« AnteriorContinuar »
on the opinions of the periodists ; to treat of matters that are merely more particularly of that class of them moral, and not at all prophetical, who held, as the esteemed Author seems not to be consistent. Seconddoes, that these epistles are intended ly, it appears unaccountable that in the first instance for the use of these epistles should be addressedthe seven churches of Asia, as much not to the whole church,—nor to the as the epistle of Paul to the Ephe. more eminent churches of the known sians was first intended for their world, as Antioch, Alexandria, &c. use ; that they are applicable in like -nor even to all the churches of manner to the universal church; Asia ; but only to these ; as if the and that in addition to this they are Lord were exclusively occupied in prophetically descriptive of the cha- the superintendence and protection racter of the church in seven differ of them,—walking only among their ent periods.-And, secondly, we ap- lamp stands, and holding in his hand prove the work, because, in his appli only their stars. This can only be cation of the four last epistles the Au- explained on the supposition that thor actually adopts our view, and they are selected as typical of the brings them within the period of these whole. A third argument is delast times. For he considers that rived from the manner in which the there is a designed division of the time Scriptures are wont to speak of cerand circumstances of the church in tain persons and places sometimes dicated in the fourth epistle, by the figuratively only, but at other times alteration in the command of atten. more or less typically : as in Isa. I. tion; which, instead of preceding the 10 ; XXII. 22 ; Ezek. xxxvii. 24 ; promise, as in the case of the three similar instances of which may be former epistles, is here reversed ; found in chaps. II. 20; 111. 7 and thus dividing the seven into two XI. 8 of this Book. And, lastly, an classes. A division is further marked argument is derived from the freby the clause “and keepeth my works quent use of the number seven, more unto the end,” which is peculiar to especially in the typical economy of this epistle only; and this points, Moses. The reason of this is supas the Author supposes, to that apo posed by the Author to be derived calyptic end or goal, the coming of from the great work of creation, the Lord: in addition to which the itself a type of the new and greater promises of that coming, in this and creation, brought to perfection in the remaining epistles, are now un the entire space of seven successive conditional and unreserved.
periods : "whence, primarily, the There are other considerations idea of entire and perfect time would which lead us to attach a value naturally be connected with any seto this work; but we must now ven successive periods, greater or proceed to notice the reasons stated less; and secondarily, the idea of a by Mr. Girdlestone for assuming perfect work, accomplished in any that the epistles are prophetical, time whatever, would not unnaturwhich may be summed up as fol- ally be connected with the same lows :-First, from the title of the number.” The Author farther apwhole book, which is a revelation of peals to the external evidence deevents, “ which must quickly come rived from the subsequent history of to pass,” or a prophecy in the strict. the church, which he conceives has est sense of the term; and that it exhibited in succession those charshould start aside, immediately after acteristics which are described in the announcement of its main design, these epistles.
The periods thus typified in the forward, and that it arrived at its several Epistles are as follow. - crisis, insomuch that its era may be Ephesus, from the Apostolic age to dated from the reign of Dioclesian, the reign of Decius, A. D. 250 ;
in which the church was persecuted; Smyrna, from Decius until the reign and he quotes Milner to shew, "that of Constantine ;-Pergamos, from here terminated or nearly so, as far Constantine to the age of Luther ; as appears, that first great effusion Thyatira, from Luther to the revo of the Spirit of God which began at cation of the edict of Nantz ;-Sar the day of Pentecost.” It happens, dis, from thence to the æra of the however, that there is no allusion to British and Foreign Bible Society; any declension at all in the second Philadelphia, from the last namedæra Epistle, which is to the church of (which he considers commensurate Smyrna; for the Lord instead of saya with the revival of the church in its ing to it, as in the case of the previous reformed state,) until the beginning church of Ephesus—“ I have someof a second relapse, “ from whatever what against thee”-deals with it epoch that relapse may hereafter ap- as if
as if it were altogether a blameless pear to be dated;"—and Laodicea, community. The Author is happier from that relapse and coldness unto however in regard to the ten days of the coming of the Lord to his mil. tribulation, which was to come upon lennial reign, whatsoever that reign the church of Smyrna to prove them, may be. To use the words of the and which was certainly a distincAuthor,—" These several periods tive feature of that which he makes embrace all the great successive his second period. He considers that changes which the spiritual Church it was, in the type, of a merely local has undergone, or will undergo, pre- and literal nature; but in regard vious to that reign. They embrace to its larger accomplishment in the the primitive zeal which founded holy catholic church, he says: and the spirit of martyrdom which “It may be laid down as a principle, cemented the fabric of the Church ;
disputed indeed by some, but without the struggling perseverance of the good reason, that as God himself, both
in the law and the prophets, (especially little band which through all the Numb. xiv. 34, and Ezek. iv. 6,) has darkness of the middle ages wrest used the period of a day, to be the figuraled with the nominal but apostate tive representative of a year, we therefore church; the battle fought and won
are not only allowed but invited to underby the Reformers ; the collapse of of prophecy in the same sense.
stand that term in the figurative language
The conthe reformed church; its late revi.
