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ter ; at present I shall confine myself to that of the trumpets. The four firs of these he will not allow to relate to the overthrow of the Western empire, on the ground that the subject of the Apocalypse is the fates and fortunes of the Christian Church.* But are not those fates and fortunes most clofely connected with the overthrow of the Western empire ? According to the usual interpretation of the four first trumpets and the tyranny of the two beasts during the period of the 1260 years, every thing appears in strict chronological order, and the one succession of events arises naturally out of the other. St. Paul teaches us, that, when he that letted or the Western empire should be taken away, then should the man of fin be revealed Now what is the particular portion of the Apocalypse which we are now considering except an enlarged repetition of St. Paul's prediction ? He that letted is taken away ; and the man of fin forthwith rears his head :-the Western empire is taken away by the operation of the four first trumpets ; and the great apostacy of 1260 days, the reign of the falle prophet and his temporal supporter, shortly commences. The one is preparatory to the other : the four trumpets are merely the prelude to what may be termed the grand subject of the Apocalypse, a wonderful tyranny exercised within the Church itself by the upholders of the Apostacy, and a contemporary Apostacy in the eastern world scarcely less wonde ful than that in the western. St. Paul and St. John are perfectly in unifon : they alike connect the downfall of the empire with the fates of the Church. Thus, even independent of the Archdeacon's chronological arrangement which shall prefently be discussed, I see not why the old interpretation of the four trampets, or at least the great outlines of that interpretation, ought to be rejected.
The Archdeacon however brings an argument against such an interpretation of the four trumpets from the homogeneity of all the seven trumpets. He infifts most juftly, that what the nature of one is the nature of them all must be : and observes that Mede, in order to make them homogeneal, interprets the fifth and the fixth trumpets as relating to the at. tacks made upon the empire by the Saracens and Turks, as he had already referred the four first to the attacks previously made upon the empire by the Gothic tribes. But he adds, that the seventh trumpet announces “moft clearly the victory obtained by Christ and his Church, not over the Ro. man empire, but over the powers of hell, and of Antichrift, and a corrupt world ; over the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, and in pro. cess of time (for the seventh trumpet continues to the end) over death and hell. If then, under the seventh trumpet, the warfare of the Christian Church be so clearly represented (and in this all writers are agreed), what are we to think of the fix? How must they be interpreted, so as to appear homogeneal? Are they to be accounted, with Mede and his followers, the successive shocks, by which the Roman empire fell under the Goths and Vandals ? Homogeneity forbids. They musl therefore be supposed to contain the warfare of the Christian Church. And this warfare may be successful under the seventh and last trumpet, when it had been unsuccessful before, yet the homogeneity be confiftently preserved. For the question is not concerning the fuccefs, but concern
ing the warfare. And the trumpets may be deemed homogeneal, if they all represent the same warfare (viz. of the powers of hell, and of the Antichristian world, against the Church of Christ), whatever may be the event.” That the object of the seventh trumpet is to introduce the victory obtained by Christ and his Church, and to usher in the happy period of the Millennium, few will be disposed to deny : but the question is, how is this desirable object accomplished ? The Archdeacon himself allows, by the triumph of the Church over those instruments of hell, Antichris, the beaft, and the false prophet. Now, whether I be right or wrong in my own notions of rintichrift
, what is this but a triumph over the Roman empire and the apostate communion inseparably connected with it? Accordingly we find, that the seventh trumpet, after conducting us through six of its vials all of which are poured out upon God's enemies, magnificently introduces under the feventh vial the judgment of the great harlot, the downfall of Babylon, and the complete destruction of the beast along with the false prophet and his confederated kings ; in other words, ibe overthrow of the papal Roman empire both fecular and temporal. How then is the bomogeneity of the trumpets violated by Mede's expofition? Under the four first
, the western empire falls; under the two next, the eastern empire follows the fate of its more ancient half ; under the last, the revived beaf or papal empire is utterly broken, and prepares a way by its overthrow for the millennian reign of the Messiah.' In short, as matters appear to me, if we argue backwards from the seventh trumpet, homogeneity, instead of forbidding, requires us to refer all the fix first trumpets to different attacks upon the Roman empire, the final ruin of which is ushered in by the seventh.
2. But my objection to the Archdeacon's arrangement of the Apocalypse, on which a great part of his subsequent interpretations necessarily depends, is infinitely stronger than to his very limited system of applying the prophecies. It appears to me to be fo extremely arbitrary, and to introduce so much confufion into the three feptenaries of the seals, the trumpets, and the vials, that, if it be adopted, I see not what certainty we can ever have, that a clue to the right interpretation of the Apocalypse is attainable.
