« AnteriorContinuar »
empires is exhibited as being that of a splendid idolatry, with the varying strength, quality, and grandeur of each. In the second vision, the principles and dispositions of the rulers and people of these kingdoms are accurately represented; with the notice of a remarkable ecclesiastical one, that should arise and be identified with the divided state of the last of the four, or with the ten kingdoms of the Roman empire. In the next vision of the Ram and He-Goat, the Persian and Greek empires alone come into view ; and the fate of the latter, in the latter times, as distinct from the Roman empire, and as we at the present moment see it, is given in tracing the rise and exhibiting the conquests and principles of Mahometanism. The fourth and last vision appears to be a general summing up, in regular narrative, of the whole of the former three, as far as they bear upon, and have a more immediate connection with, the Jewish church; omitting, as hath been above noticed, the particular events relating to the Christian dispensation. Thus we see, that in the first vision a general but highly expressive outline is traced ; then by another, and another, and another line of parallel events, the history of the whole period is filled up with the most surprising fulness and accuracy; and with so much clearness, that the
great master-wheels, in whose tremendous evolutions
the unnumbered and complicated lesser wheels of Providence have been involved, are brought into the most distinct recognition. This perfection of narration applies, in an equal degree, to the Apocalypse; perhaps, it may be said, from its predictions entering into such great minuteness, and embracing events of a more intricate character, in a superior degree. Here, first, we have, in one unbroken line, the great changes brought about in the internal administration of the empire, given under the expressive symbol of sea Ls, and in number seven. Secondly, we have the changes brought about by the great and successful invasions of the empire from without, under the equally expressive symbol of truMPETs, likewise in numbers seven. Thirdly, we have the conjoint effect of these changes, as they have borne upon the interests of vital Christianity; in which the direct agency of both Christ and Satan is brought forward—Christ, in the first place, as driving Satan in the idolatry of Paganism, out of his rule in the visible dominion of the world, and making it a professedly Christian rule; and Satan, in revenge, being permitted to clothe himself with the garb of that Christian rule, and in it to depress the true church; and so far give his power and authority to the ten ruling sovereignties of the Roman empire, as through them to erect the
papal ecclesiastical sovereign usurpation.
Such are the three principal lines of parallel prophecy in the Revelation. To the Seals belongs that portion extending from the fourth chapter to the 1st verse of the eighth chapter; to the second line, or the Trumpets, belongs that from the 2nd verse of the eighth chapter to the end of the eleventh chapter; and to the third, or general line, belongs, in reality, the remainder of the Book. They may be considered as three mighty parallel rivers, widening and branching out into numerous mouths, as they finish their course, and empty themselves into the sea. The first has such an extension in the contents of the seventh chapter; the second has several such in the contents of the tenth and greater part of the eleventh; and the third has many such—one of which is in the fourteenth chapter, the next in the seven vials of the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters, the next in the contents of the seventeenth, and so on to the end of the Book; forming, like the Nile, the Danube, or the Ganges, so many separate outlets to the one grand stream of prophetic history.
One great design—perhaps the chief design, of so great an enlargement at the end of each line of prophecy, is for the purpose of distinctly holding up to view the opposite fates of the true and the false church at the end of the dispensation; and in that separation, the exaltation of the righteous on the one hand, and the dreadful judgment of the wicked on the other. At present, the tares and the wheat grow together; but, at the time of harvest, Christ will say, “Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my garner.” And thus it is here represented;—in the seals, those that have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, are marked for deliverance, and delivered ; whilst the rest are left to the mercy of the blowing of the “four winds of heaven P-in the trumpets, those who bear a life-giving testimony for God, are called up to heaven, and ascend thither in a cloud, whilst the rest are left to the mercy of the seventh trumpet. In the more internal and united series of events composing the third line, the deliverance to the righteous mentioned in the seals is again brought forward—it is also mentioned as the getting in of the harvest:+ is pointed out in the sixth vial by the mention of the coming of Christ; and more fully described in the particulars given of the Millennial state in the last chapters. The fate of the merely professing church and ungodly world, is, on the contrary, fearfully exhibited in the description of the
vintage, at the end of the fourteenth chapter; in the contents of the seventh vial; and in the eighteenth and nineteenth chapters. Thus will the Lord make it manifest, that after all the turmoils of life, and although He has permitted his people to be intermixed with the ungodly world, so as often scarcely to be known from them, yet, at the close, “that it shall be well with the righteous, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings,” but that “woe shall be to the wicked it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.” So that we see the same principle of divine government runs through every part of the Word of God, and that it shines with uncommon brilliancy in these its more direct prophecies; and hence, in a very special manner, we see their
* Matt. xiii. 30. + Rev. xiv. 14–16.
The considerations which I have thus attempted to bring forward, to show the infinite superiority of the historical arrangement of the Apocalypse to every human composition, prove, that the wisdom therein displayed is the Wisdom of God; and that it is becoming the Infinite Wisdom and Power that could plan and carry into effect the mighty series of events that are recorded. And this stamp of a
Divine Mind will still more forcibly appear, if we
* Isaiah iii. 10, 11.