« PreviousContinue »
protestation that they respectively prefigure, and, on the other, of those of the three evil spirits like frogs,-the spirits of infidelity, popery, and priestcraft,—the result of the whole is to be preparing the world the better to understand the Lord's controversy with professing Christendom; and so to recognize the reason and justice of his actings, in the quickly coming battle of what is called presently after by God's own Spirit? the great day of God Almighty
A GENERAL SKETCH OF THE COMING FUTURE, AS
GIVEN IN THE APOCALYPTIC PROPHECY, DOWN TO THE BEGINNING OF THE MILLENNIUM.—Apoc. xiv. 9-20, and xvi. 16--xix. 21.
propose in the present Chapter giving a brief general sketch of the future, as set forth in the Apocalyptic prefigurations of either series, down to the winepress-treading (the event immediately preceding the Millennium), noted alike (for there can be but one wine-press treading) in xiv. 18—20 of the one and xix. 15-20 of the other: which common figure of the wine-press treading constitutes a notable closing mark of chronological parallelism at that point between the two series. I shall consider in Apocalyptic order the briefer first. A running comment will be added, with a view to illustrate the symbols, to direct attention to certain important points in the prophecies that might possibly otherwise be overlooked, and to show what we may probably expect as their fulfilment.-I purpose adding, in a separate Chap
· Apoc. xvi. 14.—I say this in contradistinction to certain human impressions as to its advent, foreshown as what would be previously entertained, alike by the enemies of the Church and the Church itself, in Apoc. vi. 17, xii. 10.
? So nearly all commentators.—Daubuz is the only one I know to differ. But few will, I conceive, agree with him. And the incorrectness of the historical interpretation of the Vials connected with his singular theory of a double vintage is too obvious, I think, to need refutation.
ter, a notice of the latter part of the prophecy of Daniel xi, xii, the only other continuous and chronological prediction in Scripture relating to the same period: seeing that without this my exposition, which in its concluding conjectural chronology is chiefly based on Dan. xii,' might be deemed unsatisfactory and incomplete.
§ 1.—THE PRIMARY AND BRIEFER SERIES OF PREFI
GURATIONS OF THE FUTURE, DOWN TO THE WINEPRESS-TREADING BEFORE THE MILLENNIUM,
In the primary and briefer sketch of the progress of events towards the consummation, the same that I suppose to have been inscribed on the Part withoutwritten of the Apocalyptic scroll,—there occur the four several symbolic pictures, or notices following.?
1st then,—and next after that second flying Angel, whose voice, as I observed shortly since, we seem already to have heard begun in the Church, with its warning against Papal Rome, and denunciation of its corruptions and impending fall, -St. John beheld in vision a third Angel flying abroad in mid-heaven, in the wake of the former two; with not only a warning voice against worshipping the Beast and his image, but a declaration also of the impending end of such worshippers, as doomed to drink of the bitter winel of the wrath of God, and to be tormented with fire and sulphur before the holy angels and the Lamb ; the smoke of which torment would ascend up for ever. -A prefiguration which seems to me to require, in order to its fulfilment, 1st, a general agreement among Christ's faithful Protestant servants of what is meant both by the Beast and the Beast's Image ; 2ndly, a general and strong impression among them, as to the punishment of such as might worship or obey the one or the other being a punishment by fire, and that as imminent as terrible ; 3dly, a public, notorious, and general outcry of warning to this effect throughout Christendom,- Protestant Christendom at least, with its vast colonial dependencies.And thus I consider the symbol to be as yet unfulfilled.? While there has been for some three centuries a very general agreement among Protestants on the sense of the Apocalyptic Babylon, as signifying Papal Rome, and of the Beast, as in some way or other (though here opinions more vary) signifying the Popedom, on the meaning of the Beast's Image opinions have not only greatly varied, but its popularly known solutions been one and all thus far most unsatisfactory. The reader will
'I mean with regard to the idea of seventy-five years intervening between the incipient or primary ending of the 1260 years of prophecy, and their final and complete termination :-seventy-five years being the interval between Daniel's 1260 and 1335 years. See Vol. iii. p. 257.
? The passage containing the two first of these notices is as follows.
9. “And a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10. He too * shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture t into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11. and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the Beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
12. Here is the patience of the saints : here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
13. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” και αυτος πιεται.
+ του κεκερασμενου ακρατου.
Kerepao uevou akpatovo literally mixt unmixl:-unmixt in the sense (as Isa. i. 22) of undiluted; mixed, as the wine sometimes given to criminals before execution, with sundry bitter ingredients. So Daubuz: who compares (as does also Mede) Psalm lxxv. 8; “In the Lord's hand is a cup, and the wine is red: it is full of mixture, and He poureth out of the same: as to the dregs thereof all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.” Compare too Isa. xxix. 9, “ They are drunken, but not with wine:" Isa. li. 21; “ Hear, thou drunken, but not with wine; I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury,” &c: and finally Jer. xxv. 15; “Take the wine-cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send thee to drink it."
