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: 6. The selection of Catholic stations, and the dis- | dence and undisturbed satisfaction pervades both position of spiritual forces, generally display much productions; and the new consideration which they skill and worldly wisdom. The great attention also have been obliged to give to their respective views, paid to the education of the young deserves more of has resulted apparently in such increased conviction the imitation of Protestants. But we must recom. of the soundness of these, that they are not only demend, for these and other lessons, the perusal of the livered from all doubt themselves, but can hardly detail of the Directory.
take it patiently, that any doubt or uncertainty We cannot conclude this brief notice without should be entertained by others. bearing our testimony to the extent and usefulness There is no book of Scripture which so peculiarly of the charitable institutions connected with the calls for the exercise of a mild, patient, and uudogCatholic Church, especially those in and around the matizing spirit, as that of the Revelation of St John; metropolis. The societies for visiting the sick, for and yet, there is none in connexion with which we feeding and clothing the poor, for reclaiming the more frequently miss this meekness of wisdom on profligate, for maintaining the aged and destitute, the part of interpreters. The darkness of its symand for other works of mercy and charity, are sup- bols, and the complication of its structure, which in ported with an assiduity and success worthy of admi. themselves are so much fitted to inspire modesty and ration. The agency of these societies is chiefly car. caution, seem to acquire, through the very hardness of ried on by those who have voluntarily devoted the struggle to inform them with light and meaning, themselves to such labours of love. We lament and a kind of imperious ascendency over the mind of the deplore, of course, the motive of self-righteous merit interpreter, so that he is apt to grow confident and that too much influences the conduct of those so dogmatical in proportion to the natural darkness and nobly engaged. The text prefixed to the list of obscurity of the region he has striven to illuminate. charitable societies in the Almanack, is from the book Yet surely it is time now, gathering wisdom from of Tobias, and not from the WORD OF GOD: “Alms the manifold failures of the past, to regard a different deliver from all sin, and from death, and will tone as here proper and becoming; for, how many not suffer the soul to go into darkness!” For earlier schemes of interpretation have the progress as many as, with sincere, though unenlightened, of inquiry, and the silent march of providence itself, piety, are seeking to serve God, and to do good to already conducted to their grave ! how many of the their fellow-men, our “heart's desire and prayer to wise and learned of former generations, who were God is that they may be saved. For we bear them the most assured in their convictions, would now, record that they have a zeal for God, but not accord- were they to rise from the dead, be ashamed of their ing to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's confidence! No man ever deserved more the designarighteousness, and going about to establish their own tion of wise and learned than the illustrious Bengel, righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto who also united with his other acquirements, in a rethe righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of markable degree, meekness of spirit, penetration of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” mind, and general sobriety of judgment. Yet even (Rom. x. 1-4.) But this also is " a faithful saying,” he seems to have been scarcely able to preserve his and which we would constantly affirm,“ that they equilibrium on this fascinating ground; and it was which have believed in God might be careful to not without feelings of melancholy we some time maintain good works.” (Titus üi. 8.) While we ago read the following strain of confident satisfaction desire for Papists better knowledge as the foundation contained in a letter of his to a friend in 1724: " It of their zeal, we cannot help at the same time long is impossible for me to withhold from you a discloing for the exhibition among Protestants of more sure; which, however, I must request you to keep zeal proportionate to their knowledge.
entirely to yourself. By the help of the Lord I have
found the number of the Beast. It is 666 years ELLIOTT’S LETTERS TO KEITH, AND AN. calypse is of importance, and even consoles me with
from a. D. 1143, to a. D. 1809. This key to the ApoOTHER WORD ON THE INTERPRETATION respect to the repeated losses of my infant children; OF THE APOCALYPSE.
for, those who are born in this generation are enter.
