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promptly, on hearing his son's dream, "Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?”—and I apprehend that intelligent Jews would in subsequent ages be equally familiar with the signification of such language in their prophets.*
As the sun signified in Jacob's case the patriarch himself, or head of the family, so in the political state it is the king, or supreme ruler. I am not aware of any scripture that clearly proves the moon to symbolize the Church, though it is generally so interpreted: unless it be that, as the wife of Jacob was intended by the moon in Joseph's dream, so the Church is also frequently compared to a woman betrothed or united in marriage. It may be presumed in the case of Rachel to signify reflected authority; and as all these symbols must be referred to Christ and his kingdom, as containing their great antitype ; Sun so is he the great King or of righteousness," by whom all kings reign; and the Church shines only by an authority and light borrowed from him. The stars, or heavenly host, exclusive of the sun and moon, symbolize princes, magistrates and rulers, in church or state, or both, according to the context. Thus when in Isaiah xxiv it is said,
that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth, and they shall be gathered together (the host and the kings) and shut up in prison, &c."
MATTHEW XXIV, XXV; LUKE XXI.
it is evident that princes and mighty ones are intended.‡
The heavens in this symbolical sense will of course mean the whole host of the celestial luminaries-sun, moon, and stars; comprehending political authorities in general, and institutions supported by them. The darkening any of these lights signifies the diminution or extinction of the power of those symbolized; just as "a cloudy and dark day" is a figure for a time of wrath or judgement. The following Scriptures will sufficiently prove the correctness of the above interpretation: Isaiah xlvii, 5; Ezek. xxxii, 7, 8 and xxxiv, 12; Rev. viii, 12 and xvi, 10. The shaking of the heavens is only another figure for figure for similar judgements on rulers and kingdoms, even to their extinction. Thus in Haggai the Lord says: "I will shake the 'heavens and the earth; and I
will overthrow the throne of king'doms; and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots and those that ride in them, and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother."mIn which passage the whole of what follows after the words, I will shake the heavens," appears to be explanatory of them.
I apprehend I need not enter into much argument to prove that the prophecy before us is in this sense fulfilling at the present time. Since the French Revolution we have seen the thrones of the con
* Perhaps Judges v, 20 was understood in some such sense.
+ Compare Ephes. v, 31, 32 with Rev. xxi, 2 and 9. m Hag. ii, 21, 22.
I question if the words "and the kings of the earth" be not exegetical of the previous sentence; the word and having the sense of even. Such explanatory sentences are common in Isaiah and the Psalms, (some instances of which I shall presently offer;) and they are particularly useful in helping to fix the meaning of symbolical and figurative language.
tinental kingdoms shaken to their and the waves roaring; men's foundation; and a republican spirit is now ready to burst forth, like an eruption of volcanic matter, and overwhelm them all.* all.* We have already seen France, Belgium, Italy, the territories of the Duke of Brunswick, and other places, affected by the revolutionary spirit; Ireland and our own country are evidently ripe for explosion; Poland and Switzerland have been the theatre of popular tumults and struggles; Spain and Portugal are likely immediately to be involved in a war, which will provoke a collision of similar revolutionary principles with those of despotism and intolerance. Nor is royalty the only object of present attack; the nobles of every rank are also aimed at. They have been temporarily extinguished in France, and are now seriously menaced again; whilst the indications of hostility against them in our own formerly happy land are too fierce and loud to be mistaken. Still more clearly indicated is the hoarse croak of war against prelates, and against all established churches and I am fully persuaded that it will ere long be as distinctly heard assailing the real ministers of Christ of every denomination. I deem it utterly impossible for any pious minister to be faithful, and to declare the whole counsel of God, and not become odious to a generation which clearly hates every thing in the shape of authority, whether political or ecclesiastical, but specially to be reminded of the word and the authority of Jehovah. Woe, woe, woe, to my country, to Europe, to the world!
