« EdellinenJatka »
chronological marks of the seals and trumpets respectively; and that the 1260 years of the Papal supremacy did begin with Justinian, and terminate with the earthquake of the French revolution : yet, notwithstanding this, we deem it not improbable that during the dominion of the "fiery, flying serpent (Isai. xiv. 29), " the Assyrian," "the cruel king " --by all which, and by many other similar terms, the head of the infidel faction is described, who is to complete the destruction of the present apostate churches, Protestant as well as Popish, of Christendom-deeds may be done which shall occupy the literal time of 1260 days, or three years and a half; during which all the events of the seals and trumpets and vials shall receive a fuller and more literal accomplishment than any which have hitherto been seen.. And this is the truth out of which Mr. Maitland has manufactured his figment, that the Revelations have none of them been yet fulfilled. It is worthy of notice here, that the scheme of Professor Lee, which declares the prophecies already accomplished ; and that of Mr. Maitland, which asserts they belong to future ages; excite no wrath, no strictures, no animadversions, from the religious leaders, the magazines, and sermon makers—the idols of the people's idolatry--because by one or other they can throw off all present responsibility. But if this literal fulfilment be to take place within that literal period, we have no doubt that that period does not commence till the moment of the translation of the saints ; at the moment of the appearance of the personal Christ to his own in the clouds, and of the personal Antichrist to his own on the earth.
A similar line of argument may be applied to the divisions of the locality where the last act of the great drama is to be transacted. Since judgment begins at the house of God, and is most searching and severe there ; since the desolations of Judea were most acute in Jerusalem; and since the greatest slaughter occurred in the temple itself: so is it not improbable, but rather to be expected, that the first scene of this last act will be laid in the most favoured part of Christendom, even Britain. Christendom is in three great divisions of apostasy,-Popery, the mockery of Christ's Melchizedek reign; the Greek church, denying the procession of the Holy Ghost from our risen nature; and Protestantism, now become a mere formal system of negations, asserting and teaching nothing positive, of God or of his Son or of his Spirit. Popish, Greek, and Protestant, seems to be a better division than Popish, Protestant, and Infidel, because infidelity is no system, it is a mere negation of all systems : it arises out of the bottomless pit; it has not even so good a foundation as the treacherous waving sea : and into this all the three systems have actually passed ; not one of them having at this moment sufficient vitality to make a single assertion on any one
doctrine of divinity. Many civil and territorial divisions of this, and of all the other parts of Christendom, will readily be found when the events occur.
The error of all men is to limit God. In our prayers we never ask nor expect so much as God is willing and ready to give. His love and his bounty are infinite, but we measure Him by our own littleness. The same fault is committed by doctrinal writers, who, seeing but a part of the mighty purpose of God, condemn as error, or as altogether false, another view of the same purpose, merely because they cannot see how it will square with the part they do see. This fault is especially liable to beset systematic interpreters of the Book of Revelations; they apprehend, that, if their particular structure be interfered with in one part, they shall be obliged to give up the whole: while, on the other hand, those cavillers who attack detached portions, not for the sake of improving defects, but in order to overthrow all, are guilty of the greater error of thinking all systems alike erroneous, because none are hitherto perfect. Let each hold fast all on which he can get clear light. Let him not deny another view, but take it in addition to his own, and try to harmonize them. In this way light will increase. It is in this
that we have ourselves proceeded : we have taken hints from every quarter: we have contradicted no one, unless he endeavoured to destroy by the roots every thing which had hitherto been done. And we
never yet seen the work which did not contain some hint, or some explanation, worth remembering. Let not our readers, therefore, be disturbed at the idea of fresh interpretations : we have no doubt that God will now make fresh revelations by the mouths of his prophets; but these additions will not be substitutes for, or at variance with, what he has already taught his other servants, " opening their understanding to unstand the Scriptures;" but will be only more extended, and spiritual applications of the former events, which will then be in the light of types, to the particular days in which we live, for our guidance, support, and consolation.
DISCOURSE OF M. DE NOÉ, BISHOP OF LESCAR (TROYES),
WRITTEN IN 1785. The following remarkable Discourse was prepared for a General
Assembly of Clergy in France in 1785, four years only before the bursting forth of the tremendous Revolution in that country. Some circumstances, of which we are ignorant, prevented its being delivered on the occasion for which it was penned; but the learned author, M. de Noé, having entrusted his manuscript to a few friends for their private perusal, copies of it speedily got abroad, and occasioned an edition to be printed in 1788. M. de
VOL. VI.-NO, i.
Noé was subsequently promoted to the bishoprick of Lescar (Troyes); and this discourse, which was already well known, “ contributed in no small degree,” it is said, in the Preface to the edition from which we translate (that of 1802), “to a prepossession in favour of that illustrious Prelate.” We think it seasonable to republish it now, forty years having nearly elapsed since its first
promulgation, and France being at present, to all appearance, en : the eve of suffering from a fresh burst of popular fury—a second
revolution, of which the second earthquake of the Apocalypse is the symbol. May it prove a word of warning to our own country! -We invite particular attention to the “Remarks” appended to the Discourse, apparently by an editor, but not improbably under the direction of M. de Noé himself.
My Lords,- Uncreated Wisdom alone can grasp, at a single view, the future and the past : yet, limited as is the power of mortal man, he may successively ponder the two states : and this study, useful to every individual, to every class, to governors and subjects, must needs be so to the visible society of the righteous, and to each of the members who form or preside over it.
In ascending towards the past, we perceive the authority of God over his church, and by what alternations of disgrace and favour he conducted his people. In turning to the future, we discover the space we have to cross, the obstacles and enemies we have to subdue. From this twofold spectacle we extract a twofold lesson,--to avoid the faults which have provoked the scourge ; and to use the precautions which may avert the danger, or save us from the general calamity.