ing into troublous times.” There were, indeed, If it is not the most agreeable task, it is at least one troublous times both before and after the year 1809, that presents little temptation to partiality in judg. but not such as Bengel anticipated; and this great ment, when one has to do the part of umpire in a and good man was, after all, consoling himself in the conflict in which both combatants are regarded as time of his bereavement with what was not so occupying untenable grouud. We have felt ourselves properly a light from heaven as the false glow of a much in this situation, while perusing the attack and fancy captivated by the sparks of its own kindling: rejoinder of the two disputants before us, on certain We regret that the respectable and eminent indi. points connected with the interpretation of the Apo- viduals before us should have been so little mindful calypse. Where they differ from each other, it sel. of the lesson furnished by such examples in the dom happens that we can hold precisely with either; past. A tone of self-confident, and sometimes even and though they will both naturally regard it as an braggart-like, assurance characterizes their respective unsavoury commencement to our observations, yet charges and defences, plentifully spiced, also, with we only confess to the irresistible impression pro. taunting and sarcastic expressions, which would have duced upon our minds by their respective produc- been unjustifiable in any works bearing on the intertions, when we say, that they have laboured to far pretation of Scripture, but which seem to us pecumore effect in the blows they have dealt against each liarly out of place in writings connected with the other's opinions, than in the defences they have interpretation of the Apocalypse. Dr Keith, in his raised in behalf of their own. No suspicion of this strictures on Mr Elliott's Horæ, prefixed to the last sort, however, appears to have once crossed the minds edition of his Signs of the Times, unhappily struck the of the authors themselves. An air of entire confi- wrong key.noté in' this respect; and Mr Elliott
complains, not without reason, of the insinuations they in our view been materially affected by the and charges with which the objections to his scheme new explanations and defence contained in the were accompanied—although, we think, he has Letters of Mr Elliott. We shall merely give an sometimes found more in these, or at least given example or two below.* them a more intensive and personal meaning than But if we have to acknowledge this much in rethey were perhaps intended to convey. But Mr gard to Dr Keith's part in the controversy, we must, Elliott has returned in his Letters a full swelling in fairness, also concede to Mr Elliott what goes a response to the note originally struck by the Doctor. considerable way to equalize the account; for he There is no mincing of the matter here; but, on the has certainly detected several inaccuracies and contrary, a regular and merciless onset, a keenness blunders in the statements of his opponent; he has of edge and a vehemence of assault, in comparison succeeded in showing, that the historical representa. of which the not unusual vagueness and indirect- tion given in the Horce is not open to all the charges ness of his opponent looks rather tame and pointless. brought against it by Dr Keith; and, by instituting He will be satisfied with nothing short of killing outright his assailant, and exposing his carcase to
* Mr Elliott had interpreted the first seal (where the symbols
are, the rider on a white horse, with a bow, having a crown given the fowls of heaven. Indeed, Mr Elliott has fallen to him, going forth conquering and to conquer), of the Roman upon a device, which seems not only to allow, but empire in the times of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antoeven to demand, some warmth of indignation and pire, its white colour as indicative of a period of prosperity,
the bow sharpness of invective. He splits his opponent into as the distinctive badge of the Cretans, to whom, by his ancestry, the
first of the above series of emperors belonged, and the crown and two, distinguishing between Dr Keith, the veritable
destination to victory as significant of the success in war which author of the Signs of the Times, and the writer of the should generally distinguish the period of those successive reigns. Strictures on the “ Horæ." These Strictures are
Omitting some minor points, Dr Keith had objected to this repre
sentation, that the bow was so commonly in use among ancient stamped with the spirit of uncharitableness,” and nations, that there was no necessity for resorting to Crete for an even “ of personal enmity and malice,” that he can.
explanation of the symbol, as if that island had a sort of prescriptive
right to its possession--that, had it been otherwise, still Nerva, not believe the estimable and respected Dr Keith is the being connected with Crete only by a remote ancestry, while
his author of them; it must be some vile Jesuit, who has family had been long domesticated in Italy, and had borne even abused the Doctor's confidence, and under bis worthy designated by a symbol which pointed only to the almost forgotten name directed such
a foul and senseless attack against birth.place of his ancestors-that, especially, when elevated to the the author of the Hore Apocalypticæ. Mr Elliott is imperial throne, and contemplated as the representative and head
of the empire, his distinctive insignia should necessarily have been of not, therefore, to be understood as belabouring Dr a Roman, not of a provincial, character-that in the case, besides, Keith in the charges he brings against the writer of
of the other members of the series, who had nothing, either by birth
or by extraction, to do with Crete, the bow, if characteristic of the Strictures, when he speaks of dulness of percep- Nerva only as a Cretan, could not properly be emblematical of tion, studied misrepresentations, malignant surmises, question were not remarkably distinguished by success in warm
them-and finally, that, with the exception of Trajan, the reigns in farragoes of absurdity, but only this wretched Jesuit which seems plainly to stand out as the most prominent feature in in disguise. With such an adversary lurking in the
the symbol. Now, in Mr Elliott's reply, while there is an immense bush, why should he stay his hand, or repress his in
dea! said about one and all of these topics, and the most strenuous
effort is made to accommodate the history to the interpretation, dignation? But why, on the other hand, should he not one of the objections is fairly met and satisfactorily removed. think it strange if others descry in this invention of Por, the question in such a case as this is not, whether some obscure
epigrams and incidental notices can be found to give some colour the Jesuit only a shallow disguise under which he of verisimilitude to the view maintained, or whether several distinct might shoot more bitter arrows against his opponent? potes of correspondence can be made out between the symbols and
of And, if it became him to feel so indignant at Dr and marked a character, as to render the symbols employed the Keith in having only incidentally, and merely in re
natural and distinctive embodiments of the history ? This is the
real question at issve ; and viewed in respect to it, the main objecspect to the entertainment of views which the Doctor tions urged all stick as so many fatal darts; nor in so far as concerns deems irreconcilable with the true honour of Jesus,
the chief purport of the symbol, successful war and continuous vic“ insinuated his resemblance to the traitor-disciple”
tory, is there even any seming correspondence in the history, er.