hearts failing them for fear, and 'for looking after those things which are coming on the earth." I must first explain the figurative part of the passage ;-in proceeding to which I am aware, that I expose myself to the objection of mixing literal and figurative clauses in the same sentence. But though I plead for the literal sense of Scripture in the main; yet, like all other principles, it may be carried to an extreme which it certainly is, if we are not kept within those rules and limits discoverable in the Scriptures themselves. It is no uncommon thing to meet with such mixed passages in the Scriptures though I confess there is usually some internal mark by which a careful reader, well acquainted with Scripture phraseology, may distinguish the several sentences or clauses. Some such places interpret themselves;-others become evident from the necessity of taking certain portions spiritually or figuratively;and others arise from the ordinary use of certain words and phrases, which become as it were tropical expressions, from their frequent occurrence in that figurative sense. Thus in Isaiah xliv, 3, 4—“ I will pour water on him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground : I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed and my blessing upon thy 'offspring and they shall spring up
among the grass, as willows by the water courses who doubts the figurative meaning of those portions marked by italics, notwithstanding the literal portion of it?
Το pass however to the passage before us, the sea and the waves roaring," it happens, that there are few expressions of more frequent occurrence in a figurative use of
This leads me to the terrestrial signs: upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea
* Since this was written the news has been received of the recent explosion in Paris.
at the funeral of General La Marque.
them; nor any more fully explained by the context. It must first be observed, that "waters" and " waves" of the sea are interchangeable terms in Scripture: otherwise some of the passages to which I shall advert will not be satisfactory. Thus in Psalm xciii,- The floods have lifted up, ' O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice the floods lift up their < waves: the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters—the mighty waves of the
Now in Rev. xvii, 15, an infallible interpreter assures us, that waters are << peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues :" but as the Apocalypse is so avowedly symbolical, I will prefer adducing a few instances of a different character. In Jeremiah li, 13, Babylon is thus addressed ; O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come:" in which sentence, though the two last clauses are literal, the first appears from the context to be figurative : for verses 43, 44, and 55 show that these waters are the nations which she had subdued, but which instead of flowing to her any longer as tributary streams, would all at once overflow and destroy her;
The sea is come up upon Babylon; she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof. Her cities are a desolation. &c."“The waters shall not flow together ' any more unto him. (Bel)”—“The Lord hath spoiled Babylon, and destroyed out of her the great voice; when her waves do roar like great waters, a noise of their voice is uttered." Again in Isa. lx, 5,
of Zion it is said
of the sea shall be converted unto
thee, the forces of the Gentiles 'shall come unto thee :" in which the latter phrase is evidently explanatory of the first.
From the few instances brought forward it may already have been perceived, that the sea and the waves roaring" must signify nations and multitudes in an unsettled and revolutionary or hostile state, threatening destruction. This will appear more evident as we proceed. "God is our refuge and strength, a
very present help in trouble : therefore will we not fear though 'the earth be removed, and though
the mountains (the symbol of kingdoms, having established and settled governments) be carried ‹ into the midst of the sea; though 'the waters thereof roar and be troubled; though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” (Ps. xlvi, 1-3.) In the sixth verse the whole is thus explained : The HEATHEN raged, the KINGDOMS were moved, HE uttered his voice, the ' earth melted." Verses 8-10 further prove, that the melting of the earth must also be a figure; because it evidently remains afterwards, with the spoils and desolations of war upon it. Again in Psalm lxv, 7 it is said of God, that he stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people in which sentence the latter clause, though the word "and" is prefixed, is not an additional circumstance, but is explanatory of the former. A similar explanatory intermixture may be perceived in Psalm cxxiv, 2 —5. If it had not been the Lord
* This one clear example may suffice: if otherwise, the Reader will find the term waters used for waves in Isaiah xi, 9 and lvii, 20, and in other places.
†The whole of this prophecy seems strikingly typical of the circumstances which shall attend the fall of mystical Babylon. Let the pious Reader ponder in these times verses 45-48.
