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unconstrained air of sincerity with which he pursues his work, forbids the suspicion of intentional fraud. Let us now trace the further development of his scheme down to the present day.
Of the seven trumpets mentioned in the Apocalypse, the sixth was supposed to have been sounding for the wearisome period of five hundred years, when the French Revolution broke out in 1789. All eyes were instantly turned towards this appalling scene. Divines, no less than politicians, found matter of engrossing interest in its progress. No wonder that many sought for some corresponding token in the Revelation; and it is well known that certain interpreters soon discovered that the sixth trumpet had just ceased, and the seventh begun to sound. So far as our reading extends, the first to broach this idea was the celebrated Elhanan Winchester, in his 'Three Woe Trumpets,' two sermons preached in London, February, Though this subject is so very plain,' said he, ' and though I have understood a long time that this prophecy of the great earthquake, the fall of the tenth part of the city, and the slaying of the names of men, [Rev. xi. 13,] referred to what has happened in France, yet it never struck me that the second woe was actually past, till about three days ago, hearing the latter part of the eleventh chapter of Revelations read, I was surprised to find immediately after the account of the earthquake, and what was brought about thereby, this solemn declaration made the second woe is past, and behold, the third woe cometh quickly. And then the seventh angel is immediately introduced as sounding his trumpet; which is the most awful and important of all, and under which the third and great woe shall take place. A new and suprising scene opened to my mind; I saw very plainly that the sixth trumpet was finished, and the seventh beginning to sound; that the second woe was past, and the third coming immediately; and I could not help being surprised that I had not observed it before, as the connexion is so plain.' We may be pardoned another extract from this scarce pamphlet: The sixth trumpet has sounded long, from about the year 1281, to the present year, 1793. But I am to show that it is now finished, and that the second woe is past. There is an event mentioned in the verse immediately before my text, that points out the conclusion of the second woe in as plain and direct a manner as possible; and such an event having taken place before our eyes, it is easy to see that the
And the same
prophecy is now fulfilled: See Rev. xi. 13. hour was there an earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men (as our translators render the words, but the original words are literally names of men) seven thousand; and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. By the great earthquake, we are to understand a great political shaking of some nation, whereby the government shall be overthrown and broken in pieces, as really as any part of the earth was ever broken and destroyed by a natural earthquake; and not only so, but this earthquake is to happen in one of the ten kingdoms constituting the great hierarchy of Rome, which is often in this book styled the great city; and this earthquake is to be so violent, and to continue so long, that the tenth part of the city is to fall: that is, the kingdom where this earthquake is to happen, will not only be broken in pieces itself, but will entirely fall off from Rome, and will no longer support the papal government. And in this earthquake, which will be a sudden and surprising revolution, different from all others, there will be slain of names of men, seven thousand; or the whole number of the titles or names of distinction will be destroyed; and all this will take place in a most sudden and unexpected manner. Now look at the revolution and overturning of the government in France, and see if this prophecy is not exactly fulfilled, and therein a full proof given, that the second woe is past, beyond all dispute; and this epoch is therefore interesting in the highest degree. France is certainly a tenth part of the city or hierarchy of Rome; it is one of the ten horns of the beast, one of the ten kingdoms that gave its power and authority to the beast, which it has done in a most remarkable manner, from the days of Pepin and his son Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, until the late revolution. These kings of France were the very persons who first made the Pope of Rome a temporal prince, by conquering Italy, subjecting the same to the Bishop of Rome, and laying the keys at his feet. And France has all along been a steady and constant supporter of the papal religion, power and dignity; but it is now fallen from that connexion, to rise no more: 8 a prediction unhappily falsified by the event, in about twenty years afterwards.
The Three Woe Trumpets, &c., being the substance of two discourses delivered in London, Feb. 3 and 24, 1793. By Elhanan Winchester. First American edition. Boston, 1794. pp. 32-38.