cepting only in the case of Trajan. If we pass from the first to the (p. 2), what may not Dr Keith justly feel at having last seal (of which the ghastly symbols are Death riding upon the his production thus deliberately and formally branded
pale horse, followed by Hades, indicating, if anything could, fear.
ful carnage and desolation), we find the same want of clear and pal. with a name, from which every honest mind recoils pable correspondence between the character of the symbols and as the appropriate badge of chicanery and deceit ?
the period assigned to them in Mr Elliott's interpretation. Allow.
ing that some of Dr Keith's objections are untenable, which we It will not be expected that we should enter at think they are, still the main strength of his argument remains un. any length into the merits of the controversy carried
broken, viz., that the reigns of Claudius, Aurelian, Probus, Carus,
and Diocletian, were by no means so characteristically sad and dison by the two disputants before us; since, not holding astrous as the symbols require, and that it was a period not less with what may be regarded as peculiar to either of distinguished by great and splendid achievements than by various their schemes, it cannot be supposed that we should drawing simply from an impartial view of the history, would ever consider it for the edification of our readers to make have thought of representing the periods assigned by Mr Elliott to them intimately acquainted with their respective Then, to refer only further to the third seal (where the chief thing
the first and fourth seals by such diametrically opposite symbols. differences. Dr Keith’s principles of interpretation in the symbol is the pair of balances with the accompanying words are not such as to render him a more satisfactory barley for a penny, and see that thou hurt not the oil and the winem and consistent expounder of the Apocalypse as a which Mr Elliott understands of the era of Caracalla, reaching from whole than his opponent (in some respects the re
about A.D. 212 to A.D. 248, and especially of the hardships and op
pressions inflicted upon the empire by the increased taxation arising verse); he, consequently, does not urge what, in our out of an edict of Caracalla, there are here, again, so many opinion, are the most radical and fundamental ob- qualifying admissions to be taken in so many brighter points rejections against the Horæ; and, even where he has a
lieving the darkness, alone demanded by the symbol, that exactness
of representation is no longer to be found. valid ground of objection in a historical point
of shown, and Mr Elliott admits that his usual author, Gibbon, does view, the defective nature of his own principles of bot bere altogether bear out his view, and he has recourse for more interpretation prevents him from taking the full so minute as to require being thus sought out by a sort of micros benefit of his advantage. We owe it to the Doctor, scopic scrutiny is of no use in a matter of this kind when it combe however, to say, that by much the greater and symbols here, and is evidently himself quite wrong about the placer weightier portion of his objections from the historical balances, which he takes in the sense of yoke; but we consider territory are justly raised against the Horæ, nor have show, if our space permitted.
