Images de page
PDF
ePub

the Father and the Son. But though Socinianism and Popery at present appear mutually aloof, they will in process of time form a, mighty confluence, that will burst all bounds, and bring every thing to a crisis. We may expect it in the following way: the residue of heavenly influence on the professing church, as a body, will have utterly evaporated; its holy things having been already more and more prostituted to the spirit of this world. And the Holy Spirit being thus withdrawn from the camp at large, the world will deem its own victory and triumph secured. Now, therefore, a spirit of liberal latitudinarianism will prevail every where; a notion that every one may be right in his own way of thinking; consequently all is well with the Jew, the Turk, and the Pagan. Ideas of this sort will wonderfully prepare men for embracing the false prophet,' whose patron (1 John ii. 22,) is neither far behind him in his approach, nor far off from the next generation.

“ Mohammedism and spurious Christianity will gradually liquefy into each other, and out of this stagnant corruption will emerge the false prophet. Had any such change in the religion of the Caliphs, as could have made a figure in history, attended the transfer of their sceptre to the Ottoman Porte, I should not be disinclined to consider the rise of the Beast out of the earth' as already past, only his miracles and signs are as yet future.

“ Mahomet may be regarded in a twofold character, both as a philosophically eclectic theologist, (who has culled and adopted just such truths and tenets as pleased himself,) and likewise as the founder of a vast, but very novel and peculiarly sectarian denomination of political religionists. In this latter respect he will gradually become, with his overt religionism, quite obsolete; but in the former, the Beast out of the earth may not improbably replace him. An inclination to certain tenets of the Alcoran, seemingly pointing at such a transfer, is already discernible over the wide field of Christendom in various quarters.

One sign of a near approaching general change is, that men have begun to relinquish their natural and hereditary forecast for remoter posterity. They who devote any considerable amount of their substance to benevolent purposes, are doing it not so much by founding durable establishments in real property, as by money expended in hope of a quick and sure return. This is seen in missionary institutions, emigrations, diffusion of the Scriptures and edifying books, multiplication of schools for the

higher and lower orders, &c. In all such events, it is not difficult to discern the hand of God, (as operating for a very peculiar purpose.)

“ The order observable in the great prophetic announcements clearly intimates, that at present (1740) the age of missions to the heathen and to the Jews is not fully arrived. As for the Jews, they are to expect no amendment of their condition, till they become provoked to jealousy by the conversion of the Gentiles. The Romish stumbling-block must also first be removed out of their way, and the Mohammedan abomination must likewise dissolve from before them. But though it is too early for the general conversion of Jews and Gentiles, it appears a sin of omission on the part of protestant churches, that they have not begun long ago to send missions to both. I, at least, cannot help thinking, that endeavours of this kind would have been far more noble, than the hitherto excessive painstaking of protestants to settle every subtle question in polemical divinity, or rather, to gain themselves only credit and celebrity in controversy. No modern church but that of Rome had formerly any missions, and hers were such as the heathen nations did not particularly welcome. Missionary work has at length been undertaken by protestants, later indeed, but with greater purity. There are now several pieces of fallow ground broken up in the East and West Indies, which already promise to make good our present failures in Europe. And the time is not far off, in which shall be seen greater and purer things than these. When once the Lord Jesus shall stretch out his hand, a larger portion of inheritance shall be given him. At present much toil and time are expended, before even a few among the heathen can be brought to true Christianity; but then, a nation shall be born in a day. Verily, all nations whom thou hast made, shall soon come and worship thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name.-Ps. lxxxvi. 9; Rev. xv. 4. Long enough has Rome been an impediment to this.

“ The Apocalypse displays a continually westward progression of the great public movements; and history shows, that the establishment of modern universities has all along taken the same direction. After the sacking of Constantinople, learning emigrated from thence to Prague; and after this place had become celebrated for its university, a whole hive from it migrated to Leipsic; from whence learning progressed to Halle, and then to Göttingen, still more westward, and so extended beyond the limits of Germany.

“ I am quite aware that much remains to be inquired into respecting scripture chronology; but something may be further done to the purpose by those who come after me. Persons, quicksighted and enlightened in the Scriptures, will no doubt be raised up far more in number than our present scanty few; and will have an ear open to the intimations of those sacred oracles, which, from the time when Moses penned their first paragraph, down to the last Amen of the Apostle John, gradually swelled into one summary display, as well as glorious instrument, of God's grand economy of the world. Yes, and a period is approaching, when the pure millenarian doctrine will be duly regarded as an article of the true faith ; and then teachers will be so well acquainted with the whole detail of the Apocalypse, as to make it the subject of common juvenile instruction; how little soever may be taught from it at present, and however singular we may seem for taking it in hand.

