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they would not be the better for understanding, but we can neither act nor believe aright without knowing them : and we have seen in their case, that before each great crisis the prophecies relating to it became intelligible in the use of means which were then provided. Before the great separation from the Papal apostasy at the Reformation, the prophecies relating to it were unfolded : and, now that the Papacy is about to be destroyed by an apostasy still more reckless and direful than itself, this catastrophe, and the character of the principal actors, are now recognisable by a further unfolding of prophecy, which many clear passages of Scripture have promised to those who should live in these “ times of the end." “ Seal up the prophecy until the time of the end : the wise shall understand,” &c. (Dan. xii.) We assert that this time of the end is arrived, and offer sufficient proof of our assertion; and this scriptural proof ought to be received as sufficient warrant for our expectations. further shew, that we now have not only an accumulation of all the means of interpretation severally possessed by our predecessors, but many which they had not; nay, all that need be wished for or required. It is often asked, “ Had not our ancestors knowledge sufficient for salvation ?' and then inferred, that the same knowledge will suffice to save us, and that therefore we need not seek after more. There is a confusion in this way of speaking, which requires to be explained ; and which may easily be done, as it proceeds from using knowledge in an ambiguous, and salvation in an indefinite sense. Faith springing from knowledge saved them, and their salvation was attained through death. Their saving faith rested on knowledge of doctrine—a knowledge at all times necessary, and at all times possessed by the true members of Christ. But we believe a time is near at hand when salvation will be decided before the hour of death, according as a man is ranged under the banner of Christ or that of Antichrist; and, moreover (which is a still more awful consideration), that many who think themselves sincere, and who now appear to rank with the soldiers of Christ, shall be found unprepared for the events which shall burst like a thunder-clap upon the world ; and some timidly apostatize; some, like the foolish virgins, run to buy their oil when they ought to be ready to go in with the Bridegroom. The knowledge of doctrine which in ordinary times suffices for saving faith, will not suffice to save in times like these, which will require knowledge of every kind, and when our Lord has told us the delusions shall be so very plausible as to “deceive (if it were possible) the very elect. " May God preserve us; enabling us to put on the whole armour of God; to watch and pray always, that we may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are coming on the earth, and to stand before the Son of Man!”
ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE APOCALYPSE.
I ENTER on the interpretation of this hallowed book with much fear and trembling; knowing that it is the Revelation (or manifestation) of Jesus Christ, which man may not approach but with the greatest solemnity, and with a constant fear lest he should obscure this revelation, or darken counsel by words without knowledge. And although I feel encouraged in my attempt by the promise with which this book opens (i. 3), “ Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein ;” and by the corresponding benediction at its close (xxii. 7); “ Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book ;" yet am I much appalled at the penalty by which its sanctity and integrity is guarded : "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book " (xxii. 18, 19). Under the influence of these mixed feelings of encouragement and awe would I endeavour to interpret this book; and I would earnestly request my readers to cultivate the same feelings in perusing my interpretation. May God so overrule my thoughts, that I incur not the guilt of adding to or detracting from the words of this sacred book! But, if, notwithstanding my care I should in any respect mistake its meaning, not being wilful, I trust to be forgiven by God; and hope that my errors will be discovered and rejected by my readers, and that such demonstrations of man's fallibility may not be allowed to prejudice the reader against any truth which the other portions of these remarks may contain.
This interpretation makes scarcelyany pretension to originality, being little more than an attempt to combine in one view the several points of correct interpretation which my predecessors have established. I would gladly acknowledge my obligations to them; but it would have crowded my pages with references, and unnecessarily added to a paper already too long, and which I am unwilling to divide: and for the same reasons I avoid as much as possible fortifying my interpretation against objections which I may foresee, or stating why I reject other interpretations which have been given already.
The Apocalypse is the manifestation of Jesus Christ. The glory of his Person is first shewn; and then the prophetic history of his future actings in behalf of his church is given, in a series of visions and revelations, which reach to the end of time. In his actings, he is first exhibited under the character of universal Bishop, or Head of the church (ii. iii.); secondly, as universal Lord, by his angels ordering all things for the final glory of his
church, till he shall come forth in person and take to himself the power and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (iv. -58). In i. 5—7 there are two doxologies: the first having respect to his character of Bishop and Priest : “ Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever : Amen." the church may sing during the whole of the present dispensation. The second doxology (ver. 7) is for a future time: “Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him : Even so, Amen." This has respect to his Kingly character, which he shall assume, for the deliverance of his church and his ancient people, in the time of their greatest straits, “when they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn”(Zech.xii.10), and when the proud oppressors of the earth shall be humbled, and “wail because of him.” In the latter part of this chapter (i. 13—18) the glorious Person of the Son of Man is shewn, walking in the midst of the churches, clothed in priestly garments, and having the seven stars (or angels of the churches) in his right hand; yet majestic as the “Ancient of Days” of Dan. vii. 9-22 : “ His voice as the sound of many waters; his countenance as the sun shineth in his strength ;"" " the First and the Last;"" he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen ; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Such is Jesus Christ, whose manifestation we are now contemplating: Chapters ii. iii. teach us Christ's care over his churches; but as they contain nothing which relates to our own times, I shall pass them at present, and begin with Chap. IV,"the things which must be hereafter" (i. 19).
