صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

His (xi. 13, 15 ). But, above all, she must not“ worship the Beast and bis image, anil receive his mark in her forehead, or in her hand (xiv. 9--Il; xiii. 8), for this is an idolatry which is the root of tbe whole evil. Whatever peculiar right divine,” or pureness of discipline, any society calling itself a church may pretend to, prophecy recognises only those as “ keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus,” who do not worship the Beast and his image (xiv. 9–12.). The Millennium will commence to morrow if men will only repent by that time. Our Lord will come and reign upon the earth to-morrow, and destroy all the church's enemies with hailstone, and fire, and brimstone (Ezek. xxxviij. 22), if it will but acknowledge him as the only Head to-day. The only requisite is repentance of our public and private sins. And the repentance of our public ones inust suppose the repentance of our private ones.

Prophecy teaches us also the utter uselessness of the civil sword to protect his kingdom. It shews us how our Lord himself economises all the unruly passions of men to punish its opposers and its apostates, and to advance its interests. Thus the “Son of Man” bimself is represented as making an excision of the church's enemies (xiv. 14, 16), wbile the church is represented as having occasion only to invoke that excision (xiv. 15, 18), or issue its protest (xi. 5, 6), or sound aloud its grievances (viji. 6), or utter its thunders (x. 3), and all manner of woes and plagues attend its call (xi. 6; viii ; ix; xv; svi; xxi. 9; xxii. 9). St. John's Revelation is a running comment upon that text which says—“Lo I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” It shows that“all things” finally "work together for good to them that love God;" and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church.

From our general outline of the events of prophecy which we have just given, it is plain that we do not consider the Revelation of St. John as one unbroken vision of one unbroken series of events, but that it consists of many visions, each of which takes up the prophetic history from the beginning, or from some remarkable period in that history, and carries it on with different symbols, and perhaps with the same or fresh circumstances, to the end, in the manner we have marked out in the Explanatory Synchronical Table following. It is intuitively evident, from the first verse of the fourth chapter that one subject has

been completed with the third chapter, and that another is commenced with the fourth. Through the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters, with perhaps only a little digression in the seventh, and a little retrospect in the eleventh, we have nothing to make us believe that the train of events has been at all interrupted, as one seal succeeds another, and one trumpet succeeds another, according to the order of their numbering But when we are come to the twelfth and thirteenth chapters, and discover that the rise of a Beast is there described, which in the eleventh chapter has been described as already risen (xi. 7), and when we discover also that a dragon, described in the twelfth chapter, must exist prior to the rise of the beast, who receives his power and his seat and great authority from him (xii. 2), we conclude that as the beast's rise, described in the thirteenth chapter, must be prior to his risen state described in the eleventh, so also must the thirteenth chapter be prior in order of time to the eleventh, and if the twelfth, describing the dragon, be prior to the thirteenth in order of time, much more must it also be prior in order of time to the eleventh. We consequently conclude that the twelfth chapter commences a fresh series of events, and that that series is not interrupted in the thirteenth. In the fourteenth again we are presented with something (xiv. 1-5) which has already been described as having taken place in the seventh and eighth (vii. 2, 3; viii. 7, 8), and prior in order of time to the thirteenth (xii. 5, see p. xi). We therefore conclude that the fourteenth commences a fresh series of events. Perceiving, again, that the series of events described in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters finish (xvi. 19), with what is described in the last verses of the fourteenth (xiv. 19, 20) we conclude, that the fifteenth chapter commences a fresh vision continued in the sixteenth. The fourteenth chapter is evidently a supplemental explanation of preceding visions. Perceiving, again, that the eighteenth chapter commences with an event described in the middle of the fourteenth (xiv. 8), which is prior to an event described in the finishing of the sixteenth, which has the same finishing with the fourteenth, we conclude that the eighteenth commences a new vision. This, again, goes on till we find a fresh interruption in the middle of the nineteenth (xix. 11). There, finding an event repeated (11--21) which has been mentioned prior to the finishing