text must decide the occasion of applying val; and its future indifference.” the principle ; but the principle itself is
These several periods however, sound : a day, like a year, is a revolution, do not appear to us to be made ενιαυτος : the lesser revolution may be out with those broad features of
understood literally of the less event, and distinctiveness which immediately greater event. Upon this principle of in
the greater revolution figuratively of the extort an acknowledgment of the terpretation we discover here an express likeness. In regard to the first pe- prediction of the Diocletian persecution, riod the Author admits, that, not
which being the last and the worst, and
therefore fitly singled out to represent withstanding the zeal of the first
them all, raged exactly ten years ;-viz. Christians against heresy, yet to: from A. D. 403, to 413. (Eus. Hist. Ec. ward the latter part of the period VIII. 15, 16; Lactant. c. 48. Prot. VII. they had left their first love; and he 25.)" P, 105. leaves us to infer of the second pe Again, in regard to the third period, that this declension was going riod, the Author quotes from the
marginal notes of the Rhemish New of religion, evinces that some have Testament the following passage : the Philadelphian spirit; whilst the “ The special residence of Satan is, lukewarm condition of many others, where the faithful are persecuted for which is so greatly increasing, shews Christ's truth;”—for the purpose of the Laodicean spirit also to be apturning it against the Romanist who plicable, and that we are hastening penned it, and applying verses 13, to those times, if not already arrived 14 of the message to the church of at them, of which our Lord said, Pergamos to the persecutions of the “ Because iniquity shall abound the faithful by the Papists. But the love of many shall wax cold." same feature would equally apply In conclusion, we do not think to Pagan times, in which believers that there is upon the whole much were as extensively persecuted, and difference between our own view and yet held fast the faith of Christ, and that of the esteemed friend who is denied not his name.
the author of this work.–We are Partof the message to Thyatira ap- disposed to concede that a reference pears also strained in its application. to successive periods may be designJezebel seducing the servants of ed in these Epistles, in addition to Christ to commit fornication and to what we conceive to be their prineat of idol sacrifices, is explained by cipal prophetic relation, viz. to the thereformed and evangelical churches circumstances of the last times of being occupied with disputes among the Church. And he admits (at themselves, during which they left p. 174 distinctly) of the four latter the Romish church (the antitypical churches, “ that the church in the Jezebel) at large to deceive the Lord's end of this present dispensation shall servants. Th rebuke however to be found to assume a fourfold chaThyatira evidently applies to some racter of a mixed Thyatiran, Sardeliberately permitted heresy or abuse dian, Philadelphian and Laodicean of doctrine ; that church being led, spirit.” We only require the prinby some principle akin perhaps to ciple here recognised to be extended, modern liberalism, to consider that it and to apply these epistles as types was most expedient to let this Jezebel of the sevenfold character of the alone, and therefore viewed her with Church in the last days. indifference ; which was not the case Among the most important feawith the Reformers, as regards the tures of the work of Mr. Girdlestone church of Rome.
is that wherein he points out the The three remaining periods ap- connexion, more or less obvious, pear to us more happily applied ; which exists between the argument but it is because they are assigned of all these epistles, and the subseto our own times, or to the prospect quent visions of the prophecy; and immediately before us. For the com so confirms the view of their proplaint against Sardis, that the things phetic sense : and that wherein he which remained were ready to die, points out, that the doctrine of the was and still is peculiarly appropri- premillennial and personal advent of ate in a great majority of instances ; the Lord is confirmed by these Episwhere we see the doctrine of the tles, in their measure. But we canReformers lost sight of, and the prin- not do justice to these particulars ciples of those holy men at length without greatly exceeding our limits, treated as the result of bigotry and and therefore must refer the Reader intolerance. The revival, in certain to the work itself. sections of the church, of the spirit
(6) A Dissertation on the Prophetic have been enabled at once to disScriptures, chiefly those of a Chrono cover the truth in this matter in logical character ; shewing their aspect every aspect and in all its bearings. on the present times, and on the des Mr. Habershon's principal and tinies of the Jewish nation. Illus- more important proceeding is, to trated by two charts. The whole examine into the peculiarities of intended as a complete elementary those chronological periods mentionwork to the study of Chronological ed in the Old Testament which Prophecy.—By M. HABERSHON. are avowedly fulfilled ; the first of
which is the sojourning of the childLond. Nisbet and Co. 8vo. pp. 478. 128.
