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would annihilate at once all certainty of meaning, and render the attempt alike absurd, either to interpret a revelation made through such means, or to make such a revelation.
Of those who regard the angel as the Son of God, some exhibit the opened book as the book of seven seals, or a part of it containing the revelations of the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth chapters. But that proceeds on the assumption that the sealed book was a written copy of the Apocalypse, and not as sealed a mere symbol, and as opened, like its seals and the trumpets, a mere instrument of the revelation. If the sealed book were an autograph of the Apocalypse, why was not the apostle allowed to send it to the churches, instead of independently writing another? If that book embraced the whole Apocalypse, how can the chapters following this vision have been contained in a different and supplemental volume ? On what ground can the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth chapters be considered as having been delivered to the apostle and eaten by him, any more than the other parts of the Revelation ? Those assumptions are manifestly without any authority whatever, and involve their authors in inextricable perplexities. The book of seven seals was a mere symbol of the purposes of God. Its being sealed denoted the undiscoverableness of his designs by the unaided efforts of creatures. The opening of the seals by Christ indicated the procedure of the Revelation from him, and their whole office was fulfilled in the representation of those truths.
Expositors exhibiting the angel as Christ, interpret his station on the sea and the land, as significant of his universal dominion. But it has no adaptation to denote such a relation; and as he is a symbol of men, and as teachers, not as rulers, that cannot be its import. It doubtless denotes a characteristic of their agency whom he represented. His form was gigantic. He probably in descending from the atmosphere advanced from the northwest, the direction of Saxony from Patmos, and alighted at the Adriatic or Ægean sea ; and his placing his right foot on the sea, and his left on the land—which is the attitude of one, not at rest, but who is still to advance—signifies undoubtedly that some of those whom he symbolized were to cross the ocean, and bear the gospel to new isles and continents, and had its fulfilment in the migration of Protestants to this country and others, and proclamation of the gospel in these distant scenes. As England was one of the seven kingdoms, the migration cannot have been to her.
Mr. Brightman regards the seven thunders as the seven vial
angels, which is not only without analogy, but is to make them mere symbols of the symbols of a subsequent vision. Others, as Dean Woodhouse, regard the import of the thunder voices as inspired, but concealed for reasons of sovereignty or expedience. Mr. Daubuz, who regards the angel as a symbol of Luther, and the book opened as the Scriptures, interprets the thunders as the edicts of seven governments establishing the Protestant religion. But the laws of the Protestant kingdoms establishing the Reformed religion were not expressive of opinions respecting the period of the overthrow of the wild beast or Christ's advent, and furnished no occasion therefore for the response of the angel in regard to that advent. Nor is there any analogy between a thunder voice, and the enactment by rulers of a law. A thunder crash is the effect of a violent electrical explosion, and is itself a rapid and strong vibration of the atmosphere. The enactment and promulgation of an authoritative law are deliberate acts, and designed to give birth to order and stability. It is the vehement expression of passion by a vast multitude, not the calm acts of a legislature or monarch, that a thunder voice is suited to symbolize.
Vitringa exhibits the voice of the angel as prophetic of calamities denoted by the seven thunders, and those thunders as emblematic of the seven crusades. But first, the assumption that the thunder voices were inspired, indicative of the same thing as the voice of the angel, and prophetic of calamities, is obviously without any ground, and against analogy. Next, the crusades preceded the last army of the Turks and the fall of Constantinople, and were several centuries therefore anterior to the events denoted by this symbol. And finally, there is no analogy between a thunder crash, and the march of a devastating army. It is the lightning which kills, rends, and burns. The peal that follows is but the vibration of the air produced by its passage.
Sir Isaac Newton exhibits the seven thunders as a repetition of the prophecy of the seven trumpets, which is also wholly without authority, and presents no reason for the angel's response.
Mr. Elliott, who deems the angel to be the Son of God, regards the seven thunders as representing the bulls and anathemas of the pope in opposition to Luther, and their number as significant of the seven hills of Rome. Those bulls, however, do not express any opinion respecting the period of the overthrow of the wild beast and Christ's advent, that could give occasion to the angel's response. There is no conceivable relation between a papal excommunication of Luther and an asseveration by the Son of God that his advent is not to take place till the seventh trumpet, nor is it consistent with the majesty of Christ to exhibit him as responding to the blasphemous assumptions and execrations of that apostate power:
Mr. Keith exhibits the angel as denoting the Reformers, the book as representing the Scriptures, and the thunders as symbols of wars. But a thunder voice symbolizes a violent expression of thought and feeling, not a battle onset. It is by weapons that men are killed, not by voices.
And a reed like a rod was given to me, saying, Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it. And the court which is without the temple reject, and measure it not, for it is given to the Gentiles, and the holy city they shall tread forty-two months. And I will give to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. They are the two olive-trees and the two lamps which stand before the Lord of the earth, and if any one wills to injure them, fire proceeds from their mouth, and devours their enemies; and if any one wills to injure them, so he must be killed. They have power to shut heaven that rain may not fall during the days of their prophecy, and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the land with every stroke as often as they may will.