Mr Elliott also wrong in some other parts, as we think we could
So Dr Keith has
an examination into the Doctor's own theory in the ception, and may now be considered the prevailing Signs of the T'imes, he has pressed with no small success one, regarding the seals, is that which has been the argumentum ad hominem, showing that Dr Keith, espoused and advocated by Mr Elliott: he only differs in a number of instances, has laid himself open to from previous interpreters by making a few subcharges of the same kind which he has brought ordinate changes in the epochs supposed to be repreagainst the author of the Horæ. We again subjoin sented, and by occasionally supporting the view a few examples for the curious.*
maintained on grounds peculiar to himself. In so Leaving all personal charges and recriminations, far as we may have occasion to refer to particulars on which it gives us no pleasure to dwell, we would connected with the theory, these will have respect rather occupy the remainder of our space by endea- to the theory as it appears in his pages, where it has vouring to contribute, if we can, something toward found, not only its latest, but also its ablest advocacy. the interpretation of the book itself, which has proved According to this theory, then, the first six seals are the occasion of this controversy. In doing which, as understood to sketch the history of the Roman emit is impossible with any success to glance at the pire from the time of John to the latter period of whole, we shall confine our attention to one depart- the fourth century, when the empire became nomiment of its symbols, that of the seals, which is also nally Christian-the change then introduced being the one on which these two interpreters differ most what is supposed to be meant by the universal conmaterially from each other, and the one, moreover, vulsion of nature in the heavens and the earth, and on which least was said in our previous article. Our the great day of the wrath of the Lamb, described remarks now, as on the former occasion, shall be under the sixth seal at the close of chapter vi. A made chiefly to bear on what is of primary impor- sort of intercalated vision follows in chapter vii., tance, the interpretation of the symbols, and only pointing more especially, in its first part, to the dark so far as may be necessary on the historical events ages, and, in its second, to the time of the end; after symbolized.t
which comes the seventh seal, unfolding itself in The theory which has met with most general re- seven trumpets, all significant of certain successive
epochs of disaster and trouble in the subsequent * Dr Keith had charged Mr Elliott with sometimes, in his ea. history of the Roman world; while, again, the last gerness to get a histor cal support to his view, “catching at a of these trumpets comprises in itself the seven last word " in Gibbon, and Mr Elliott finds Dr Keith on more than one occasion doing precisely the same. Dr Keith bad objected to the vials, which in other, and still subsequent, epochs, scheme of Mr Elliott in regard to the seals, as leaving too large a bring down the great drama to the end of God's gap somewhere in the history not accounted for between two periods, and Mr Elliott, besides vindicating bis own plan, retaliates
work upon the adversaries-so that the whole of on the Doctor, by pointing to a period immensely larger left blank the Apocalypse becomes by this view, with only one in the scheme of the Signs. “Making mountains of molehills," and thrusting the one in the place of the other, was one of the
partial exception, a chain of so many series of contaunts thrown out against Mr Elliott, referring to the insignificant nected links, all following each other in regular and historical events, which he bas sometimes made to answer to import: successive order. ant symbols; and Mr Elliott holds up with triumph Dr Keith's small event, a petty tumult among the soldiers of the Caliphs, as Now, confining our view, as we said, to the seals all that stands in the Signs of the Times in proof of the parties themselves, and more particularly to the first six, we there supposed to be represented in the second seal, " killing one another. In the interpretation, given in the same work, of the
think the view open to several fatal objections--1. lamb-like beast in Rev. xiii, which is represented as serving the First of all, we note the utter absence of any deterinterests of the first beast, Dr Keith, considering the one to be subsequent in point of time to the other, had understood the clause
minate mark, of a local or personal kind, definitely " He exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him," to de- fixing or bounding the import of the seals to any note priority of time on the part of the first beast. But Mr Elliott had remarked in his Horæ, as a sufficient objection to this, that
thing specially connected with the Roman empire. Dr Keith had fallen into a manifest blunder, by looking simply to In this they strikingly differ from that part of the the English translation, and not to the original Greek; for in the latter, the words answering to before him, can only mean before his
subsequent visions, which is admitted on all hands face, or in his presence, hence implying, not the priority, but the to have a certain respect to the Roman empire-that present existence of the first beast. And we certainly think Mr which refers to the Beast from the abyss, where, beEllott warranted in expressing some measure of surprise, that, while Dr Keith's attention was so distinctly called to the error,
sides various individualizing marks, the power that he should still, in his last edition, have made no acknowledgment actuates it is locally designated as that “city which of it, nor done more than introduce a mere verbal alteration, which only makes the mistake more palpable. Mr Elliott has, besides, pro
reigneth over the kings of the earth.” But we have duced several instances, in which there is an obvious confounding no such notes of explanation, or identifying criteria, of things that essentially differ — has justly complained of the difficulty of sometimes ascertaining the precise meaning of his op
in regard to the first six seals. Mr Elliott, it is true, ponent, on account of a certain indistinctness in the language; and has interpreted the horse, in the four first visions, as even points, on one occasion, to a directly contradictory view, alike receiving the stamp of Dr Keith's authority-the two beats in
the characteristic symbol of the Roman empire; and Rev. xlii. and xvii. being held in the signs of the Times to be the box and crown in one, the sword in another, the different, while, in an Appendix to the Evidence of Prophecy, they balances in a third, as so many distinctive badges of are regarded as identical.