ren of Israel and their affliction in We have been much interested in Egypt; which in Gen. xv. 12–14, the perusal of the above work. Those is declared to be four hundred years, who are acquainted with the various (see also Acts vil. 6, 7 ;) and in interpretations of the chronological Exodus, is declared to be four hunprophecies, which have been put dred and thirty years ; see also Gal. forth by able and eminent expositors, 111. 17. The former period is dated must be aware that even the most from 1921 B. c. to 1491 B. C., and modern and popular writers, as Fa- the latter from 1891 B. c. to 1491 ber, Cuninghame and Frere, differ
In this period the author nofrom each other in regard to some tices the following points; 1st, that of the epochs from which they date two durations are assigned to it particular events; whilst at the same viz. 400 and 430 years; secondly, time the arguments which they sev that their commencement is at sepaerally bring forward appear convinc
rate times; thirdly, that they have ing to their respective partisans, and one common termination; fourthly, not altogether to be despised by those that the exact time of their comeven who may chiefly follow the sys mencement and consequent accomtem of a rival. A principle therefore plishment could only have been known of interpretation that will tend to with certainty after the deliverance harmonize some of the more impor- from Egypt had taken place; and tant dates, which have been fixed lastly, that the time neither of the upon by writers who are seemingly first nor second commencement was opposed in this matter, challenges to be dated from the time the prothe serious attention of the student phecy was given. On this last point of prophecy. If that principle be the author has the following judicicorrect in itself, and properly appli. ous observation :ed, then we may conclude, that many serious discrepancies which are ob
“ The date generally assigned to the
transactions between the Lord and Abraservable in the systems of different ham, recorded in Genesis xv. when this interpreters, and which have so much chronological prophecy was given, is the perplexed and disheartened the in year B. c. 1913, or 1911, which falls in quirer,-instead of being a sufficient between the two actual commencements. ground for rejecting them all, on the during the time of their bondage, they
If it were known to the children of Israel supposition that none can be right, would most probably have calculated the
is no more than we ought reason termination from this time, which would ably to have expected from the na have ought it 20 or 22 years before it ture of the case, when we consider actually transpired ; and this circumstance that the Lord has only gradually their situation. Bát as a divine promise
might probably add to the hopelessness of and partially unfolded the subject of
cannot fail, although man's expectations prophecy to his church, so that none may for a time be disappointed and his
calculations be made from an erroneous this to be a two-fold period ; viz. datum, and things for a time may appear from the captivity of Judah in Babyto be getting worse instead of better; yet lon by Nebuchadnezzar, to the deit is well never to forget, “ that God is not a man, that he should lie ; neither the cree of Cyrus, B. C. 606 to 536; son of man that he should repent : Hath and from the destruction of Jerusalhe said, and shall he not do it?" It bath em by Nebuchadnezzar, to the decree pleased him to throw a certain degree of of Darius Hystaspes, B. c. 588 to obscurity around the clearest revelations he hath made respecting future events,
518. These two periods are thus particularly as it regards times and sea
reconciled by Dr. Prideaux. (Consons; yet is there nothing uncertain or nex. Vol. 1. p. 254.) indefinite." P. 97.
“ Both computations may well stand The next example which is noticed together : for though the Babylonish cap-. is to be found in Isaiah vii. 1-9, tivity did begin from the fourth year of and comprehends a period of “ three Jehoiakim, when Nebuchadnezzar first score and five years” from the time subjugated the land, and carried away to when Ahaz king of Judah was threat
Babylon the first captives : yet it was not
completed till he had absolutely destroyed ened with destruction by the con it, in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, which federate kings of Syria and Israel was just eighteen years after. And so to the " breaking” or final over
likewise, though the deliverance from this throw of the kingdom of Israel; captivity, and the restoration of the Jewfrom B. c. 742, to B. c. 677. “ But
ish state thereon, was begun at the decree
of Cyrus, in the first year of his reign ; for this apparently insignificant date, yet it was not completed till that decree (the author observes,) the destruction was put in full vigour of execution by the of the kingdom of Israel would have decree which Darius granted in the fourth been, as it generally is, considered year of his reign for the confirmation of to have happened on the invasion And therefore if we reckon from the be
it, which was also just eighteen years after. of Shalmanezer, king of Assyria : ginning of the captivity to the beginning whereas it is certain, that, according of the restoration, we must reckon from to this date, it did not take place till the fourth year of Jehoiakim to the first forty or fifty years afterwards.” year of Cyrus, which was just seventy “ Thus accurately fixed is the period tion of the captivity to the completion of
years : and if we reckon from the complewhen ten out of the twelve tribes
the restoration, we must reckon from the were carried captive and made out. eleventh year of Zedekiah to the fourth of casts from their own land : and thus Darius, which was also just seventy years." accurately are we furnished with a (Connex. Vol. I. p. 254.) datum from whence to calculate the Mr. Habershon here observes chronological prophecies connected “ that it is the more important that with their restoration !” (P. 111.) this peculiarity should be well unAs proof that the country was not derstood, as he considers it may wholly stripped of its inhabitants in legitimately be applied in the exthe time of Shalmanezer, Mr. Hab. planation of other similar but unfulershon refers to certain particulars filled prophecies. For if, in an event in the history of Josiah which was which is unquestionably a type of subsequent to that period : see 2 the church's spiritual deliverance Chron. xxxiv. 6, 7, 33 ; xxxv. 18; from Babylon, there were confessedly and 2 Kings xxiii. 19.
two commencements and two terThe next period is that of the minations of the predicted period of Babylonish captivity mentioned in captivity, there can be no hesitation Jer. xxv. 8–12, and xxix. 10; in applying the above principles, if and refers more especially to Judah the difficulties and necessities of the and Benjamin. The author shews case call for it, to its antitype, or to