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other writers on the Apocalypse, made him neither a fanatical partizan, nor a frantic adversary. While its lightnings flash in his face, and its thunders roar around, he calmly travels on his way, and views every object with as much tranquillity, as if nature were at perfect rest.
As his system is in some parts new, we shall briefly abstract it, that our theological readers, especially the students of prophecy, nay have an opportunity of considering and examining whether it will stand the test of criticism, and sup. plant the system which has been considered as in some measure established by long reception.
In interpreting the seals, Mr. W. considers the first, (the white horse), as denoting the propagation of the gospel in its purity, among Jews and Gentiles; and this continued till the 200th year
of the Christian æra. The opening of the second seal, (the red horse) presents the contentions of the disciples of Christ, and the corruptions of Christianity. It began about the year 200, but was restrained by the persecutions which the Pagans raised; it however broke out with greater violence, after Constantine was invested with the imperial purple; and it includes the Arian heresy, and some others, and the schism of the Donatists. The third seal (the black horse) denotes the superstitions which prevailed after the reign of Constantine, and the increasing corruption of the Christian doctrine, so that pure truth, (the food of the soul) was scarce and dear. Domineering priesteraft raised up its stately head; and the religion of Jesus was contaminated with Pagan philosophy. At the opening of the fourth seal, (the pale horse) the evils which had their origin under the two former seals, have now attained to full maturity. Popish tyranny extends itself over the lives and consciences of Christians. To profess religion in purity, is become a crime in the eyes
of those who have seized on the governinent of the church. Laws written with the hand of cruelty are enacted ; bloody tribunals are raised, multitudes of individuals, who would not worship the beast and his image, are put to death, and nations of reputed heretics are subdued and extirpated by the sword.' Thus death and hell are seen to commit devastations of the most horrible kind, and almost to eradicate pure religion from the world. This began about the fourth century, and was completed under popery:
The fifth seal when opened, presents the sufferings of believers for the testimony of Jesus. The scene commences with the death of Christ, and it closes with the death of
persecution. But the point of time which is more especially placed before the eyes of the prophet, is the concluding part of the fourth seal, when the cruelties inflicted on the disciples
of Jesuş exceeded all bounds, so that they cry out, long, O Lord, holy and true ; dost Thou not avenge our blood on them who dwell on the earth."
The sixth seal Mr. W. interprets of the last and great day of retribution, when the enemies of Christ shall feel his deserved vengeance.
The opening of the seventh introduces the state of blessed ness of the saints in Heaven.
Under the seventh seal, the seven trumpets are blown. The silence which takes place, is designed to prepare the reader for the introduction of a new series of prophecy.
The sounding of the trumpets, says our author, devotes the assaults made on the Christian religion by her enemies. The first four are of a general nature ; perhaps contemporaneous, as being directed to different objects, land, sea, &c. at least it is not necessary that there should be a regular succession of events.
By the effects of the sound of the first trumpet, he understands the persecutions which fell upon the Jewish Christians. By the second, the persecution of Gentile believers, by the Pagans. When the third trumpet sounded, the injury sustained from the falling of a star on the rivers and fountains of waters, expresses the harm done to the pure religion of Jesus, froin the preaching of Menander, Cerinthus, and others who followed them,
The sound of the fourth trumpet was followed by the darkening of a third part of the sun, and moon, and stars, an apt emblein to represent that Gothic ignorance and superstition, which corrupt doctrine had introduced into the Christian church.
This interpretation cannot but strike every student of the prophetic scripture, who will recollect thať a succession of expositors from the days of Medey have uniformly considered these trumpets, as denoting the miseries which came upon the Roman empire by the eruptions of the barbarous nations. But Mr. W. contends in support of his system, that as it is universally acknowledged, that the three last trumpets described the invasion of the pure church of the Redeemer, by its anti-christian foes, there is reason to conclude, that the three first, though of so general a nature, as not to warrant a more special interpretation," do likewise relate to similar events.
Concerning the fifth trumpet, Mr. W. expresses himself in the following manner :
- The Gnostics springing up suddenly in immense numbers, from the dark and proud philosophy of the East, and possessing themselves of many of the Christian churches, darkening their primitive lustre,
and poisoning their principles and morals ; yet not succeeding against all the members, but only against the more corrupt part; and not destroying utterly in these the principles of the faith, but leaving room for repentance and return into the bosom of the church; and continuing to flourish about the space of a hundred and fifty years, have wonderfully fulfilled this prophecy.” This is certainly the weakest part of the Archdeacon's system, and that which he will be least able to defend.
The sixth trumpet, (to use Mr. W.'s own words,)“ intends the invasion of the Mahometan Saracens, whose numerous armies, famous for their cavalry, beginning their destructive progress in the seventh century, soon overrun and subdued not only to their arms, but also to their corrupt doctrine, a great part of the Christian church."-“ If therefore, the sixth trumpet be understood to begin with the first Mahometan invasion, it will stand in its proper historical place. So beginning, it may be supposed to run through the whole period of 1260 years, and to contain all the successful warfare of the Mahometans on the Christians. It is not to the nation, but to the religion, that the prophecy seems to advert, and all these invasions seem nearly of the same character."