This revelation of future things begins with a magnificent vision of the final end to be attained by the various acts and manifestations of Providence which are revealed in detail throughout the remainder of the book. This end is, the full display of the glory of God in the accomplishment of his purpose, and the consequent adoration of every created thing: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power ; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (iv. 11). This vision I consider, not as an exhibition of things already existing, but of that “which must be hereafter ; " and I think it is placed thus at the beginning of the whole Revelation, to assist our comprehension : just as an architect might exhibit, first, a complete model of an intended edifice, and then take it to pieces, and shew its several parts in detail. And we shall find, that, at the beginning of each new series of visions, the end to be attained by that particular series is in like manner shewn. I think that the final and eternal state of things is represented in chap. iv. from the adoration being henceforth incessant—'s They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come;" and also from all things being now conformable to the will of God,-“For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (iv. 11).
Thinking chap. iv. to be a proem to the whole book, I think Chap. V. to be a proem to the seven-sealed book : and as chap. iv. exhibited the results of all the future events to be revealed, so chap. v. exhibits the results of what is revealed by the opening of the seals. In this preface to the seals, the throne, the elders, and the living creatures, are the same as before; preserving the unity of the several revelations, and shewing that they proceed from one purpose
and tend to one result. But a book is now seen in the right hand of him that saton the throne, whose seven seals the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to open. This Mighty One, who alone was able to open the seals, appears in the form of " a Lamb as it had been slain; having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (6). These circumstances assist us in fixing the time to which the vision extends : for the seven spirits, which in iv. 5 had been represented as burning before the throne, are here the
of the Lamb sent forth into all the earth; like as in Zech. iii. 9, “ the stone graven
which are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through all the earth:” intimating that the Holy Spirit, which proceedeth from the Father and the Son, doth now act through the Son; who baptizeth with the Holy Ghost and with fire; who breathed upon his disciples, saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost ; and serves as eyes to the Lamb during the present dispensation, called, Zech. iv. 10, "the day of small things.” The Lamb has also seven horns, indicating plenitude of power, as the eyes do plenitude of wisdom: the whole shewing that all power is given to the Lamb that was slain ; and because he became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, therefore God hath highly exalted him, and given Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that he is truly made Christ the power of God, and Christ the wisdom of God. That the vision in this chapter only extends to the end of the present dispensation, is also evident from the song of the elders : “ Thou hast redeemed us, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth" (9, 10.) This redemption the church has not yet received ; for it is represented, vi. 9, 11, beneath the altar, and “ waiting till their brethren should be killed as they were ;" and Rom. viii. 23,“ Ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit......groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body." But the church shall receive it when the seventh trumpet sounds (xi. 18); "the time that thou shouldst give reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great ; and shouldst destroy them that destroy the earth.” When these are destroyed, they shall reign on the earth ; but they are redeemed at this time. This conclusion is put beyond all doubt by the song of the angels and of the whole creation which follows, v. 11-14; which is similar in all its parts with the song of exultation over Babylon's destruction, xviii. 20; xix. 1-6: "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets. “ I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia ; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God. And the four-andtwenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped Godthat sat on the throne, saying, Amen, Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, saying, Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” The time to which this vision extends is therefore Babylon's destruction; and these redeemed ones are delivered at that time, and wait for the further destruction of all the enemies of Christ in the wine-press of wrath, when Christ's Millennial kingdom shall commence, and they “shall reign on the earth."--Thus I regard chapter iv. as a display of the consummation of the purpose of God, when all things shall be brought into perfect harmony with the will of the Creator, and every creature be, to its utmost capacity, incessantly manifesting that glory whose shewing forth was the occasion of its being called into existence; the worship being uninterrupted, and no indication of any further increase of blessedness: while chapter v. I regard as an exhibition of one of the steps or stages towards this ultimate purpose, as attained under the seals; and they still look forward to a time of reigning on the earth. And the four living creatures (v. 14, vii. 12, xix. 4) only respond " Amen” to the worship which the whole creation first offers ; whereas in iv. 8 the living creatures lead the song of praise, which the elders join in and follow.
with seven eyes,
Chapter VI. contains the opening of the seals, which shew the political relations of the church, and how the revolutions of empire would be made to bring about the purpose of God respecting his church. The commencement of the seals may be easily fixed to the time of Constantine. The whole book of the Apocalypse is stated to consist of three parts :-i. 19:
“ Write the things which thou hast seen" (i. e. the glorious vision of Christ immediately preceding, is and the things which are” (i. e. the state of the churches at that time, and the epistles to them), “ and the things which