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have an instance in the account of seen that these instances instead of
" And it came to pass, then a return back for a short period when I, even I Daniel, had seen is made to take up again and pursue the vision and sought for the meanthe general course of the history; and ing, then behold there stood before as it would be in any other writing, 'me as the appearance of a man, so also in this prophecy, all chrono- (viz. the angel Gabriel,) and I logical error is guarded against by • heard a man's voice between the an intimation being given of the fact • banks of Ulai, (viz, the voice of of such a return. It will therefore be • Christ, who had thus previously
THE HISTORY OF THE WESTERN
'manifested himself to Daniel) which selves,* and the three explanatory
called and said, Gabriel, make this histories conclude the book, t occurman to understand the vision." ring in the same relative order of -And lastly, the brief explanation succession as the three main histories of farther particulars of “ that which to which they respectively belong. • is noted in the Scripture of truth” Having thus given a view of the commencing with these words, (Dan. general features and character of XI. 8) “ And I heard, but I under- this book of historical prophecy, and • stood not. Then said I,” (to the shewn how it agrees with the preangel who was sent to shew him the cedent of all other histories, and all vision, as related in Dan, x. 11—21,) other historical prophecies, I proceed 'O my Lord what shall be the end at once, without farther observation, of these things?”
with the object which I endeavour The interpretations,—or rather, to keep continually in view ; viz. (as they in fact are,) the explanations that of giving a plain, popular, and of farther particulars relating to the straight-forward interpretation of two great prophetic subjects of the the volume, and first of that portion civil and ecclesiastical histories of of it which contains the Roman empire,-are no less decidedly marked in the Apocalypse
ROMAN EMPIRE, than in these prophecies of Daniel ; the first of them commencing at consisting of Rev. iv. to vii, (xv. Rev. xvii. 1, with the following xvi.) and xyii, to xix. 10, commuwords, “ And there came one of the nicated by the voices of the Cheruseven angels, which had the seven
as the noise of thunder.” • vials, and talked with me, saying Of the portion of the prophecy • unto me, Come hither, I will shew above specified chapters iv. and v. • unto thee, &c.” And the second constitute what is usually found at commencing at Rev. xxi. 9 with a the commencement of other works, repetition of the same words. The preface, respecting which, conconstruction of the visions of Daniel sidering that the history of the eastand those of the Apocalypse differ ern empire, that also of the Church, only in this respect, that intervals and the common supplement of Rev. of many years occurring between xvi. are each preceded by a partial the several dates when the former one, (as is customary at the comwere seen, each is naturally and of mencement of any separate division course followed immediately by its or chapter of a book in order to own interpretation; whereas the state its contents,) it becomes necesthree distinct prophetic histories of sary to enquire in the first place, the Apocalypse, making together but whether this is a preface solely beone complete revelation, and being longing to the history of the western all seen during the same
· Lord's branch of the empire, or may be day,” and with a short interval of considered to belong to both branches time only occurring between them, of the empire taken together as distermed in chap. viii, 1, “ about the tinguished from the church history, space of half an hour," the three or is not rather, on the other hand, main histories come first by them a common and general preface to
* Ist. Rev. Iv to vi1.—2ndly, Rev. vul to x. 7.—3rdly. Rev. x. 8, to xiv.; together with the common supplement of Rev. XV. XVI.
† 1st. Rev. XVII to xix. 10.-2ndly. Rev. xix. 11, to xxi. 8.--3rdly. Rev. XXI. 9, to xxII.
