« PreviousContinue »
struction made among the higher orders, and which would of course be accompanied with great slaughter among the common people. "The remnant that were affrighted and gave glory to God," would denote those of the same community who escaped, and whose fears would forebode other examples of the divine justice.
What event is there during the 1260 years of antichristian usurpation which answers to these characters? It has been understood of the fall of the Greek Church in 1453, when Constantinople was taken by the Turks: but that event has been described in the vision of the horsemen, Chap. ix; and it is the Western or Latin church that occupies the whole of these chapters. It were much better to understand it of the falling off of the Northern nations from the See of Rome, which was an immediate consequence of the Reformation. Its being "in the same hour" with the resurrection of the witnesses would favour this interpretation, but in several other particulars it does not agree. No reason can be given why the seceding Northern nations should be called “a tenth part of the city;" nor do any events which attended the Reformation appear to correspond with the slaughter of "7000 names of men." If the tenth part of the city fell as early as the Reformation, the seventh angel must have sounded his trumpet “quickly” after it; and this some writers, who believed the former, have very consistently maintained, conceiving also that the Millennium commenced, or would commence, towards the middle of the eighteenth century. But surely we must allow that events have contradicted this explication. The character of the seventh trumpet is, that under it, the kingdoms of this world were to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ: but the nations which have fallen off from the papal See have not answered to this description, but have rather sunk into formality and irreligion. And as to the Millennium, one of its characters is, that the beast and the false prophet shall first have gone into perdition, and Satan be bound; but neither of these has taken place. It is also in the Millennium, if ever, that we are to look for the cessation of war, and the universal prevalence of true religion, both among Jews and Gentiles, neither of which has yet come to pass.
All things considered, I know of no event that seems to correspond so well with the prophecy as the late Revolution in France. Thus it has been understood by some of the ablest expositors, and that for ages prior to the event. A writer in the Eclectic Review has collected no less than ten of them who have referred to this event, and that long before it occurred, and several of them in commenting on the passage. Among these are the names of Dr. THOMAS GOODWIN, and VITRINGA. Dr. GOODWIN, who wrote in 1639, says, "By the tenth part of the city, I understand, as Mr. Brightam before me, some one tenth part of Europe." "I think it probable that France may be this country; and that in this revolution men will be deprived of their names and titles, which are to be rooted out for ever, and condemned to perpetual forgetfulness." "France may have the honour to have the last great stroke in the ruining of Rome. And this figurative earthquake, though happening only in one country, may extend its effects to others, so that a great shaking of states, as well political as ecclesiastical, may be intended."
VITRINGA, who wrote in 1719, asks, “What can be more suitable than to understand here the tenth part of the city some illustrious kingdom, which, being under the dominion of Rome with respect to religion, was of distinguished rank among the ten kingdoms, and had hitherto defended the Romish superstitions? It is here said in a figurative sense, that it would fall, since by means of those mighty commotions by which it was to be shaken, it would be torn from the body of the antichristian empire.” "France may be the forum of the great city." "The earthquake in this tenth part of the city is an event which history must illustrate. It is not perfectly clear from the prophecy of what kind these commotions are; whether warlike, such as are wont to shake the world, and subvert the existing government, or whether they are such as arise on a sudden from the insurrection of a nation that has been long oppressed: the words of the prophecy appear to favour the latter sense. In the predicted catastrophe some thousands will undoubtedly perish distinguished by their elevated dignities or nobility of birth."
Eclectic Review, for February, 1814.
Dr. GILL in 1748, speaking of the earthquake, says, "Something yet to come is here intended;" and "I rather think the kingdom of France is meant, the last of the ten kingdoms which rose up out of the ruins of the Roman empire." And in his note on Chap. xiii. 18. he speaks of the destruction of antichrist as "quickly following the downfall of the kingdom of France, as the tenth part of the city, which should fall a little before the third woe came on."
The revolution in France has been truly a moral earthquake, which has shaken the papal world to its centre. One of the ten kingdoms which composed it, and that the principal one, has so fallen as at present to be rather a scourge than a support to it. If by names of men be meant titles, they were abolished: or if men of name, the slaughter predicted of them certainly corres· ponds with the calamities which befell the princes, the nobles, and the priests, during that awful period; and as the fall of a few thousands of great men would involve that of an immense number of the common people, such has been the effect in this instance, Whether the remaining adherents to the papal cause have given "glory to God" in the manner they ought, or not, they have felt his hand, and by their fear and dismay have been com. pelled to yield a sort of involuntary acknowledgment of his justice.
The only objection that I feel to this application of the proph ecy is, that it is said to be "in the same hour" as that in which the witnesses ascended into heaven, which, if understood of that legal security that from the Reformation was afforded to the Protestants against popish persecution, may seem to be at too great a distance for such a mode of expression. It is however not only under the same trumpet, but during the period in which the witnesses continue to enjoy that security to which they were then introduced, that this event has occurred. Instead of the great Babylonish city recovering itself so as to renew its persecutions against the witnesses, it is itself smitten of God as by an earthquake and in a measure overthrown. If the opinions of GoonWIN, VITRINGA, and GILL be correct, and if the events which
have of late years occurred be the accomplishment of them, the last of these writers must have been mistaken in supposing the slaying of the witnesses to be something future: for the fall of the city is placed after the slaying and rising again of the witnesses. If therefore the one be now past, so is the other.