+ Mr Elliott, we observe, has referred, in a note toward the the leading functionaries of the empire. But it is close of his Letters, to our remarks, in the article above referred to, impossible to deny, that one and all of these objects on the incessant mixing up of reality with symbol in the explana. tions given in the Hore, as well as by interpreters generally; and
are used symbolically in Seripture of persons and he asks what we should then say to the representation contained in things which had nothing to do with Rome; aud the Jer. iii. 6, where, with a like mixture, the people are charged with committing adultery on every high bill, and under every green
utmost, therefore, that can fairly be made of the tree "-as if the two cases were substantially parallel. On the points pressed by Mr Elliott is, that such symbols contrary, they are widely different. The Apocalypse is a book
of might, with peculiar appropriateness, bear the applisymbols (in its chief part), which the Prophecies of Jeremiah are not; and if the symbolical character is not sustained-if symbol cation he gives to them. There is still nothing to and reality are constantly running into each other, anything like direct us to this as the only natural and fitting applicertainty as to the meaning is hopeless. That the veil should be somewhat more transparent at some points than at others may be
cation; and the language throughout is studiously expected, or even necessary; but that the symbolical and the real, vague and general-"men,” “ earth,” “ souls under should be ever and anon shaking hands with each other in the manner formerly stated, is to us quite incredible. We say, further,
the altar," “sun, moon, stars," but nothing more in regard to Jeremiah, that the expression of committing adultery special—so that we begin to swim at the very outin the sense there meant, could scarcely be regarded as symbolical at all; in prophetical language, it was a phrase in common
set: a determinate local application is given to what expressing the sin of idolatry: it had become current coin. possesses no necessary or certain determinate local
import. 2. But, again, the theory in question is to the victories, the defeats, the varying troubles and opposed to the natural and obvious impression (to | vicissitudes of heathen Rome; the kingdom of God which much weight is always due in the interpreta- is not even remotely glanced at in any of them. But tion of symbols) arising from the great diversity in presently, in the fifth and sixth seals, the kingdom of the symbols, such as we should not have expected, if God not only comes into view, but the things that they only represented different phases of the same concern it rise into such prominence, that all others power-the Roman empire. If we look to the first vanish out of sight. How improbable, and contrary four seals, the horses there are each of different to all analogy, that the political should be so exclucolours, the riders upon them bear entirely different sively regarded in the earlier, and the spiritual in the insignia, and the results disclosing themselves are of later! Besides, those souls appearing under the the most dissimilar, or even opposite, description, altar in the fifth seal, how came they there? They differences which seem plainly to indicate so many are affirmed to be representative of the Diocletian distinct powers or agencies, not the successive deve- persecution, the era of the martyrs, as it is sometimes lopments, or several modifications of the same. Mr called—not so called, however, in strict propriety; Elliott has tried to meet this diversity in the sym- and it is fair to ask, why, since such insignificant bols, by introducing different parties, as representing events as the conquest or loss to imperial Řome of at successive periods the Roman empire-hence, we remote provinces are so minutely scanned and so have the symbols referred in the first to a series carefully taken into account under the preceding of emperors, in the second, to the turbulent and seals, nine persecutions of the Christian Church bloody military, in the third, to the provincial gover- should be altogether omitted, and the tenth only, the nors, while, lo! in the fourth, the empire seems to last under heathen Rome, deemed worthy of notice! have no officials whatever to represent it, but in But, not to press this, allowing that this persecution their stead come only war, famine, pestilence, and might alone be accounted of, as it certainly was wild beasts of the earth. Has the author forgot that, the severest and the longest, we might then have by the supposition the horse is the empire, so that the perceived some kind of probability in the interpretarider throughout on it should be the living head, or tion given, if those souls had been represented as agent, that represents its vitality and power? Con- falling beside the altar, or in some attitude which sistently with this supposition, the rider in all the would have bespoken that the persecution was in first four seals could only have been a kind, or series progress. But the case is entirely altered, when they of emperors; and Mr Elliott himself, at a subsequent are presented to our view as already lying under the stage of his inquiries, when treating