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The fifth great and signal Evenr, is that most heavy Perse. cution of the Church that ever was under the Pagan Emperors, begun by Dioclefian A. D. 303. and continued afterward for the space of somewhat above Ten intire years together, till A. D. 313. When Constantine and Licinius put an end to it, and gave free liberty to the Christians through all that Empire. And this was so signal and remarkable an Event, and so exactly and distinctly refer'd to by the Prophecy, that it needed no other date, than that of the conclusion of the miseries of the fourth Seal on one side, and the change of the Religion of the Empire, by Conftantine, under the sixth Seal on the other. And this last and heavielt of all the Heathen Perfecutions is most fitly here represented by the cry of the Souls of the Martyrs under the Altar ; (where they are repre. sented flain, and as it were sacrific'd to God, by a Scripture Me. taphor frequent in such cases,) for Vengeance on that bloody and cruel Empire, which was the Author of their Death. And for the encouragement of Christians in such fiery tryals for the future, thefe Souls of the Martyrs are represented as immediately admitted into the number of the Priefts, who serve God in his Temple continually; intimating their immediate reception into Heaven, and into the presence of the Divine Majesty. And in answer to the loud cry of their innocent blood, for the speedy Vengeance on their Persecutors, they are assur'd that as soon as the Holy Army of Martyrs under Paganism, during the rest of the present Persecution, and under the remaining Persecucions of Licinius, Maximinus, Arbogastes and Eugenia us and others, before Christianity was settled in the Empire, was compleated, God would éffectually plead their cause; and either convert or destroy all their perfecutors; and utterlyoverturn all, who should attempt to uphold the Pagan Cruelties and Idolatries in the Empire, by the vast Mutations and terrible Judgments to be introduc'd in the sixth Seal: (for to that Seal rather than to the Trumpets in the seventh, these words, I think, do primarily relate.) And as to this Tenth Primitive Persecution, it is justly esteemed the longest and forest of all the rest; and the Historians will foon give us a woful account of it. “Omnibus fere, inquit Orosius, ante
" actis diuturnior e immanior fuit. Nam per decem annos incendiis “ Ecclefiarum, proscriptionibus innocentium, cædibus Martyrum inceffabiliter acta est. And in the very beginning of this persecution, seventeen thousand Souls are said to have been flain in the space of a single Month, and the fury held much at the same rate afterward. Nay in Egypt alone, some have affirm'd that 144000 were Nain, and 700000 banished. And that it was exceeding severe in that Countrey is evident by that famous
Ægyptian Ara, begun at the beginning of Dioclefian's Reign on that occasion, stil'd Æra Martyrum, as wellas Æra Dioclefranea, and continued even to this day. And as to the Roman Empire in general, Sulpitius Severus's words are these,Omnis fere facro Martyrum cruore Orbis infe&tus eft. And in another place Nullis unquam bellis Mundus fanguine magis exhauftus eft. Neque majori unquam Triumpho Ecclefia vicit quam cum decem annorum stragibus vinci non potuit. And this shall suffice for this fifth Seal: only minding the Reader, that if he peruse thatre. markable Book of Lactantius De Mortibus perfecutorum,He will needlittle otherExposition of this or the next Seal, than what he will there find in History.
SE A L. VI. Apoc. vi. 12.
NDI beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo there -17
A was a great earthquake: and the fun became blackas fack. cloth of hair ; and the moon became as blood. .
13. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a figtree casteth her untimely figs, when she is Maken of a mighty wind.
14. And the heaven departed as a scrowl when it is rolled together; and every mountain andisland were moved out of their places.
15. And the Kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond-man, and every free-man hid themselves in the dens, and in the rooks of the mountains;
