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the Beast and False Prophet were cast before ;-respecting the saints, that, instead of closing their reign with the Millennium, they are in some way still to reign even for ever; '-respecting the rest of men, that there is to follow on Gog and Magog's destruction the universal resurrection, and a judgment wherein all that are not in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire : on which judgment the heaven and earth that now are will flee away, and have no place found for them.-In St. Paul's comprehensive summary of the final future, 1 Cor. xv. 24, 28, (a passage already cited in the controversial part of my preceding chapter,) we read thus of this epoch ; " Afterward cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father ; that God may be all in all.” And there is yet one farther glimpse, into ages still to come, opened to us by St. Paul ; with reference to the influence on other worlds and intelligences of this our planet's history. He tells how the story of its redemption is to be through eternity itself a chief lesson to them of the marvels of divine grace ; 2—" that in the ages to come 3 He might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness toward us through Jesus Christ.”' 4
Apoc. xxi. i, 5.
Eph. ii. 7.
3 αιωσι τοις επερχομενοις. * I may fitly here subjoin the conclusion of the Apocalypse. xxii. 6. “And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true : and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done, 7. Behold, I come quickly : blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. 8. And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book : worship God.
10. And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book : for the time is at hand. 11. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that righteous, let him be righteous still : and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 12. And, behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14. Blessed are they that wash their robes*, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and mur
πλυνοντες τας σολας αυτων. So Tregelles, instead of the received, ποιουντες TUS evtodas auto, they that do his commandments.—The reference to Apoc. vii. 9, 13, 14, hence arising, seems to me very beautiful : beautiful both in itself, and as a connecting link between the there anticipatively foreshown state of heavenly bliss; and that which is here symbolized, as actually realized and present.
Arrived at the concluding Chapter of my Work, it will be well to stop, and consider attentively our present eventful position in prophetic chronology, and the evidence which fixes it ; then to direct our regards to the coming future, and consider it in the light, and connectedly with the lessons, suggested by the previous parts of the Apocalyptic prophecy.
§ 1. OUR PRESENT POSITION IN THE PROPHETIC CALENDAR.
With regard to our present position, we have been led, as the result of our investigations, to fix it at but a short time from the end of the now existing dispensation, and the expected second advent of Christ. This thought, when we seriously attempt to realize it, must be felt to be a very startling as well as solemn one. And for my own part I confess to risings of doubt, and almost of scepticism, as I do so. Can it be that we are come so near to the day of the Son of Man, that the generation now alive shall very possibly not have passed away before its fulfilment; yea that perhaps even our own eyes may witness, without the intervention of death, that astonishing event of the consummation? The idea falls on my mind as almost incredible. - The circumstance of anticipations having been so often formed quite erroneously heretofore of the proximity of the consummation, -for example, in the apostolic age, before the destruction of Jerusalem, then, during the persecutions of Pagan Rome, then, on the breaking up of the old Roman Empire,—then, at the close of the tenth century, then, at and after the Reformation, and still later even by writers of our own day, I say the circumstance of all these numerous anticipations having been formed and zealously promulgated of the imminence of the second advent, which, notwithstanding, have by the event itself been shown to be unfounded, strongly tends to confirm us in our doubt and incredulity.—Yet to rest in scepticism simply and altogether upon such grounds would be evidently bad philosophy. For these are causes that would operate always; and that would make us be say. ing, even up to the very eve and moment of the advent, “Where is the promise of his coming ?” Our true wisdom is to test each link of the chain of evidence by which we have been led to our conclusion, and see whether it will bear the testing ;-to examine into the causes of previous demonstrated errors on the subject, and see whether we avoid them ;--finally to consider whether the sigos of the times now present be in all the sundry points that prophecy points out so peculiar, as to warrant a measure of confidence in our inference such as was never warranted before.
derers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 16. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely. 18. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book : 19. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
And certainly, on doing all this, it seems to me that the grounds of our conclusion are stable. Of the evidence of the continuous historical exposition of the Apocalyptic visions detailed in this Commentary, I have given an abstract in the first chapter of this its sixth and last division ; and again I pray the reader, with my illustrative Chart before him, to consider, step by step, whether it be not conclusive. With such an extraordinary combination of evidence, antiquarian and historical, to support it, does it seem possible that we can
| See my Vol. i. p. 58. See Vol. i. pp. 365, 370.
