temple of God, and will persecute the righteous and there will be a season of pressure and grinding such as was not from the beginning of the world. Whoever will believe in and come to his side will be marked by him as cattle are marked; but they who will refuse his mark, must either escape to the mountains, or, being seized, will be put to death with exquisite tortures. He

will wrap the righteous round in the books of the Prophets, and thus he will burn them; and it will be given him to desolate the earth for fortv and two months. That will be a time in which righteousness will be trampled under foot, and innocence will be hated, in which the wicked will make hostile war against the righteous. No law, no order, no military discipline will be observed. The hoary head will not be reverenced—the duties of piety will not be recognised -sex or infancy will not be pitied-all things will be confounded and commingled, contrary to the laws of nature.

Thus, as if by one common robbery, the whole earth will be devastated. When these things take place, then the righteous and those who hold the truth will separate themselves from the wicked and will fly into solitudes, which, when the impious king hears, inflamed with anger, he will come with a great army and surround with all his forces the mountain in which the just. will have taken refuge, that thus he may seize them. But they, when they see themselves enclosed and beset on every side, will cry to God with a great voice, imploring celestial assistance. God will hear them and will send a great king from heaven to rescue and liberate them, and destroy the impious with fire and sword.

[I pass over several testimonies that he brings forward to the support of these views from Pagan authorities, and proceed with his account of events.

The orb of the earth being thus oppressed when human strength will fail to destroy the power of intolerable tyranny, when the captive world will thus groan under the violence of hordes of robbers, it will be evident that nothing less than divine power can bring deliverance. Therefore, God, moved with the pressing danger, and with the lamentations of the just, will quickly send a liberator. In the dark, and in the dead of the night, the mid heaven will be opened. The blaze of Divine glory, as God descends, will appear like the flashes of the

« EdellinenJatka »