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An exode follows, in which the prayers of christians are presented to God by an angel, who also fills a censer with fire from the altar in heaven and flings it upon the earth ; the design of which actions is to intimate that the miseries of christians will soon be at an end; and that vengeance will
very soon overtake their enemies, (ch. vii. 3-5.)
That portion of the drama which has been described, extending from the beginning of the fourth to the fifth verse of the eighth chapter, is called the prolusion.
The first act in the drama then begins, and extends from the fifth verse of the eighth chapter, to the end of the twelfth. In this act, the calamities which have been shadowed out in the prolusion, are represented as relating to the Jewish nation. Jerusalem is destroyed, or, Judaism is overcome by Christianity.
The angels, who have just received the seven trumpets, begin to fulfil their office; viz. to announce the calamities about to be inflicted upon Jerusalem. At the sound of the first four trumpets, evils of every description are represented by appropriate symbols as descending upon the land. (ch. viii. 6–12.) No particular evils are supposed to be intended by the various emblems exbibited, which are, for the most part, plagues similar to those, which once laid waste the land of Egypt; but all of them combined are designed to present a vivid image of great national calamity. The particular kind of evils to be inflicted, or in other words, the means by which this general national calamity was to be effected, it was the office of the three last of the seven angels to declare.
The exhibition of these symbols of general national calamity is followed by an exode, in which an angel is represented, flying through the midst of heaven, proclaiming woe! woe! woe! to the inbabitants of the land, by reason of the three remaining trumpets which were to sound. (ch. viii. 13.)
When the fifth angel sounds his trumpet, a band of horrid locusts is seen rising out of the earth, emblematical of the plundering and seditious armies of the Jews themselves, by which, as is well known, Jerusalem was not less distressed than by ex. ternal enemies, (cb. ix. 1-12.) The sixth trumpet summons to the view an immense army of warriors, representing the Romans, rushing into Judea, and taking possession of the country. (ix. 13—21.)
After this scene an exode is introduced, in which it is declared, that the promises of deliverance made by God to the faithful shall be immediately fulfilled. A mighty angel, having
in his hand a book open, 'swears by him that liveth forever, that there should be no longer delay;"* but that when the seventh angel should sound bis trumpet, the mystery of God' i. e. the design of God, hitherto unknown, respecting the deliverance of the Christians from the oppression of the Jews, should be accomplished. John is commanded to take the little book, containing the divine purposes relating to this subject, and to eat it up, i. e. to make himself thoroughly acquainted with its contents, so as to be able to communicate them to others. (ch. x. 1-11.)
A second exode is introduced for the purpose of designating more particularly the city which was to be destroyed, viz. . the city where our Lord was crucified. The two witnesses, mentioned in this exode, are supposed to be Ananus and Jesus, high priests of the Jews, who made successful exertions to restrain the fury of the zealots during the Jewish war, until they were slain by them, on the night when the Idumeans made their fatal entrance into the city. The death of these persons hastened, as we are informed by Josephus, the destruction of Jerusalem. They are therefore supposed to be introduced merely to point out to the Jewish Christians, who were ac. quainted with these facts, the city which was to be destroyed. The '1260 days,' or, which is the same thing, the 42 months, and also, the three days and a half,' mentioned in this exode, Eichhorn supposes to be nothing more than expressions used, by poetical licence, to denote an indefinite, or a considerable, space of time. (ch. xi. 1-14.)
At length the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, and Jerusalem is overthrown by the Romans. (xi. 15-19.)
The first act now closes with a description of the condition of the Christian church, as it may be supposed to have been, when it had surmounted the obstacles and difficulties of which Judaism was the cause. One of its enemies was vanquished, but another formidable one'remained. It was weak and feeble, and is represented by the symbol of a newborn infant, which
* Probably the true meaning in this place of the phrase ore Xeones our 871 80TA), which in the coidmon version is rendered that there should be time no longer. Grotius and Wakefield agree with our author as lo the meaning of the phrase.
† Eichhorn supposes the Apocalypse to hare been written after the destruction of Jerusalem.
| Jos. de bello Jud. lib. 4. c. 5.
a huge red dragon' viz. that old serpent the devil,' is watching to destroy; in conformity to a well known Jewish opinion. But the infant is caught up to heaven; i. e. the church is protected by God.
The wretched condition of the Jews, who were still attached to their old religion, is also represented by the symbol of a woman, the mother of the child, pursued into a wilderness by the dragon above mentioned. The hope, however, is expressed, that the time would come, when the Jews would embrace Christianity and enjoy its advantages ; agreeably to the expec. tation of St. Paul, Rom. xi. 26. This hope is supposed to be implied in the declaration that the woman would be kept in the wilderness only 1260 days, i. e. a considerable time. After this period, she would come out of the wilderness, and dwell in the cultivated and pleasant region, in which christianity was flourishing. (ch. xii. 1-17.)
The second act of the drama now commences, and extends from ch. xiii. to ch. XX. 10., in which Rome is destroyed, i. e. Paganism is overcome by Christianity.
In the first place, the gentile superstition, which was to be destroyed, is denoted by appropriate symbols. The scene is changed from Heaven to earth. A wild beast is seen coming out of the sea, having seven heads, and ten horns, and ten diadems upon his horns, and upon his heads names of blasphemy, denoting Rome, the symbol of idolatry. It receives the power, throne, and authority of the dragon or satan, who had been thrown down from heaven; (ch. xii. 10.) a circumstance introduced to mark it as the enemy and persecutor of Christians. (ch. xiii. 1-10.)
