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divine gift; the sacred penman employed; the Churches to whom it was sent; the repeated declaration of the nearness of its events; the whole character of its introduction, repeated in almost every clause and in the most various forms; the plain links which connect the actual state of the seven Churches with the course of the visions; the reference, confirmed by an oath, of a large part to the days of Israel's rejection and the times of the Gentile mystery; and, finally, the consent of the whole Church for sixteen hundred years, seem to leave no place for a reasonable doubt, except to the rashness which overlooks all evidence of design, or to the mere wilfulness of innovation.

Let us now, in the light of all these combined scriptural proofs, examine once more the logical weight and moral features of the new scheme of interpretation. The great mystery of godliness, in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of our Lord, was to be followed, in the deep counsels of divine wisdom, by a space of near two thousand years, before the decreed time of His return and the visible glory of His kingdom. The whole of this long season, the dispensation of the Spirit, was to be enriched in every part by a glorious manifestation of the Divine attributes in His counsel of love for the world's redemption, and to be stored with wonders which the angels desire to look into. The Church, in the days of the first advent, was entirely ignorant of this long interval; a mystery which had been revealed by one prophet only of the Old Testament, and expressly sealed at the time. And yet, by all the analogy of God's mercies to the Church, it was not fitting that she should be left in total darkness with regard to this long period of her own course. The Saviour, therefore, after his ascension, receives this prophecy as a gift from God the Father, and hereby reveals to His people, in visions, the

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work which He is carrying on for her sake, till the day of redemption. Even this measure of knowledge was not suited to the early times, in which His return was still distant; and hence the revelation itself is so conveyed as only gradually to disclose its full meaning in latter days. And thus one holy book was given to crown the whole volume of inspiration, and combine all nature, and providence, and grace into one harmonious revelation of truth. All the works of nature are here united with all the types of the law and the truths of the gospel, to illustrate the varied wisdom and providence of the Most High, through two thousand years, and in the highest and noblest stage of His counsels of redemption-a treasury from which the servants of God were to derive increasing light, till faith should be changed into open vision by the appearing of the Lord. For sixteen or seventeen hundred years, devout and holy students had continued to advance, dimly and slowly at first, but afterwards with a steady and discernible progress, towards a full and harmonious perception of the historical features and grand moral outlines of this highest, noblest, and most mysterious part of God's holy word.

At length, when the marks of this progress had been most clear to an observant and watchful eye, a few writers discover one fatal objection, which is to disprove all internal and external evidence which fixes the true nature of the prophecy. It seems to them that an application of all nature and all the types of four thousand years, to explain the spiritual features of Providence for two thousand years more, in a time called, by emphasis, the mystery of God, could not fail to be evident, at the first general glance, to their discernment. They reckon it quite superfluous to have studied closely the facts of history, or to have compared the researches of previous writers. To analyze the prophecy, and decide on its

internal marks of arrangement, most of them treat as equally needless. The bare fact that some hundreds of authors, taken from various ages and countries, do not exhibit an agreement on the meaning of the most mysterious book of Scripture, such as has never been realized on any doctrine of the faith, except two or three of the most plain, or on any book of the New Testament this fact alone is to sentence all the labours of pious and learned expositors, for ages past, to a verdict of folly and delusion, and is to stand for a clear proof that the prophecy has revealed to the Church no truth whatever for seventeen centuries, till they themselves appeared. It is just as if some shrewd observer, who has never mastered even the books of Euclid, were to collect diligently all the disputes of mathematicians and astronomers for the last century and a half, and then boldly to pronounce the Principia to be a mere heap of errors, and the Newtonian astronomy a pure delusion. The four controversies on the differential calculus, the lunar motions, the inequalities of Jupiter, and elliptical attractions, would furnish such an objector, however unable to understand them, with a list of apparent errors which might fairly rival those of the Apocalyptic interpretations.

Now such an objection as this, besides its logical weakness, betrays a most unworthy conception of the depth and fulness of God's word, and a hasty and selfconfident spirit, the most remote conceivable from true Christian wisdom. The devout and thoughtful Christian knows that even the simplest works of God contain a mystery which transcends all human science. There is not a blade of grass or a flower of the field which does involve countless laws of material actiot, that surpass


powers of our most subtle analysis and deepest research to detect and explain them. When

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he passes from the works of nature to those of Providence, the same truth re-appears. In his own life he finds a thousand mysteries, of which the key will only be given him in the life to come. He may sometimes catch a glimpse of the Divine wisdom, in the changes of his own little history ; but these are dim and few, compared with the parts which continue mysterious and unknown. In the word of God he finds the same character; and that in the midst of its deep practical simplicity, there are continual marks of a secret and hidden wisdom that eludes his research. With such an experience he turns to this latest book of Scripture, and from its place in the canon alone, he is led to expect in it the highest forms of divine truth, which need the most careful study, the most diligent, serious, and persevering inquiry. He searches for the internal marks of its general meaning, and he finds them distinct and numerous, and that all concur to fix its character as a symbolical history of the Church of Christ. And that this is its true character is now only confirmed to him the more, by the partial degree of insight which the Church has attained for ages. He knows that the very description of our present state is to see through a glass darkly; and that to comprehend, in the light of heaven, the moral outlines of God's Providence, during the whole absence of the Lord, would be, in its very nature, an anticipation of the noblest and highest attainments of the saints in glory.

The sole objection, it thus appears, on which reliance has been placed, to overthrow all the scriptural marks that fix the Apocalypse to its widest meaning, yields, to the thoughtful and observant mind, a fresh evidence in its favour, and confirms the view which the Church has held from the beginning concerning the true sense of this divine and holy prophecy.





The truths which have now been established, and cleared from the objections lately brought against them, are the natural basis for the interpretation of the other parts of these symbolical prophecies. They show that the rest of Daniel's visions, and nearly the whole of Revelation, relate to the times of the Gospel, and reach from the close of the Jewish dispensation to the second coming of our Lord.

The interpretation of the parts which remain is a subject of greater difficulty, and has given rise to a far wider diversity of judgment. This is occasioned, in part, by the various and complex nature of the symbols themselves; but its chief cause is the moral character of the predictions, and the faithful protest which they bear against the corruption and degeneracy of the Church of God. They carry the war at once into the strongest fortresses of ecclesiastical pride and Christian worldliness. The prophecies of a Messiah rejected in spirit are as obnoxious to the Gentile Church, as those of a Messiah rejected in person were to the unbelievers among the Jews.

To enter on this difficult subject would, therefore, be unsuitable to the present work, which is merely designed to clear away obstructions, and to prepare the way for a sure and firm interpretation of the word of the prophecy. But there is one topic so distinct in its

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