? So Vol. i. pp. 199, 204-207. 4 See Ib. 445, 446. ó See Vol. ii. pp. 132-142.
have erred in our explanation of the four first Seals, with the emblematic horses and horsemen ? and, if not, then in our application of the two next Seals ? and, supported as it is by the parallel vision of the Covenant-Angel, Apoc. x, in that of the Sealing Vision ? Brought so far satisfactorily, can we have erred in explaining the six first of that Trumpet-septenary of visions which evolves the seventh Seal, as fulfilled in the successive irruptions and woes of the Goths, Saracens, and Turks; especially considering the manner in which that most striking figuration of the Witnesses' death, resurrection, and ascension is wrapped up and included in the latter half of the Turkish woe last-mentioned, a figuration that we saw reason to intepret of the Reformation : or afterwards in order of the Apocalyptic figurations) in explaining the 7th Trumpet-vision, and its earthquake, of the great French Revolution ?- The perfect historical parallelism with the above primary series of visions of the supplemental and retrogressive series in Apoc. xii, xiii, concerning the Witnesses' slayer, the Beast from the abyss, and his reign for the same 1260 days' period that was predicated of the Witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, - I say the perfect historical parallelism of this new series with the former, when explained, on the year-day system, of the Popes and Popedom, and the manner in which we are thereby similarly brought down in history to the epoch of the French Revolution, cannot, I think, but strike the mind as furnishing very strong additional corroborative evidence of the correctness so far of the general interpretation.—And when, advancing yet a step further,—on the evidence (as recent history shows) alike of one and of the other of these two parallel and still continuous series of visions,—we find our present epoch fixed but just a very little before the consummation,-it being in the one series near upon the close of the sixth Vial, with its drying up of the Turkman Euphratean flood, and going forth of three spirits of delusion over the earth, such as are even now recognizable, to gather men to the battle of the great God; in the other series under the second or third of three flying angels, with their voices of gospel-preaching and anti-Papal warning, such as the world is even now hearing, just before the judgments of the harvest and the vintage, which last we saw reason to identify with the treading of the wine-press of his wrath, in the same battle of the great God, by the Son of Man at Armageddon,-when, I say, we find the double line of Apocalyptic prophecy thus combining to fix our position there where I have placed it, and on considering the evidence altogether, not as advocates or partizans, but as simple searchers for truth on the great point in question, can discern no flaw or chasm therein, to vitiate or render it imperfect, it is surely reason's dictate that we should bow to its strength and consistency, and acknowledge that such is indeed in high probability the very fact.
With regard to the mistaken views as to the nearness of the consummation entertained in other times and by other expositors of prophecy, the several causes of mistake are for the most part obvious; and also that they are such as cannot, or do not, affect the grounds of our present conclusion. The patristic expositors, living early as they did in the Christian æra, had no long continuous chain of historic events before them, such as was essentially needed, in order to the right interpretation of the Apocalypse as a continuous prophecy. If they interpreted it at all, they could only generalize, agreeably with their general and vague anticipations of the future: chiefly with reference to the predicted Antichrist; who, they knew, was to come on the dissolution of the Roman Empire, but whose duration (on their day-day system) they mistakingly limited to 1260 days. So that they altogether lacked the Apocalyptic sea-marks which would have shown them how much yet remained of the voyage ere the harbour could be gained ; and made an error of reckoning, which we can be in no danger of repeating.—The same causes would have operated in a measure to prevent a perception of
See Vol. iii. p. 232.