« AnteriorContinuar »
The object of the author in presenting the following volume to the public, is to call increased attention to the wonderful book from which the theme of the poem is drawn, and, if possible, to awaken interest in the great subjects there shadowed forth, in the minds of those who have hitherto rejected the claims of Christianity as a divine revelation. He is well aware that the book of Revelation has been quite generally regarded as a sealed book, whose mysteries might not be pierced by the inquiring or the curious; but if “all scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," surely it cannot have been the Divine plan that this book should remain unstudied. Its sublime symbols, finding their fulfillment in the passing events of history, were designed to rebuke skepticism and strengthen the Christian's faith.
The author has made no attempt to be critical in his exposition. Neither does he claim that his views are, in the main, original. His chief object has been to
enforce the views taken by our recent standard expositors, and, by vivid pictures, to impress them permanently upon the mind and heart of the reader, while, at the same time, he has felt at liberty to depart from the authorities in some particulars.
The lectures were presented, in course, to his congregation in the city of Joliet, Ill., in the fall of 1870 and spring of 1871.
The poem has occupied all the time he could devote to it, without interfering with his pastoral duties, for more than two years past. He wrote it because he loves to sing, in his humble way, of those great struggles and glorious triumphs of his Master's Kingdom, which precede the blessed Millennium.
He feels sure that he cherishes no unworthy ambition, if he would attempt to consecrate the noble Spenserian stanza to the uses of Christianity.
He offers his first book to an intelligent public, humbly wishing, hardly daring to hope, that he may thus be instrumental in hastening the final triumph of the Messiah's Kingdom in the world. If the Church wants it and it helps her in any degree, he will be more than rewarded for all his toil.
THE GREAT WAR IN EUROPE, 1870.
And oh! this night brings tempests in its train.-Canto I, STANZA II.
And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap ; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth ; and the earth was reaped.
And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sick le.
And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire ; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth ; for her grapes are fully ripe.
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God.
And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine-press, even unto the horse-bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.-REV. XIV. 14-20.
This is an epitome of what follows, until Satan is bound for a thousand years, as represented in the twentieth chapter. Under the startling and awful symbols of our text, the apostle makes a general statement, and then goes on, in the following chapters, to particularize. It is a synopsis of what is contained under the symbolism of the seven vials. I do not, therefore, pretend to find a specific fulfillment of these awful prophecies in the events of the present time. Yet I do believe that a general history, in its relation to Christianity, of the latter part of the eighteenth and of the nineteenth centuries, up to the present time, is shadowed forth in the symbols of this part of the Word of God. I have given the subject a great deal of thought, and my conclusions are not founded on mere fancies. The resemblance of these symbols to what I believe to be their substance, is too striking to pass unnoticed by the careful student of the Bible.
After much study I have adopted, so far as I dare, what seems to me to be the most rational interpretation of the symbols of the beast and of the woman who sat upon his back, clothed in scarlet, as described in the seventeenth chapter; though, of course, I do not pretend that the events, when they transpire, may not furnish a better, and, perhaps, an essentially different, interpretation. As it seems to me, the beast with seven heads and ten horns symbolizes Political Despotism-Monarchism, Imperialism, Absolutism-as found in the seven principal countries of Europe-England, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Russia, and Prussia. I will not strenuously contend that those seven kingdoms are the specific ones shadowed forth by the heads of this monster, nor that the ten horns are the kings increased by the subordinate kings of Germany. Yet all will agree that there is some resemblance. But I am convinced that the woman symbolizes Ecclesiastical Despotism, seated on the back of political power, without which she could not, in our day, execute her decrees. You will find Ecclesiastical Despotism chiefly among the Papal powers, but not exclusively. The English and Greek churches have had some share in ecclesiastical domination, and their garments are not entirely free from the blood of persecution. So even the Presbyterians and Puritans have had some share in persecution. But as religious despotism has been chiefly confined to Rome, John locates its throne upon the seven hills.
When the student of history sees that all the great wars that have shaken the world for a hundred years, have resulted in weakening these two powers, sweeping away one after another of their supports, even when the thunders have not been directly launched upon either of them, he must be skeptical, indeed, if he cannot see Eternal Providence riding on the storm, and directing the winds where to blow, and the bolts where to fall.