« السابقةمتابعة »
Chapters xvi. and xvii. are each a distinct prophecy. This arrangement is easily to be traced throughout the whole book of Jeremiah ; it is hardly necessary for the present purpose to do so, and it may be sufficient to request that the reader will examine it for himself,
The book of the prophet Ezekiel is constructed upon the same plan as Jeremiah, and like the Apocalypse of John, it contains various prophetical symbols; but neither the prophecies nor the symbols arise out of each other, nor do they follow in historical order, although, like those of the Revelations, the last in order afford more ample details, regarding the circumstances of the latter-day glory. Chapter iv. represents, under a symbol, the situation of Israel and Judah, when dispersed among the nations, to eat defiled bread in the habitations of the Gentiles for the appointed time. Chap. v. sets forth, under another symbol, the destruction of one third of the children of Israel and Judah by pestilence, one third by the sword, and the scattering of the other third amongst the nations, whilst a few in number are bound to the prophet's skirts, as the Lord's election of grace amongst the people. Chapter vi. is also a distinct prophecy, as well as Chapter vii. each representing the captivity and desolation of Israel and
Judah. The whole of Ezekiel may be thus traced out into distinct prophecies, and a little examination will be sufficient to satisfy the reader that the whole book is composed of detached parts, such as have been described, each of which is a complete prophecy in itself, having a beginning, and a middle, and an end, and for the most part each carrying down the subject to the Millennial day.
The book of Daniel is also arranged in the same way. The prophecies of that book have, for the most part, been examined already, and the reader has had an opportunity of seeing how totally distinct they are, whilst, at the same time, they illustrate and explain each other, forming together one complete whole. In the general construction of the book of Daniel, in the subjects of which it treats, and in the arrangement not only of the prophecies, but also of the symbols, it bears a striking resemblance to the book of Revelations. The sets of symbols, however, are so manifestly unconnected, that no commentator has attempted to reduce them into one continued prophecy; and it is much to be regretted, that a different plan has been adopted in interpreting the book of Revelations.
The writings of the minor prophets, also, are evi
dently constructed upon the plan which has already been described, but it cannot be necessary, that each of them should be separately noticed : Zechariah, however, affords so very striking an illustration of what has been advanced, that he must not be altogether passed
His prophecies, like those of the Revelations, are delivered principally under symbols ; the first six chapters contain each of them a symbolical prophecy, separate in itself, and totally unconnected with what precedes or follows it. Chapters vii. and viii. may be taken, perhaps, as one prophecy; but the rest of the book is very much detached ; and if possible, more so than the different prophecies of Daniel: and there is no single instance of the symbols running the one into the other, upon a plan like that which is generally supposed to obtain in the book of Revelations.
If the Apocalypse is examined upon the principles which have been here laid down, it will be found to contain four separate sets of symbols, each having a distinct object, and having also the number seven as its distinguishing characteristic. Seven candlesticks, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials; there will be found also the history of the Lord's two witnesses; of the woman and her seed who are persecuted, and of those who persecute them; of the great harlot and her destruction ; of the marriage of the Lamb, and
of his triumph over his enemies; and, lastly, a description of the Lamb's wife, which is the new Jerasalem. The subjects are thus divided, and the different portions of the book which apply to each subject, may be stated generally as follows :—The seven candlesticks describing the spiritual state of the Church of Christ under its seven principal periods, from the days of the apostles to the Millenpium, occupy the four first chapters. The seven seals which describe the outward circumstances of the Church, from the first preaching of the gospel, till brought into the Millennial rest, begin with chap. v. and end with the first verse of chap. viii. which verse is detached from its context under the present division of the chapters. The trumpets extend from chapter viii. v. 2. to the close of chapter xi. and they set forth the warfare produced by the gospel going forth amongst the nations, and the judgments upon kingdoms, which corrupt the gospel ; and in the course of this set of symbols, the bistory of the Lord's two witnesses is introduced. Chapters xii. xiii. and xiv. describe the persecutions of the Church, and that idolatrous Church and empire, by whose instrumentality these persecutions are effected; and they conclude with the final triumph of the Church, and the destruction of her enemies.
The seven vials of wrath describe the judgments upon the papacy, and those which attend the advent; they occupy chapters xv. and xvi. A more particular view of the great idolatrous Church in the last days, and of her final and utter destruction, is given in chapters xvii. and xviii. The remaining chapters describe the glory, and the triumphs of Messiah, the perfection of his bride the Church, and the unbounded purity and blessedness of that joyful period, when Messiah the king shall reign over the new earth, in the fulness of his personal glory,
In going through the book of Revelations, the prophecies will be considered in the order and arrangement mentioned in the foregoing detail; and, when thus placed together and elucidated by other Scriptures, they will be found to reflect a light upon the things of the second advent, which many, perhaps, are not aware of. The arrangement here proposed is widely different from that of preceding commentators ; and many of the details also will be found equally to differ. The reader must judge for himself amidst conflicting opinions : but, as it would interrupt the subject, were other writers to be referred to and criticised, the subject will for the most part be carried forward without any such reference. Each prophecy will be considered separately: and thus the unity of