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The interpretation now offered keeps pace with the succession of events-not, with that of revelations. The chronological order is followed-not that of the visions ; of which, some of the later ones, prefigured the events that were soonest to come to passwhile some of the earlier ones foreshowed things not destined to have their actual manifestation before the scheme of Divine conduct should have proceeded a considerable way towards its completion. Not in any case has there been a divergence from the order of revelations made to the Apostle, without an apparent necessity for this ; and the reason for such a departure-always assigned in its proper place-will, it is hoped, be found sufficient and
Another fact, of great and indeed indispensable necessity to the right interpretation of this book, has been overlooked by all previous Expositors : the fact of its containing seven parallel lines of prophecy : with respect to which, it may be observed
1. That they have a common termination in the varied and awful phenomena of the Great Day of Wrath : with the exception of Line iv, which only looks forward to the end of the 1260 days.
2. That they have not, however, a common beginning—and are, therefore, not lines of equal length. Some, have an earlier commencement than others.
3. That they are not, with respect to events, exactly parallel, even when the time of one line agrees with that of another ; each line containing some events peculiar to itself-not to be found in other lines.
4. That they all, however, set forth portions of one and the same train of events.
5. That each line hence serves in a measure, to illustrate and explain the other lines, and can only be understood rightly by the help of one or more of the other lines.
The interpretation now offered is based on the comparison with each other, of these several lines of prophecy, and on the combination of them into one arrangement : also, on Scriptural testimonies, in other Prophetical Books. It will be perceived to be an interpretation which might have been offered immediately after the visions of the Apostle had been put on record, and presented to the world: an explanation which was as possible, seventeen centuries ago, as in the present age. And the fact of its having been so, the Author deems a strong argument for its correctness. He feels persuaded that no other light was needed, in order to an apprehension of the meaning of these revelations, than that of the Word and Spirit of God-no other learning than a due knowledge of Holy Scripture-and no other study than the diligent study of the Apocalypse itself, and antecedent portions cf that Sacred Volume, of which it is the sublime conclusion. Commentators, in general, have thought otherwise ; and have sought, by the help of history, of unenlightened reason, of ingenious conjecture, of plausible comparisons, or wild imaginings, a solution of the enigmas, which, through so many ages, this Book has presented to the Church of God. With how little success they have done so, let the acknowledged uncertainty tell, which prevails, with respect to the meaning of these prophecies. The writer of the following Discourses, avoiding these by-paths, has taken revealed truth as his only guide ; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” And the issue has been—rest, to his own mind, as to the import of these revelations, and a conviction of the substantial correctness of the interpretation, which he now submits to the notice of others. Entertaining a deep and settled persuasion, that the events foreshown in this wonderful Book, were not destined to have their providential development in periods, with respect to which other inspired prophecies maintain a total silence--the ages, for instance, which have intervened between the visions of the Apostle in Patmos, and our own days—he feels assured, that the predictions of the Apocalypse are, as yet, wholly unfulfilled : that the recognition therefore, of Rome, as the" Great Babylon,” and of the Papal Power as “the Beast,” shown to John, have been mistaken applications of the things which he saw-fatal to every schemeof interpretation, into which they have been admitted hitherto, and destined to be subversive of every exposition in which they shall be allowed to have a place hereafter ; for the simple, but sufficient reason, that they are explanations which,
when brought to a Scriptural test, abide not the trial ; and with which the progress of things has not agreed, and cannot be made to agree.
To make it apparent that Rome is the “Great Babylon," and the Papacy
“the Beast” of the Apocalypse, recourse has been had to the year-day principle of interpretation ; by means of which the prophetic period of forty and two months, comprising 1260 days, has been made to extend over 1260 years. These 1260 years, expositors tell us, are not yet ended. Consequently, the events which, according to the predictions of this Book, were to characterise this “ time, times, and half a time,” ought to have been visible for the last 12 centuries, and should be apparent still. But—where are they ? From all the past, and all the present, Echo alone sends back a response to this inquiry : and she replies by repeating the question- Where are they?
