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Lord's advent, will nevertheless afford an unequivocal demonstration that it is at hand. Not that I would be thought to undervalue the chronological marks: they are perhaps the most valuable notices when correctly understood, and will doubtless serve to fix the period with greater precision, though perhaps not with the exactness which some expect.
The more prophecy is studied as a whole, with the rest of Scripture, the more will it serve to confirm the faith and animate the hope of the believer. Each fresh discovery of its meaning, each fresh or more complete accomplishment of its promises, yea even the rectification of formerly-indulged errors, will tend greatly to encourage and establish him. I have adverted with disapprobation more than once in the course of this volume to the work of an able writer on the subject; I am happy however in being able to illustrate my last remark by a quotation from his work which I admire and approve:
"Time, which wears out and destroys almost every thing else, only contributes to stamp the value and to augment the influence of the benefits of Prophecy. Like wine, it improves by age, and acquires with it not merely ripeness and maturity, but also excellence and strength. It is therefore from this circumstance alone possessed of amazing powers: it is a motion continually accelerated: it is a weight perpetually descending, and therefore constantly increasing its force and impulse as it descends.” (Whitley's Scheme of Prophecy, p. 52.)
I. In reference to Note 1, on page 227, respecting the meaning of the term Babylon in 1 Peter v. 13, (which the Reader is requested to turn to, and again peruse,) I have since received an interesting communication from the Rev. R. Rabett, in reply to some queries which I forwarded to him respecting his assertion, that Babylon was destroyed many ages before the Apocalypse was given, and which reply I have his permission to make use of.
“My reasons for affirming, that the literal Babylon the Greut,' on the Euphrates, was destroyed many ages before St. John wrote his Revelation, are founded upon the inspired testimony of Daniel concerning Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, in his interpretation of the hand-writing upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace. “And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and FINISHED IT....PERES; thy kingdom is DIVIDED, and GIVEN to the Medes and Persians.... In that night was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, slain; and Darius, the Median, took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.”... “Daniel prospered in the Reign of Darius, (the Median,) and in the Reign of Cyrus, the Persian.” Thus were the words of this, and a collateral prophecy of Jeremiah, fulfilled in respect of the downfall of Babylon the Great. Jeremiah foretels the suddenness of the event in these words. * "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul; be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the Time of the Lord's vengeance; he will render unto her a recompense ....Babylon is SUDDENLY FALLEN and DESTROYED; for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies. The Lord hath raised up the spirit of the Medes; for His device is against Babylon, to DESTROY IT; because it is the vengeance of His temple. Set up the standard upon the wall of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes; for the Lord hath both DEVISED and DONE THAT WHICH HE SPAKE against the inhabitants of Babylon. O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, THINE END IS COME. So that as Cyrus, the Persian, (whom the Lord called by name, "for Jacob his servant's sake, and Israel his elect,'') suddenly diverted the course of the River Euphrates, even in one night, and marched his troops through the dry bed of the river into the city of Babylon, and took possession of it; so did Darius the Median take away the gates, and pull down the broad walls of Great Babylon, according to the word of the Lord by Jeremiah the Prophet, saying, * "The broad walls of Babylon shall be utTERLY broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire;' and so truly was this prediction fulfilled, that Babylon was never after that period the seat of supreme government under a Babylonian or Chaldean monarch. And when Alexander the Great, who was not a Median but a Macedonian monarch, purposed to restore the city of Babylon to its pristine state of grandeur and magnificence, that it might once more become the seat of supreme government, he died; the Lord so watching over his own sacred word which he had spoken by his servant Isaiah, saying, t «Come down, and sit in the dust, О virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no THRONE, O daughter of the Chaldeans.... Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for thou shalt NO MORE be called, THE LADY OF KINGDOMS. As the Lord frustrated the attempts of Julian the Apostate for rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem, by causing balls of fire to come up out of the earth, which destroyed the workmen and their work; so the Lord frustrated by death Alexander's attempts to rebuild Babylon. And as of the former building it was said, “There shall not be left one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down,” and of the lattert..... “They shall not take a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but THOU shalt be DESOLATE FOR EVER;" so has it come to pass. word; from the time of Cyrus and Darius the term “Great," (which the title of “The Lady of kingdoms” imports,) could never more be literally applied to the city or kingdom of Babylon of the Chaldees, according to the word of the Lord —“Thou shalt no more be called, The Lady of Kingdoms.” I am aware that the kingdom or province of Babylonia, under the Selucidæ, was continued from Alexander's time till within about 65 years of the Christian era, after which it became a Roman province: but Strabo and Pliny both concur in testifying that Babylon, in their time, was only a "great desert,” and a desolate wilderness,” and the latter historian lived about the time of St. Peter. The name of Babylon in i Peter v. 13, seems to me to be incoherently placed, because the words, “Church that is," are in Italics; but as the name of Babylon is there found, some local meaning must be assigned to it. St. John wrote his Revelation in the Isle that is called Patmos,' and has only mentioned the name of the island, and not any * Jer. li. 58. + Isaiah xlvii. 1, 5.