the whole three histories which uni. custom of using the term “the seals," tedly constitute “the things which as describing a portion of the promust be hereafter.” Upon which phecy distinct either from the trum. question I observe, that as all these pets or from the little open book, to things taken together form one of be entirely incorrect; these latter the three parts into which the A- portions of the prophecy being in pocalypse is primarily divided at fact as much a part of “the revelachap. 1. 19, it is most natural to tion of the seven seals” as is the consider the preface, by which this former to which this name is usually new portion of the prophecies is in- appropriated. troduced, as referring to the whole The true description of the acts of it. Again, we have to consider of revelation and communication I that the seven sealed book (the de consider to be, that by the opening livery of which into the hand of of the several seals or prophetic Christ, that it might be opened by periods of time the events of them him, forms the subject of this pre were revealed to the church in heaface,) refers to the totality of future ven equally as they affected either time, considered as divided into seven branch of the Roman empire ; but successive periods, commencing from after having been so simultaneously that of the first seal; it is most revealed, according to the manner natural therefore, as it is most in in which all general and complicated accordance with the sublimity of the histories are narrated by their audescription of this act, to consider thors, the events relating to its it as containing also the totality of western branch are first communi. those events of time which are about cated to the Apostle by the Cheruto be revealed; and this becomes bim or glorified spirits of the church indubitable when we consider, lastly, in heaven with voices resembling that there is no other act of revela 'the noise of thunder ;” and then tion than the opening of its seven the same seven periods of revelation seals, mentioned in the whole bouk. are again travelled over, and the The voices of the Cherubim as the events that had been revealed as to noise of thunder,—the voices of the occur during each of them in its seven angels which stand before eastern branch are communicated in God, as the sound of a trumpet, a distinct series by the seven angels which are successively heard by St. who stand before God, (which is but John, -and the act of his eating the another designation of the church in little open book, which he is direct- heaven,) with voices resembling the ed by the angel who shews him the sound of a trumpet; which view, vision to take out of the hand of our when we come to their minute exLord,-being only so many various amination, we shall find confirmed means by which the revelations thus by the fact, that the events of the opened by the sole power of “the first seal and trumpet terminate beLion of the tribe of Judah,” or of fore those of the second seal and “the Lamb that had been slain,” trumpet commence; and these again are farther communicated by the before those of the third seal and church in heaven to the prophet trumpet commence, and so with John, that he inay be qualified to the rest. The events relating to the impart them in like manner to his church were also opened and revealbrethren of the church on earth. It ed by Christ in the act of opening will be manifest therefore from these the events of the seven periods or observations, that I consider the totality of time; on which account
THE GENERAL PREFACE TO
CHAPTERS IV. AND V.
we find them presented to the Apos- be seen to be rather imaginary than tle in the form of a little open book: real; and one for instance frequently the reason they are not equally com adverted to, viz. that of deciding municated to him in the form of a whether a symbolical expression is division into seven periods being to be interpreted literally or figurathat the times of the church are tively, must be, to say the least, universally derived, not, like the re vastly exaggerated : for though such gal times and periods, from the es a case may certainly be supposed, sential perfection of numbers, but it can hardly be expected to occur from the natural year, and its division in actual experience, that in reading into months and days.
either past or future history the Being now therefore enabled to context of any particular expression define the subject of our present in shall not enable us to decide in vestigation, as contained in chapters which of these two senses it is iniv and v, to be a general preface to tended to be understood. With these the whole of the subsequent rev. two rules therefore set before us as elation called the things which to the simplicity of the principles must be hereafter,” or which shall according to which we are to arfollow upon the termination of the range the matter of this prophecy, pagan persecutions of the primitive and also to interpret its symbols, we church, we are prepared to endea- proceed to consider first vour to interpret the symbolical language in which it is written ;
THINGS WHICH SHALL BE HEREAFTER.” upon which subject it will be necessary however that I should previously remark, and in connexion Chap. iv. v. 1. The apostle tells with the observation I have already us, that, after having received and made, that for the arrangement of recorded the communications ad. this book we must look to the pre- dressed by Christ to the seven cedent of other histories, that a Churches in Asia, he looked, and similar rule here applies, and that behold a door was opened in heaven. we must also look for the interpre. This, like the opening of a seal, tation of its symbols to the figures was itself an act of revelation : for used in other books of Scripture, or being in the spirit, as before stated in other historical and poetical writ in chap. 1. 10, and receiving now ings : symbolical language being fresh accessions of spiritual influ. most properly defined, as highly ence, heavenly things were at once figurative and poetical language; so laid open to his view, as to St. that when the same events which Stephen in his last favoured moare described in the Apocalypse are ments, when he said, Behold I found narrated in the works of a see the heavens opened, and the poetical writer of history, (and we Son of man standing at the right might mention as a suitable instance hand of God.”
