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Fifth Stage of the Manifestation of the Mystery.
The sword, famine, pestilence and destruction by wild beasts, not being able to awaken the gross perception of the heathen world to a sense of the signs of the times, they bring the measure of their wickedness to the full by the last Pagan persecution of the Christians, which lasts from A.D. 302 to 312, in which the very being of our holy religion was threatened. “ How long ?” said Isaiah ; “ Lord wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” said the apostles ; “ how long?" say the martyrs; and“ how long ?” have said the church in all ages. The answer is, Then shall the end be, when the mystery of God is finished, when the last scattering of the power of the holy people is accomplished at the last grand struggle of the witnesses at the battle of Armageddon. Nevertheless they in the mean while who die in the Lord, shall be always blessed, and have rest to their souls till the resurrection.
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw
under the altar the souls of them that were slain
for the word of God, and for the testimony which 10 they held: and they cried with a loud voice,
saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost
thou not judge and avenge our blood on them 11 that dwell on the earth ? And white robes were
given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also, and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Sixth Stage of the Manifestation of the Mystery. What neither sword, nor famine, nor pestilence, nor the rapacity of wild beasts could effect, the Christian blood of ten persecutions could; and in this sixth stage of the difficult parturition of Christianity, the Imperial Pontiff, the Pagan hierarchy and its heads, and the whole Pagan religion fall before the at-length recognised Lamb of God. They see the sign of the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and all the tribes of the Empire mourn. Maximian, Galerius, Maximin, Maxentius, Licinius, and all the adherents of the Pagan idolatry, and persecutors of the Christians are defeated by Constantine: of whom Galerius, Maximin, and Licinius make public confession of their guilt, and recall their decrees and edicts against the Christians. A.D.312. 12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal,
and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the
sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the 13 moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven
fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her
untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty 14 wind : and the heaven departed as a scroll when
it is rolled together; and every mountain and 15 island were moved out of their places: and the
kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid
themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the 16 mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks,
Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that
sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the 17 Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come;
and who shall be able to stand ?
THE TWO ARMIES OF SAINTS FROM THE CREATION TO
THE SECOND ADVENT.
The First Fruits or First Army of Saints from the
Creation to the Full of Pagunism.
The four Prætorian Præfects, of the East, of Illyricum, of Italy, and the Gauls, instituted by Diocletian, in whose power it is to restrain the Barbarians, which surround the Roman Empire, from invading and destroying it, will not suffer it, or the “ eternal city,” or the nobles to be injured by them, before the first army of the saints from the creation to the fall of Paganism are made up. The Sun of Righteousness rises with healing in his wings at his first advent, and seals them that are his, viz. those who are Jews not outwardly, but inwardly. The gospel is preached also at the first advent of our blessed Lord to them that are dead, that they might be judged at the day of judgment according to men in the flesh, but live until then according to God in the Spirit. Of these are the spirits iu reserve, who died before the flood. For it was destined, that the dead should hear the voice of the Son of God as well as the living, and they that heard should live. “He that believeth in me though he be dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” John xi. 25, 26. Those therefore who died before the first advent, are also now sealed; for not even the gates of Hades could prevail against the word of God. A.D. 33-312,
VII. 1.—And after these things I saw four angels
standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor 2 on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending
from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels
, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the 3 sea*, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the
sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the ser4 vants of our God in their foreheads. And I
heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and
four thousand of all the tribes of the children of 5 Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve
thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed
twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were 6 sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser
were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of
the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thou7 sand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve
thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed
twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were 8 sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon
• It is said here, that it was given to the four angels to hurt the earth and the sea; but just before they are represented as those who were to protect them. The meaning of this latter sentence then is, according to a phraseology to be met with in all languages, that it was in the power of the four angels to suffer the earth and the sea to be hurt, they who afforded the occasion of the action being regarded as the cause of it, in the same manner as God is said to harden Pharaoh's heart, when he only suffers it to be hardened (compare Ex. iv. 21, with ix. 34). See also Matth. I. 34; Luke xii, 49, 51 ; Rev. xi. 6. And so again “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea," means suffer them not to be hurt.
were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
The Combined Army of the First-fruits or Seed with
their Fellow-Servants or Remnant of the Seed, the Victors over the Beast and his Image.
A view is here given, in this digression, of the whole church completed, in possession of eternal blessedness in and after the Millennium, who are come out of the great tribulation of this world, and are in company of their blessed master, the Lamb, for evermore, who shall feed them and lead them to living fountains of waters.
After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before
the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with 10 white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried
with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God
which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the 11 Lamb. And all the angels stood round about
the throne, and about the elders, and the four
living creatures, and fell before the throne on 12 their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen :
Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiv
ing, and honour, and power, and might, be unto 13 our God, for ever and ever. Amen. And one of