« AnteriorContinuar »
imparted to St Paul"; but they also exhibit a chain of prophecy, which is wonderful, both in its connection and in its details; and which ought to be weighed with the greatest impartiality and deliberation, before we recede from a view of these important prophecies, which is sanctioned by the authority of so many learned men, and is confirmed by such strong internal evidences of truth.
In the midst of contemplations of such deep interest as are inspired by this view of the Apocalypse, considered as a portion of the great scheme of prophecy extending from the first promise of a Redeemer to the end of all things, it would afford little satisfaction to dwell, either on the crude theories and mistaken views which have been adopted by some expositors of the Apocalypse; or on the blasphemies, with which it has been assailed by open infidels, or by others who are Christians only in name. But the consideration of the injuries which religion has suffered from these persons, ought to teach us a lesson of caution, how we take up hasty opinions respecting a book, which, above all others, requires a patient investigation, and an acquaintance with the whole volume of Revelation. These were the qualifications which were brought to the study of this book by such men as Mede and Vitringa, and others of more recent times, who have brought to bear upon it their prodigious stores of learning; and have applied them,
5 This is disputed by Dr Pearson, who observes, that “though it may be admitted, that the Apostles, in their Epistles, with the view of enforcing the respective objects of them referred to prophecies, as far as they were then intelligible, it seems hardly consistent with propriety to suppose, that prophe
cies were in the first instance delivered in the Epistles. Besides this, it does not appear that any of the writers of the Epistles, in their characters as such, lay claim to the ability of fore. telling future and far distant events.” Warburtonian Lectures, Lecture vil.
pp. 319, 20.
with admirable modesty and diffidence, to the illustration of this last and most interesting portion of the oracles of God. With regard to the view, which has been adopted in the preceding exposition, of the great object of the Apocalyptic prophecies, it is not only one of the deepest interest, but appears to harmonize with the whole object of the Scripture revelation. “ For the Scripture,” as Bishop Butler has admirably observed', “taken together, seems to profess to contain a kind of an abridgment of the history of the world, in this one single view, considered as God's world : that is, a general account of religion and its professors, during the continuance of that apostasy from God, and state of wickedness, which it every where supposes the world to lie in! And this account of the state of religion carries with it some brief account of the political state of things, as religion is affected by it. Revelation, indeed, considers the common affairs of the world, and what is going on in it, as a mere scene of distraction; and cannot be supposed to concern itself with foretelling, at what time, Rome, or Babylon, or Greece, or any particular place, should be the most conspicuous seat of that tyranny and dissoluteness, which all places equally aspire to be; cannot, I say, be supposed to give any account of this wild scene for its own sake. But it seems to contain some very general account of the chief governments of the world, as the general state of religion, has been, is, or shall be affected by them, from the first transgression, and during the whole interval of the world's continuing in its present state, to a certain future period, spoken of both in the Old and New Tes
I Analogy, Part 11. Chap. vii.
tament, very distinctly, and in great variety of expression : The times of the restitution of all things*: When the mystery of God shall be finished, as he hath declared unto his servants the prophets3 : when the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: And the kingdom shall not be left to other people", as it is represented to be during this apostasy, but judgment shall be given to the saints, and they shall reigns: And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most HighR.
This view of the prophecies of the Apocalypse, though it is, in some respects, one of melancholy interest, is at the same time pregnant with glorious and delightful anticipations: and though it sets forth in mournful colours the trials and afflictions which await the true religion in the world, yet it assures us of its final triumph. And when we consider the vast extent of the prophecies which are contained in this book; the immense magnitude and sublime interest of the subjects which they embrace; the general harmony which pervades the whole of this wonderful and mysterious plan,-considered, on the one hand, in connection with the divine dispensations from the beginning, and, on the other, with the future prospects of religion, as they are detailed in these prophecies to the end of all things; and when we, lastly, consider the light which the prophecies of the Apocalypse, as they approach to their fulfilment, throw upon the prophecies of the former dispensations, it gives a deep interest to the whole subject; and must convince every reflecting mind, how wonderfully the scheme of prophecy, which is contained in the Apocalypse, is suited to the place which it occupies in that dispensation of mercy, which was the subject of the first promise after the Fall, and will have its final consummation in the bappiness and the glories of eternity.
4 Dan. ii.
2 Acts iii. 21.
3 Rev. x. 7.
THE INSPIRATION OF THE APOCALYPSE.
THE INSPIRATION OF THE APOCALYPSE.
ALTHOUGH the question of the inspiration of the Apocalypse is, in one respect, involved in so much greater difficulty than that of any other part of the Bible, from the circumstance of its containing so large a mass of unfulfilled prophecy; yet, in other respects, this book possesses advantages peculiarly its own, both in the subject itself of the prophecy, and in the station which it occupies in the great scheme of prophecy relating to the divine dispensations. For the Apocalypse, being occupied with one great subject, that of man’s redemption; and stretching forth, on the one hand, through the various dispensations of prophecy, (with all of which it is intimately connected,) to the first promise of a Redeemer, which was made to man immediately after the Fall; and on the other, to that final and glorious close of the divine dispensations, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ ; in the uniformity which it exhibits in its doctrines with the great doctrines of redemption, and its harmony with the former dispensations of prophecy, possesses an evidence in support of its inspiration, which is calculated to fill the Christian with feelings of wonder