“ Our general system of the Apocalypse will appear to stand upon lawful or unlawful ground, according to the different views of each observer. If our exposition of this book of prophecy be not generally based upon truth, then how much besides, which has commanded great regard and attention hitherto, must at once fall away with it; and then where is any thing like the truth to be found! But if it rest upon fundamental truth itself, then what have the Romanists, the Separatists, the Petersenians, and others, to say to it? For which among them all can possibly think as I do? New wine must be put into new bottles.”

CHAPTER VIII.

HIS SIXTY PRACTICAL ADDRESSES ON THE APOCALYPSE.

AFTER he had published his “Exposition of the Revelation of St. John,” persons requested him to address them upon this prophetic book at his Sunday evening prayer meetings, at Herbrechtingen. He did so; and much having been taken down by various hearers, was put together, and widely circulated. But as the whole consisted only of imperfect notes, and was very incorrect, he retouched and filled up what they had written; after which, others copied and further circulated the work; so that it proved very acceptable and blessed to many. Hence numerous requests were made to him for its publication by the press, especially from persons who had read extracts of it in the collections of abbot Steinmetz, of Kloster-Bergen. Thus Bengel printed, in the year 1747, his “Sixty Practical Addresses on the Apocalypse;" in the hope that their more general dissemination would not be fruitless. To render them still more complete, he inserted appendices or gleanings, in which he took occasion to answer objections that had been made against his apocalyptical exposition, as well as to express his sentiments on what had appeared to require additional research.

As edification was the leading intent of these addresses, they deserve the consideration of those who are disinclined to enter into the particulars of historical and prophetical chronology; as also of persons who imagine contemplation of the Apocalypse to be rather a hinderance than a help to practical piety. That we may show what appropriate matter Bengel found in it “ for the use of edifying,” we shall here quote a few extracts from the work itself, in the hope of inducing some to read the whole of it.

“ The Apocalypse, as we learn from the first verse of it, was written for our learning and admonition, as the servants of God;' and of Jesus Christ our Lord. It was written for such persons of every rank and condition, but not for strangers, enemies, or spies. Those who are idly curious to know what may sooner or later come to pass, at home or abroad, are not the persons to receive an answer. None but Christ's faithful servants can learn truly to profit by this book of Revelation. Their hopes, their prayers, their earnest expectations, their humility, their love, their joys, are all so finely interwoven with their heartfelt considerations of what shall be hereafter, that hereby they receive fresh incentives to active benevolence and mercy, and thus attain their full growth in manly piety.

“ Christ's saying— Blessed is he that readeth the words of the prophecy,' is virtually contradicted by many objectors. This need not surprise us in the children of this world; but when persons, who in other respects are spiritually minded, persuade themselves, and endeavour to persuade others, that by a diligent search of the entire book, no advantage is gained to spiritual religion, they are making a spurious and unblest attempt at spiritual refinement; an attempt which our Lord here at once, by the word ' blessed,' rebukes as with a thunderbolt. Surely, they who familiarly know his voice, will not thus turn away from him who' here'speaketh' to them from heaven. Rather ought we to accept this heavenly gift and vouchsafement, with as much of godly simplicity on the one hand, as of caution on the other; and the caution should be, not to value ourselves on partaking of a benefit which so many undervalue and lose. There is no room here for carnal glorying; but only for humility, holy fear, and deepest reverence.

" (* Unto Him that loved us, and) WASHED US FROM OUR SINS (in his own blood,' &c.) As all filthiness is unseemly and uncomfortable, so he who can relish sin, which is the filthiest of all things, is surely like some insane person, who can revel in mire. Whatever temporary gratification the fleshly mind may experience in anger, wrath, bitterness, discord, strife, extravagance, intemperance, or impurity, these and such like sins not only are something foul and indecent, but prove troublesome afterwards to the flesh itself. And certainly the soul never enjoys any true comfort, ease, and complacency, till it is effectually purified from such things; for till then it cannot endure to look upon itself. Let those who continue strangers to such comfort, never leave off seeking till they have found it.

“ Christ's saying, As MANY AS I LOVE, I REBUKE AND CHASTEN,' (üi. 19,) has nothing too hard in it; nothing too

Would there be either love or mercy, think you, in letting persons sleep on while their house is on fire; or in excusing ourselves from disturbing or alarming them, because they are enjoying their sound repose ? Sinners will be always

severe.

« PrécédentContinuer »