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“ the earth." The language is evidently allusive to the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel *. But it is plain that the prophecies of Ezekiel and that of St. John, respecting Gog and Magog, do not refer to the same period. The terms, therefore, as used by the Apostle, are emblematically borrowed from the Old Testament Prophet. Ezekiel's Gog and Magog represent the last enemies of the Jews, about the time of their conversion to Christ and their restoration to their own land, prior to the commencement of the millennium. But the Apocalypse, as a Christian prophecy, does not notice the Jews, except as they are included in the general mass of mankind; and it is plain, that the whole millennium will intervene after the destruction of Ezekiel's Gog and Magog, before the perdition of those of St. John will take place. The Gog and Magog of the Prophet, as the last enemies who will oppose the restoration of the Jews to the promised land, appear to be typical of the last enemies of the church of Christ, before its translation to “ the inheritance which is incorruptible, and unde“ filed, and that fadeth not away.”—How long, and how far the enemies of Christ may be permitted to persecute and harass the Church, is not revealed; but when, at length, they shall collect from the four quarters of the earth to compass the camp or garrison of the saints, and to besiege the beloved city, they will be destroyed by fire from heaven. What is specifically intended by the camp and the beloved city, cannot be determined. It can only be stated, that these terms are borrowed from the affairs of the Israelites in the wilderness and in Canaan. The Lord having once more made manifest the depravity of human nature and the malice and subtlety of the devil, will finally cast him into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, never more to have liberty; but to be tormented day and night for ever and ever. It is observable that nothing is here or elsewhere said of the beast and false prophet being tormented for ever and ever. A satisfactory reason may be assigned for this. They were, in fact, emblematical representations of political bodies of men, and therefore they were incapable of personal torment. Wicked individuals, belonging either to the beast or false prophet, whether perşecuting tyrants, idolatrous priests, false teachers, or unholy and wicked private characters, living and dying such, will undoubtedly be tormented for ever. But the beast and false prophet, being personified characters of corporate bodies, cannot, with any propriety, be said to be tormented. Perdition to them will be oblivion. Perdition to Satan and all his legions of evil spirits, as being real personages, will be a state of everlasting punishment.-As nothing is recorded in this prophecy respecting any intervening period between the destruction of Christ's enemies and the resurrection of the dead, it seems highly probable that “the fire that cometh down from
God out of heaven," may be no other than the general conflagration itself, spoken of by the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul *. How long it may be after the close of the millennial glory before this great event will take place, it is not for man to know; for “ of that day and hour knoweth no man, nor even the “ angels in heaven, but God only.” It seems, however, that immediately after God has interposed, in the manner described in the prophecy, to protect his friends and to destroy his enemies, the solemn and long-expected day of judgment will take place, as described in the following vision :-a description to which it is not possible to apply any epithet that can add to the impression made on the mind by its awful solemnity and its majestic grandeur.
When the Lord shall take off those restraints
which had been laid on Satan for a thousand years, he will again go forth and be permitted to deceive the nations throughout the world. He will gather his numberless forces together to attack and disturb the camp of the saints and the beloved city. This his last effort will probably be his greatest; for he is represented as obtaining his agents from the “ four es quarters of the earth," and as raising a mighty army, the number of which will be as the sand of the sea. But, blessed be God, however great his regained power may be, it will be of short duration, and will terminate in the utter perdition of himself and all his agents. The Lord himself will fight this last decisive battle for his people, and destroy his own and their enemies with fire from heaven. -No weapons formed against the Church can ever prosper; and all that fight against her shall perish with the devil, the beast, and the false prophet; and be tormented day and night for ever and ever. May we be found fighting under the banner of Christ as his faithful soldiers and servants! Thus, we shall not be destroyed among his enemies; but, coming off as conquerors, and more than conquerors, through Him that loveth us, we shall receive from the hands of the Captain of our salvation the victor's crown of life and glory.
The general Judgment.
SBCTION I.. Remarks on the Sublimity of the Text. The Certainty
of the Judgment.
Chap. xx. 11-15. AND I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lak of fire.
This is one of the most impressive and affecting descriptions of the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment that can possibly be exhibited to the mind, as far as we can imagine, by human language. “ The language is so plain,” says Mr. Blackwall, “ that it does not need, and so majestic and grand “ as to exceed, commentary or paraphrase.” But with submission to this eminent critic, I think the exceeding majesty and grandeur of the passage does not consist at all in its language, but in its sentiments and ideas. Nothing can possibly be more simple than the terms or structure of the language. To judge of true sublimity, says the great critic Longinus, we must divest it of every thing superficial: if it cannot stand this trial, it is only swelled and puffed up. If it does not exalt the thoughts; if it does not call up into the mind ideas more enlarged than what the mere sound of the words conveys; if, on close examination, its dignity lessens and declines; if it pierces no deeper than the ears, it can never be the true sublime*. But this passage evidently suggests the grandest ideas that ever were expressed in human language. The sublime conceptions of the most admired poets of antiquity, compared with the grandeur of this passage, are mean and low. Let the reader observe some of the affecting and surprising circumstances here represented. The majesty of the Judge; the dissolution of the elements; the sea, death, and hell, delivering up their dead; the extent and equity of the judgment; the condemnation of the wicked, together with death and hell, to the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone-all these tremendous and awful circumstances are brought, as it were, immediately before our eyes.—But let us examine what expository observations conducive to our edification and profit may be suggested by the passage.
These verses will lead us to the consideration of some of the most important and awful circumstances connected with the final judgment. But before these are entered upon, it may not be improper to make two or three remarks to establish the certainty of the judgment.
That there will be a general judgment may be clearly argued from reason. It is not however asserted, that reason of itself would have discovered this doctrine. It is, nevertheless, so consonant to the prin
* Longinus on the Sublime, Sect. vii.