[So written in my first Edition, published Jan. 1844. But see Note on the next page.]
3 From the time of the Reformation. Indeed the Waldenses so explained it before.
Even they, who explain the Beast of the secular Roman empire, as Faber, Cuninghame, and Bickersteth, do yet so view that empire as animated and directed by the Papacy, that their interpretation virtually, and to all practical purposes, tends to the same point as that of those who with myself explain it, or its ruling head, of the line of popes.
4 See my Note 3, p. 183, Vol. iii. The solution offered by Mr. Fysh and myself has not, I imagine, been yet at all generally known
long ere this have become acquainted with, and judged respecting my own view of it, as signifying the General Councils of Papal Christendom, very chiefly the Council of Trent. Should this (or any other) impress itself on the mind of the Christian public as clearly true, and, together therewith, a sense of the imminent danger of deferring to Pope or Councils, as authorities co-ordinate with God's own written word, such as to force a loud and general outcry of warning against it, then we may consider the fulfilment of the vision begun. I suspect that a chronological parallelism will prove in the event to exist between this vision and the conclusion of that of the three frogs in the other series. It is in the Councils especially that the living antitype to the Apocalyptic False Prophet (the third of those three unclean spirits) seeks its countervail to the authority of the word of God. After then that this spirit has come in like a flood, may we not expect that a standard of opposing truth, perhaps drawn in part from the very prophecy before us, will be raised against it, so that all that will see shall see.
2. After this a voice from heaven was heard by St. John to follow, saying, " Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth;" &c. In which voice the words from henceforth blessed, or, as they may be rendered, from time near at hand, referred to, I conceive, and indicated the near approach of the grand epoch of blessedness predicated in Scripture of departed saints: I mean the blessedness of their reward and joy at Christ's coming. For it is the imminent nearness of a judgment according to works (in this case of reward) that Apocalyptic analogy suggests as the in
· [Since the publication of my first edition I believe that my interpretation of the Beast's Image has made decisive progress. I have received strong testimonies respecting it; and, so far as I know, no argument of any weight has been brought against it. The futility of Mr. Arnold's attack on it may be mentioned in proof. 2nd Edit. Oct. 1845.]
? So Mede: comparing Matt. xxiii. 39; ' From henceforth (ar' aptı) ye shall not see me," &c: i.e. not from the precise moment of his speaking, but from a time near it. There is, however, a certain difference in the senses of anapti. Compare Matt. xxvi. 29, 64, John i. 51, xiii. 19, xiv. 7.
tent of the accompanying phrase, “ Their works follow them:”'l-even though the “rest” spoken of be construed to mean that of the grave or the separate state ; and not (as it too might be) that which at present remains for the people of God, and which they are to enter on not until Christ's “revelation in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God.”3 On which cheering truth the injunction, Write this, implies 4 that there will be some deep and stirring impression in the true Church of Christ, at the time answering to the vision.-Such I believe with Mede to be the sense of the vision ; a belief grounded on its own evidence, and confirmed by that of the context immediately following. It cannot surely figure a revelation of the peaceful rest of Christ's saints from immediately after death, in opposition to the Romish purgatorial doctrine, so as some have explained it. In that case the phrase would rather have been from after death, so as to include all the dead saints ; not from henceforth, so as only to apply to those whose death was yet future. Nor can it well mean simply that persecution would be at the time figured so severe, or coming judgments so fearful, as to make death a happy refuge from them. Where then the distinctiveness of the vision ? For, although doubtless another notice, just previously given, did intimate that it is to be eminently an æra of trial both to the faith and the patience of Christ's true saints : and one to show very notably whether they will keep, as their one rule of action, “the commands of God,” and of doctrine, “the faith of Jesus,” yet many such times of trial had been
So in the case of Babylon, xviii. 5, it is said, “Her sins (nkolovono av) have followed up to heaven," at an epoch when her destruction was imminent. Compare too Acts x. 4. “ Thy prayers and alms have come up as a memorial before God;" said of Cornelius at the time when the answer of blessing was immediately about to be given.
? Heb. iv. 9, &c: where the word oaßßatiouos is used, as one parallel to kataTavois used ib. iv. 1, 3, &c.
3 2 Thess. i. 7 ; " To you that are troubled rest (aveon) with us when," &c. * See Apoc. X. 4, and my comment. 5 Newton, Scott, &c. See Brooks, page 64.
6 So Vitringa, comparing Jer. xxii. 10; “ Weep not for the dead, neither bemoan him; but weep sore for him that goeth away; for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.”