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these great topics he again fubdivides into leffer periods, under seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials ; and in order to preserve the connection of events, and harmony of his narration, he makes use of the feventh and last seal to introduce the tubjects of the trumpets; of the seventh and last trumpet, those of the vials ;' and of the Teventh and last vial, that of the last trump, by which the whole race of Adam shall be fummoned before the judgment seat of-a righteous, offended, and long-torbearing God, to anfwer for the deeds done in the body,"
The contents of the seven leals are revealed to bin by Christ bimtelf, because they relate to the blessed progress and exaltation of the church eftablithed, through his divine million and aufpices. The contents of the trumpets are disclosed by angels, and not by Chrift, because they announce tlie judg: ments of God upon the wicked; and this was altoge: ther inconsistent with the office of the Lamb of God,” the Prince of Peacef, and" Mediator between
God and men.” And the contents of the vials of the wrath of God upon the ungodly, by a voice from the throne of God himself.
Under the symbol of the seven reals, he foretels the wonderful progrefs of the revealed word of God, men that which is contained within the thing fealed, and not intended to be krown until the proper time. A trumpet is used in war to call the foldier to his duty, when he has strayed from it: and therefore the prophet makes use of it as a fymbol of the visitawarfare with a licentious world, to a faithful difcharge of her duty, when she should wantonly depart from the word of God. A vial is a velfel iy whichchymilts preferve inflammablespirits,
which destroy that upon which it is poured out; and therefore is a proper figure for the wrath of God, reserved to be poured out upon the wicked
, i Rev. ví. 1, 2, 3, 5, 7:9. 42, viji. 2. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. 12.
in the taft day
and its bleffed influence over the minds, actions, and morals of mankind; or, in other words, the miraculous success of the church of Christ, in propagating his gospel, which he declares should á
go is forth, conquering and to conquer * ;” or converting and to convert the heathen world, from its miferable state of darkness, to the light of eternal truth, notwithstanding the dreadful opposition and persecution of the pagan powers. This great prophetic event became perfectly fulfilled in the fourth century, two hundred years after it had been foretold, when Constantine the Great, and the Emperors who succeeded him, and whose dominions extended over a great part of the earth, were converted to the Chrif. țian faith ; when the pagan powers, civil as well as ecclefiaftical, were extirpated; their magistrates, oracles, priests, and temples, suppressed; their immense revenues confiscated; their farther oppofition and persecution of the church 'rendered impossible ; and the word of God, as it were, being Teated upon the late throne of pagan idolatry, extended over the greater part of the world. The natural, and, I may say, the necessary confequences of which were, that pride, ambition, luft, and darkness, with all their train of evil, discontent, quarrel, and discord, which had arisen, and kept the world in one continued ferment of war and blood, from the time of the dispersion of the foņs of Noah, to that epoch ; and which had given rise to the four
despotic and wicked empires, described by Daniel, - under the appellation of the four beasts (namely, the
Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman), in a manner ceased under the influence and operation of the pure
word of God; infomuch, that the historians of that day have emphatically diftinguished it as the
age of "blessed tranquillity," “beata tranquillitas. Thus the seals bring down a chain of events, confisting of the great contest between the unerring truths, and perfect light of the word of God, and the falsehood and ignorance of pagan idolatry, to the fourth century.
But as neither the converted world, nor even the primitive churches, had arrived at such a degree of moral rectitude, and perfect faith, as to entitle them to their final redemption and everlasting peace, they did not long enjoy this happy change. Elated with prosperity, they became, with inconceivable folly and monstrous ingratitude, forgetful of the Cause and Author of their wonderful delivery. They perverted and distorted the plain and intelligible word of God, into a mystical jargon, and abominable heresies ; and thus wantonly strayed from, and lost fight of that light and truth, which had miraculously led them out of pagan darkness and captivity into the path of everlasting life.
Such was the degenerated state of Christians in the beginning of the fifth century, which surely deserved the divine reprehension and chastisement; and therefore it pleased God to suffer them to return to their former state of discord, war, and blood. These wars the prophet foretels under the first four trumpets *. The irruptions of the Goths, Huns, Vandals, and other barbarous nations, into the Roman empire, then in the poffeffion of the Christian church, began in the early part of this century, and continued to the latter end of the sixth. During that period, the Christian church was severely corrected and punished, with rapine, havoc, and defo
* Chap. viii, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12,
Jation, and millions of her professors - were put to death. But instead of being reformed by these great and afflicting visitations, it was foreseen that The would continue to fall into heresies yet more inconsistent with the word of God; the prophet, therefore, in the last verse of this chapter, dengunces three woes, which he means to describe, in the fub sequent part of his prophecy, "Wo, wo, we, to
the inhabiters of the earth, by reason of the other 12
voices of the trumpets of the thrcé, angels, which are yet to sound."
wi We have seen, that the first four frumpets are simply called trumpets," because they were only to announce the predatory incursions of the barbarián nations, those visitationis of God, mercifully.inţended föʻreinind the church of the pcace and tranquillity The had lately enjoyed, while the beld the true faith, and obeyed the divine precepts of her immaculate Founder. But the three trumpets, which were to follow;' are
represented as events“ replete with affliction and woe. They are called by commentators the three we'o-trumpets, because, under the two
firft the drcadful persecutions, the darkness and inifery,"by which the church was to be overwhelmed, 'or, as it is expreffed * trodden under foot" by the Mohamedan and Papal hereliés, arc foretold, and becaute the third was to found the events of the teven Taft vials of the wrath of Godiut, which were to be poured out upon the ungodly
' in the last day. From the rise of the church, down to the begin. ning of the seventh century, the had continued united under the Apostles, and afterwards under general councils. Her faith in God, and in Jesús Christ, notwithstanding occafional diffenfions, and
* Chap xi. 2.
# Chap. xvi.
short-lived schisms, remained generally the same. There was no actual and final separation before that epoch ; but the time was now come, that the longcontinued contest for pre-eminence and dominion, between the bishops, of Rome and of Constantinople, was to be terminated. The Roman pontiff, having received his commillion of universal bishop, and being exalted in the West, drew all the western bishops, with their fiocks, into his own pale, and soon after converted them to his idolatrous apoftacy; when the eastern bishops, adhering to the hicrarchy of Conftantinople, soon after embraced the doctrines of Mohamed; and thus the church became divided into two great. ecclefiaftical bodies, in the seventh century. Moreover, as the events in which they were to be re fpectively concerned, were also to be separate and unconnected, the prophet, having foretold, under the first wce trumpet, the visitations of God upon the church, through the means of the barbarian netiqz in her united state, praceeds to foretel those which were to befall the two churches after her difunion, under the second wog-trumpet. Here; with Itrict propriety, he begins with the events by which the eastern church was to be afflicted, because the original church had been planted in the easiern hemisphere, and the very great majority of her subjects remained there after the feparation. Under this trumpet he describes all the prominent events which have produced and attended the rise and establishment of the Saracen-Mohamedan apostacy, that dreadful fcourge of the eastern church; together with the darkness and misery in which it has involved the greater part of the Christian and Roman empire*. In verfe 12, he tells us, “one woe is past,' meaning the dreadful perfecutions of Mohamed, and his immediate successors: and then adds, 5. And be:
Chap, ix. 1, 2, 3, 4, 50 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.