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and of the GOSPEL, during the three woes, for 1260
2. Their death, and miraculous resurrection, after three
II. The mystical woman persecuted by the old Dragon. Or the true Church, by the Devil, from the beginning to the end of the world, (Gen. iii. 15.)
2. Warfare of Michael and his angels with the Dragon and his angels, (Dan. xii. 1.) ...............
3. Thanksgiving of the spiritual Church for the victory of Michael, or CHRIST
III. The Dragon's persecuting instruments.
1. The western wild beast ;
2. The eastern; and the image of the former framed by the latter; or the Roman, Mahomedan, and Infidel powers.
IV. 1. The LAMB and his 144,000 elect, on Mount Sion,
2. The three angels of the Reformation, Wickliffe,
3. The promised reward of their patience, (Dan.
V. 1. The symbolical harvest of wrath, (Joel iii. 14—16.)
2. Her pride, luxury, and fall, (Ezek. xxvii; Isa.
3. Thanksgiving of the Heavenly Host
The white horse, and rider, CHRIST, with the sword
The New Jerusalem described, (Isa. lx. Ezek. xl-
In addition to the canons of prophetic criticism, before employed in constructing the scheme of Daniel's visions, (Vol. II. p. 494, note,) the following cautions, deduced as corollaries from the last, or fourth, were carefully attended to in constructing this more difficult, circumstantial, and comprehensive scheme. I. "Not to overlook what is already fulfilled.
II. "Not to describe as fulfilled what is still to come*." These are necessary to supply the omissions of expositors in the former branches of the prophecy, occasioned by contracted views; and also to retrench guesses respecting the latter, still unfulfilled, occasioned by unnecessarily imperfect views. These cautions, with the Divine blessing, will tend, we trust, to correct errors both of defect and excess, which have hitherto contributed to cloud the Apocalypse.
When THE LAMB opened the first seal, one of the four living creatures, with a voice as of thunder, invited the prophet "to come and see" the spectacle. Mede ingeniously supposes, p. 442, that this was the first, like a lion, stationed eastward;
These most useful cautions are given by Wesley, Notes, Vol. III. p. 218. "The folly of interpreters," says Sir Isaac Newton, (on the Apocalypse, p. 249,) "has been to foretel things by this prophecy, as if GOD designed to make them Prophets. By this rashness, they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the prophecy also into contempt. The design of GOD was much otherwise. He gave this, and the prophecies of the Old Testament, not to gratify men's curiosities, by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled, they might be interpreted by the event, and His own Providence, not the interpreters, be then manifested thereby to the world. For the events of things predicted many ages before, will then be a convincing argument that the world is governed by PROVIDENCE.
"For, as the few and obscure prophecies concerning CHRIST's first coming were for setting up the Christian Religion, (which all nations have since corrupted,) so the many and clear prophecies concerning the things to be done at CHRIST's second coming, are not only for predicting, but also for effecting a recovery and re-establishment of the long lost TRUTH, and setting up a kingdom wherein dwells righteousness, (2 Pet. iv. 13.) The event will prove the Apocalypse; and this prophecy, thus proved and understood, will open the old prophets; and all together will make known the TRUE RELIGION, and establish it."
This profound philosopher points out here the rational and scientific mode of improving our knowledge of prophetic Scripture, by proceeding in the analytic method.
"For he that will understand the old Prophets must begin with this. But the time is not yet come for understanding them perfectly, because the main revolution predicted in them is not yet come to pass: In the days of the voice of the seventh angel—the mystery of GOD shall be finished; as He declared to His servants the Prophets: and then the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of OUR LORD and of HIS CHRIST; and He shall reign for ever,' (Rev. x. 7, xi. 15, xix. 6. Compare 1 Cor. xv. 24-28.)
"There is already so much of the prophecy fulfilled, that as many as will take pains in this study may see sufficient instances of GOD's providence: but then, the signal revolutions predicted by all the holy Prophets, will at once both turn men's eyes upon considering the prediction, and plainly interpret them. Till then we must content ourselves with interpreting what hath been already fulfilled."
which was the ensign of the tribe of Judah, in the eastern quarter of the camp of Israel, (Numb. ii. 3; Ezek. i. 10, xi. 14,) Rev. vi. 1.
1. The opening of the first seal exhibited a white horse, and his rider an archer, with a crown; emblematical of CHRIST, his victory, triumph, and royalty; at first "conquering" by suffering, and finally "to conquer" all his foes, according to ancient prophecy, (Gen. iii. 15; Deut. xxxii. 23; Psalm xlv. 1-7, &c.) ver. 2.
We date this, with Mede, Grotius, Hammond, Whiston, Lowman, Walmsley, &c. at CHRIST'S resurrection and ascension, A.D. 31, “when he led captivity captive, received and gave gifts to men" at the foundation of his Church, on the day of Pentecost, (Psalm lxviii. 18; Ephes. iv. 8; Acts i. 8, ii. 4.)
Bishop Newton, Wood, &c. suppose the horseman to be Vespasian; Bengelius, Wesley, &c. suppose that Trajan was meant. But surely no earthly conqueror corresponds to the future conquest, iva vinon, to the end of time.