That Rome was intended to be the symbol of pagar superstition is supposed to be more clearly determined by the scene which follows. Another animal, elsewhere called the false prophet, is seen coming out of the earth, who by his frauds and pretended miracles deceives mankind, and reduces them to the worship of the monster, that came out of the sea,* i. e. to pre
* fer idolatry to the worship of the true God. (xiii. 11-18.)
The exhibition of these monsters is followed by an exode, in which the tranquillity and happiness of the worshippers of the
* Eichhorn adopts that explanation of the number of the beast' which is mentioned by Irenaeus ; according to which the word Actuvos, latin or roman, is denoted. The figures of which the Greek letters in this word are significant, being added together, make the number six hundred and sixty six.
only true God, are contrasted with the fury and tumults of their idolatrous adversaries. (xiv. 1-5.)
Then follows a series of predictions, or annunciations, of the destruction of Rome, as being near at hand. Three angels appear, flying through the midst of heaven, of which the ārst predicts desolation or punishment, as being about to be inflicted that the hour of God's judgment was come; the second declares its accomplishment-- Fallen, fallen is Babylon, the great city ;' the third intimates to whom the punishment relates, viz. the worshippers of idols, “those who worship the beast and his image, or receive bis mark upon their forehead or their hand.' (xiv. 6-13.)
The destruction of Rome is again announced by the symbols of a harvest, and of a vintage. (xiv. 14–20.)
The destruction of the city is yet again represented. Seven angels appear, with the seven last plagues ; by the successive infliction of which Rome would be brought to utter ruin. (xv. 1.) An exode is then introduced, in which it is declared that these predicted calamities relate to the idolatrous gentiles. (xv. 2—4.) Then the seven angels come forth from the temple in heaven, ready to fulfil their office; and a loud voice is heard from the temple, commanding them to pour seven vials of the wrath of God upon the city. (xv. 6 to xvi. 1.)
When the first four angels pour out their vials, plagues, de signed to express public calamity generally, are represented, (xvi. 249.) When the fifth angel pours out his vial, it is made evident, that the plagues just exhibited, relate to the extinction of idolatry, (xvi. 10, 11.) When the sixth pours out his vial, all the obstacles, which might hinder the destruction of Rome, are removed, (xvi. 12—16.) When the seventh pours out his vial, the ruin of the city is completed. (xvi. 17—21.)
The representation of the complete destruction of Rome is followed by an exode, in which this seat of idolatry is designated and described by symbols, more plain and expressive than any which had been before used. (ch. xvii.)
A lament over the fallen city is then introduced, (ch. xviii.) and also a song of triumph over her by the inhabitants of heaven. (xix. 1-10.) A splendid triumphal procession, remarka. ble for its resemblance in many particulars, to a Roman tri. umph, is then exbibited, (xix. ii. to xx. 3.) and at length the christian religion reigns without opposition.
The description of the flourishing state of christianity under the image of the reign of Christ its founder, closes the second act of the drama. (xx. 4-10.)
The third act then commences and extends from the 11th verse of the 20th chapter to the 5th of the 22nd. In this act the New Jerusalem is represented, descending from heaven, i. e. the happiness of the future life is described.
The scene is first prepared, the dead are raised, and assembled before the throne of God. The books are opened, and they are judged. The good are enrolled as citizens of the kingdom of heaven. (ch. xx. 11-14.) Then the New Jerusalem, the seat of the Messiah's empire, and the symbol of the happiness of the future life, is represented as coming down from God out of heaven.' A full and glowing description of this abode of the blessed closes the third act of the drama. (ch. IX. 15. to xxii. 5.)
The poem ends with an epilogue ; in which an angel declares the words of the book to be true and faithful, pronounces a blessing on those, who should keep the words of the prophecy of the book; and commands John not to seal them
up, because the time of their fulfilment' was at hand."*
(xxii. 611.) Jesus Christ confirms the words of the angel; (xxii. 1216.) and John gives an impressive caution to all readers against any alteration of his book, whether by enlarging or abridging its contents, and expresses an eager desire for the coming of Jesus Christ. (ch. xxii. 17-21.)
That part of our author's theory, which makes the cities of Jerusalem and Rome to be only symbols of Judaism and Pa. ganism, as it constitutes the most important, and also, in my opinion, the most vulnerable feature of the system, shall have the protection of the arguments which he has urged in its support.
That the author of the apocalypse did not mean to represent the destruction of cities in the proper sense, our author supposes to be evident from the closing part of the drama. In the third act, the New or Heavenly Jerusalem cannot be supposed to denote a city in the proper sense; but must be considered a symbol of the happiness of the future life. But it would be incongruous, and inconsistent with the ease and ingenuity and success with which the author of the apocalypse has laboured
A circumstance well worth the consideration of such as suppose that any predictions in this book relate to events still future; or to events of late occurrence. See also, ch. i. 1-3. What should we think of an as. tronomer, who having calculated an eclipse of the sun, or the return of a comet, should tell us, that the time of its appearance was at hand,' or that it would appear shortly,' meaning thereby sixteen, seventeen, eighteed, nineteen, or we know not how many hundred years ? New Series-vol. IV.