* Jer. li. 6, 8, 11-18.
particular town therein, it being properly a barren island, or without a town of note, and it is possible that, from the desert, desolate, and wilderness-stale of Babylon in St. Peter's time, the Apostle might, in his travels through the province, merely append the name of Babylon to his first epistle, in order to identify the part of the world in which he then was with certain believers of his company, fellow-labourers and fellow-travellers; the name of Babylon being put for the whole province, to wit, Babylonia, which would comprehend the ruins of the old city if that were necessary. And as Peter's 1st epistle is addressed, not to any particular church or city or country, but in general terms "to the strangers scattered throughout” the countries of “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia;" so he might possibly use the name Babylon, (or Babylonia) in the same general sense in which he addressed the united brethren that were resident in those countries which he had specified, as well as win the world.” But after all, I have no objection to Peter's 1st Epistle being subscribed from the literal Babylon, or from Babylon on the Delta, or from Selucia, the modern Babylon, or from the country or province called Babylonia: though in a mystical or spiritual sense I could hardly admit that Rome was meant by Babylon: for Irenæus and Eusebius have both informed us that Linus, Anaclet and Clement were, in succession the three first bishops of Rome, which would exclude both Peter and Paul from such episcopal office in Rome. I think it wisely ordered that we should know much less about Peter's pretended patrimony, seat, chair, &c. than any other of the Apostles, because of the idolatry of Papal Romanists, and that they glory so much in Rome as the residence of Peter, whom they have denominated the prince of the Apostles. For my own part I do not admire the subscription of St. Peter to his first Epistle, though it may be quite correct: there is to me an ambiguity about it; but as I do not wish to plunge into deep waters, which seem to me unfathomable, I must leave the subject as I found it. Yet if you want authorities for the plausibility of such an argument as that "Peter was at Rome" when he subscribed his 1st Epistle, you may see some small ground for it in Dr. Adam Clarke's quotations in his Commentary on the 1st Epistle of Peter v. 13, and also in his Preface to that Epistle, (not that the Doctor himself favours the opinion,) in which is exhibited the four leading opinions of the learned concerning the supposed situation of the Babylon mentioned by Peter; but perhaps you have already seen it. --Cave (as quoted by Dr. Clarke) in his life of St. Peter, says, that Jerome concludes his article of St. Peter, saying, “ He was buried at Rome, in the Vatican, near the triumphal way; and is in veneration all over the world;" but I believe this is a traditional account, and the best and only one which Romanists possess. I have no objection to the tradition that Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome; but early history is, I believe, very silent upon the subject of Peter's apostolical ministrations at Rome: however, I have nothing better to tell you now."
Since the receipt of the above I have met with the following very important admission contained in the Roman Catholic Bishop Walmsley's exposition of the Apocalypse, published under the name of Sig. Pastorini:
“This same Woman is further said to carry on her forehead the following inscription: A mystery: Babylon the great, the mother of the fornications, and the abominations of the earth. V. 5. Here is a mystery, or an enigma to be unravelled, viz. Babylon the great, the fornications, and the abominations of the earth. The reader, we apprehend, is already prepared in great measure for the solving of this enigma. Babylon the great, is the great imperial city of Pagan Rome. And she is the Woman, as we have just shewn, who is the mother of the fornications and abominations of the earth. This is the explanation of the proposed mystery. But to make it more clear, that by Babylon the great is here meant idolatrous Rome, we appeal to the angel's words: The woman which thou sawest is the great city which hath kingdom over the kings of the earth, (v. 18) which, as we have before observed, plainly points out the great ancient city of Rome, that domineered over the greatest part of the kingdoms of the then known world. The woman therefore is the image of that city, and in the inscription on her forehead she is styled Babylon the great: consequently Babylon the great is here the same with the city of Rome. In the primitive ages rative name of Babylon was frequently given to heathen Rome by the Christians, on account of the resemblance of the characters of those two cities, for their idolatry and for their oppressing-one the Jews; the other the Christians. St. Peter dates his first letter from Babylon (1 Pet. v. 13,) that is, from Rome, as St. Jerome and Eusebius tell us. “The appellation of Babylon (said Tertullian) is used by St. John for the city of Rome, because she resembles ancient Babylon, in the extent of her walls; in her haughtiness; on account of her dominion; and in persecuting the saints,” (lib. adv. Jud.) St. Austin also says, “Rome is a second Babylon, and a daughter of the ancient Babylon,” (de Civ. lib. xxii. c. 18.) Babylon the great is therefore sufficiently distinguished.” P. 127.
II. On the supposed existence of the Ten Tribes, Mr. Wolff's mention of the black and white Jews of Cochin, (p. 195), from