Lowman, though he applies it to Christ's kingdom, dates it too late, A.D. 95, the time of the vision. For this leaves an unaccountable chasm between the chronological prophecies of Daniel and John, which is completely filled up in the present scheme. The commencement of the seals immediately follows the first appearance of THE LAMB on the stage, after he had been newly sacrificed, 5, 6. The vision, therefore, plainly had a retrospect to time past, as well as a view of the present, and a prospect of the future.
2. The opening of the second seal exhibited a red horse, whose rider wore a great sword, and was commissioned to take peace from the earth, that they might kill each other. He was invited to see this, by the second living creature, like an ox, westward of the throne, ver. 3, and, according to our Lord's predictions, (Matt. x. 34, 35, xxiv. 6-9.) Persecutions, wars, and massacres, raged especially through the western, or Roman empire, from the first Jewish persecution of Stephen, A.D. 34, during the ensuing wars and massacres of the persecutors, by each other, till the desolation of Judea by Adrian, A.D. 135.
Commentators generally limit this season to the reigns of Vespasian, a Spaniard, and Adrian; and thereby leave an unaccountable chasm between the first and second seals.
3. The opening of the third seal exhibited a black horse,
(Lam. v. 10,) whose rider had a balance, or scales in his hand, to weigh wheat and barley, in a season of scarcity, (Ezek. iv. 16.) The price of a chonix, or about a pint of wheat, for a denarius, or seven pence halfpenny, the daily wages of a labourer, was excessively dear. The oil and wine were spared, by direction of a voice from the midst of the four creatures, probably of the third, at the southern corner, ver. 5, 6. And accordingly, in the reign of Septimius Severus, an African, and afterwards, Tertullian notices a general scarcity, occasioned by violent rains and bad harvests, which he considered as the judgments of GOD on the Roman empire, for persecuting the Christians.
The opening of the fourth seal, which he was invited to see by the fourth creature, like an eagle, at the northern corner of the throne, exhibited a pale horse, whose rider, Death, and associate Hades, had power to kill the fourth part of the earth with the sword, famine, death, or pestilence, and wild beasts, (God's four sore judgments, Ezek. xiv. 21,) ver. 7, 8. And accordingly, these all raged in the reign of the emperor Maximus, a Thracian, and afterwards, chiefly in Europe; as we learn from the historians of those times, Julius Capitolinus, Zonaras, Zosimus, Cyprian, &c.
Five hundred wolves, we are told, entered a depopulated city, in which the younger Maximin happened to be. The Heathens malignantly ascribed all these public calamities to the Christians, according to Arnobius.
The four war seals, as we may term them, from the horsemen, were succeeded by
5. The opening of the fifth seal, which represented the cry of the martyrs, sacrificed at the foot of the altar, (whose blood was offered up as a libation to God, 2 Tim. iv. 6, Phil. ii. 17,) supplicating for redress*. They were furnished with white vestments, and exhorted to wait patiently for a little while, till the persecutions of their fellow servants and brethren, who were to be killed, as they were, should be fulfilled also, ver. 9-11. This probably took place in the last and bloodiest persecution of Diocletian. The martyrs are to wait for their reward, along with the two faithful witnesses, to be slain in the
This representation seems much to favour the consciousness of departed saints; and hardly to consist with that uncomfortable opinion of their insensible state, till after the resurrection." Lowman, p. 51.
last woe, Rev. xi. 7—12, at the resurrection of the just, or first resurrection, Rev. xx. 4—6.
6. The opening of the sixth seal, disclosed a still more awful and fearful spectacle than any of the preceding; great shaking of heaven and earth, eclipses of the sun and moon, falling of stars in great abundance, the heavens parched up as a scroll, the mountains and islands removed from their places; the kings and nobles, all the people, from the highest to the lowest, hiding themselves in caves and rocks of the mountains from the face of GOD and the wrath of THE LAMB, in the day of his great wrath, ver. 12-17.
This aptly represents the tremendous convulsions and unsettlements of the Roman empire, during the civil wars and struggles of the two contending parties, the Pagan and the Christian, for dominion. The kings and nobles of the former, Maximian, Galerius, Maximin, Licinius, overthrown, with all their adherents, by Constantine the Great, and his Christian armies; and Galerius, Maximin, and Licinius, before they were cut off by the sword, confessing the just punishments of GOD and his CHRIST, in their destruction! See the excellent observations of Mede, p. 447, &c. and Bishop Newton, Vol. III. p. 69.
7. The opening of the seventh seal stopped these dreadful judgments, and produced half an hour's silence in heaven, a silence more expressive than any words, to describe the ensuing tranquillity that followed Constantine's sole sovereignty, after the defeat of Licinius, A.D. 323.
The first act of his reign was to suppress the heathen sacrifices, and their attendant abominations; and to establish the Christian religion in their room. For which Heliogabalus had prepared the way *.
• Montesquieu has sagely noticed a singular paradox; that by a secret dispensation of Providence, one of the worst and vilest of the Heathen Emperors, (who preceded Constantine, about a century,) Heliogabalus, "greatly contributed to the establishment of Christianity."
Varius Bassianus, before his election to the empire, A.D. 218, by the soldiery, in opposition to Macrinus, was priest of the Sun, then worshipped in Syria, in a stately temple at Emesa, under the name of Eleugabalus. This title, therefore, the Emperor assumed, and formed the mad project to destroy all the other objects of religious veneration at Rome, and suffer no God to be worshipped there but Eleagabalus. He erected a magnificent temple to him, profaned all the other temples, stripped them of their orna