Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ject or character analogous to it. Nor are we limited in the use of symbols to the exhibition of moral subjects alone. Any object may be symbolized, provided a corresponding object can be found.

Analogy, then, is the fundamental law of symbols. This being true, it is clear that symbols must Analogy the be definitely applied. They are basic law

not arbitrary. There is no reason why we could not call a book a table, and a table it would be, provided we agreed universally to adopt that designation; but we violate nature if we attempt to represent the quiet, peaceful, gentle disposition of a child by a lion or a tiger, or a cruel, vindictive, tyrannical disposition by a lamb. A polluted harlot may represent an apostate church, but not the true church. A proper correspondence of character and quality must be observed. We must follow nature strictly. And this · is the law of symbols.

Symbols are drawn from different departments -from angelic life, human life, animal life, and inanimate creation. But in every case there is in the selection and use of the symbol a proper correspondence of character and quality.

The deciding factor in the original selection of a symbolic object is the nature of the thing to be Twofold object symbolized. In the field of Bible of symbols prophecy the general design is in the main twofold-the representation (1) of the affairs of the church and (2) of the political his

tory of those nations and kingdoms which were to exert an important influence on the life and development of the church. It is evident that in the divine estimation the church and its welfare is of infinitely greater importance than the affairs of nations and kingdoms. Therefore we may reasonably expect that, according to the nature of symbolic language, symbols designed to represent the church will be found to be of the most exalted type, whereas those representing political things will be found to be selected from an inferior department. In accordance with this fundamental classification we shall find that symbols drawn from angelic life and human life invariably refer to the department of ecclesiastical affairs, while those drawn from animal life or inanimate nature represent political things. The only apparent exception to this rule is that certain inanimate objects formerly consecrated to the service of God and thus associated with the department of the church are sometimes used to represent spiritual things, because the analogy is obvious. Bearing in mind this fundamental distinction between the representation of things political and things ecclesiastical, we are prepared to understand other shades of distinction.

Nations may be peaceful or tyrannical and oppressive, and churches may be good or apostate; but the exact character can be analogously represented by the symbolic object. A vicious wild

beast stamping and devouring would naturally represent a cruel, tyrannical government; and a good woman represents the true church, while a vile harlot represents the church apostate. But whatever the nature of the symbol, whether beast, locust, lion, horse, temple, angel, or man, we may know at once from the nature of the symbol where to look for its fulfilment. This important guide in the study of prophetic truth-a guide overlooked by most of the commentators-relieves us of much of the uncertainty hitherto connected with the subject.

Since, as we have seen, symbolic language is based on analogy, it is evident that there are some objects whose nature forbids their symbolization, there being no corresponding object in existence. God can not be symbolized. “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him” (Isa. 40:18). There may be certain symbols connected with his person setting forth the dignity, majesty, and eternal splendor of his name, but he himself appears unrepresented by another. The same is true also of the person of Jesus, our Redeemer, although in this case we must distinguish between the Christ incarnate and Jesus in his essential divinity. Considered as incarnate-both God and man- the human aspect of his character as manifested in his sacrificial death may be analogously represented as a Lamb slain. But considered in his essential divinity, he can not be symbolically represented. Therefore, whenever the glorified Christ appears on the symbolic stage, he always appears in his own person proclaiming his own name. “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Rev. 1:18). “He hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords.

In Rev. 6:9 the souls of the martyrs are represented as crying unto God for the avenging of their blood on them that dwell on the earth. There is no object analogous to a disembodied spirit. It is easy to give them an arbitrary name. Therefore they simply appear under their own appropriate titles as “the souls of them that were slain.”

Whenever we attach a literal significance to a symbolic object, we immediately destroy its character as a symbol. This should not be done. With the exception of those instances where the nature of an object forbids its symbolization and where the description must therefore of necessity be literal, we should always look for the true fulfilment, not in that department from which the symbol is drawn, but in another department—that to which the symbol by analogy refers us.

The limits and object of the present work preclude an exhaustive treatment of prophecy in general. Our immediate purpose is to set forth particularly those prophecies of the divine Word which clearly portray and outline the character

[graphic]

of a world-wide religious movement in the last days. To do this effectually, however, we must

briefly consider those prophecies ent inquiry which describe the principal ecclesiastical events in history which form the basis of, or lead up to, the Last Reformation. The subject as outlined in the prophecies and as based on the facts of history, naturally divides into four parts, or epochs, as follows:

I The Apostolic Period
II The Medieval Period
III Era of Modern Sects

IV The Last Reformation For the sake of brevity, we shall, as far as possible, exclude from our present inquiry those prophecies pertaining to civil and political affairs, retaining only such as have an important bearing on the church subject.

« AnteriorContinuar »