The idea, thus broached by Winchester, was soon advanced by others, and a systematic illustration of it attempted by several writers, but with indifferent success. It was a task more difficult than one would at first suppose, to take up the scheme where Bishop Newton left it, and continue it onwards to the next change of the scene, preserving at the same time a consistent whole. This, however, was at length accomplished by Mr. Faber, whose well-known Dissertation on the Prophecies appeared in 1806. He makes the seventh trumpet begin to sound on the 12th of August, 1792, when the monarchy of France was overthrown. The first vial was poured out on the 26th of the same month, when Atheism was announced as the national profession; the second vial denoted the massacres commenced in the September following; the third, the march of the republican armies against the neighboring states; the fourth, the elevation of Buonaparte to the empire, and the establishment of military despotism, &c. So far, the interpretation seemed to match well enough; and the fear entertained of France, the hatred towards her gigantic despot, ensured it a hearty reception, even with many who had more faith in its utility than in its truth. Faber, as we have already intimated, devised no new scheme for the Apocalypse at large; he meant only to continue that of bishop Newton about fifty years onwards. But in doing this he was obliged, for the sake of consistency, to transpose the order of several important points in the earlier periods; and nothing will more clearly show the capricious nature of these fanciful hypotheses, than a comparison of the contradictory arrangements made out by these two authors, each of whom supports his own by coincidences equally striking. Thus, Newton discovers, with his usual ingenuity, that the tenth chapter begins at a period yet future; Faber, just as ingeniously, that it began A. D. 606. According to the former, the death and resurrection of the two witnesses belong to the events of coming time; according to the latter, all was fulfilled, A. D. 1547 and 1550, among the Protestants in Germany. In reading Newton, we find that the war in heaven between Michael and the devil, was the persecution of the gospel during the first three centuries, and that the expulsion of satan into the earth was the triumph of Christianity under Constantine, A. D. 313. Turning to Faber, we learn that this is a gross miscalculation, and that the actual reference is to the struggles of the Protestants with the Catholics after
the Reformation, and to the secret diffusion of infidelity through Europe. Again: the woman fled into the wilderness' from the pursuit of the dragon; that is, says Newton, the true church sunk into obscurity in the dark ages;-nay, says Faber, it means that she found refuge in England, the bulwark of the Reformation, during the late troubles in France. The flood which the dragon vomited after the woman, but which was immediately swallowed up by the earth, is shown by Newton to have been the flood of Northern barbarians who broke into the territories of the Church in the fifth and sixth centuries, and were there converted and amalgamated with the Christians; while Faber shows it to have been the flood of modern infidels, who were at length swallowed up when the earth, that is, all Europe, rose in arms against France. So unsubstantial is this scheme of interpretation, with all its specious appearances! To repeat language already quoted, under every possible construction the event can still be made to answer.
We have traced this scheme from its rise to its full developement. Its present popularity seemed to call for such an exposure. But we must again observe that, notwithstanding the number of its advocates, it has never been approved by the higher class of Biblical critics, even among Protestants; and we now owe some notice of the hypothesis, on the other hand, which these have generally adopted, though with various and important modifications. Most of them have supposed that nearly all the Apocalypse, and some, that the whole of it, was fulfilled long ago, in the first ages of the church. The English giant of sacred literature, Lightfoot, whose fame is co-extensive with Christendom, maintained (about A. D. 1650,) that the first resurrection, mentioned in the twentieth chapter, was the moral awakening from unbelief to faith, and that the descent of the New Jerusalem, described in chapters twenty-first and twenty-second, was the establishment of the gospel dispensation upon earth. Though we have not his works before us at this moment, we think there is no risk in saying that he applied no part of the book to modern events. Dr. Hammond (A. D. 1653,) explains it, so far as the end of the nineteenth chapter, of the fortunes of Christianity till the overthrow of heathenism in ancient Rome; the three remaining chapters he refers to the prosperous state of the church after Constantine; though he takes one short eccentric flight
meanwhile, and applies six verses at the close of the twentieth chapter, to the end of the world and to a general judgment. Wetstein, who ranks among the profoundest of the old German critics, framed a regular synopsis of the book, (A. D. 1752,) and made all its prophecies to have been fulfilled previously to the year 150.9 Another German critic, the celebrated Eichhorn, who published a commentary on the Apocalypse in 1791, applied it, so far as the middle of the twentieth chapter, to the progress of Christianity until the overthrow of the Jewish religion, and the suppression of heathenism in the Roman empire; while his distinguished cotemporary, Rosenmüller, confined nearly all this part of the book to a single train of events, the destruction of the Jews and of their worship, together with the prevalence of the gospel. From the middle of the twentieth chapter, however, to the conclusion of the prophecy, both of these authors suppose that the end of the world and the scenes of eternity are the subjects represented. Some later critics, again, who are now in high repute, refer the whole, without exception, to the present state of being. Hug, in his Introduction to the New Testament, (A. D. 1808,) takes this course. Having followed the general tenor of Eichhorn's application till he enters on the twentieth chapter, he proceeds to maintain that the first and second resurrections there mentioned, together with the arraignment of the dead small and great before the throne of God, and the judgment passed upon them, ought to be understood figuratively, like the other visions; and that the New Jerusalem which came down from God out of heaven, denoted Christianity with all its blessings descending victorious upon earth. It may surprise some of our readers to learn that the explanation here given from Hug, is referred to with approbation rather than censure, in a work lately prepared by one of the professors in the Theological Seminary at Andover.10 The same Professor adds, and we think justly, that the following rules which the German critic proposes for understanding the Apocalyptic visions, deserve the attention of all interpreters: 'It is hardly necessary to remark,' says Hug, that all the strokes and fig
A translation of Wetstein's synopsis of the Apocalypse may be found in Dr. A. Clarke's Commentary on the New Testament, vol. ii. Pref. to the Rev. of St. John, pp. 984, 985. On the next page, the Dr. gives Rosenmuller's synopsis, and a very brief sketch of Eichhorn's.
10 Robinson's Calmet, Art. Apocalypse.