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to Cain, “Thy brother’s blood crieth to me from the ground :” and further, “He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye”—and “it were better for that man that a mill-stone was hanged about his neck, and he was cast into the sea:”—where shall such perseeutors appear ! We are in fact informed, that vengeance only sleeps; and, in the mean while, that white robes are given unto EveRY ONE of those who had been thus slain, as a distinguished mark of honour and reward for what they had suffered for Christ. “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.” This language, to my mind, implies, that persecution unto death will not be confined to this seal. It is spoken to those who form a part of it; and, therefore, that part of it which looks to the future, “ until their brethren should be killed as they were,” must have reference to the next seal. As much as to say, that the martyrs who suffer under this epoch in the church's history, have an assurance given, that vengeance will come ; but not until others of their brethren have suffered, under another epoch that shall transpire, and that then it will no longer delay. I have drawn attention to this, because it is in exact harmony with what is yet to follow. The state of things to which the Reformation gave birth, lasted from the beginning of the sixteenth to the latter end of the eighteenth century. The revival it occasioned in religion, in no instance came up to the expectations that were formed of it by those who witnessed the splendid successes of the first reformers. It was indeed firmly established in England, in a great part of Germany, and in some of the more northern nations; but in consequence of the most severe persecutions it met with in France, Spain, Portugal, and of course in all the states of Italy the head quarters of the apostacy, it was in those countries successfully resisted. Although, however, it was comparatively but “a little help,” yet it was a blessed period, as we individually have reason to testify ; for we live and enjoy our privileges under its shade, and in the blessings it conveyed.
THE OPENING OF THE SIXTH SEAL ; Or the actings of Infidelity in the French Revolution. I consider it to be of the greatest importance to the right interpretation of this seal, that we have a proper understanding of the symbols. Before therefore I make any observations I will proceed to explain them, 1. An earthquake is always understood to signify the sudden revolution of a kingdom or empire, as in Haggai ii. 6, 7; Joel ii. 10; and Heb. xii. 26. To this purpose Mede observes, that it implies, not a destruction, but an extraordinary alteration in the face of things—in the same way as a literal earthquake changes the position of the earth's surface, by exalting valleys and depressing hills, turning the channels and courses of rivers, and such like changes. Sir Isaac Newton likewise says, that “great earthquakes, and the shaking of heaven and earth, are put for the shaking of kingdoms, so as to distract and overthrow them.” 2. The sun, the moon, and the stars signify the sovereign ruler, his subjects, and the chief men of such kingdom; the sun becoming black as sackcloth of hair, the total eclipse of the sovereignty; and the moon becoming as blood, the whole kingdom filled with slaughter; and the stars falling to the earth like figs when shaken with a great wind, all persons in superior ranks and situations, holding offices of trust or honour, deprived of them by sudden and overwhelming violence. 3. The heaven departing as a scroll when it is rolled together, or as a roll when he that extends
“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 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 wind ; and the heaven departed as a scroll, when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were removed 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 bond-man, and every free-man, hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains; and said unto the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand 7”
* See Diss. ch. xii. p. 325, 326.
it quits his hold, the entire disappearance of the whole political heaven or system. 4. Every mountain or island being removed out of their places, that every kingdom, and every independant lesser state, should be altered in their position. 5. The remainder of the symbols signify the great, the exceeding great, alarm and terror that would be felt by the kings, the great men, and people of every rank and grade in society, at these events; and the endeavours of all to escape the impending and apprehended dangers that should be thickening around them, by hiding themselves in the most secure and inaccessible places, and by most perseveringly using every means in their power, at all sacrifices, to avert them. “The language describes a flight of the utmost terror and dismay before a victorious enemy, who having destroyed all the fortresses and cities, pursues the hopeless fugitives into their last places of refuge.” It likewise expresses that a general apprehension should be felt, that the appointed time of God's judgments upon the world, or the time of his severe retribution and vengeance, has arrived; and hence it is expressed that there was felt all the terrors of the day of final judgment. Such is the explanation of these striking symbols. We now turn again to history, and it is to no distant history, to find the exact reflection of this important prediction : and we accordingly do find that the next great event, having the characters of a prophetical era, (one that forms a new epocha in the church affairs, altering the state of society, producing new habits of thought, and involving the interests of the world in its vortex) does thus answer to it. This event was a great Revolution, attended with all the consequences that are here described; and all my readers will undoubtedly be beforehand with me in pronouncing it to be that awful Revolution which burst upon the world in France in the year 1789. It has already been so particularly described in the Dissertation on the Prophecies of the Old Testament, in connexion with the bearing it has on the restoration of the Jews —first, in ch. vi. p. 124 to 134; and secondly, in a more particular description of its chief actor, the Emperor Napoleon, in ch. xii. p. 329 to 340; that it is unnecessary to go into many particulars in this place. What I would wish to press upon the attention of my readers, is the exact adaptation of the events that have happened, in connexion with this most unparalleled catastrophe, to what I have above explained; and the certainty there is, that in the whole range of history they can apply to no other. If the interpretation which I have offered of the five preceding seals, fail to prove the comprehensive extent over which this series of visions spreads, forming the first great outline of a history which, in the subsequent parts of the Revelation, is filled up by the same prophetic Spirit, this appears to set the matter quite at rest. For as I have before observed, Prophecy is not loose in its application, and of that