Page images

at least a period of 1260 years, ought most probably to be dated from the year 606* ; and consequently that we are rapidly approaching to the catastrophe of the great apostatic dramat In these points I have the satisfaction of finding



[ocr errors]

can answer to this description. The same dragon appears again in "ch. xx. 2. and (as it were to prevent mistake) he is there described in the very same words.

But ibis re-appearance of the same dragon is in a very “ late period of the apocalyptic bistory; long after the expiration of the 1260 “ days or years; and even after the wild beast and false prophet, who de

rive their power from the dragon during this period, are come to their “ end. And the dragon is upon the scene long after these times, and con"tinues in action even at the end of another long period, a period of a " thousand years. He there pursues his ancient artifices, deceiving the nations, even till his final catastrophe, in ch. xx. 10, when the warfare of the Church is finished. Can this dragon then be an emperor of Rome?

or any race, or dynasty, of emperors ? Can be be any other than that an

cient and eternal enemy of the Christian Church, who in this, as in all * other scriptural accounts, is represented as the original contriver of all to the mischief which shall befall it. In this drama, he acts the same cor'" sistent part from beginning to end. He is introduced to early notice as

“ warring against the Church (ch. ii, 10, 13.)- In the succeeding conflicts. .“ the Church is attacked by his agents; by the wild bcast and false pro

phet, who derive their power from hin: and at length he himself is “ described, as leading the nations against the camp of the saints., No. " thing appears more plain than the meaning of this symbol. The only

appearances, which may seem to favour the application of it to Imperial * Rome are, the seven crowned heads, and the ten horns of the dragon. “ But-the seven mountains and ten horns, of the latter Roman empire are “ fitly attributed to Satan, because during the period of 1260 years, and

perhaps beyond it, he makes use of the Roman empires its capital city, “ and ten kings or kingdoms, as the instruments of his successful attack on " the Christian Church. The dragon therefore appears to me, as he did

to Venerable Bede eleven centuries ago, to be Diabolus, potentia terreni mundi armatus." p. 324-326.

p. 360. The Archdeacon thinks, that there are more than one period of 1260 years (p. 339-344.). He by no means appears to me to prove his point.

† Nearly all the more recent commentators on prophecy, with whose writings I am acquainted, seem to agree in the belief that we cannot be far removed from the end of the 1260 years. The very phraseology used by the Archdeacon most forcibly brought to my recollection a conversation **%




myself supported by the authority of the Archdeacon ;, but in various other matters I am unable to agree with him.

The first ohjections, which I have to urge, are of a general nature; afterwards I may descend'to particulars.

1. My general objections are to the Archdeacon's principle of upplying the apocalyptic prophecies, when carried to the length to which he carries it; and to his system of arranging the Apocalypse itself, on which a great part of his subsequent interpretations is founded.

1. He conceives the prophecies of the Apocalypse " to be applicable principally, if not solely, to the fates and fortunes " of the Christian Church*.Agreeably to this system, he interprets the six first seals, and the four first trumpets, as relating solely to ecclesiastical matters; and rejects at once both the usual chronological arrangement of them, and the almost universal supposition that the four first trumpets predict the calamities brought upon the Roman empire by the incursions of the various Gothic tribes and the final complete subversion of its western division. The principle is undoubtedly a just one if adopted with moderation; but the Archdeacon does not advance any arguments in favour of carrying it to the length which he does, that are at all satisfactory to my own mind. The affairs of the Church, both Levitical and Christian, have been more or less connected, from very early ages, with empites and kingdoms hostile to the cause of true religion : hence, although the Church is the main end of prophecy, yet, circumstanced as it has always been, it seems nearly impossible to foretell the fates of the Chureh without likewise foretelling the fates of the great powers connected with it. Nevertheless, the


“ The days

which I once had on this subject with the late Bp. Horsley. His Lordship avowed it to be his opinion, that, before the present century clapsed, the prophecies respecting the destruction of the Roman beast and the sterchrnu of the Antichristian faction would be no longer a sealed book. " will come,” says the Archdeacon, " and seem at rio very great distance

(the present century may perhaps disclose them), when the beast and “ false prophet being removed, and Babylon sunk for ever, the devil, that " ancient foe, shall be deprived of his wonted influence." P. 470.

* Pref. p. xiii, xiv.

