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general convulsion on the Continent is not the actual earthquake of the seventh vial.
It is a happy circumstance, however, where any difference of opinion exists, if that of a neutral and unbiassed party can be obtained ; and on this occasion I can safely appeal to the political writers, who one and all bear testimony to the fact that the second political earthquake has already commenced. The following observations of the Morning Herald on the 8th ult. were directly in point: “ The shock of the French Revolution pervades the Continent, from the shores of the Tagus to the banks of the Volga, and kings and nations feel the trembling of the political earthquake.” And amongst many other evidences which might be adduced to the same effect, it is said in the paper for this very day, that “the Revolution of 1830 . was but the bringing to perfection that of 1789,” and the two Revolutions are here placed in connexion with one another, as they are, by the symbols of the two earthquakes in verses 13 and 19 of Rev. xi.
I consider, therefore, that the period of the sixth vial, and its action amongst the Papal nations of the Western Roman empire, ended in September 1823, by the putting down the revolutionary spirit in Spain by the French arms, and that the period of the seventh vial then commenced, though its action only began on the 27th of July last.
I am, &c.
Tuesday, Oct. 5, 1830.
Remarks on the interpretation of Prophecy, and of the
Apocalyptic Symbols—exemplified in the interpretation of the Seventh Vial.
Sir,—The great, I should almost say the only obstacle to that general diffusion of the knowledge of the prophecies, which it is so desirable and necessary to effect in the present awful crisis of the world, is the prejudice, the accumulation of ages, which has been produced by the continued failure of every attempt to give any such explanation of them (and more especially of the book of the Apocalypse) as shall carry conviction to the mind, or be adopted as a whole by perhaps any other individual than the expositors themselves; who have been even sometimes found to destroy, by a sweeping condemnation, the long-laboured productions of their own hands. So that it is hardly to be wondered at, though much to be lamented, if every attempt at exposition be now met by incredulity on the part of the Church; or that like the deaf adder she should stop her ears, when any one takes up the sweet harp of prophecy.
The contempt thus manifested should have been confined to scoffers without the Church, who might naturally have been expected to mock over her poverty and infirmity ; but it has unfortunately been participated in even by those appointed to minister in her service, and has been transferred, in a considerable degree, to the prophetic Scriptures themselves ; so that they have not hesitated to bring up an evil report of that good and pleasant land, as one that eateth up its inhabitants, and to dissuade from any attempt to take possession of it, notwithstanding it is the peculiar gift of Christ to his people; while in direct contradiction to his own encouraging invitation, introductory to the Apocalypse, “ Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy,” they have not hesitated to say that there is no blessing to be expected from its perusal; not seeing that they thereby expose themselves to one of the most awful denunciations of Christ's anger, contained in the whole of the Scriptures, by which this portion of it is sanctioned : “ If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
* This Letter appeared in the Record of December 2, 1830,
All that can be said to comfort the Church under this weighty and just charge, of having treated the message of the Lord with contempt, is, that it may be hoped the days of their thoughtless ignorance in this matter God hath winked at; a certain period being fore-ordained in the dispensations of his wisdom, for this farther revelation of himself to his Church; as formerly with respect to the revelation of his grace to the heathen world; for it is written, that the words of the prophecy were closed up and sealed " till the time of the end ;" i. e., to that of the seventh vial just commenced : (see Dan. xi. 40. xii. 4, 9,) but now he calleth upon every one to repent of this their sinful negligence; because he has appointed a day in which he will visit her in mercy, and come in judgment upon the kingdoms of this world, and it rapidly approaches. May those who have been most culpable testify their sense of their error, by being the most forward in their exertions, through the light of that divine word which they have despised, to warn the world of their danger, and to prepare the Church for that most awful, yet glorious, of all events,
But it may be well to consider a little the arguments by which a non-compliance with the injunction to read the word of prophecy has been attempted to be justified. They are usually such as these ; that before they are fulfilled they are impenetrably obscure; and that when fulfilled they will be so perfectly intelligible that no one can mistake respecting them : whence the inference is clear, that it can at no time be necessary to make them a subject of serious and diligent research. If, however, we examine the grounds of this argument, by a reference to matters of fact, we shall find, at least with respect to that important prophecy the Apocalypse of St. John, that it is completely untenable ; for though the first four seals have been the longest fulfilled, the Church has hitherto been entirely in the dark as to their interpretation: which obscurity pervading more or less the whole of the Apocalypse, has arisen from every commentator who has yet written upon it, having considered the seven trumpets as springing out of the seventh seal ; a mis-arrangement which has been in fact the sole cause of all the difficulty that has been experienced, and of all the consequent variety of unsuccessful interpretations which have been justly termed the great opprobrium of the subject.
The obscurity then complained of being found equally to affect all parts of the Apocalypse, the distinction made on this ground between the prophecies which are fulfilled and those which are not, considering the former alone as proper subjects of inquiry, cannot be maintained ; nor can the Apocalypse, as a perfect whole, be subject to such mutilation. Add to which, that before we can divide them into the two classes of the fulfilled, and the unfulfilled, we must already have carried the study of the book to the highest point of perfection.
Some have further undertaken to assert, as an additional ground for making this distinction, that God does not
design by prophecy to make us acquainted with events before they come to pass. But what know we of this ; or what authority have we to pronounce upon the unrevealed purposes of God, and to set up our own conjectures thus in opposition to his commands? The general declaration, Blessed is he that readeth the words of this prophecy,” having no reference to any particular part or portion thereof, should be sufficient to dissipate a thousand such unfounded assertions. When Christ, giving to his Church a warning of future judgments, referred to a yet unfulfilled prophecy of Daniel, he said, “ He that readeth let him understand ;” and on another occasion he enjoined them to make the designed use of the foreknowledge which had been given to them, saying, “ Lo! I have told you before."
As a practical example, however, will best establish the truth of these positions, we will consider the prophecy of the seventh apocalyptic vial, yet future, or but just beginning to be fulfilled ; and examine how far it may justify the current opinion, as to the uselessness of attempting to study prophecy, until after the events, to which it relates, shall have taken place; or whether it be possible, having obtained the meaning of the preceding prophecies, to read this without interpreting it also. It thus begins :
“ The seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great.” (Rev. xvi. 18.) The earth constituting the basis of every structure, or of all things erected thereon, as the mass of the common people are the basis of every political institution, or of the social edifice, an earthquake is the symbol employed in the Apocalypse to represent a political convulsion, or popular revolution; and occurs also in Rev. vi. 12, and xi. 13, in both of which passages it describes