Page images

ancient term of existence* one great undivided power, but having now, under the prophecy of the little book, put forth ten different horns, each bearing a separate and independent crown.t He had still therefore to prophesy again ; or a second time to go over the same period in the West, that he had already gone over in the East. Hence, although the contents of the little book extend to the very termination of the 1260 days, as St. John repeatedly declares, yet they peculiarly detail the effects of the two first woe-trumpets. The sounding of the third woe-trumpet accordingly, which brings us down to the very end of those days, is simply mentioned in the little book ; and an intimation is briefly given, that toward the close of the 1260 days the harvest and the vintage of God's wrath should be gathered in: for the particular account of the calamities, which the concluding trumpet was about to produce, is reserved for the pouring out of the seven vials, and for the subsequent chapters more largely explanatory of the effects of the last vial.

Having finished the contents of the little book, which relates the history of the western branch of the Apostacy chiefly under the two first woe-trumpets, though without excluding the third woe-trumpet, the prophet returns to the larger book which contains the general history of the Church, in order that he may fully detail the consequences of the sounding of the last woe-trumpet. This concluding trumpet atfects both the East and the West : and it conducts us, through the two grand epochs of the harvest and the vintage, and through the different stages of its seven Vials, to the very time of the end, to the destruction of the two-fold Apostacy, to the complete overthrow of Antichrist, and to the commencement of that happy period, when all the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. Hence we find, that, from the great variety of important matter which it contains, a very considerable portion of the Apocalypse is exclusively devoted to it. This portion includes the fifteenth, the sixteenth, the seventeenth, the eighteenth, and the nineteenth, chapters ; all of which constitute jointly one continued prophecy of the events comprehended under the third woe-trumpetThe fifteenth chapter is a kind of introductory prefuce to the pouring out of the Vials, in order that this final display of God's wrath against his impenitent and irreclaimable enemies may be described with the greater majesty—The sixteenth chapter contains a summary and distinct account of the miseries, brought upon mankind by the atheistical principles of Antichrist, during the period of the figurative harvest ; of the events which will intervene between the harvest and the vintage; and of the earthquake, during the period of the vintage, by which the great city will be divided into three parts, when“ Babylon will come in remembrance before God to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” These various events are represented as taking place in consequence of the successive pouring out of seven Vials : the three former of which synchronize, I apprehend, with the harvest of God's wrath ; and the last, with the vintage ; while the remaining three are poured out between the two grand periods of the harvest and the vintage, and relate to certain intermediate events The three following chapters, namely the seventeenth, the eighteenth, and the nineteenth, give a full and explicit account of the vintage, which synchronizes, as I have just observed, with the last Vial. The events of the vintage are the division of the great city into three parts, mentioned in the sixteenth chapter immediately upon the pouring out of the last Vial ; the subversion of the mystic Babylon; and the total overthrow of the confederacy of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the Roman or Papal earth, in the battle of Armageddon. The confederacy itself will unconsciously be gathered to the place of its destruction by the secret diabolical influence of three unclean spirits ; but this will physically be brought about by the military despotism exercised under the fourth Vial, by the subversion of the Ottoman empire under the sixth Vial, and by the political earthquake at the beginning of the effusion of the seventh Vial, which divides the great city, or the Latin empire, into three parts.

• Rev. X. 11.

| Rev. xiii. 1.

All the events of the vintage or the last Vial will hap. pen at the time of the end, or at the terminution of the 1260 years.* Antichrist himself will then perish, united as at present, contrary to every expectation at his original developement, with the false Romish prophet : for, according to the sure word of Scripture, one fate awaits them both in the region between two seas near the glorious holy mountain, in the country which extends 1600 furlongs, in the valley of Megiddo † Then will the ful

of the Gentiles be come in : then will the wine-press of God's wrath begin to be trodden in the valley of concision: then will the great controversy of Jehovah with the nations commence.

At the beginning of this time of unexampled trouble, that is to say, at the expiration of the 1260 years, the Almighty will put forth his hand to bring back his ancient people the Jews to the country of their fathers : and, when that is accomplished, and when Antichrist is overthrown, the lost ten tribes of Israel will likewise be restored, and will henceforth form only one people with Judah. Then will the first resurrection take place, and the Millennium will commence. That there will be a preternatural manifestation of the Messiah at this eventful period, we have, I think with Mr. Mede, reason to expect.* But, whether the first resurrection mentioned by St. John as taking place before the Millennium, and the continued reign of Christ with his saints upon earth during the Millennium, are to be understood in a literal or in a figurative sense, time alone can determine.t Such “ secret things," as unaccomplished prophecies, belong unto the Lord our God;" and it is a vain waste of tiine to weary ourselves with conjectures respecting the precise mode of their accomplishment. Upon these points when we go beyond what is written, we exceed our commission: and it has almost invariably been found, that the commentator, who attempted to shew how a prophecy was about to be fulfilled, was by the event convicted of error. We may safely, and positively deelare what will come to pass, and we may even say how it will come to pass, so long as we resolutely confine ourselves to the explicit declarations of Scripture : but to point out the manner in which an event will be accomplished, any further than the word of God hath revealed