The Archdeacon supposes, that the fix first seals give a general sketch of the contents of the whole book, and that they extend from the time of our Saviour's ascension even to the great day of the Lord's vengeance, a description of which day is exhibited under the fixth fealet Having thus arrived at the consummation of all things, how are we to dispose of the seventh seal? The Archdeacon conceives, that the same history of the Church begins anew under it ; that the connection, which had hitherto united the feals, is broken ; that the seventh seal stands apart, containing all the seven trumpets ; and that the renewed history, comprehended under this seventh seal, begins “from the earliest times of Chrif. tianity, or to speak more properly, from the period when our Lord left the world in person, and committed the Church to the guidance of his apostles. From this time the first seal takes its commencement ; from this also, the first trumpet.' | Hence it is manifeft, fince the feventh seal
# P. 222.
† P. 135, 174, 196.
#P, 197, 200.
brings us back, for the purpose of introducing the seven trumpets, to the very same period at which the first seal was opened, that the opening of the seventh seal synchronizes, in the judgment of the Archdeacon, with the opening of the first seal, and that the seventh seal fingly comprehends exactly the same space of time as all the fix first seals conjointly.
The seventh seal then introduces and contains within itself all the seven trumpets, the first fix of which conftitute the Archdeacon's second feries of prophetic history, as the first fix feals had constituted his first series : and these two serieses are in a great measure, though not altogether, commensurate ; for, though they both alike begin from the ascension of our Lord, the fx feals carry us to the day of judgment, whereas the fix trumpets only carry us to the end of the 1260 years.*
The third series is of course that of the vials, which the Archdeacon arranges under the seventh trumpet, as he had previously arranged the feven trumpets under the seventh seal. But where is the place of the feventh trumpet, and consequently of the first vial? The Archdeacon does not bring back the seventh trumpet and the first vial to the ascension of our Lord, as he had previously brought back the seventh seal and the firfi trumpet, but only to the beginning of the times of the beast or the 1260 years ; through the whole of which he supposes the seventh trumpet and its component vials to extend. He conceives however, that the sixth trumpet introduces Mahommedism in the year 606, and reaches to the downfall of Mahommedism at the close of the 1260 years. . Consequently the beginning of the seventh trumpet exactly synchronizes with the beginning of the fixth trumpet ; but the seventh extends beyond the fixth, and reaches, like the sixth feal and the seventh seal, to the final consummation of all things.t
In brief, the chronological arrangement of the Archdeacon's three serieses is as follows. The first is that of the fix feals ; and it reaches from the afcenfion of our Lord to the day of judgment. The second is that of the fix trumpets, introduced by and comprehended under the seventh seal : and it reaches from the ascension of our Lord to the termination of the 1260 years. The third is that of the seven vials, introduced by and comprehended under the seventh trumpet ; and it reaches from the commencement of the times of the beast or the 1260 years to the day of judgment.
Now it is impoflible not to see, that the whole of this arrangement is purely arbitrary, and consequently that the various interpretations built upon it must in a great measure be arbitrary likewise. The Apocalypse must either be one continued prophecy, like each of those delivered by Daniel ; in which case (with the single exception, as all commentators are, agreed, of the episode contained in the little book) we must admit it, unless we be willing to give up all certainty of interpretation, to be ftrictly chronological : or it must be a book containing several perfectly diflinct and detached prophecies, like the whole book of Daniel, each of which, for any thing that appears to the contrary, may either exactly fynchronize or not exactly fynchronize with its fellows. If the former opinion be just, the Archdeacon's scheme immediately falls to the ground; for then all the seven trumpets must neceflarily be posterior in
# P. 273, 274.
† P. 308, 399, 400, 401, 252-273, 274, 359, 360.