Further instances are Jer. 1, 38; Ezek. xxvi, 3; xxvii, 25; and Dan. vii, 3.
men rose up against us: then they
had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: 'then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our 'soul: then the proud waters had gone over our soul." So again in Isaiah v, 26-" The Lord will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, &c." and at verse 30 it is said of them ;-" And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof;”—altogether very similar language to that in the prophecy before us. I will only beg the Reader's attention to two passages more, which I will merely place in juxta position, without any comment. "Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise I like the noise of the seas; and to 'the rushing of nations, that make a
rushing like the rushing of mighty • waters ! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters : 'but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the moun'tains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. And behold at evening time trouble; and before the morning he is 'not. This is the portion of them that spoil us and the lot of them that rob us."n" We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power and hast ' reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and
the ark of his testament, and there
were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail !”
I have thought it needful to enlarge on this point, for the purpose of convincing the Reader of the frequency of this figure in the prophetical Scriptures; (and I could add numerous other passages ;) and also because almost all the quotations possess a peculiar interest of themselves. I return now to the exposition.
Surely we have had "distress of nations!" The landed, the funded, the mercantile, the agricultural, the manufacturing, the shipping, the trading interests, all in turn have experienced depression and distress; and so extensive has it been, that the members and adherents of different administrations have repeatedly pointed to its prevailing throughout every nation of the continent, as a proof that it did not originate from their own political measures. And the "perplexity" concerning its cause and cure have been equally remarkable. Numerous reasons have been assigned for it, all differing from each other! the war, the peace ;-paper currency, and return to cash payments;-superabundant harvests,* scarcity of crops;-free trade, restrictions upon it;-machinery, taxes, borough-mongers, and
n Isa. xvii, 12—14.
* This was first blasphemously declared by a minister of state; and it was immediately followed by crops below the average, with partial droughts and famine.
various others. The remedies proposed have been if possible still more numerous, and some of them have been adopted: but perplexity and distress have nevertheless increased rather than diminished; and throughout it all the hand of God is not acknowledged :—yea to hint, that it is a judgement, is in high places scouted with derision !— Therefore for all this, the Lord's anger is not turned away, but his arm is stretched out still.' Then we have "the sea and the the sea and the waves roaring." What I have said What I have said concerning the signs in the sun, moon and stars, has led me in great measure to anticipate this point: for the perilous condition of all rulers, governments, and nobles arises from the seditious spirit existing among the people. All the governments of Europe are obliged to maintain enormous standing armies, notoriously for the purpose of keeping down the revolutionary spirit that prevails. Various demonstrations have already occurred, in different countries. In our own country we have awful symptoms: in some places we have had dreadful riots and outrages; (e. g. Bristol, Derby and Nottingham ;) in others incendiary fires, destruction of machinery, with tumultuous and violent assemblages of the peasantry; and in all populous places political unions are formed to overawe and control the government by physical force. Too generally the voice of infidelity, blasphemy and speaking evil of dignities is heard; and thousands have shown that their throat is an open sepulchre, the poison of asps under
their lips, and their feet swift to
Is it to be wondered at, that men's hearts begin to fail them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth? The rapidity with which events are rushing upon us, appear to arrest the attention of all who are considerate, and to inspire them with apprehension.* There are indeed, multitudes who are yet, alas ! hugging themselves in a fond delusion; as if every thing around us, both religious and political, were improving. But I fear even these will soon have cause to tremble: for if I mistake not, those who are not utterly given up to hardness and blindness will speedily awake to the real character and tendency of prevailing principles, and all at once. discover, that they have been themselves hallooing on the dogs of war, and promoting their own destruction by a spurious and infidel liberalism.
* A well known philanthropist (falsely so called, for he is also a most notorious though talented infidel,) recently said to a friend of the Writer, when conversing on the signs of the times; that it was evident we were being hurried forward towards some tremendous crisis; and that without being able to define what was coming, he felt his mind oppressed with apprehension, just as if a black thunder cloud was impending over him." They are the only happy men after all (said he, pointing to a Bible) who can believe that book: for if that be true, they have nothing to fear."