of the sixteenth (xvi. 14), whose finishing does not extend so far as the series in the first part of the nineteenth, which belongs to the eighteenth, we conclude, that as the latter part of the nineteenth must be prior in order of time to the former part of it, that it commences a fresh vision. This, therefore, commencing a fresh vision, we find no interruption in the series of events, till we come to the twentieth chapter eleventh verse. There finding the heaven and the earth pass away, and a new heaven and a new earth come (xxi. 1, 5), and the holy city descending prepared as a bride, and finding that the preparation has been an event already described upon the overthrow of Babylon, and that this overthrow is again described (xix. 20, 21) in the series of events comprised within the latter part of the nineteenth (xix. 11) and the twentieth chapter eleventh verse; aud finding also that the beloved city has already descended (xx. 9), we conclude that as the descending must be prior to the descent, so the part which comprises this description of the descending (xs. 11–xxi. 5) must be prior in order of time to that which describes that descent (xx. 9), and, consequently, that the twentieth chapter elevenih verse commences a fresh vision. The twentieth chapter eleventh verse thus commencing a fresh vision, there is nothing which interrupts the train of events, excepting a little repetition not sufficient to create another fresh vision, to the end of the Prophecy. We thus see that the prophecy of St. John is a collection of visions beginning at the first, fourth, twelfth, fourteenth, fifteenth, eighteenth chapters, nineteenth chapter eleventh verse, and twentieth chapter eleventh verse, each of which excepting the first two, commences with recurring to some event foretold in the preceding. He who imagines, therefore, that whatever follows' in order of place follows also in order of time, will be egregiously mistaken; a deplorable instance of which error will be found in all commentatators with regard to the commencement of the last vision, who imagine, against the internal evidence of the prophecy itself just given, that the general judgment at xx. 11. because it follows in order of place to the two resurrections described at xx. 5, 7, follows also in order of time to them, when in fact it happens at the same time with them. For convenience sake, in our Table and subsequent explanation, we have struck two visions into one, viz. those beginning with the twelfth and fourteenth chap

ters; because that of the fourteenth extends in length of time beyond that of the twelfth. Otherwise, leaving out as introductory the first three chapters, St. John's propbecy will still contain seven visions, which from the frequent mention of seven, is likely was designed.

The First Vision of St. John represents the churches of Christ as they were for the first three hundred years

of the Christian æra, independent of the state and each other, a collection of small federative republics using the same statute book, the New Testament, under one spiritual and invisible Head, Christ, “ the Perpetual Patriarch or Pope and Prince of Peace,” (Is. ix. 6), who is represented as walking among them.

The Second Vision of St. John gives a history of the Roman Empire of the West, as overruled to the welfare of the church, from the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost to the association of the Church with the State by Constantine, and from the association of the Church with the State by Constantine to the dissolution of that association at the Battle of the Beast, called the battle of that great day of God Almighty in the fourth vision. In it two grand objects seem to be kept in view by Divine Providence: Ist, to make the Christian Religion the dominant religion in the Empire, which is effected by those awful judgments which attended the decay of the Roman Empire from Augustus to Constantine, and had a great effect in making the early Christians believe that the end of all things was at hand; and 2dly, when this religion becomes the dominant religion, to render it independent of all secular coalitions by the political events which attend the denunciations, real or fictitious, of the strenuous adherents of its original exclusive spirituality. The first is accomplished after the Diocletian persecution; the second after the war of the Beast on those two great agitators, the churches of the truth, which is still future. In this Vision that part of the church which was to survive the fall of Greece under the Turks, contrary to the original system of Church Government, is divided in conformity to the divisions of the Empire, as was actually done when the religion became established, the two candlesticks answering to the two præfectures of the Gauls and Italy which survived the fate of the third, the Illyrian Præfecture. The Reformation and the publication of the Gospel “ again” (Rev. x. 11),

С

through much persecution, prior to the last grand struggle of the church with the Beast for its pristine freedom, seems plainly emblematised by the glorious angel descending with the already opened book, and roaring as it were to awaken the church out of its sleep, which is answered by the thunders of the Reformers, and by St. John's eating the book, sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly.

The Third Vision gives a history of the Victory of Christianity over the Paganism of the Emperors and Northern Barbarians who invaded the Empire, and the trapsfer of the church from a spiritual invisible Head to both temporal and spiritual visible Heads, the Roman Emperors, Eastern and Western, the Western Sovereigns, and the Popes. Christianity is born in the Roman Empire when it is tolerated the first eighteen years of Diocletian's reign, but caught away to God and his throne when it becomes established or incorporated with the state by Constantine. The cause, effects and principles of the Reformation are also described, and the final emancipation of the church from its internal usurpers, the Pope and his adherents, under the figure of harvest, and from its external usurpers, kings and lords, and other secular powers, and their adherents, under the figure of Vintage.

The Fourth Vision gives a history of Roman Europe from the Reformation till the final purification of the church from all secularities by the battle of the great day of God Almighty. In this Vision and the second, every series of political events is closed with a religious struggle, as though Divine Providence made every thing bear upon one great end, the advancement of pure religion Does He want to bring the Pagan Empire over to Christianity by the suffer, ings of the Christians under Diocletian? Fire, sword, famine and pestilence go before Him. Does He wish to liberate the church from the corporeal, intellectual, and moral slavery of the Papacy by the thunders of the Reformation? He breaks up the strong-holds of despotism by the inroads of the Northern barbarians, hurling them like a volcano into the Empire, the triumphs of Arianism, the downfall of the Western Imperial throne, the philosophy and ravages of the Arab, the overthrow of the Eastern Empire by the Turks, before superstition's citadel becomes impregnable. Does he wish to establish his beneficent and mild religion on the free-will of his creatures, unen

« السابقةمتابعة »