Page images

figuration in vision of the outbursts of the tempests; which, however, must notwithstanding necessarily have happened in the interval. -2. With regard to the sealing and the sealed ones, here first depicted to St. John in vision, there is a very observable notice in the figuration of the 5th Trumpet,' of a certain few then visible, or at least then existing, on the Apocalyptic scene, not only of the same general character as these sealed ones, but that bore, and were to be recog. nized by, the precise mark and stamp here described as impressed by the Angel : whence the natural, might I not say necessary inference, that the chronological æra of the 5th Trumpet-vision (just according to its position in the Apocalyptic record) is subsequently to that of this sealing vision. Whereas the Church-scheme of the Seals inverts this order; making the date of what the sealing vision figures no less than 1200 years later than that which is figured under the fifth Trumpet ;-nor do either Messrs. B or C. seem to me to offer any explanation of the anachronism.

And thus at length, and through all these difficulties and inconsistencies, the interpreters in question come to the seventh Seal : which however they can ill agree what to do with. Mr. C. feeling justly that at any rate this Seal ought to contain something, and also that the palm-bearing vision, symbolizing the Millennium, is the fittest possible termination to his first prophetic series, makes it embrace the seven Trumpets, and so begin the figurations de novo ; with the same commencing chronology as the first Seal. On the other hand, Mr. B. dissatisfied with this inversion of order, makes the seventh Seal the termination of his first series, like Vitringa before him; and, like Vitringa, finding no other subject-matter for it (as it is not to contain the Trumpets) but the half-hour's silence before the Trumpets' preparation, is fain to make something sufficient out of this :


Apoc. ix. 4.- I might refer too to the mention of the 144,000 sealed ones seen on Mount Zion with the Lamb, Apoc. xiv. 1; since, according to the most natural signification of that vision, it seems to be one in general opposition to that of the Beast's kingdom and followers, during the 1260 years. But Mr. C. makes its chronological position identical with that of the seventh Trumpet's sounding; and is therefore not necessarily chargeable on this head of his scheme with inconsistency.

? See the Diagram prefixed to his Work :-a Diagram which (like the cycles and epicycles of the old astronomers) strikingly marks to the eye the want of simplicity, and consequently (I should say) of probability, in the scheme depicted.

and, after first supposing it identical with the pause on the restraining of the tempest-angels,' has finally (I have reason to know)2 settled down into the view of its being some “pause at the return of Christ,as in Apoc. xix, xx; whether in Vitringa's sense of its figuring the millennial rest, or what else precisely, I do not understand. Now that one of the Seals should simply reveal a pause, seems to me very incredible ; above all when the Scriptural evidence for such a pause existing is so wanting, that we are given the large margin of Apoc. xix, xx, in which to seek it.

Thus, on the whole, our full examination of the Scheme of the Seals has issued, I believe, in its full refutation. Its total failure seems evident, not as regards one Seal only, but every Seal ; not as tried by one test only, but by multiplied tests : and, if I mistake not, without one single strong point of evidence appearing in its favour.


In the foregoing four Sections I have, I believe, considered all the main counter-systems of Apocalyptic Interpretation that have been actually drawn out, and that have attached to them any considerable number of adherents. It only remains to add a word or two on a fifth and different view from any of these three, as well as from that given in the Horæ : a view not drawn out into detailed exposition, and which cannot consequently be said to advance pretensions to being regarded as an Apocalyptic system; but which, as directly affecting the most prominent point perhaps of all in the figurations of our prophecy, I mean the Apocalyptic Beast and Babylon, and as having had for its advocates names of no inconsiderable authority,—among others that of Tholuck in Germany, and in England, that of the late admirable though surely sometimes rash and

So in his work on Prophecy, p. 363 ; “Seal vii, Apoc. viii. 1, Pause before judgment, A. D. 1815."

? So in a corrected copy of his scheme, communicated to me. 3 So Dr. Arnold, p. 8; referring to Tholuck's first Appendix to his Edition of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

spéculative Dr. Arnold, it might seem unwise and wrong to pass over altogether without notice.

The prophetic interpretative principle asserted by these writers. and the declared grounds of it, are, as expounded by Dr. Arnold, to the effect following :—that there attaches uniformly to Prophecy a lower historical sense, and a higher spiritual sense, the latter only being its full and adequate accomplishment ;2 insomuch that “it is a very misleading notion to regard Prophecy as an anticipation of History :"3—the proof of this arising out of the fact of many prophecies of promise, spoken in the first instance apparently of the national Israel, or of some one of its kings or prophets, as David, being in the New Testament appropriated to Christ and his believing people, a their truest and chief owners ;4 also of certain prophecies of judgment, for example those on Amalek, Edom, Moab, and the Chaldean Babylon, appearing from history to have been but inadequately fol filled in the fortunes of those nations :5 and the reason being that, whereas history deals with particular nations and persons, prophecy deals with the idea itself and principle of good and evil; which in either case is represented but imperfectly in any individual man or nation. Hence that, although a nation or individual man may be imperfectly the subject of prophetic promise or denunciation, as being imperfectly the representative of the idea, the only adequate fulfilment of prophetic promise is in Christ, who was the perfect personification of all good: (albeit embracing his true people, as being in Him, for his worthiness-sake, not their own ;7) while the only full add adequate accomplishment of the threatened judgments of prophecy is to be in the final destruction of the world, as opposed to the Church : for “the utter extremity of suffering, which belongs to God's enemy, must be mitigated for those earthly evil doers, whom God till the last great day has not yet wholly ceased to regard as his creatures.” — This interpretative principle embraces of course the Apocalypse, as well as other prophecy. And, with respect to Papal Rome, since its character is “not one of such unmixt and intense evil,” Dr. A. considers, as to answer to the features of the mystic Babylon of the Revelation,” he concludes that, as the ancient Chaldean Babylon was only partially the subject of the anti-Babylonish Old Testament denunciations of prophecy in the first instance, so Rome (Papal Rome) is only partially the subject of the Apocalyptic in the second instance ; " as other places may be, and I believe are,” adds Dr. Arnold, “in the third instance :” “so that the prophecies will, as I believe, go on continually with a typical and imperfect fulfilment till the time of the end ; when they will be fulfilled finally and completely in the destruction of the true prophetical Babylon, the world as opposed to the Church.”3