* Mr. Mede believes, like myself, that the seventh viel will begin to be poured out exactly at the termination of the 1260 years: for he supposes, that tbe first blast of the seventh trumpet and the first effusion of the seventh vial, which he justly calls the vial of consummation, exactly synchronize ; and he maintains, that at this era the three times and a balf terminate. (Compare Clav. Apoc. Pars Alt. Synchron. iii. V--Comment. Apoc. in Tub. vii. et in Phial. vii- and the plate at the end of the Clavis.) Though, as I have already observed, I prefer Bp. Newton's arrangement of tbe seventh trumpet, I think Mr. Mede's opinion nearly indisputable, that the 1260 years expire when tbe vial of consummation begins to be poured out, because the contents of tbat vial plainly shew that it relates to tbe time of God's great controversy with the nations. But this great controversy, this period of unexampled trouble, synchronizes, according to the unanimous testimony of all the prophets who treat of the subject, with the restoration of the Jews ; which restoration commences, according to Daniel, at the close of the tbree times and a balf: therefore the contemporary period of unexampled trouble must commence at the close of the three times and a balf; and consequently the effusion of the seventh vial, which relates to that period, must likewise commence at the close of the three times and a balf: in other words, the seventb vial must begin to be poured out, so soon as the tbree times and a balf or the 1260 years expire ; which was the point asserted.

+ That is to say, between the Mediterranean sea and tbe Dead sea, in tbe land of Palestine, the length of which country extends 1600 Jewish Risin or stadia. The subject will be discussed at large hereafter. Mr. Mede very justly remarks, that the treading of the wine press at the period of the symbolical vintage is the same as the great battle of Armageddon under the last vial ; and for this plain reason : the beast, the false prophet, and their confederates, cannot experience two final overthrows. The vintage however, predicted in the little book, is represented as being the last event that takes place in that book : but the little book reaches to the end of the 1260 years, and indeed in its first and last chapters extends beyond the end of those years : therefore the vine tage must take place after the end of the 1260 years. Hence it must necessarily be the same as the battle of Armageddon ; which is the last event of the last vial, and consequently takes place after the end of the 1960 years likewise. See Mede's Comment. Apoc. in Vindemniam.

Joel ji. 146.

• This point is discussed at large in a Work which I am now preparing for the press on the restoration of Isreal and the overtbrow of the Antichristian confederacy.

+ Mr. Mede strongly maintains, that the first 'resurrection will be a literal resurrecs tion of tbe martyrs, I confess that his arguments rather silence me, than convince me. Tbe resurrection is not unfrequently used in Scripture to typify the political resurrection of a nation or community. Should such be the meaning of the apocalyptic first resurrece tion, it will simply denote that the saints of God, long oppressed by the Papacy, shall ultimately be raised up to political power and influence, agreeably to the literal predictions both of Daniel and St. John. (Dan. vii. 27. Rev. xx. 4, 6.) To this interpretation however, which I could wish to adopt, Mr. Mede urges objections not very easy to be answered. (See a curious discussion of this point in his Works Book iv. Epist. 20.) Abp. Tillotson is inclined to understand tbe reign of Cbrist in a spiritual sense. “ Though I see no sufficient grounds from Scripture to believe the personal reign of Christ upon earth for a thousand years : yet it seems to be not improbable, that some time before the end of the world, the glorious kingdom of Christ, I mean the prevalency of the pure Christian religion, should be of as long a continuance, as the reign of Mohammed and Antichrist have been, both of which have now lasted about a thousand years.” (Serm. Vol. x. p. 177.) The reader will find the question, Wheber the first apoculyptic resurrection ought to be understood figuratively or literally, very well discussed in Lowman's Paraphrase "on Rev. IX. I dare not give an opinion on the subject. VOL. I.


the manner of it, is to pry too curiously into what he h-th purposely concealed, and to aiın at becoming prophets instead of contenting ourselves with being humble and fallible expositors of prophecy. What the Bible hath declared, that we may without hesitation declare : beyond this, all is mere vague conjecture. It was very wisely remarked by Sir Isaac Newton, that “the folly of interpreters has been to foretell times and things by the Apocalypse, 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 interpreter's, be then manifested thereby to the world. For the event of things, predicted many ages before, will then be a convincing argument, that the world is governed by Providence.” May I add, without the imputation of vanity, in the words of the same great and good man ? “ Amongst the interpreters of the last age there is scarce one of note who hath not made some discovery worth knowing: and thence I seem to gather, that God is about opening these mysteries. The success of others put me upon considering it; and, if I have done any thing which may be useful to following writers, I have my design."*

At the close of the Millennium, Satan will again be let loose to deceive the nations ; when the last confederacy against the Church, which this world shall ever behold, will be formed by certain enemies of the Messiah whom both St. John and Ezekiel concur in denominating Gog and Magog:t. Upon this occasion, God will specially interfere in behalf of his people. While the enemies of the saints are encompassing the camp and the beloved city, fire will come down from heaven and devour them. Their great instigator the devil will then be finally cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, to which the beast and the false prophet had already been consigned at the

* Observ. on the Apocalypse, p. 251, 252, 253.

Rev. xx. 8. Ezek. xxxviii. xxxix.

« PreviousContinue »