My precursors in this pulpit have already fulfilled the first portions of my task: they have celebrated the establishment and progress of the church-delineated its features and prerogatives-recounted its combats, its losses, and its victories. It is time to fix our attention on the future-it is time to trace the counsels of God; to fathom, by the aid of the Divine oracles, the depths of his wisdom ; and there read what he hath chosen to reveal of his designs towards us and his church.
Is He disposed, by multiplied losses and progressive discouragements, to renew its trials, and reduce it to a state of languor which may excite apprehension for its fall? or hath He in his treasures reserved some potent succours, known but to himself; which, upholding its vigour and imparting a second youth, may bring back its early days ? Moved to pity by the long affliction of the children of Israel, does he call to remembrance the covenant made with their forefathers, Abraham and Jacob; and, weary of enduring the ingratitude of the Gentiles, does he prepare to take vengeance on the most guilty ? Will he suffer us to transmit to posterity this temple, these altars, which we have inherited from our progenitors; or, destined to witness the ex
tinction of faith in these countries, are we the last worshippers' he will tolerate in this sanctuary?
If you refer it to the infidel philosophers of the age, their answer will be most inauspicious. The day is arrived : darkness is superseded by light : yet another generation, and there will be no more a God in heaven nor upon earth. If you express your fears to the partizans of a superficial righteousness, to the advocates of luxury and ease; far from sharing your alarm, they will exclaim, in their security, as the Jews of the time of Jeremiah, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord” (Jer. vii. 4–14). They will not give credit to ills of which they dread the remedy: they will resign themselves to slumber; and woe be to him who endeavours to rouse them from their fatal lethargy!
Follow none of these deceitful guides, my very dear brethren; the first would throw you into despair, the last would create a false confidence. Listen to none but Jesus Christ and his Apostles: they alone will never mislead. On one hand, Jesus Christ says to you, “ Go: I am with you even to the end of the ages.' On the other, " Think ye, when the Son of Man cometh, that he shall find faith upon earth?” St. Paul announces the prosperity of the church, and as a resurrection from death to life, by the return of the children of the dispersion; and, suddenly casting a fearful look at the Gentile people, he threatens them with tremendous chastisement : “ Beware, then, O Gentile ! for if God spared not the natural branches, tremble lest he spare not thee” (Rom. xi. 15-21).
Who should not be dismayed at those formidable words? Here are promises, there are threats. This passage is difficult, and requires explanation. The promises are addressed to the church at large; the threats to the people in particular. The church, founded upon the word of God, is proof against all the efforts of hell, and will hereafter see a full accomplishment of the promises made to it; but the various people, sons of the church by adoption, may divest themselves of that high privilege. Fear not, then, for the church : its extent and perpetuity are foretold and assured: but fear for the people, the ungrateful people, fear for yourselves : and while the torch of faith still blazes above our horizon ; while the kingdom of God is yet among us, and the uplifted axe threatens to strike, not the imperishable trunk of the tree, but the dry and sterile branches ; let us recollect ourselves, my brethren; and, by a holy emulation between the pastors and their flocks, let us strive to reap the fruits of the promises, and screen ourselves from the effect of the threats : such is the subject of this discourse.
The enemies of the faith, who delight in publishing the troubles of the church, and so confidently predict its fall, would do well if they paid less attention to their prejudices and wishes, than to their reason and the nature of the case. And if, for a
right understanding of the vital principles and resources of the church, they had examined its character and organization ; if they had probed the basis of our hopes, and brought together the teniporal and spiritual advantages of this body; they might have discovered a healthy and robust frame, the earnest of longevity; promises of Divine aid, for its preservation ; an ordinary assistance, for its encouragement; an extraordinary assistance, which shall repair its losses, and raise it to a more exalted pitch of glory than it has ever yet known.
By the spirit of the church, and as its vital principle, I mean that immovable faith, which binds us to the truths revealed by God; that steady hope, which leads us to expect the promised blessings; that mutual love, that heavenly flame which it enkindles in the soul of charity : and I will venture to say, there is not a more influential, a more attractive, or more cogent principle, than this triple cord, by which we tenaciously adhere to the church (Eccles. iv. 12).
Man is born for truth and happiness: his mind is formed to know, his heart to love. It behoves him, therefore, if he would not forfeit the dignity of his nature, to use his endeavours for discovering all that it is his interest to learn,-his origin and destination ; what he is, whence he came, where he is going. To be happy, he must either possess the object which can effect it, or take measures to that end. But to whom shall he apply for guidance in the search; and who shall confer so great a benefit? Shall he turn to the ancient philosophers, who boasted of holding the double treasure of truth and happiness? or to their successors, who imagine they have perfected their art, and surpassed their discoveries? Among the first, one will ask time for the reply; another will tell you, These truths, too sublime for common minds, ought not to be revealed to the multitude. Among the last, some will give you doubts without solution ; others, assertion without proof or warrant; and all will leave you in comfortless uncertainty. But, as Tertullian said to the Pagans of his day, a child among Christians, or workmen duly taught in our schools, will not be puzzled at your questions. On all the objects worthy your investigation, he will not only deduce the sublimest truths, but he will exhibit a whole people who know and profess them : moreover, you shall see around you a number of real philosophers, rejoicing in the knowledge of the truth, and in the expectation of blessings in the life above, of which they have an antepast here below; men who, far from coveting an exclusive enjoyment of their privileges, are anxious to communicate them; and who, regarding all mankind as their brethren, and their brethren as themselves, are of one heart and one soul with them (Acts iv. 32). This being the case, could we apprehend the failure of a society so strongly and firmly established? If it be your aim to subvert the foundation, and put