Page images

rope against their murderers. Besides, there can be no doubt, but that there were many pious Christians in France, who, although they did not dare at the time to make public profession of their principles, have all along faithfully adhered to the substantial truths of the Gospel, and not suffered them to be effaced from their memories, and utterly lost as a person is when “put into

the grave.”

Ver. 10.-" And they that dwell upon the « earth shall rejoice over them (the dead bo« dies of the witnesses,) and make merry, " and send gifts to one another, because these "two propbets have tormented them that dwell " on the earth."

With what wonderful accuracy and truth have the facts predicted in this verse been fulfilled! I have before shown, that the “ earth” is the type of France, and, of course, “ those that dwell on the earth,” must allude to the people of France ; who, during the whole period of the suppression of Christianity, were continually “ making merry,” rejoicing, and “ sending gifts” to one another at their festivals. On the day they deified Reason as their supreme God, and declared Jesus Christ to be an impostor, they commenced their unha!lowed rejoicings and mutual congratulations, upon this victory they wickedly fancied they had gained over the two Testaments. That day (not to speak of others that followed at different times and places,) was spent by the Con

vention, and the people at Paris, in the most lascivious riot and blasphemous festivity. When those sacred Books were taken from the tail of the ass, and burnt to ashes, (how the soul sickens at repeating it!) the like triumphant joy succeeded. Not to dwell, I say, on the numerous feasts held in different cities and departments of France, the Convention appointed a day, in which this triumph of atheism and anarchy over religion, morality, and social order, should universally, and annually be celebrated.

And why did the people thus" make merry?” The text expressly assigns the reason.

It was because “ the two prophets had tormented them :" the same two witnesses, who are said in a former verse to prophecy in sackcloth;” the same, out of whose mouth a fire (or the all-consuming and fearful remorse of conscience) proceedeth.” Those two witnesses of God, the Old and NewTestaments, had told them truths so evident and irresistible, that all the sophistry of their false philosophy, all the cunning of their fallible, corrupted, and lately erected deity, REASON, could never so effectually eradicate from their minds, as not to leave some traces of them upon their consciences-truths such as these :

1. That there has existed from all eternity, one supreme, omnipotent, self-existent, and righteous God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.

2. That from him we receive all our benefits and blessings; for “ in him we live, and move, and have our being;” and consequently, that he

[ocr errors]

is entitled to our utmost homage, gratitude, and obedience.

3. That he will abundantly reward the good, and punish the bad, probably here, certainly hereafter.

4. That the soul or spirit of man is immortal ; that there is a future state to succeed the present, in which the spirit shall live for ever; and where rewards and punishments shall be righteously administered.

5. That man, though created innocent, happy, and perfect after his kind, yet through disobedience to the divine will, became a fallen, fallable, and sinful creature; and not only unworthy of, but incapable of sustaining that exalted rank of being, in which he was originally placed by his beneficent Creator.

6. That in the present state of imperfection, his intellectual faculties are no more capable of tracing and judging of the extent of the infinite wisdom, and holy mystery of God in the creation, than the pot made of clay is of the design of the potter; or an atom of matter is of the order, harmony,and beauty of the universe: that God has a right to take that life which he gave, and either to annihilate, or to redeem his disobedient and sinful creatures upon what conditions, and by rehatever means, he pleases, without being accountable to man. And,

7. That in his infinite wisdom, beneficence, and mercy, God has been pleased to afford mankind an opportunity to rise froin their fallen state, a state of sin, darkness, and captivity, to a state of light, freedom, and eternal happiness, by their obedience to the divine will revealed through Jesus Christ his blessed Son ; by the atonement made by that Son to divine and unerring justice; by his mediation with the Father; and by faith in his holy Gospel, and his glorious mission.

These, or some of these obvious truths, foretold by the “ two prophets,” had often checked the people of France in their atheistical career, in the gratification of their sensual appetites, and never failed to smite their consciences sooner or later with tormenting remorse. But now, having seared their consciences with the red-hot iron of atheism, they foolishly thought that they were above all law, and at full liberty to act without fear or restraint; and that there was no God, no state of future rewards and punishments, and consequently no remorse of conscience upon the perpetration of any sin. For these reasons they " made merry" and rejoiced.”

Ver. 11.-“ And after three days and an “half the Spirit of life from God entered in" to them (the bodies of the two prophets), " and they stood upon their feet; and

great fear fell upon them that saw them.In this verse the period during which the truths of the Testaments have been abolished in Paris, the means by which they have been revived, and the effects of that revival on the atheistical crew, are clearly pointed out. The period of their entire suppression is three years and an half: for, in prophetic language, as I have said before, a day means a year. Now if we date the commencement of this period from the final exile and last massacre of the clergy, which was near the latter end of September 1792, and the termination of it at the time of the decree for the toleration of all kinds of religion, in the latter end of March 1796, we cannot fail to discover, both the time of the death of the witnesses, and of their resurrection. The reader, I am aware, will expect some reasons for my fixing on those two periods.

Some time, then, before the banishment of the clergy, the church had been plundered of the plate belonging to it; and delivered over to the priests of atheism, and polluted with its impieties. Many of the regular clergy had been tortured and massacred, for continuing to instruct the people in the doctrines of the two Testaments. But as no persecution could deter them from the discharge of what they conceived to be their duty, nor many of the people from attending them, the Convention saw the impossibility of utterly abolishing religion, while their appointed pastors remained in France; and they were accordingly banished. The decree passed on the 26th of August 1792: it ordered them to leave the kingdom, in a forinight from its date. But instead of giving these unfortunate men the time so limited, the interval between its date to the end of the fortnight, and, indeed, to the latter end

« PreviousContinue »