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to this mode of expression in the Apostolic writers * So that a third of the light taken from the heavenly luminaries, implies a failure in that invaluable light derived from the Christian revelation. The reign of darkness, ignorance, and superstition, did indeed return after the Light of the Gospel had been revealed ; the more particular history of which will be unfolded in the following Trumpets. The prophecy of the fourth Trumpet, as of those preceding, is general. It follows the other three in natural order; and is indeed the effect of the third. Corruption of know. ledge necessarily produces ignorance. The corruption of Christianity produced at length Gothic darkness and superstition.
Thus I suppose the four first Trumpets to afford a general view of the WARTAKE which the Christian Religion underwent, upon its first establishment. The history delivered under the Seals, after a solemn pause and silence, begins again. Under the Seals, the degeneracy of the Church had been described. Under the Trumpets, the attacks which she had to sustain from her antichristian foes. And she is first represented as undergoing various kinds of assault in her several divisions; these divisions of the Christian world bearing analogy to the Scriptural divisions of the natural world. 1. The storm of persecution in Judæa, which, murdering the martyrs, and dispersing the Apostles T, is aptly represented by hail and fire, mingled with blood; on the bursting forth of which, the weak in the faith fall away.
2. The Gentile persecution, arising from the pagan religion, which is fitly designated by a
• Col. i. 12, 13. 2 Cor. iv. 6. 1 Thess. v. 4, &c. 2 Tim. j. 10, Heb. x. 32. James i. 17. 1 Pet. ii. 9. 1 John i. 5, &c. Acts vii. 54, &c. viii, 1.
burning burning mountain. 3. The corruption of the Waters of Life, by the earliest heretics, and by injudicious teachers. 4. The consequent failure, in part, of that bright and glorious light which originally beamed from this Revelation. The symbols do not appear to me to warrant a more especial interpretation of them. The difficulty which attends them, arises from the paucity of the matter, and the short compass in which it is expressed. The means of interpreting them which I have ventured to apply, have been derived from comparing similar passages of Scripture; and by considersing, that these four first Trumpets must be supposed to sound the signal of the same kind of attack, and against the same object, as the three last. Now, as these three will be found to represent the invasion of the Christian Church by Antichristian foes, we have reason to conclude that the preceding trumpets foretel a similar history. Some additional light has been obtained from the preparatory vision *, which seems to restrict the commotions contained under these Trumpets, to religious causes. If Religion, descending from the altar in heaven, had not mingled with the passions and projects of men, these commotions would have had no place in history. The greater part of the modern commentators, following Joseph Mede, have supposed these prophecies fulfilled in the ravages committed by the Gothic barbarians on the provinces of the Roman Empire. But I have as yet been able to perceive no plausible reason, produced either by Mede or his fol. lowers, to shew why the prophecies of the Apocalypse in general, why the seals, or why the four first Trumpets in particular, should be understood to relate to the history of the Roman Empire. Mede says, indeed, at his entrance upon the explanation of the Seals *, that, “as Daniel in the Old Testament both presignified the “ coming of Christ, and arranged the fortunes of the “ Jewish Church by the succession of the empires ; 80 “the Apocalypse is to be supposed to measure the “ Christian history by the means of the Roman Em
pire, which was yet to be remaining after Christ." The conjecture is good; and as such will be acknowledged in its proper place. For, in the course of the prophecy, that beast of the Prophet Daniel (or one nearly resembling him, and plainly representing the remains of the Roman Empire) will appear. But before the symbols under which the prophecy is expressed, are seen clearly to indicate the Roman Empire, why are we to expect that the prophecy should relatę its fortunes t? The subject of these Divine visions is of superior importance:-the fates and fortunes of the Christian Church :
non res Romanæ perituraque regnat:
and the Roman Empire seems to be only so far noticed in them, as it necessarily became connected with the Church of Christ. The learned writer above quoted,
* Quemadmodum enim in V. T. Daniel, secundum imperiorum successiones, tum Christi adventum præsignavit, tum Ecclesiæ Judaicæ fata digessit; ita rem Christianam Apocalypsis, Romani, quod adhuc post Christum superfuturum esset, imperii rationibus admetiri censenda est.-Works, p. 441.
+ There is a period of the Roman Empire, even its latest period, pointed out by the Prophet Daniel in his Sacred Kalendar (so Mede calls it), when the Empire, divided under its ten Kings, will be intermixed with the fortunes of the Christian Church. This history will appear displayed in its proper symbols in the sequel of the Apocalypse; but hitherto no such symbols have appeared; nor do they appear be. fore the production of the little bouk, ch. x. I See Bp. Hurd's Sermons on Prophecy, p. 43.
was aware, that the fates of the Roman Empire were beneath the dignity of this sacred book. For, having dispatched that part of his work which he supposes to contain them, We now proceed,” says he, "to an
other, and much the most noble prophecy, because it "contains the history of Religion and of the Church*.” Another judicious observation of the same commentator will be usefully applied to this enquiry. He observes that the Trumpets should be interpreted as being all of one kind and nature, or, as he expresses it, homogeneal; “ to make some of them warlike invasions, " and others to be heresies, is to bring things of too “ differing a nature under one pamet.” After having supposed the four first Trumpets to represent “ warlike “invasions on the Ronian Empire,” he clearly saw, that the remaining Trumpets must not be interpreted as containing the history of Christian heresies; and therefore he laboured to shew that the Roman Empire was the object of attack in all the Trumpets. This labour he would perhaps have spared, if he had not already explained the four first Trumpets to be so many attacks on that Empire ; and therefore found himself obliged to exhibit a consistency, when he proceeded to interpret the rest. For, certainly, the great apostacy occasioned by Mahomet (which Mede understands to be contained under the fifth Trumpet) will be found to have attacked the Christian Religion yet more hostilely and extensively than the Roman Empire. It overthrew, or fatally corrupted, this Religion in the Roman Empire, wherever it subverted that Empire ; and, moreover, was fatal to Christianity in the wide and extensive regions of the Eastern World, which had never been subjected to the Roman dominion.
• Mede's Works, p. 477.
# Ib. p. 595.
But if the Trumpets are to be all homogeneal, let us have recourse to one of them, whose character and interpretation are placed beyond dispute; in the appli, eation of which, all interpreters must agree : and then let us bring the prophecies under the other Trumpets to that settled standard.
The seventh Trumpet! what does it announce? Most clearly, the victorý obtained by Christ and His Church, not over the Roman Empire, but over the powers of Hell, and of Antichrist, and a corrupt world; over the Dragon, the Beast, the false Prophet, and in process of time (for the seventh Trumpet continues to the end), over Death and Hell ; " for he must reign “ till he hath put all things under his feet.” 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 six ? 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 must, 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 consistently preserved. For, the question is not concerning the success, but concerning the warfare. And the Trumpets may be deemed hoinogeneal, 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; and whether it be carried on by the violence and persecution of open enemies, or by heresies and corrupt doctrines ; for heresy, which leads to apostacy, is a most dangerous assault upon the Church.