The scene of this action was obviously the earth also, to which the apostle had descended to receive from the rainbow angel the little book. Jerusalem, with its temple and courts, was displayed, therefore, before him. The rod, the temple, and the measuring are symbolic. The rod is the symbol of the revealed will of God, in conformity with which the temple was built. The temple was the edifice erected by his command in which the worship enjoined by him was to be publicly offered ; and consisted first of the holy of holies, in which was his mercy-seat or throne; and next of the sanctuary or main part of the structure in which the golden candlestick, the altar of incense, and the table of bread were stationed, and prayers were offered by the priests, and hymns sung by the Levites. As the former symbolized, as we are expressly told, Hebrews ix. 11, 12, 23, 24, the heavens, the scene in which God visibly manifests himself, Christ intercedes, and the cherubim, the representatives of the redeemed, serve in his presence; so the other sanctuary symbolizes the place or places on earth in which the true worshippers offer him the public worship which he enjoins. The altar on which incense, the symbol of prayer, was offered, represented the cross of Christ, the instrument of his expiation, and thence of reconciliation and access to God; and the worshippers denoted those who conduct the public worship he has appointed, sustaining the same relations to the place of homage, and the rites and worship that are enjoined, that the priests and Levites sustained to the sanctuary and the services of their office.
To measure the temple, then, was to seek and learn the truths taught in the Scriptures, and symbolized, first by the inner sanctuary respecting the throne of God in heaven, the exaltation and intercession of Christ in his presence, and the relations to him there of the spirits of the redeemed denoted by the cherubim ; and next the truths symbolized by the outer sanctuary respecting the place or places on earth, which he has appointed for the worship which he enjoins on his people, respecting the expiation on which they are to rely for pardon and acceptance denoted by the altar, and respecting the ministers who conduct the worship he enjoins, represented by the offerers of the worship in the sanctuary.
The court which was on the outside, was that in which the congregation stood while incense was offered, and denoted the station of the congregation of visible worshippers, in contradistinction from theirs who conduct the public worship. To reject it as no part of the temple, was, therefore, to reject the body of the nominal or visible, as not true worshippers ; and the direction to reject it, was equivalent to a prophecy that the nominal was not to be a true church ; that the vast crowds who were to throng the court professedly to pay homage to God, were not to be his adorers.
The holy city was the city in which the ancient temple stood, and the priests and daily worshippers resided, and to which those dwelling elsewhere went to offer homage. The prediction, therefore, that the court without should be given to the Gentiles, and that they should tread the holy city forty-two months, denoted that they should constitute the congregation of visible worshippers during that period, and exercise the civil polity under which * Ara Crucis. Concil. Trident. Sess. xxi. c. 2
? Luke i. 9, 10, 21, 22.
the church should subsist; and as during the continuance of the temple the Gentiles were aliens from God and idolaters, in contradistinction from the Jews who were his covenant people, it denotes that the visible should be an apostate and idolatrous church during that period, and give occasion thereby for the testimony of the
witnesses to the truth, against false teachers, and usurping and persecuting rulers. This is seen also from the fact that the Gentiles have belonged to the visible church and constituted it solely for a much longer period than the forty-two months. There has been no purely Jewish church since the first ages. The relation, therefore, in which the Gentiles were to constitute the church during that period, was not literally as Gentiles in opposition to Jews, but as apostates from God in contradistinction from true worshippers.
The promise to give to the two witnesses, was a promise of such gifts to them as were requisite to qualify them for their office. To prophesy as a witness, is to proclaim the revealed will of God and vindicate his prerogatives, in opposition to false teachers who pervert and deny his truth, and to rulers who usurp his rights and arrogate a dominion over his people and his laws.
The period of their testimony was to correspond to the apostasy of the church, twelve hundred and sixty days, and forty-two months of thirty days each, being the same.
Sackcloth is a symbol of humiliation and sorrow. Their prophecy in sackcloth thence denoted their witnessing for God in humiliation, under a profound sense of his rights, and in grief at the apostasy of his professing people.
The two olive-trees and two lamps which symbolize the two witnesses, are those doubtless, or like those exhibited in vision to Zechariah, chap. iv. 4, 11, 14, of which the trees that distilled the oil into the lamps represented the teachers, and the lamps the recipients of their doctrine or believers. The two witnesses are the teachers then and the recipients of the truth, in whom it exerts and displays its power, as the oil transmitted from the olivetrees to the lamps burned and diffused its light through the temple.
The representation that if any one wills to injure them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies, is a prediction that they were to defend themselves from their persecu. tors by their words as witnesses for God, and by those alone, and that the threatenings of vengeance which they were to proclaim from his word were to be fulfilled on their enemies. were to have power to shut heaven that rain should not fall du