of the seven- altar, and in the act of uttering a complaint to God, headed wild beast, makes no account of all those that he should be so long in avenging their blood. subordinate officials and incidental agencies, but could a representation be conceived more singular looks simply, during the whole of this period, to the and extraordinary, if the object had been simply to emperor as the representative, or living head, of the characterize a persecution actually proceeding? We empire. Then, when we come down to the fifth seal, should despair of being able to gather a certain inforwhich is understood to symbolize the Diocletian per: mation from any symbol, if it might not be conclusecution, instead of the agency being, as we should sively gathered from this, that the shedding of the certainly have expected, most distinctly marked, it blood was already in part, at least, accomplished, and vanishes altogether-there is no horse or rider to be the time apparently come for retribution. But if so, seen at all-the empire apparently is passive—and whence, we again ask, did these martyred souls come! the recoil from the persecution, as represented by the The preceding epochs are all understood to have been cry of the souls under the altar, is all that appears. of a merely political and worldly kind; and not a hint The defect is, if possible, still more visible in the has been dropt that so much as a saint existed, far sixth seal, which, if it really symbolized the conver- less that multitudes of saints had been martyred ! sion of the empire to the side of Christianity, and the The apparent contrariety is not less, but rather overthrow of the old paganism, surely demanded, be- more, when we come to the sixth seal, which, under yond any of the preceding epochs, the exhibition of a such appalling images as a great earthquake, fol. powerful agency to effect the change; least of all lowed by the blackening of the sun, the moon could such a change be regarded as a silent and life. becoming as blood, the stars of heaven falling, the less result. We confidently affirm, that such a strik- heaven itself departing as a scroll, the mountains and ing diversity, such a marked dissimilarity of images islands of the earth moving out of their places, and and modes of representation, to denote one and the a universal terror seizing all the adversaries of God, same power in its various fortunes and successive is interpreted of the change that passed over the outward changes, is without any parallel in the sym- Roman empire, when paganism gave place to Chrisbolical language of Scripture, as it is in itself most tianity as the established religion. It is impossible unnatural and arbitrary.
not to be sensible of the most lamentable discrepancy But the scheme is open to still another class of when we place alongside of this magnificent descripobjections; for, 3. It seems particularly wanting in tion the historical reality. And this will always be verisimilitude, in the view it presents of the fifth and the more felt, the more we take our impressions of sixth seals. The order and series of events supposed the reality from the most exact and faithful historians to be symbolized in the first four seals are all of a —such, for example, as Neander, who looks beneath civil and worldly kind (we take leave to say, in pass-the surface of things, and views the change that took ing, to Mr Elliott, not precisely the kind of events place with something like a Christian eye. The transithat we should reckon “most appropriate to the pro- tion is thus found to lose nearly all its grandeur and phetic chart," especially since everything, in his view importance; it proceeded by very slow and doubtful of them, seems to be estimated by a worldly standard, advances, amid an almost equal admixture of the as well as to be of a worldly character, viz., that being earthly and the spiritual, and with so mingled a always counted prosperity, or the reverse, which is result for the interests of genuine Christianity, that so in the eye of the world); they relate, we are told, the effect, upon the whole, was rather disastrous than otherwise. We need not dwell on this, for Mr | upon its whole aspect indubitable marks of a higher Elliott substantially admits it. Here, then, the reference, and in some respects may be held to serve broad and palpable characteristics in the symbol are as a key to the rest. For, a book so constructed of entirely awanting in the reality; and it is, we confess, symbolical and figurative representations as the marvellous to us, how Mr Elliott can glide so easily Apocalypse, would, unless interpreted by some infalover such palpable roughnesses in his way, under lible authority, necessarily remain for ever, if not this seal, while he has applied such laborious indus- absolutely unintelligible, at least uncertain and try and painful research to square even the smallest doubtful in its meaning, if there were not scattered particulars under the earlier seals. In comparing through it at intervals certain sunny spots-representhe one with the other, one cannot but think of the tations in which the symbolical rests so plainly upon “straining at the gnat and the swallowing of the other and more direct revelations of Scripture, that camel.”
