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denotes, not merely the town of Rome, but a corrupt communion ;* that the holy city is not the literal Jerusalem, but the Christian charch;t that the first beast of the apocalypse is not the Papacy, but the Roman empire ;I that the deadly wound of this beast denotes his conversion to Chriftianity under Constantine, and
that his revival means bis relapping into id latry ; ; that the little born of Daniel's fourth beast cannot be the same as the forft apocalyptic beast, in other words that it cannot be the same as the beafl himself of which it is only a member (as some commentators have fingularly supposed,) but that it is the same as the second apocalyptic beast or the false prophet'; Il that the deadly wound and revival of the firf apocalyptic beast is enigmatically described by the phrase was, and is not, and j'et is is that the time of the end denotes the expiration of the 1260 years ;
posibly be accounted a sort of Christian heresy. If the Gospel bad never been preached, it may be questioned wbether Mobammedism would bave existed. (Dr. Jortin's first Charge.) The Musulmans are already a sort of beterodox Chriftians. They are Cbrifians, if Lake reafons juply, because they firmly believe the immaculate conception, divine cbaracter, and miraeles of the Mefiab: but tbey are beterodox in denying vebemently bis cbaratier of Son, and bis equality, as God, with tbe Fatber, of wbose unity and attributes they entertain and express tbe muß wwful ideas, wbile they consider our doctrine as perfea blaspbemy, and inff that ear copies of tbe
Seriptures bave been corrupted both by Jews and Cbriftians, Sir William Jones in Afiatic Researches, Vol. I. p. 63.
“These are such testimonies as have occurred to me in no very extenfive course of reading. They are derived from authors, who for the most part enjoyed farourable opportunities of examining the Mohammedan tenets ; and they exhibit that religion as rising upon the basis of true religion, corrupted, even like the papal, to serve the purposes of a worldly and diabolical tyranny. In the Mohammedan religion are these articles, all evidently derived from the Christian, and constituting in it a great superiority above any thing that paganism or mere philofophy have been able to produce : the belief of the existence of one all-wise, all-good, all-pow. erful, God; of the immortality of the soul; of future rewards and punishments to be distributed by Jesus ; of the acceptance of prayer, of self-humiliation, of almfgive ing ; of the obligation to morality in almost all its branches. Take from Mohammedism one article, in which it differs from all religions generally admitted to be Christian, tbe belief of Mohammed's divine miffion; and little will then be found in it, which may not be discovered in the profellion of many acknowledged Christians. Nay, perhaps it may appear, that the creeds of two bodies of Christians will fupply every thing which is to be found in Mohammedism, excepting belief in the pretended prophet of Mecca.
On the whole, when we consider the origin of Mohammedism, and its near affinity to corrupted Christianity; when we reflect also on the amazing extent of this superstitious domination, which occupies nearly as large a portion of the globe, as that poffefTed by Christians ; comprizing vast regions in ancient Greece and Alia Minor, in Syria, in Perfia, in the Indies, in Tartary, in Egypt, and Africa, which were once Christian : we shall readily admit, that, if not a Christian berely, it is at least a Christian apofiacy.” Apocalypse translated, p. 365–370. • P. 293, 301, 412, 418. † P. 286. P. 329-338, 422–432. § P. 336, 345, 426, 428, 436.
# P. 352-356. P. 426_428. The Archdeacon argues very forcibly against thofe who with Mcde would ascribe the fulfilment of this mysterious phrase to the age in which the vision was delivered. “ These words of the angel, describing the beast, He was, and is not, and yet is, appear to me in no wise applicable to the tyranny seated at Rome ut ibe time of the vision, when the angel spake them. This was the time of the Emperor Domitian, when a cruel perfecution raged against the Church, when St. John himself was actually suffering banishment in Patmos for the word of God and the t-fiimony of Jefus. Such a time can in no wise agree with the representation, that
that the apocalyptic dragon cannot mean pagan Rome, but muft typify the devil ;* that the period of 1260 years, or at least a period of 1260 years, ought most probably to be dated from the year 606 ;t and consequentently that we are rapidly approaching to the catastrophe of the great apoftatic drama. I In these points I have the satisfaction of find
the beast was, and is not. It is therefore probable, that the time, in which the beast is said to have been, and not to be, and yet to be, is the time when he ariseth again after his wound, to exercise dominion under the direction of the harlot. This time was not arrived when St. John saw the vision in Patmos : but, though future in this sense, it was present in another, as belonging to the vision then under exhibition : for the beast was then present in exhibition before St. John, and in the act of re-ascending to power. This will appear more probable to those, who read forward from this passage to the end of the 8th verse, where the admiration of the inhabitants of the earth is spoken of as yet future ; and yet this admiration is fixed upon this same object-the beast which was, and is not, and yet is.”
* This point is excellently discussed by the Archdeacon, “On consulting the writings of the commentators most approved in this country, I find, that by the dragon is generally understood the pagan and perfecuting power of Imperial Ronco But, I trust, a few observations will shew the fallacy of this notion.