He then heard, as the life of Napoleon by Walter the first of the many voices which Scott,) the probability is that they afterwards met his ear, the voice will be found also described under of the angel, or glorified spirit, a the same symbols, or as they may member of the church in heaven, be termed with equal propriety, the by whom Christ sent and signified same poetical images.
to him these visions,“ as it were posed difficulty of interpreting the the voice of a trumpet talking with symbols of the Apocalypse will thus him, saying, come up hither, and I
will shew thee things which must be the first vision he beheld was that hereafter ; which description of the of Christ seated upon a throne, surangels talking with him and instruct rounded immediately by spiritual ing him, is used in Dan. x. 7, and beings, whose peculiar characters frequently (as already noted) in Ze we shall presently consider, and chariah, where it occurs both at the more remotely, by an innumerable commencement of a vision, and also company of angels. The represenat that of its explanation ; (see chap. tation here given of the throne of iv. 1 and 3) and which occurring God, which is referred to again from here in the former connexion, is Rev. xi. 15–19 and xiv. 3, corresagain met with in the latter at chap. ponds to that of Isa. vi. and Ezek. XVII. 1, and xxi. 9 and 15.
1. and x. of which the former is de. Verse 2. The Apostle was imme. clared, John xii. 41, to have been a diately in the Spirit ; and the former vision of the glory of Christ; which vision having been witnessed upon we cannot but consider as having been earth, (for he turned round and be. in like manner manifested between held it, upon his attention being ar the Cherubim in the holy of holies rested by the voice of Christ, as the of the tabernacle and the temple ; great voice of a trumpet heard be- and which is particularly shewn to hind him,) the scene is now chang. be the subject of the vision before ed, and he is, in effect at least, caught us by the rainbow which is seen up into heaven, that he might thus round about the throne, this being obtain a view of what was about to afterwards seen around the head of be revealed ;-perhaps not bodily, Christ. (Chap. x. 1.) Nevertheless, like Philip when he was removed by as our Lord said of himself, even in the Spirit from one place to another, his state of humiliation, that he who but rather like St. Paul, when had seen him had seen the Father, whether he was in the body or this cannot be less true in reference out of the body he knew not. to this vision of his glory; which There was however this difference we shall rightly understand therebetween the two cases; that, whereas fore to be an entire revelation of the St. Paul, in order that he might be divine glory of the Trinity,--Father, strengthened and prepared for those Son, and Spirit,-as manifested in extraordinary trials he was per- Christ, who, seated on his mediasonally to undergo for Christ's sake, torial throne, in his regal character, heard words and received spiritual is there, as the Creator and Governor communications which it was not of the world, the manifestation of lawful, or rather possible, for him God the Father; whence this throne to impart to others; St. John was is called in another place equally so favoured expressly that he might “the throne of God and of the strengthen the church at large to Lamb.” (Rev. xxır. 1.) bear all their trials by communicating Verse 3. The splendor of Christ's what he there received, and might glorified body is here represented by “testify of all things that he saw ;” that of precious stones : He that which he begins to do in the follow • sat was to look upon like a jasper ing words, Behold, a throne was set • and sardine stone;" or, (as it is in in heaven, and one sat on the throne. the original,) a stone jasper and sarIt will suffice to consider the hea- dine ; intimating the appearance of vens here spoken of, as being only the two combined ; of which the the scene of the spiritual communis former is a stone of great variety of cations St. John received ; where colour, &c. Commentators have al