it becomes in a manner transparent by being seen in : An appeal, no doubt, is made to images somewhat their light; and of such passages, wherever they are similar in the Old Testament prophets, used by them to be found, the interpreter should serve himself, as in reference to changes produced in earthly states- so many sure guiding-posts to help him to track his particularly in regard to Babylon, Egypt, and Jeru- way through the more obscure aud intricate portions. salem. But, not to mention that the passages refer. We have no difficulty, for ourselves, in descrying red to are far from coming up to the one before us one such passage in the vision of the sixth seal, which in strength of language, and particularity of detail, is almost wholly written out in the language used by there are three most essential differences between our Lord to describe the immediate signs and accomthe two cases, quite overlooked by Mr Elliott and paniments of his second advent. (Matt. xxiv, and those who concur with him in this view- First, no- Luke xxi.) The correspondence is so close and thing even approaching to such language is ever used striking, that nothing but the supposed impossibility of the changes wrought upon mere earthly states, of adapting such a view of the contents of this seal without clear and determinate indications of what is to its place in the Apocalyptic scheme, could have intended—the states in question being named, and led interpreters to give a different turn to its import. the other parts of the description leaving no doubt of Even when so viewed, however, the language of the the figurative import of the expressions. But such sixth seal does not cease to be symbolical: it still so notes and indications are entirely wanting here. far preserves that character, that it describes the Then, in the Old Testament representations, it is the things which are to happen, not by the actual occur. actual subversion of the kingdoms—their subversion rences, but by the excited and alarmed feelings of as kingdoms, and that as a terrible act of judgment on the spectators. The earthquake, the sackcloth apthe part of God, which is uniformly meant when pearance of the sun, the incarnadining of the moon, they are spoken of under images betokening a general the falling of the stars, and the flight of men to hide convulsion of nature. But in the present case, it is themselves in the dens and caves of the earth-these, not the Roman empire, by the supposition, that is even when understood of the consummating acts and the subject of the convulsive shock: the whole that final termination of this world's history in its present takes place here is a change in the established, per constitution, are manifestly not a literal but à figuhaps we should rather say the professed, religion of rative delineation of the grand moral revolution which the empire-a change which, as it actually took is then to take place, and which shall seem to men’s place, did not materially affect the constitution or agitated feelings thus to confound heaven and earth. existence of the empire, nor anything belonging to The distinctive aspect, too, which the whole picture it, which had been brought into notice in the previ- here bears, is precisely the one that usually appears ous symbolical history. And, lastly, not only was in the representations given of the Lord's final dealthe revolution in question brought about in the most | ings with the inhabitants of the world. It is emphagradual and vacillating manner-the most unlike to tically the time of the great tribulation, when the tribes a great convulsion of nature-but it was also in its of the earth shall mourn, because it is the time for own nature of a beneficial character (that is, so far inflicting judgment upon the adversaries of God, as it could be fitly called a revolution at all); while, and bringing in the everlasting reign of righteousness in the cases where language somewhat similar was applied to earthly kingdoms, the revolution indicated But we anticipate the objection, that such a view was uniformly of a violent, injurious, and destructive of the sixth seal is rendered impossible, by the very nature. It is no answer to this to say, that the re- place it occupies in the Apocalyptic visions; and the volution in the age of Constantine was violent, inju- fact, so often pressed by Mr Elliott, that John prerions, and even destructive, as regards the interests sently goes on to tell us, “ After these things I saw of heathenism ; for this would imply, that the em- four angels holding the winds, that these might not pire had appeared upon the prophetic chart with a hurt the earth,” &c., is held, most certainly, to intispecial respect to these interests—that not the mate, that the earth still remains substantially in its world-monarchy, but simply the heathendom of Rome, present form, after the action of the sixth seal has was the subject of prefiguration in the history of the spent itself. That the expression, “ After these things seals. By the scheme under consideration, however, I saw," does indicate some kind of sequence and posit is precisely the reverse: it is the empire, as such, teriority, is unquestionable; but not necessarily in rethat is contemplated, and, consequently, it is the em- gard to the occurrence of the events symbolized, more pire in that respect also which should have gone probably in regard to the order of their symbolical exdown, if the images in the sixth seal were to be in-hibition to the eye of the apostle. The visions preterpreted in a manner at all parallel to those of the sented to him cover such immense periods of the Old Testament prophets.
world's history, and unfold such various aspects of it, These objections seem to us quite fatal to the that he must receive them in successive portions, current application of the first six seals, and, in parti- though still possibly many of them may, as it were, cular, of the sixth, which especially appears to bear l overlap each other, and may, to a considerable extent,