Where are Messiah's Two Witnesses, with their miraculous powers ?
Where, the False Prophet, with his lying wonders ?” Where, the Image of the Beast-the mark of the Beast-the universal dominion of the Beast-the universal worship of the Beast ? Where, his “war with the saints” not a mere opposition, but war to the death, continued through the 1260 days ? Where is the devil-worship which was to be associated with that of the Beast ? Where are the blasphemies of the Beast? Where the Seven Last Plagues ?
It cannot be shown, convincingly and satisfactorily, that any one of these foretold occurrences, has yet received its actual development-much less that all of them have been rendered apparent. They are manifestly things, as yet, future. And it is much to be wondered at, that by any sober-minded Christian, they should have been supposed to have an existence in any past age, or to be, in any degree, visible now. They certainly cannot be connected with any by-gone history, or with any present appearances, otherwise than by doing the most serious violence to the language of this Book, and of other Inspired Prophecies : with which language, accordingly, we find, that to suit their various schemes of interpretation, Expositors have not scrupled
to take the strangest liberties ; making it say almost anything but what it seemed to say:
“The last days" are plainly those in which the prophecies of this Book are destined to receive their fulfilment. The design of these prophecies is—to forewarn the Church and the world of the three final struggles of Sa'an with Messiah for the empire of the earth. They foretell
1. war in heaven”—2400 days anterior to our Lord's next Advent : issuing in the casting down of Satan and his angels to the earth. Rev. xii, 7–12, compared with Dan. viii, 10. -in lxx.
2. The war on earth-renewed by Antichrist, as Satan's minister and vicegerent: continued through the “forty and two months”-terminated by “ the battle of the great day of God Almighty"-(Rev. xvi, 14. xix, 19-21) and immediately followed by the millennial reign of Christ and His saints. Rev.
3. The final conflict-at the end of the Millennium : ushering in the Last Judgment. (xx, 7–11.).
To these three great events all else, which the prophecies of this Book, (in ch. iv-xx.) contain, will be found subordinate and subservient. The assigned period of action—2400 days-will surely be deemed quite long enough, when it is ascertained that “there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And, except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but, for the elect's sakes, those days shall be shortened.” Matt. xxiv, 21, 22, Rev. xii, 12. Such was our Lord's declaration with respect to the time treated of in these prophecies. Can it be made to harmonise with the extension of that time over the long period of 1260 years ?
The writer of these pages having thus stated his views with respect to Apocalyptic Exposition, now sends his Analysis” of these prophecies forth--preparatory to a Course of Lectures in explanation of them. On both the one and the other he humbly implores the blessing of Him, “ without whom nothing is wise
or strong, or holy.”_And persuaded that his conclusions rest on a basis of Scriptural Truth, which is not to be shaken, he fearlessly commits them to the care of God's good providence. Opposing received opinions, they will probably make their way into the minds of men with difficulty. Still, he feels assured, that they will make their way: and that time will sanction, and future generations adopt them, however they may fare in the present age, and with the religious public of our own days.
Blakeney, Norfolk, June 11, 1847.
It will be observed that many years have passed since the foregoing Preface and Introduction were written. The writer has not met with anything in the intervening period at all tending to disturb his conviction of the substantial correctness of his scheme of Interpretation. There may be errors of detail ; butthe more he reads and hears on the subject of Apocalyptic Prophecy, the more persuaded he becomes of the unsoundness of the principles of interpretation to which recourse has been had hitherto ; and that no system of exposition, with respect to this mysterious book, will stand, which has not, at its basis, the division of it, from chap. iv. to chap. xx. (both inclusive) into Seven Lines of Prophecy—all terminating in, or about, the great Day of Wrath.
St. Germain's, August 18, 1862.