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INVASION OF THE HOLY LAND BY GOG.
How many persons cherish the belief, that were certain politico-ecclesiastical systems universally to prevail, they would produce all that concord and happiness, without which, mankind, in general, are so sinful and miserable. They are, accordingly, most anxious to promote these ends; and writers are never wanting who foster their views. But the inspired volume is wholly at variance with such suppositions; and pronounces the highest perfection of the policy of rulers, in conjunction with the loftiest devotion of any of their subjects, as vain, in attempting effectually to resist the overflowings of political and religious error, unaided by divine and extraordinary intervention. “The fire ” of God's “word,”—of his "jealousy,”—and of his “fury,” are declared as indispensable to “ try” the works of man. While it, therefore, predicts the continuance of fearful national troubles, a succession of destructive wars, and other judgments, it predicts the employment of more powerful means, -especially the enlarged communications of the Holy Spirit, as introductory to the universal reign of peace and righteousness. We assert this from the highest authority, while we would not encourage a relaxation of effort to promote the purification, and to aim at the accomplishment of such perfection in the church of Christ as may accord with the doctrines and rules of the same authority, or be formed on their model.
“All is now disjointed, sickly, weak, and failing in its designed effect. Remedies multiply wants and defects; that which is crooked cannot be made straight, that which is wanting cannot be numbered ; the best planned institutions, the best laws, through the corruption of man and the power of Satan, disappoint our hopes. The law itself was weak through the flesh. No one adequately fulfils his relation to another; at least the conscience of the Christian leads him constantly to condemn himself. Magistrates, ministers, husbands, wives, parents, children, teachers, learners, servants, dependants, all fail in their relative duties in some point or other. Our comforts occasion our trials, and our very joys bring sorrows. But the times of the Restitution (atokataoTaois) of all things is hastening on; when not by the policy and wisdom of man, but by the effective grace and loving-kindness of God our Saviour, they shall be restored to a state of sound health: when the disjointed members shall be made whole, as the withered hand by our Lord, (Matt. xii. 13,) or the blind eyes which were restored by his goodness to perfect sight, (Matt. viii. 25.) And how the sacred writers glow with the bright anticipations of such a period, we may see in Isaiah XI., XXXV., LX., &c. May it only fill our minds in the proportion in which it fills the divine records: and especially may we view it as the time when HOLINESS and SPIRITUALITY shall be every where triumphant on earth, (Zech. xin. 9; xiv. 20, 21; Joel 111. 17; Isaiah Li. 1; LX. 21,) and as a stimulating motive to the most active and zealous discharge of all our present duties.”*
We find that there will still exist nations who will not unite with the people of God. Where it is said, that“ many and strong nations shall,"it would consequently seem to imply that some will not. We find frequent threatenings against such, because they will persist in harassing the church of God. These, at the period under consideration, are apparently the northern, or more uncivilized powers of Europe and Asia, and those of Africa; and when the Israelites shall be in tranquil possession of their land, they will make a most formidable and partially successful attack upon them. The influence of former enemies of the church, will, we suppose, have become extinct in many parts of the world, through the intensity of past judgments, while the everlasting Gospel will have widely diffused its choicest blessings.
It appears evident that the prophecies relative to “Gog, the chief of Magog,” and to “ the Assyrian,” remain to be accomplished; because they take place at (i.e., immediately previous to) that period in which God“ will have mercy on the WHOLE house of Israel," when he will not hide his face ANY MORE from them,”—when he “Has poured out his Spirit on them,”—and when “ALL their enemies shall be cut off."
We do not observe that the enmity of that power which is symbolically termed “the Assyrian,” will cause to be organized a distinct or third invasion of Israel; but so far as we can conjecture, his attack, or rather unsuccessful attempt to perpetuate "his yoke,” may be synchronical with the invasion of Gog. It may be also remarked, that this power (the Assyrian) is always either mentioned as distinct from, or after, the modern Babylon; as in Isai. xiv.
In Zechariah xiv. 2, Gog seems to be represented. It is said, that "the city shall be taken,” ravages committed, and that "the half thereof shall go forth into captivity;" and with respect to Gog himself and “his bands,” (in Ezek. XXXVIII. and xxxix.,) that “they shall be turned back, fall upon the mountains of Israel and the open field,”-that
every man's sword shall be against his brother,"—that the Lord “will plead against him with pestilence and blood,”that he will send an overflowing rain and great hailstones, fire and brimstone,”—and that “they shall be devoured by the birds of the air, and the beasts of the field.” But with respect to the former, (the Assyrian,) Christ “shall deliver Israel from him;" for when he treadeth within their borders; they" (the Israelites) “shall waste” (Heb. eat up) “with the sword” (the sword of the Spirit, as we judge,) " the land of Assyria and the land of Nimrod at the entrances thereof." And as no allusion is made, the one to the other, in these predictions, it marks a distinction which it would be difficult to supersede.
It is supposed by many that the prophecy of Gog, prince of Magog, is so similar, in some respects to that of Joel already quoted, as descriptive of the battle of Armageddon, that they ought to be blended together. Perhaps this might be properly presumed, if the assurance in ver. 17, of the latter, were to be taken in positive or immediate conjunction with a portion of the same chapter, not immediately preceding it, viz., ver. 9—14,“ Then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.” This, however, appears questionable. It is possible, if not probable, that ver. 15—18, are predictions posterior to the battle of Armageddon; and if so, the difficulty ceases to exist. Throughout the prophets there are frequent instances of sudden transitions, and these in rapid succession, as Zech. XIII. ; where Christ's atonement, — the suppression of idolatry,—the dispersion of the followers of Christ, —the destruction of Jerusalem,- and the subsequent trials of the Jews until their final restoration,-are all comprised in a short compass. Farther, we find no such appellations given to Gog, as to Antichrist, viz., " The enemy,"_"the man of the earth,"_“the man of sin," — “ that wicked,”—“ the son of perdition,”—“the false prophet;" and the final overthrow of Antichrist is to take place in the valley of Jehoshaphat. In whatever light this may be viewed we have thought it desirable to consider them distinctly in this work. But though we have presented separate views of the Battle of Armageddon and the Invasion of Gog, the prophecies relative to “ The Assyrian," are included in this Chapter. If we consider their deter-' mined obscurity in some particulars, to prevent all obstruction to their fulfilment, and for other purposes, we should humbly confess our incompetency to form even a rational conjecture. The reader is left to his own unbiassed judgment, or, deeper research on this subject.
When we contemplate the triumphant, yet apparently defenceless, condition of the Jews at this time, together with the extinction of the Mahommedan and Papal dominion, it appears rational to conclude, that these events will excite the ambition, and prepare the enterprise of Russia and her dependants, who, both from their political and geographical position, will probably remain in the rear of conversion. These ambitious views will appear the more probable, from the almost depopulated, and humiliated condition of the ten kingdoms; which will no longer be able to oppose, whatever aid they may be forced to contribute to her designs : and that this will be the great lead