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it seems, so clear, consistent, and comprehensive, shews the true import of the first six seals. Let the reader peruse these two chapters, and say whether they do not carry on the same subject from its commencement to its close.
The seventh seal, including the seven trumpets, the seven thunders, and the seven vials, to which no allusion is previously made, is inanifestly of a different character: and, if we mistake not greatly, the ORDER is, not that all the seals describe events, that, according to human canons of interpretation, must necessarily follow in the same order, but that the spiritual state of the world, (to use the plainest terms) was described previous to the political; and that, as the outline of the former is contained, as we have seen, in the first six seals, the seventh seal, under the seven trumpets, begins to open up the latter to our view, and that each has to be viewed connectedly in its own order.
The book was written within and without, or “ on the back side," sealed with seven seals. And hence it does not follow, that what is recorded under each successive seal, can only refer to events that follow in like manner in order of time. In regard to the same course of things, utter derangement would obviously ensue from a violation of that order ; but not so when different subjects have to be introduced. The history of any kingdom might naturally be classified under different heads or subdivisions; first, ecclesiastical, next political; and their mutual relation being separately discussed, the whole history would be distinct and complete, and the effect would be a clearer elucidation, rather than derangement. In every regular history, such a method is at least partially adopted, whenever events require to be detailed which vary in their developement, and lead to a combined result. In commencing a new chapter or book, the reader is often led far back in point of time, from the period at which the former terminated. Each subject is separately discussed ; and that connexion of events, rather than of time exclusively, is the real order, without which every history would be disjointed and broken. Such, complete in all its parts, and these parts then forming one harmonious whole, and a pattern for history in point of completeness and order, nothing redundant recorded, and nothing essential omitted, and nothing either misrepresented or misplaced,—the abused slandered Book of Revelation, shall, we cannot doubt, be ultimately found to be. But, like every other book, it must first be read and understood, before all the fulness of the matter it contains can be told.' And its symbols will no longer be a barrier to its intelligibility, when once it is unveiled by the events ; any more than are the symbols of which every Chinese book is full, when once they are understood ; or the language in which any book is written, when once it is known. '' At the time when the things that were to come thereafter were written in a book, the Christian religion, then recently promulgated, went forth conquering in the midst of persecution ; and the power of the Roman empire, after the subversion of Jerusalem, extended over the world, and was unchallenged by a single foe. But in the book that was penned by one of the fishermen of Galli
lee, whom Jesus had chosen as his apostles, the fate of that empire was written, and every great political convulsion, as well as every deceptious form of religion, was marked, till the time should come, when all the history of Rome would be an ancient tale, and all its majesty an empty name, and the gospel of Christ be the law of the world.
Commentators, with considerable variance in the details, are of one mind, that the first four trumpets denote the successive events which caused the downfall of Rome, and that the fifth and sixth trumpets, or the first and second woe, characterise the Saracen and Turkish power. The charm of novelty, of itself suspicious, must here give place to the sanction of authority, which, in some measure, supersedes the necessity of a lengthened discussion. And it shall be our object to mark the character and shew the succession and connexion of events, down to the present era, as briefly as a due regard to distinctness and precision will permit. Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is so copious and precise as to render an appeal to any less clear and more questionable commentary unnecessary and redundant. Facts alone, and not imaginations are wanted. And they who will not look to a commentator, may here safely learn from the sceptic.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half-an-hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angels hand. And the angel took the censer and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into (upon) the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets PREPARED THEMSELVES TO SOUND.—Chap. viii. 1-6.
The whole of this representation concurs in giving note of preparation for a new series of events. The seven angels that appear upon the scene are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth ; and none of them are the same as the four living creatures, who were in the midst of the throne and round about the throne, and who successively called upon the apostle to come and see, on the opening of each of the first four seals. And, as they are different, it is not unreasonable to think that a different commission was assigned them,--and that as the seven angels were those that were sent forth into all the earth, it harmonizes with their office to unfold the political changes and commotions in the world, as it pertained to the four living beings that were around the throne to show forth the various changes in the minds, or the religious opinions, of men. And this seems to be more expressly signified, not only as trumpets are aptly significative of war, mustering the hosts and sounding for the battle, but as the seven angels which had the seven trumpets did not prepare themselves to sound, till another angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar and cast it upon the earth ; and till then there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake, contentions, wars, battles, and a revolution,—the subversion, perhaps, of paganism.
In addition to this striking coincidence between the mode of their revelation and the character of the events, it is farther to be observed, (for not a word can want its meaning,) that, even before the introductory vision was manifest to the apostle or appa
rent to view, on the opening of the seventh seal there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
The prophet was to see the things that were to be hereafter, but unlike to the former, the things that were then to be revealed, were not immediately to appear. The silence in heaven denoted the suspension, for a season), of the judgments that were to come upon the earth, or, rather before the time of their preparation should begin.. The Roman empire, according to other prophecies, was indeed to be subverted, and to be divided into various kingdoms. But the time was not yet. Many years were Christians to be persecuted and tried, even before they would receive a little help by the conversion of the emperor. All the churches of Christ were to be left to the trial of their faith, before their blood would be avenged on the empire of Rome. The trumpets that were to summon the hosts to its fall did not sound till much incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God, and till first there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. The angels then prepared themselves to sound; even as the gradual relaxation of the Roman power, and the rise of barbarous nations, and their partial settlement within the territories of Rome, prepared the way for the assault and the overthrow; but when that preparation should be complete, the sounding of the trumpets would be no longer delayed, nor would they give an uncertain sound. For then should the colossal empire of Rome fall rapidly to pieces at their voice.
“ The western empire,” that of Rome itself, was repeatedly attacked, and finally subverted by the arms of the barbarians."* How, in what manner, and by what means, it was repeatedly attacked, and finally subverted, the first four trumpets shew; and