........... point of time to the opening of all the seven seals, and in a similar man. ner all the feven vials to the sounding of all the seven trumpets. If the latter opinion be just, then the question is, how are we to divide the apocalypse into distinct prophecies? The only system, that to my own mind at least seems at all plausible, would be to suppose that each of the three feptenaries of the seals, the trumpets, and the vials, forms a distinct prophecy. If we divide the Apocalypse at all, we must attend to the Apostle's own arrangement ; and homogeneity plainly forbids us to separate the seals from the seals, the trumpets from the trumpets, or the vials from the vials. So again : as homogeneity requires us to attend to the Apostle's own arrangement in case of a division, it equally requires us to suppose that these three diflinct prophecies exactly coincide with each other in point of chronology : otherwise, what commentator shall pre. tend, without any clue to guide him, to determine the commencement of each ? But the seals, as all agree, commence either from the ascen. fion of our Lord, or at least from some era in the Apostle's own life. time : therefore, if we divide the Apocalypse, homogeneity requires us to conclude that the trumpets and the vials commence likewise from the same era. Accordingly I have somewhere met with a commentator, whose work I have not at present by me, and whose name I cannot recollect, that proceeds upon this very principle. He divides the Apocalypse into the three prophecies of the seals, the trumpets, and the vials ; and supposes, that all these prophecies run exactly parallel with each other, extending alike from the age of St. John to the end of the world. To this scheme, when examined in detail, the Archdeacon, as well as myself, will probably see insurmountable objections. Sir Isaac Newton adopts a somewhat different plan. He arranges all the seven trumpets under the seventh seal, and supposes them chronologically to succeed the fix forf seals ; thus making the feals and the trumpets oné continued prophecy : but, when he arrives at the vials, he conceives them to be only the trumpets repeated ; thus making the vials, a detached prophecy synchronizing with the trumpets * Nothing can be more manifest in this plan than its arbitrary violation of homogeneity. What warrant can we have for af. serting, that the feals and the trumpets form jomtly a continued prophecy, but that the vials form a distinct separate prophecy synchronizing with that part of the former prophecy which is comprehended under the trumpets ? But, if Sir Isaac violate homogeneity in his arrangement of the Apocalypse, much more strely does the Archdeacon : for he not only separates the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet from their respective predecessors, but divides the Apocalypse into three distinct prophecies, not one of which exactly synchronizes with another,
A violation of homogeneity however is not the only objection to the Archdeacon's arrangement. It seems to me to involve in itself more than one obvious contradiction. For what reason is the seventh seal ftyled the seventh ? The most natural answer is, because it succeeds the fix firf seals. Now, according to the Archdeacon's arrangement, it does not fucceed them : for the opening of it exactly synchronizes with the opening of the first, and therefore of course precedes the opening of the ri:
* Obferv, on the Apoc. p. 254, 293, 295,
maining five, although the contents of the seventh feal itself are chronologically commensurate with the contents of all ihe other fix. But, if the opening of the seventh seal synchronize with the opening of the first and therefore precede the opening of the remaining five, with what propriety can it be styled the seventh seal ? The same remark applies to his ar. rangement of the trumpets. The first founding of the seventh trumpet, which introduces the seven vials, exactly synchronizes the first founding of the fixth ; although, in point of duration, the seventh trumpet extends beyond the fixth. Such, according to the Archdeacon, being the case, why should one be termed the seventh rather than the other. The three lat trumpets are moreover styled the three woes. How then can the jeventh trumpet be the third woe, if it in a great measure synchronize with ile second wie? I am aware, that the Archdeacon does not consider the scventh trumpet as being itself the third woe, but only as introducing, at some period or other of its founding, that third woe. * Such a supposition how. ever is forbidden by homogeneity ; for, since the fifth and the sixth trumpets manifestly introduce at their very earliest blait the first and second woes, we seem bound to conclude that the seventh trumpet should similarly introduce at its earliest blast the third woe. In this case then the sec nd and the third woes exactly commence together : whence we are compelled to inquire, both why they should be styled second and third, and what event or series of events is intended by the one and what by the other ? Nor is even this the only difficulty. The seventh trumpet is represented as beginning to sound after the expiration of the second woe, and as introducing quickly the third woe. It is likewise represented as beginning to sound after the death and revival of the witnesses ; which must take place ei. ther (as Mede thinks) at the end of the 1260 years, or (as I am rather inclined to believe ) toward the end of them. The Archdeacon himself thinks it most probable, that these events are yet to come.t Now, in either of these cases, how can the seventh trumpet succeed the death and revival of the witnesses, if it begin to found at the very commencement of the 1260 years ; that is to say at the very commencement of their prophesying?
Hitherto I have argued on the suppofition, that it is allowable to divide the Apocalypse into distinct predictions; and have only attempted to thew, that it is next to impossible to fix upon any unobjectionable method of dividing it. I shall now proceed to maintain, that the system of dividing it rests upon no folid foundation. If we carefully read the Apocalypse itself, we shall find no indications of any such division as that which forms the very basis of the Archdeacon's scheme of interpretation. Sir John önly specifies a single division of his subject, the greater book and the little book. This division therefore must be allowed ; and accordingly has been allowed by perhaps every commentator. But the very circumstance of such a division being specified leads us almost necessarily to conclude, that no other division was intended by the Apostle : for, if it had been intend. ed, why was it not fimilarly specified ? The Archdeacon draws an analog. ical argument from the distinct prophecies of Daniel, in favour of the system of dividing the Apocalypse. After treating of his firit feries, that of the first fix feals which he supposes to extend from the ascension of