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and the Romanists with regard to the establishment of Christianity on the overthrow of idolatry; and by the majority of Protestant commentators, to that universal prevalence of Christianity, which will take place on the overthrow of the great apostasies. Indeed, we have seen that even Vitringa himself, who has maintained, with so much learning and so many convincing arguments, the spiritual character of the prophecies of the Apocalypse,-is not entirely free from blame in this respect. For though he admits the spiritual application of the third and fourth Trumpets, yet he has supposed the first two Trumpets, together with the fifth, to be fulfilled in the irruption of the barbarian nations on the Roman empire'. The same observations may be made with regard to the different erroneous interpretations, into which Mede has been betrayed by a tenacious adherence to his own hypothesis, in the views which he has taken of the different subjects contained in the twelfth and thirteenth chapters. But what appears to be the most erroneous part of the hypothesis of this most learned and admirable man, is the separation which he makes of the prophetical parts of this book into two divisions, in the middle of the sixth Trumpet. The whole prophecy of the Apocalypse is divided, according to his hypothesis, into two principal parts; the first containing the introduction and the addresses to the seven churches; the second the account of the things which shall be hereafter: and this second part is again arranged by him in two other great divisions; of which the first part, which may be called the prophecy of the SEALED BOOK, extends
1 Vitringa, pp. 340-352, 377, &c.
from the beginning of the fourth chapter nearly to the conclusion of the tenth; and the other, which may be called the prophecy of the LITTLE or OPEN BOOK, reaches from the eighth verse of the tenth chapter to the end of the prophecy. "These two parts," as Bishop Hurd has well described them, in his review of Mede's hypothesis, "are also synchronal; so that, setting out from the same goal, and measuring the same space, they both concur in the same end: but with this difference, that the former division more immediately regards the affairs of the empire; the latter, those of the Church'." But this division of the book is entirely imaginary; and, as has been before observed, makes a separation of it in a part in which it has been inseparably joined together by God. For what are the subjects of this Trumpet? The former, comprehended in chap. ix. 14-21, by a remarkable agreement amongst the commentators, is applied to the Mahometan apostasy; the latter, contained in the first part of the eleventh chapter, by an almost equal consent, is applied to the Papal apostasy; of which the character is described more fully in some of the following chapters. If these two great apostasies are thus united together in the volume of revelation, it affords an awful view of them both. It was not the intention of this learned writer, who, in his valuable writings on this book, has done so much to establish the anti-christian character of the Papal apostasy, to injure the cause of religious truth. But if the hypothesis, which has been
Lectures on Prophecy, Sermon x.; in which discourse, and in the eighth Sermon of Bishop Hallifax,
preached at the same Lecture, may be found an excellent and succinct account of the system of Mede.
adopted by him with regard to the division of this book, be a just one, it materially affects the estimate which we must form of the character of the Papal apostasy, when we consider it as the special subject of the same revelation with the corrupt and deadly apostasy of Mahomet. The question relating to this view of the Papal apostasy, is a question of Scripture, and of Scripture alone. It arises immediately out of, and depends upon the interpretation which has been attributed by us to the sixth Trumpet: and, as involving the religious character of a Church which extends over so large a portion of the Christian world, demands our most serious, patient, and charitable examination.
3. In the same manner, with regard to the opinion which has been adopted by Grotius and Hammond, and, after them, by Bishop Bossuet and the expositors of the Roman Catholic church, which supposes the greater part of the prophecies of the Apocalypse to have had their fulfilment in the early ages of Christianity; it will perhaps enable us to come to more just conclusions with regard to this opinion, if we examine it by the test which has been applied to the preceding opinions,-their consistency with the prophetical character of the Apocalypse, considered as a part of the great scheme of prophecy. The consideration of this opinion is of so much the more importance in the present day, because the defence of it has been taken up by a learned writer, whose station may justly carry with it considerable weight. The opinions of Grotius and Hammond have been noticed before; and it has been shewn, both with reference to the appli2 Professor Lee, Exposition of the Apocalypse.
cation of the Seals and the Trumpets to the de-
to the state of Christianity, when it was in some degree relieved from the persecuting terrors of Imperial Rome, after the establishment of Constantine on the throne. In the same manner, when this learned writer, in conformity with the spirit of these commentators, explains the time of the end of the execution of God's vengeance on the idolatrous nations; when he explains the binding of Satan, described in the twentieth chapter, of the power given to the apostles over evil spirits; when he explains the thousand years of the times of peace which followed the preaching of the Gospel, and "the loosing of Satan to deceive the nations," of the general persecution; when he explains the first resurrection of the spiritual resurrection of those who embraced the Gospel; and supposes the close of the twentieth chapter to contain a prediction of a renewed attack of Satan upon the Church, and of his final overthrow by the general preaching of the Gospel'. Such an application of these prophecies appears, not only to fall far below the sublime and awful language which is employed; but to leave us destitute of the support of prophecy during a long period of trial to the Church, in which it is improbable that God would leave himself altogether without a witness to the world, either of the corruptions and trials which true religion has been destined to endure, or of its final and glorious triumph. The descriptions of the prosperity of the Church, which are contained in the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of the Apocalypse, glorious and animating as they are in their assurances of the final triumph of true religion, are not alone
1 Professor Lee, Exposition of the Apocalypse, Sermons, pp. 338–347.