" Where an interpretation is expressly given in the vilion, as in ch. i. 20; v. 6,9; xvii. 7; that interpretation must be used as the key to the mystery, in preference to all interpretations suggested by the imagination of man. Now in the 9th verse of this chapter (Rev. xii.) such an interpretation is presented; the dragon is there expressly declared to that ancient serpent called the devil; known by the name of Alabraos in the Greek, and of Saten in the Hebrew; who deceiveth the whole world. Here are his names, and his acknowledged character. No words can more completely express them. No Roman emperor, nor succession of emperors, can answer to this description. The same dragon appears again in ch. XX. 2. and (as it were to prevent miftake) he is there described in the very fame words. But this re-appearance of the same dragon is in a very late period of the apocalyptic history; long after the ca. piration of the 1260 days or years; and even after the wild beast and false prophet, who derive 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 continues 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 emin peror of Rome? or any race, or dynasty, of emperors ? Can he be any other than that ancient and eternal enemy of the Christian Church, who in this, as in all other seriptural accounts, is represented as the original contriver of all the mischief which thall befall it. In this drama, he acts the same consistent 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 biast and false prophet, whọ derive their power from him: and at length' he himself is described, as leading the nations against the camp of the saints. Nothing 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 empire, 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 Bedc 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 1200 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 ibe 1260 ycars. The very pbrefcology used by the Archdeacou inost forcibly brought
ing myself supported by the authority of the Archdeacon ; but in various other matters I am unable to agree with him.
The first objections, 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 applying, the apocalyptic prophecies, when carried to the length to which be 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 fix first seals, and the four first trumpets, as relating folely 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 Ruman 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 empires 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 impoflible to foretell the fates of the Church without likewise fortelling the fates of the great powers connected with it. Nevertheless, the Church being the ultimate Icope 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 Hindoftan 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 beast is specially introduced, that is to fay, except during the period of the 1260 years ?
The Archdeacon's interpretation of the seals I shall consider hereaf
to my recollection a conversation which I once had on this subject with the late Bp. Hloriley. His Lordilip avowed it to be his opinion, that, before the preferi untury elapsed, the prophecies respecting the destruction of the Roman beasi and :Le overthrow of be notábrifian pindios would be no longer a sealed book. “The days will come," tays Archdeacon," and seem at no very great distance (the present century may perhaps chilole then, when, the beait and false prophet being removed, and BabyJon lunk for ever, the devil, that ancient foe, shall be deprived of his wonted influence." P. 470. * Pref. p. xili, xiv.
+ Ibid. p. xv.
ter ; at present I shall confine myself to that of the trumpets. The fout firft 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 and fortunes of the Christian Church.* But are not those fates and fortunes moft 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 beafts during the period of the 1260 years, every thing 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 fin 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 fin forth with rears his head :—the Western empire is taken away by the operation of the four first trumpets ; and the great apostacy 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 Apoftacy, and a contemporary Apoftacy in the eastern world scarcely lefs wonderful than that in the western. St. Paul and St. John are perfectly in unifon : 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 Archdeacon however brings an argument against such an interpretation of the four trumpets from the homogeneity of all the seven trumpets. He insists most juftly, that what the nature of one is the nature of them all must be : and observes that Mede, in order to make them homogeneal, interprets the fifth and the fixth trumpets as relating to the at. tacks made upon the empire by the Saracens and Turks, as he had already
referred the four first to the attacks previously made upon the empire by the · Gothic tribes. But he adds, that ihe seventh trumpet announces “most
clearly the victory obtained by Christ and his Church, not over the Ro. man empire, but over the powers of hell, and of Antichrist, and a cor. rupt world ; over the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, and in proa cess 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 fix ? How muft they be interpreted, so as to appear homogeneal? Are they to be accounted, with Mede and his followers, tiv 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 unfuccessful before, yet the homogeneity be confiftently preserved. For the question is not concerning the fuccefs, but concern
ing the warfare. And the trumpets may be deemed homogeneal, if they all represent the fiume warfare (viz. of the powers of hell, and of the Antichriftian world, against the Church of Christ), whatever 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 queft. ion is, how is this desirable object accomplished ? The Archdeacoa himself allows, by the triumph of the Church over those inftruments of hell, Antichrist, the beast, and the false prophet. Now, whether I be right or wrong in my own notions of antichrift, what is this but a triumph over the Roman empire and the apolate communion infeparably connected with it? Accordingly we find, that the seventh trumpet, after conducting us through six of its vials all of which are poured out upon God's enemies, magnificently introduces under the seventh vial the judgment of the great harlst, the downfall of Babylon, and the complete destruction of the beast along with the false propbet and his confederated kings ; in other words, ihe 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 beast or papal empire is utterly broken, and prepares a way by its overthrow for the millennian reign of the Meffiah. In short, as matters appear to me, if we argue backwards from the seventh trumpet, homogeneity, instead of forbidding, rtquires us to refer all the fix 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 necefíarily depends, is infinitely stronger than to his very limited system of applying the prophecies. It appears to me to be so extremely arbitrary, and to introduce so much confufion into the three feptenaries of the feals, the trumpets, and the vials, that, if it be adopted, I see not what certainty we can ever have, that a clue to the right interpretation of the Apocalypse is attainable.
The Archdeacon supposes, that the fix first seals give a general sketch of the contents of the whole book, and that they extend from the time of our Saviour's ascension even to the great day of the Lord's vengeance, a description of which day is exhibited under the fixth feal.t Having thus arrived at the confummation of all things, how are we to dispose of the seventh seal ? The Archdeacon conceives, that the same history of the Church begins anew under it ; that the connection, which had hitherto united the seals, is broken ; that the seventh seal stands apart, containing all the seven trumpets ; and that e renewed history, compre. hended under this seventh seal, begins “from the earliest times of Chrif. tianity, or to speak more properly, from the period when our Lord left the world in person, and committed the Church to the guidance of his apostles. From this time the first seal takes its commencement ; from this also, the first trumpet.' | Hence it is manifeft, fince the seventh feal
† P. 195, 174, 196.
# P, 197, 200.