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of Palestine was alternately subjected, called the kings of the North and South, or the kings of Syria and Egypt. In like manner, neither is there any account taken of the still more important wars, and the illustrious men concerned in them, connected with the long period of Roman history, fruitful as it is with incidents of such deep interest, especially in the Carthaginian war during the career of Hannibal, until it touches the affairs of the Jews in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes; and even then, whilst any other of the successors of Alexander remained, but very slightly. And in the more brief predictions, which in the Old Testament are given of the historical events connected with the Christian dispensation, the same principle is closely followed, and only such secular events are noticed as are intimately connected with the Church; and of course this principle is strictly adhered to in the more enlarged prophecies of the
same events in the Apocalypse.
A second controlling principle, which should ever be kept in mind in the interpretation of prophecy deduced from the study of the Old Testament prophecies, and which is absolutely required for the purpose of enabling us to separate, with greater cer
tainty and correctness, predicted subjects from the
extensive and boundless mass of history, is—that they have reference only to the most important eras of the world, and to the most remarkable and eminent events that have happened, and not to those of minor importance. Such, for instance, as were of the largest extent for time and space; that were most permanent in their effects; and which have been attended with the most surprising changes;—events, in fact, of a character sufficiently commanding to give rise to new orders of things, or to give new features to society; that have produced new habits of thought, and which involved innumerable millions in their weal or woe. It is, as the above enumeration fully evinces, events of such a character alone, that stand prominent on the roll of prophecy. And the very idea of such being the case, gives inexpressible grandeur to the study of the subject; for assuredly here there is nothing light, trifling, or common-place. This description of events, in fact, may be compared to those mountain tops that pierce into the clouds, inspiring feelings of awe and dread, and affording prospects as great and as magnificent as were beheld by Moses from the top of Pisgah ; and like those, opening to our view the most lovely scenes; even those of a renovated world,
The next observation I would make is this—that under these controlling principles, we do right, in the interpretation of the prophetical parts of the Books of Daniel and St. John, to apply them to the affairs of secular history. In this particular I consider we have not only the sanction of the most valuable commentators, ancient and modern; but we have, as an unerring guide, the sanction of the Holy Spirit in the various divine interpretations of Daniel's prophecies. We have likewise the sanction of the historical books of the Old Testament, which differ from the former only in this, that while the one is anticipated history, this is fulfilled. In these books we find that the Church, before the Babylonish captivity, having an unavoidable connection with the course and revolution of human affairs, its concerns were necessarily interwoven with the changes and vicissitudes that have diversified the pages of profane history. This appears very distinctly in the Books of Kings, Chronicles, Nehemiah, Ezra, and Esther, where we find the history of the Church,-of its prophets and saints, of the providence and grace of God in all the dispensations towards His people, not only interwoven with secular Jewish history, but, as far as it comes in contact with their affairs, with Babylon,
Persia, and other surrounding nations.
In a similar manner we shall find that the church, under the Christian dispensation, being in an equal degree identified with the affairs of the Roman empire from the time of Christ to the present moment, its history is, in an equal degree, intermixed with the successive actors, vicissitudes, and changes, which that empire has experienced ; and which is shown to be the same by Daniel's symbol of a great wild beast with ten horns being brought forward to represent it. And it is in this way that history is made the hand-maid of divinity, the record of that providence which is the fulfilment of God's word. It is evident, therefore, that a complete Church history should, in this respect, imitate the model given in the inspired writings; and that, whilst it pourtrays the triumphs of divine grace in the hearts and lives of believers, showing how bright the Gospel hath shone in those who have cordially received its soul-reviving doctrines, it should, at the same time, exhibit the manner in which its visible external aspect has been influenced by the great men and the great movements of that world with which it has been connected. I consider, therefore, that we do right in giving the apocalypse an historical interpretation, and in looking upon it as a clear, compendious, and perfect church history.
Such a history it is, if we contemplate the events which are predicted. There is nothing omitted that answers or agrees with the controlling principles above explained. All the great and leading movements that have influenced the affairs of the Church, and produced change, are, in the most beautiful and powerful order, introduced; and that with inimitable simplicity. And this leads to another general obser
vation, which is,
To notice the peculiarity of the arrangement, which, it will be perceived, has much art and contrivance. It is not, as in histories of human composition, a mere consecutive narrative, confounding all descriptions of events in one common mass ; but, seizing the leading events of particular and distinct characters, it traces them to the end in separate and parallel lines. By this means the various and varying aspects of different periods of time, are, with particular clearness and simplicity, exhibited; the origin, the qualities, and principles of nations, are accurately traced; and the materials and facts of history are arranged so as to impress upon the memory their real cause, relative importance, correct bearing, and their infallible issue.
This peculiarity is adopted both in the prophecies of Daniel and St. John. In the first vision of the
former, the outward aspect of the four successive