Church being the ultimate scope of prophecy, we have no occasion to go into "the wide field of universal history to search for doubtful interpretations : we must confine ourselves to that portion of it which alone is connected with the Church. Accordingly we find, that no nations are particularized in prophecy excepting those with which the Church either has been or will be concerned, Moab, Edom, Amalek, Nineveh, Tyre, Egypt, the four great empires, and a yet future confederacy denominated Gog and Magog, are all very fully noticed; while the mighty monarchies of China and Hindostan are totally overlooked. Now, when we must acknowledge such to be the case with the Old Testament, why are we to conclude that the apocalyptic predictions are framed upon a different principle? and, since throughout the whole of the Revelation the Church is connected with Daniel's fourth beast or the Roman empire, why are we to suppose that that empire is never spoken of except when the ten-horned beust is specially introduced, that is to say, except during the period of " the 1260 years?

The Archdeacon's interpretation of the seals I shall consider hereafter; at present I shall confine myself to that of the trumpets. The four first of these he will not allow to relate to the overthrow of the Western empire, on the ground that the subject of the Apocalypse is the fates und fortunes of the Christian Churcht. But are not those fates and for unes inost closely connected with the overthrow of the Western empire ? According to the usual interpretation of the four first trumpets and the tyranny of the two beasts during the period of the 1260 years, everything appears in strict chronological order, and the one succession of events arises naturally out of the other. St. Paul teaches us, that, when he that letted or the Western empire should be taken away, then should the man of sin be revealed. Now what is the particular portion of the Apocalypse which we are now considering, except an enlarged repetition of St. Paul's prediction? He that letted is taken away; and the man of sin forthwith rears his head:the Western empire is taken away by the operation of the four,

[ocr errors]

→ Pref. p. XV.

+ p. 218-222.

KK 3


[ocr errors]


first trumpets; and the great apostasy of 1260 days, the reign of the false prophet and his temporal supporter, shortly commences. The one is preparatory to the other: the four trumpets are merely the prelude to what may be termed the grand subject of the Apocalypse, a wonderful tyranny exercised within the Church itself by the upholders of the Apostasy, and a contemporary Apostusy in the eastern world scarcely less wonderful than that in the western. St. Paul and St. John are perfectly in unison : they alike connect the downfall of the empire with the fates of the Church. Thus, even independent of the Archdeacon's chronological arrangement, which shall presently be discussed, I see not why the old interpretation of the four trumpets, or at least the great outlines of that interpretation, ought to be rejected.

The Archdeacou however brings an argument against such an interpretation of the four trumpets from the homogeneity of all the seven trumpets. He insists most justiy, that what the nature of is the nature of them all must be: and observes that Mede, in order to make them homogeneal, interprets the fifth and the sixth trumpets as relating to the attacks made upon the empire by the Saracens and Turks, as he had already referred the four first to the attacks previously made upon the enpire by the Gothic tribes. But he adds, that the seventh trumpet announces most clearly the victory 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. 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 war: fare may be successful under the seventh and last trumpet,

56 when

or when it had been unsuccessful before, yet the homogeneity “ be consistently preserved. For the question is not con

cerning the success, but concerning the warfare. And the “ trumpets may be deemed homogeneal, if they all represent the same warfare (viz. of the powers of hell, and of the “ Antichristian world, against the Church of Christ), what

ever may be the event *.” That the object of the seventh trumpet is to introduce the victory obtained by Christ and his Church, and to usher in the happy period of the Millennium, few will be disposed to deny: but the question is, how is this desirable object accomplished? The Archdeacon himself allows, by the triumph of the Church over those instruments of hell, Antichrist, the beast, and the fulse prophet. Now, whether I be right or wrong in my own notions of Antichrist, wbat is this but a triumph over the Roman empire and the apostate communion inseparably connected with it? Accordingly we fiud, that the sevenih trumpet, after conducting us through sir of its vials, all of which are poured out upon God's enemies, magnificently introduces under the seventh vial the judgment of the great harlot, the downfall of Babylon, and the complete destruction of the beast along with the false prophet and his confederated kings; in other words, the overthrow of the papal Roman empire both secular and temporal. How then is the homogeneity of the trumpets violated by Mede's exposition? Under the four first, the western empire falls ; under the two next, the eastern empire follows the fate of its more ancient half; under the last, the revived beust or papal empire is utterly broken, and prepares a way by its overthrow for the millennian reign of the Messiah. In short, as matters appear to me, if welargue backwards from the seventh trumpet, homogeneity, instead of forbidding, requires us to refer all the sir first trumpets to different attacks upon the Roman empire, the final ruin of which is ushered in by the seventh.

2. But my objection to the Archdeacon's arrangement of the Apocalypse, on which a great part of his subsequent interpretations necessarily depends, is infinitely stronger than to

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »