תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

given during the space of three times and u half, is the same as the second beast, or the false prophet, of the Apoc. alypse, who was to instigate the ten-horned beast to make war upon the saints during the synchronical period of 42 months. I The second of the little horns, which, as we shall hereafter see, was to flourish in the East during the same space of 1260 days, and to the end of the 2300, 2400, or 2200, days, is the spiritual dominion of the Apocalyptic Abaddon, the angel of the bottomless pit and the king of the locusts, which is prolonged, though under a different name, during the reign of the Euphra. tean horsemen.* And the impious king, whose characteristic mark is, that he should not regard any god,t is the great Antichrist predicted by St. John : who, in a similar manner, was to deny both the Father and the Son ; whose primary and only partial developement was to take place at the end of the second woes who was to be fully revealed at the blast of the third woe ;|| who was to pour like an overwhelming flood upon the symbolical woman during the latter part of her sojourn in the wilderness , who was to be the instrument of God's vengeance during the period of the figurative harvest ;** who was to perish between the two seas, united with the false prophet, at the time of the vintage ;tt and whose exploits are more largely and particularly detailed under the seven Vials. It

sime great Anti: that he the impious mign of the though

Dan. vii. 8, 25. Rev. xii. 5, 11.

In absolute strictness of speech, the second little born, will not exist during the wobole 1260 days, although Mobammedism will, of which this born is the symbol; because Mobammedism did not become a born of the be-goat, until about 30 years after its original commencement. But more will be said on this subject hereafter.

* Dan. viii. 9, 13, 14. Rev. ix. + Dan. xi. 36. \ 1 John ii. 22. $ Rev. xi. 13.

|| Rev. xi. 15.

Rev. xii. 15. ** Rev. xiv. 14, 15, 16. H Dan. xi. 45. Rev. xix. 11-21. Rev. xiv. 17—20. # Rev. xvi.

CHAPTER II.

On the Symbolical Language of Prophecy.

THE illustrious Sir Isaac Newton has well observed, that “ for understanding the prophecies, we are, in the first place, to acquaint ourselves with the figurative language of the prophets."* He has accordingly given us a catalogue of symbols with their several interpretations, of which I shall occasionally avail iyself in the course of the following disquisition ; the main object of which is to point out and insist upon the exact precision of the prophetic language.

The predictions of Daniel and St. John are, with the single exception of Daniel's last prophecy, written in the language of symbols. It will be necessary therefore to ascertain the import of the several symbols which are used in their writings : for, without a right understanding of the symbols, it is impossible to learn what things are designed to be represented by them; and, unless we learn what things are designed to be represented by them, it will be a fruitless labour to attempt to interpret the prophecies themselves.

In the ordinary languages of men, words are the signs of things. Different words however are frequently used in all languages to express nearly the same thing : whence they are termed synonyms : and the use of them, so far from making a language obscure, renders it more copious, and consequently more beautiful. But, in some instances, the matter is precisely reversed: and the same word is used to express different things. Whenever this occurs, a degree of obscurity, which is a manifest defect in a language, is necessarily introduced : and the obscurity is greater or less, both according as the same word represents a greater or a less number of different things, and in proportion as its context enables us less or more to ascertain the precise meaning designed to be annexed to it in any particular passage.

• Observations on the Prophecies, p. 16.

led by shearn wh to be

Let us apply these remarks to the symbolical language of prophecy. If various symbols be used to represent the same thing, we shall be in no danger of mistaking the prophet's meaning, provided only we can ascertain the import of each individual symbol : because such variety will only serve to heighten the beauty of the imagery, without introducing the slightest degree of obscurity. But, if, on the contrary, the same symbol be used to express many different things, which have no necessary analogical relation to each other; it will be utterly impossible to understand a prophecy couched in such ambiguous terms, because the context can never lead us, as is the case in ordinary languages, to any certain interpretation of it.

Upon this principle the symbolical language of prophecy is constructed. In the rich imagery of Daniel and St. John, different symbols are frequently used to express the same thing : but no one symbol is ever used to express different things ; unless such different things have a manifest analogical resemblance to each other. Hence the language of symbols, being purely a language of ideas, is in one respect more perfect than any ordinary language can be : it possesses the variegated elegance of synonyms, without any of the obscurity which arises from the use of ambiguous terms.*

As prophecy relates both to things temporal and things spiritual, its symbols must be divided into two grand elasses; the one typifying temporal, and the other, spiritual, objects. And here it may be observed, that every division of these two parallel classes has a kind of leuding symbol, which comprehends and is connected with a variety of other symbols belonging to the division of which this is the head. Thus, the symbolicul heaven

* In some measure the Hebrew language forms an exception to the arbitrary ambiguity of other languages. " It will be demonstratively evident to any one," says Mr. Parkhurst,“ who will attentively examine the subject, that the Hebrew language is ideal; or that from a certain, and that no great, number of primitive and apparently arbitrary words, called roots, and usually expressive of some idea or notion taken from nature, that is from the external objects around us, or from our own constitutions, by our senses or feelings, all the other words of that tongue are derived or grammatically formed ; and that, wherever the radical letters are the same, the leading idea or notion runs through all the deflections of the word, however numerous or diversified," Preface to Heb. Lexicon.

from its a midst of mind the moon,

.............. comprehends the sun, the moon, and the stars : and thus, the symbolical eurth comprehends the sea, the rivers, the islands, and the mountains. The several divisions of the two parallel classes shall be treated of in their order.

1. The symbolical heaven, when interpreted temporally, signifies the whole body politic. As such, it comprehends the sun, or the sovereign power wheresoever it be lodged; the moon, or the people which is the allegorical wife of the sovereign power; and the stars, or the princes and nobles of the realm. If this idea be further pursued from a single kingdom and from an undivided empire to an empire split into many kingdoms like the Roman em. pire, the sun will be the government of that state, which from its superiority of power resembles the bright orb of day in the midst of the stars or independent kings of the imperial firmament; and the moon will be the whole body of the people throughout the whole empire. Such being the case, the blackening of the sun, the turning of the moon into blood, the falling of the stars, and the departing of the heavens like a scrowl, will mean either the subversion of a kingdom, or the subversion of an empire, according as the tenor of the prophecy shall determine : while the shooting of a single star from heaven to earth denotes the downfull of a sovereign prince.* Upon the same principle, the eclipsing of the heavenly bodies means a partial calamity, not extending to the utter subversion of the whole kingdom or empire : and, when the sun is said to scorch men with fire, a grievous tyranny, exercised by the supreme power, whether at the head of a kingdom or an empire, is denoted. The political heaven is sometimes termed the air : in which case, as thunder, lightning, hail, and clouds, are generated and supported in the atmosphere ; so convulsions, tumults, and uproars, are produced and maintained in an ill-regulated or expiring body politic.

On the other hand, the symbolical heaven, when interpreted spiritually, signifies the whole body of the church militant, considered as including both Christ its head and all the members of his mystical body.t In this case, the

* See Isaiah xiv. 12.

+ Hence we find the Church militant perpetually described in the parables as the Kingdom of heaven. (See particularly Matt. xiii. 24-50.) In all the parables, con

............ san will represent our Lord; the moon, his allegorical consort the Church ; and the stars, his appointed pastors and teachers. Christ however is not only the head of his faithful people, the sun of their religious system ; but he is likewise “ a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.” Hence he is typified, not only by the sun, but by a star also, termed, by way of eminence over all other stars or priests, " the bright and morning star."* The spiritual heaven, or the Church, is God's appointed channel of conveying blessings to his people : the soft dews, and gentle rains therefore of this spiritual heaven symbolize the graces of the Holy Ghost.t Lastly, as the present heaven signifies the Church militant ; so a new heaver, succeeding the present heaven when it passes away, is the Church triumphant. I

2. The earth, when taken in a temporal sense, imports in the abstract the territorial dominions of any Pagan or irreligious empire. The sea, ever turbulent and restless, represents nations in a tumultuary or revolutionary state. A flood is a large body of men put in motion for some given purpose, rarely, perhaps never, a good one. Rivers and fountains mean nations and their political heads while in a trunquil state ; their affairs flowing along in a gentle and even course like the stream of a river, and not subject to violent agitations like the sea.ş. An earthquake is a sudden convulsion in an empire, violently overturning

tained in this chapter, since both good and bad are represented, as being equally included in the kingdom of beaven, and since it is declared that a final separation between them will only take place at the day of judgment; it is evident, that the kingdem of beaven, which they speak of, is not the literal and future, but the symbolical and present, kingdomn.

* Rev. ii. 28. and xxii. 16. See also Numb. xxiv. 17.

+ See Isaiah xliv. 3. and Rev. xvii. 15. See also Sir Isaac Newton's Observations on Daniel, p. 19.

There is one instance, in which this set of hieroglyphics is applied to domestic life; and another, the only one in the Apocalypse, in which it is used to describe the Pagan bierarcby and religion. (See Gen. Xxxvii. 9, 10. and Rev. vi. 12, 13, 14.) In both these cases however the very same ruling idea may be observed, as when the symbols are applied to an empire or to a pure religion.

$ Sir Isaac Newton supposes, that fountains are cities, the permanent heads of rivers politic :" but the other interpretation appears to me more agreeable to symbolical analogy. As fountains are the beads of rivers, so are sovereigns the beads of their people : whence we are accustomed, even in our ordinary conversation, to style the king the fountain of honours and dignities : we might add, of all public offices, both civil and military; and, in most countries, of the laws also.

VOL. I.

« הקודםהמשך »