« AnteriorContinuar »
any rate, is either a readier detection of error, or a more perfect conviction, if the interpretation be satisfactory."*
Influenced by a sense of the justice of the above observations, and having for twelve years turned my attention to the study of prophecy, I therefore determined to aim at giving a connected view of the whole prophecies of the seals and trumpets of the Apocalypse, so far as they appear to have been accomplished; and to imbody in it the substance of my argument respecting the twelve hundred and sixty years ; but in such a way as to divest that argument of the shape and appearance of controversy. In what manner the above design has been executed, the public will decide. I could have wished that more time had been devoted to the execution of my purpose ; but being much engaged in secular affairs of various kinds, I had not a choice in this respect. What is now submitted to the public, with the exception of the Preface, some of the Notes, and the last chapter, was written in the intervals of business, between the middle of June and of January last; and I cannot but feel that some parts of the work have been finished in rather a hasty manner. But I thought it better to let it go forth as it is, than to delay the publication of it for another year. Should this volume reach a second edition, I shall be glad to avail myself of any critical remarks which may be made upon it to render it less imperfect.
In this work, I take for granted, that the four beasts seen by Daniel in the seventh chapter of his prophecies, signify the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman monarchies; and that the little horn of the fourth beast is a symbol of the Papal power; and likewise that the Babylon of the Apocalypse is the Church of Rome. These may be considered as first principles in the study of prophecy, of which no well instructed Protestant ought to be ignorant; and it is not reasonable to expect that every one who takes up his pen on the subject of prophecy, should return back to prove anew those first principles which few persons call in question, and which have already been established in the writings of the ablest commentators.t
* Christian Observer, vol. v. p. 557, for 1906. + I have deemed it proper, in this edition of my work, to leave out all that part of the preface of the first edition, containing strictures on the opinion of the author of A Christian's Survey of all the primary Events and periods of the World. The position of that writer, with respect to the little horn of Daniel's fourth beast, has been overthrown by the events of the last four years; and with regard to his opinion concerning the 1260 prophetical days, the reader will find some remarks in the Preface to this edition. Under these circumstances, it appears to me quite unnecessary to re-publish my former strictures, a great part of which are no longer applicable to the existing state of things. -2d. Edit. + Luke xviii, 8.
In these pages the reader will find frequent mention of the second personal advent of our Lord. I am aware that it is the common doctrine of the present day, both among private Christians and the teachers of religion, to interpret, in a figurative sense, many of those passages which I suppose to refer to that great event. But I have the support of the greatest writers on prophecy in understanding them literally ; and the opinion which I now hold on this point, is not only the result of a long and most attentive consideration of the prophetical Scriptures, but was slowly and reluctantly formed, in opposition to early prejudices. In the continued prevalence of the opposite sentiment, which places the second advent of our Saviour at the close of the Millennium, and thus supposes it to be yet many ages distant from our times, we may discern the symptoms of that spirit of unbelief which our Lord assures us shall mark the period when he appears again. “ Nevertheless “ when the Son of Man cometh, shall be find faith in the earth?”* by which is meant, not faith in the doctrines of his Gospel in general, but in the particular promises which relate to the second advent.
On this point I shall introduce the following quotation from King's remarks on the signs of the times.t
« On the one hand, the Jews would not apprehend, nor believe, the words of holy prophecy written concerning our Lord's first coming, in his state of deep humiliation and suffering, being dazzled with bright apprehensions of what was written concerning his second coming, his coming in glory; and on the other hand the Christian world are now in the contrary extreme, too backward to believe and apprehend what is really written in the same words of holy prophecy concerning his second coming upon earth in glory, being blinded by their constant habit of contending against the Jews chiefly for the former, and by the presumptuous mystical application which has taken place, by means of applying those holy words that relate to the latter merely to the fancied prosperity of the Christian Church on earth ; though such fancied prosperity is a misapplication of the words, in direct contradiction to all the warnings of our Lord himself and of his holy Apostles.”
+ Pages 26, 27.
I shall now state some of the principles upon which I proceed in interpreting the Apocalypse.
1st. I assign to the same symbols the same meaning; or where there is any variation of signification I endeavour to fix the meaning on the principles of analogy.
2d. I apply no prophecy of the Apocalypse to more than one series of events : i. e. I deny that the principles of a first and secondary sense, however it may be admitted in interpreting the unchronological prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, &c., can be allowed in explaining the Apocalypse.*
3d. I apply symbols of the same nature, or homogeneous, to similar objects.
4th. I do not attempt to explain every minute part of a symbol, but content myself with endeavouring to seize its great outlines. This rule is well known, and carefully observed by all judicious expositors of the Scriptural parables. Now I consider the symbols of the Apocalypse in the light of prophetical parables.
5th. In ascertaining the places of the different visions, and their chronological coincidence, I pay strict attention to the internal marks mentioned by Mr. Frazer, in his excellent rule for that purpose, which is as follows :
“ The internal marks inserted in the prophecies of the Revelation may be fitly compared to the corresponding loops in the curtains of the tabernacle: by observing them, the Levites discovered the place of each separate curtain, and joined them together, so as to form one tent. So by these marks, the attentive reader is able to discover the place of each separate vision-whether it carries on the collateral prophecy, or gives a collateral representation of times already mentioned; and to connect them so as to form one connected prophecy.
* The first and second of these principles are nearly the same with two of Mr. Faber's rules.
“ Now I find, that after the seventh trumpet sounds (Rev. xi. 15), and a brief summary is given of the events contained in it in the three following verses, it is said (ver. 19), I saw the tabernacle of the temple of God in heaven opened. This expression I consider as a mark inserted like the loop in the edge of the curtain, where the series of the narration is broken off.
“ Accordingly the same words are repeated (Rev. xv. 5.), like the corresponding loop in the edge of the other curtain ; then it is said, And the seven angels came out of the temple having the seven plagues, which shows that the first of these vials fol. lows after the sounding of the seventh trumpet."
To conclude, whether any advances are made, in the following pages, towards a more perfect explanation of this mysterious book, it is not for me to judge. But as I cannot hope to have avoided mistakes, I would desire to imbibe the spirit of the following passage from Archdeacon Woodhouse's Introduction to his work on the Apocalypse.“ Truth, in this important research is, I hope, as it ought to be, my principal concern; and I shall rejoice to see these sacred prophecies truly interpreted, though the correction of my mistakes should lay the foundation of so desirable a superstructure.”