Many other important events, and which are the subjects of prophecy, occur under the sixth trumpet, e.g. see chap. ii. the testimony of the two witnesses, the opposition made to them, their death and resurrection. The time of their testimony, Mr. W. conceives to be during the middle ages, and till the reformation. The witnesses are those men who bore testimony to the pure truth by their preaching, and their life. They were slain at the beginning of the sixteenth century, when the church of Rome considered itself secure from every attack, and imagined that every foe was crushed. The beginning of the reformation, was the resurrection of the witnesses from the dead. But some things respecting them may not be yet fulfilled, and the final conflict of the beast, with the witnesses, is considered as yet to come.
Chap. 12. describes the pure church of Christ. It rises to the beginning of Christianity, descends to later times, and narrates the persecution she endured from Satan, and from the powers of the world acting in subserviency to his designs.
In chap. 13. the spirit of prophecy, depicts, in lively colours, that opposition to the truth, which the former chapter had begun to represent: Satan appears as a great dragon. He gives power to the beast; government is perverted into arbitrary oppression, and the church is persecuted in the most cruel manner, by the Pagan empire of Rome.
The persecuting wild beast received a mortal wound at the conversion of Constantine, and the overthrow of the Pagan power. But this wound, though apparently deadly, was healed. In succeeding times, civil and ecclesiastical authority, degenerating into the fiercest tyranny, persecuted the faithful followers of Jesus, and commanded all men to worship the dragon and the beast, that is, to be subservient to the designs of Satan, in advancing the worldly interests of those who ruled the nations, by means directly opposite to the power of Godi, and of his Christ. The second beast from the Lord denotes solely ecclesiastical authority, exercised in making men submit by force, and giving life to the image of the beast. The two horns, as emblems of power, denote the church of Rome, and Mr. W. thinks also Mohammedanism; both began at the same time, and both are corruptions of Christianity. Mr. W. here introduces in a note, p. 363, several judicious remarks which militate against the system of some late expositors. We regret that our limits forbid its insertion here, as it fully corresponds with the ideas we have had occasion to express on the subject. * The reader will find it deserving of his notice.
In the 14th chap. we have the history of the pure church, during that period ; and in the 15th, preparation is made for pouring out the vials,
The 16th chap. describes the pouring out of the seven vials. There is nothing in this part of Mr. W.'s system of prophecy, which is peculiarly new, and therefore we pass it over, observing only that as the sounding of the trumpets denoted injuries sustained by the church of Christ, from its enemies, the pouring out of the vials expresses the calamities inflicted by God on the enemies of the church, be. cause of their enmity.
In chap. 17th. A description is given of the anti-christian church. The beast described in the 13th chapter, our anthor thinks includes both Popery and Mahometanism. Here it means Popery alone. “ A harlot riding on a beast, is a proper emblem of an apostate church, that proud, gaudy, drunken, bloody, corrupted and corrupting society, whose antitype can be found no where in history, but in the Papal hierarchy.”
The 18th and 19th chapters describe particularly the destruction of the anti-christian church, “ 'the kingdom of the beast and false prophet, the civil and ecclesiastical powers adıninistered so long and so abusively, which now come to an end, and the kingdom of the Messiah, and of righteousness, is established. This is that happy period, the theme of so many prophecies, which, being still future, it is presumptuous to explain particularly ; yet thus far we may generally and safely conclude, that as we have already seen the beast and false prophet, the mystery of iniquity so exactly foretold, and the prophecy so wonderfully fulfilled ; tyranny, irreligion, hypocrisy, and immorality triumphant, and oppressive by the means of pretended commissions from Heaven; so this usurpation will be utterly destroyed, and pure religion, and peace, and happiness succeed.”
* Ecl. Rev. Vol. II. p.
In the exposition of the 20th chapter, Mr. W's. view of the millennium, is sober, temperate, and rational ; and he considers the 2 ist and 22nd chapters, as descriptive of the heavenly state.
Our author has placed the text of the Apocalypse in three columns, the Greek of Griesbach's edition of the New Testament, a translation of his own from it, and the common version. His translation is a very modest one, and does not depart from the common version, but when it appeared necessary to the sense. There is prefixed, a dissertation of 133 pages, on the divine origin of the book. The external evidence arising from tescimony, is full and satisfactory ; and the discussion of the internal proofs of inspiration, is conducted with ability and judgement,
The figurative language of the Revelation, Mr. W. bas studied with deep attention, and expounded with accuracy and skill. Vitringa, who is corsiderably more copious, holds the first place among commentators in this respect, and merits the repeated perusal of every Biblical student.
Our author's peculiarities of exposition, we hope, will lead his brethren of the prophetic school, to examine the strength of his system; and, whatever may be the result, they will assuredly do well to imitate the patience, seriousness, and sobriety, with which he has prosecuted his researches.
Art. X. An (A) Historical and Descriptive
. Account of St. Edmund's Bury, in the County of Suffolk ; comprising an ample Detail of the Origin, Dissolution, and venerable Remains of the Abbey, and other Places of Antiquity in that ancient Town. By Edmund Gillingwater.
Foolscap 8vo. pp. 300. Price 6s. Rackham, Bury. THIS little work may properly be recommended to strangers,
who delight to visit antiquities. Of the magnificent structures, whose remnants Britain possesses, few could vie in splendour with the abbey of Bury St. Edmund's. On this ab. bey, rather than the town, the work before us is employed; and though we must be allowed to doubt some of its inferences,