16. And said to the rocks and mountains, fall upon us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the lamb.
17. For 17. For the great day of his wrathis come; and whoshall be able to stand ?
The sixth great and signal Event, which I esteem the first of the great Triumphsor Victories of Christs wariar-, is a mighty Erionós, or great Concuslion of Heaven and Earth: whereby an end was put to the Pagan Idolatry and Persecutions. The Ido!s, with their Priests, and Attendants, and Revenues, and Temples, and Altars over all the Roman Empire were by degrees Destroyed, Ruin'd, Burnt, and Demolish'd for ever. All those Emperors, Præfe&ts, and Governors who maintain'd their cause, and oppos'd the establishment of Christianity, or persecuted its Professors, were routed, overcome, degraded, and perished miserably; sometimes by the hand of Man, and fometimes by the particular Vengeance of God himself. And the Christian Religion, being first embrac'd by Constantine A. D. 313, was soon after establilh’d, and became the publick Religion of the Empire. This first grand completion of our Savior's Victory, and primary signal Triumph over his Enemies, with the vast Mutations thereby occafion'd through the whole Roman Empire, must be the purport of those solemn and exalted Metaphors, which are here made use of by the Spirit of God; and which are known in the Old Prophets, to signify such mighty and uncommon Mutations of Governments and Changes in Kingdoms : the Instances and Particulars of which defcription, you have at large in Mr. Mede: but which do not come withinthe compass of my present design. Thofe characters which fix it to this particular Mutation under Constantine, are these three. (1) The Grandness of every part of the description, and exaltedness of the Figures; not at all agreeable to any other of lessimportance.(2) That it immediatly follows after the heaviest Persecution of the foregoing Seal. And (3) That 'tis particularly that Vengeance of Christ, promis'd to the Martyrs at the conclusion of that Seal; as appears by those Enemies terrible affrightment at it; when they are forc'd to call to the Mountains and Rocks to fall upon them and hide them, not only Aper from the face of him that sat on the Throne, but also more ea ji. withy.iso specially from the wrath of the Lamb, because that great Day of 16. 17. bis wrath before threatned was come, and they were not able ta ftand before it.
which are here me bit of those fol
Corollary. These first fix Seals seem to belong to that State of the Fourth Monarchy represented by the Iron Legs of the Statue in Daniel: or while it was wholly Strong, Warlike, and Secular; without any intermixture of an Ecclefiaftical Branch. But obe next Seal and its Trumpers seem to belong to the next State of that Monarchy, represented by the Feet, part of Iron and part of Clay; or, as the Angel's Exposition has it, partly Strong, and partly Brittle, i.e. partly Secular or Temporal, and parılj Spiritual or Ecclefiaftical. For upon the Coxverhon of Constantine to Christianity, the Bishops and Clergy were so mighii. ly'exalted, and so much Power put into their hands, that in a litsie time they became a great distinct Branch of the State, or Empire ; an Ecclefiaftical Hierarchy, always distinguish'd from, and claim. ing migbry Privileges with, if not above the Temporal and Secua lar Branch of it; and together making up the whole State or Empire.
And then as tbe Feet in the Image confified of the Feet themselves, diftin&t from, and prior to the ten Toes; as well as of those ten Toes at the very end of them; both which parts were equally compos'd of Iron and Clay, of Marter strong and brittle joined togee ther : fo are the succeeding Stares of the Roman Empire repre. fented by them, benceforward all along, both before and after its division into ten Kingdoms, to be suppos'd made up of two Branches, abe Temporal and Spiritmal, the Secular and Ecclefiaftical. And it may be obseruid, what will appear in the progress of the Trumpers, that tbe three first Trumpets at least, if not the fourth alfo, belong to that part of the foot of the Image which is intire, before iss divifon into ten Toes; and zbe rest of them to the ten Toes themselves, into which it is divided at left, and with which the la mage terminales...
Ånd thus far, I think Mr, Mede has admirably explain'd the Seals, and apply'd them to the right Events whereto they be. long in History: and accordingly I have bitherto generally follow'd him very closely, nay, frequently, almost Transcrib'd and A bridg'd him. But since I am not equally satisfy'd with
either his, or Dr. Creffener's, or indeed any other Exposition I of the four first Trumpets, I must take leave in part, to disent
from them; and to propose an Interpretation of mine own to the Reader. But before I do fo, I fhall for it exhibit the Preface
to the next Seal, with its general Import ; and then lay down the Principles of my own Expofition in some Observations following.
SE AL VII. or the SEVEN TRUMPETS.
PRE FAC E.
A ND when he had opened the seventh seal, there was filence in Apoc.viij 1..5. A beaven about the space of half an hour. ..
... And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given feven trumpers.
3. And another angel came and food at the altar, baving a gola den cenfer; and there was given unto him much incenfe, that he fhould offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.' ; . ; i
4. And the faoke of the incenfe, which came up with the prayers of the saints, afcended up before God out of the angels bando .s. And the angel took the cenfer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and caft it upon the earth : and there were voices, and thung derings, and lightenings, and an earthquake. · The Reader, perhaps, may wonder at first sight, how it comes to pass that I leap from the fixth Chapter of the Apocabpfe to the eighth. But the Reason is, that I directly pursue the Order of the Seals; and to having dispatch'd the fixth Seal, 'tis but Methodical to proceed thence to the feventh, or the Seal of the Trumpets. The Book indeed of the Revelation interpofes here two other Visions contain'd in the feventh Chapter ; the one of 144000 Sealed in their Foreheads, at the beginning of the Trumpets; the other of an innumerable Company with Palms in their hands belonging to the later Times of them: and this is one of the great Inftances of Divine Art and Management in the Apocalypfe. But 'tis not always necessary for an Expositor to pursue just the method of the Compiler. Neither do these Visions make so properly a part of the Seals, as of a diftinct and collateral Prophecy running thro' the whole Series