il refer to his “ Two Sermons on the Interpretation of Prophecy." The refer ences in the Notes that follow are to the Second Edition of the Pamphlet.

* So p. 7; “ The general principle of interpretation here maintained, that of a uniform historical or lower, and also of a spiritual or higher sense,” &c:-where mark the word uniform. So again, pp. 42, 70, &c. At p. 31 he compares St. Peter's decla ration, 2 Pet. i. 20, 21, as probably of the same purport. “Knowing that all Seriptore prophecy Lolas ETIAVO EWS 8 Ylvetai, is not of private interpretation ;" i.e. says he, pot private, as if relating exclusively or principally to the historic subject; but of larger meaning, as referring mainly to that of which the historic subject was but the imper fect representative.

3 p. 11. * pp. 3,22—28. 5 pp. 49–62.

6 pp. 12, 13, 19. 7 Ib. pp. 27, 28.

It is to be observed that this prophetic view is put forward, not as one true only in certain cases, and of which the application or nonapplication is to be decided in each instance by the particular circumstances of the case ; but as the “uniform” 4 and only true general interpretative principle or “great law of prophecy :"5 insomuch that (notwithstanding certain admissions made here and there which might seem somewhat inconsistent with the statement 6) Dr. Arnold declares “ the tracing out of an historical fulfilment of the language of prophecy, with regard to various nations, to be a thing impossible ;” ? and argues from it, (as well as from the supposed reason of it,) even as from an undoubted and established principle, to prophecies such

- 1 p. 14.

2 pp. 21, 22. 3 p. 32. See the extract Note?, p. 574.

5 So p. 79. So p. 33 ;“ I am by no means denying the literal and historical sense of the Prophecies relating to the different cities or nations, but only contending that the historical sense is not the highest sense : and that generally the language of the prophecy will be found to be hyperbolical as far as regards its historical subjects; and only corresponding with the truth exactly, if we substitute for the historical subject the idea of which it is the representative." Again, p. 51 : “Nay if it be edifying to believe that they have in some instances their minute and literal, as well as their large and substantial fulfilment, this too I do not deny, but fully allow : only it seems to me dangerous to rest on them as on the great fulfilment of Prophecy.” They are, he adds, to be regarded as fulfilments "ex abundanti.On which ex abundanti more presently.

7 Pp. 19, 20.

as that concerning the Apocalyptic Babylon, of the primary and national fulfilment of which the time is even yet future.—This premised, let us proceed to test the soundness of his general prophetic law, and of its application ; its twofold application, 1st, to prophecies of promise ; 2ndly, to prophecies of judgment: the one asserted reason for it being of course a prominent point for consideration ; and then the bearing of the whole on the particular case in which we are ourselves immediately concerned, of the Apocalyptic Babylon.

And surely, with reference to his prophetic law or principle, it must already have occurred to the more considerate of my readers, that the data from which so important and large an induction has been drawn, are quite inadequate. In order to its justification, especially considering how startling its nature, and how contrary to many literal and apparently express declarations of Scripture, it were clearly requisite that the mass of Scripture prophecy, or at least of its national and personal predictions, should have been brought under review; and the supposed law of interpretation shown to apply to them all, or nearly all : also, in the cases of exception, the cause of exception in each case should be proved such as not to affect the law. Instead of which, we have scarce any prophecies of more general character set forth, but almost alone such as are more directly prophecies of promise or of judgment; and of the former, those only concerning Israel, David, or some other of the prophets, of the latter those respecting Amalek, Moab, Edom, Egypt, the Chaldean Babylon, and Jerusalem; examples of which I shall have to speak presently, as exhibiting on the whole much more, I think, of exception to Dr. Arnold's law, than of exemplification. As to more general prophecies about things, persons, or nations, let but the reader note down such as occur in most of the Books of Scripture,--for example those in Genesis or in Daniel,'—and he will, I

In Genesis I may specify the predictions to Noah, first of the flood; then, after the flood, of summer and winter, &c, being ever assured to man during the world's continuance, and no second destruction occurring by water ; also his own predictions concerning Shem, Ham, and Japheth ; the promise to Sarah of a son ; and to Abraham of his natural seed, after 400 years of sojourning and suffering, being established in Canaan ; the prophecies of Joseph about his parents and brethren bowing down to him, and about the seven successive years occurring of plenty, and then of famine ; and, once more, those of Jacob respecting the twelve tribes. In Daniel there are the pro

« PreviousContinue »