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PLATES TO VOL. IV.
FROM APOC. XIV. 6, AND XVI. 13, TO THE END.
THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE.
FROM A.D. 1830 TO THE MILLENNIUM AND FINAL JUDGMENT.
REVIEW OF THE EVIDENCE IN THE PARTS PRECEDING ;
AND HIGH PROBABILITY OF OUR PRESENT
HALF OF THE SIXTH VIAL.
We are now about to enter on the vith and last part of this Commentary :-a Part to which, having mainly reference to things future, very much of a new character must of course attach: as we shall no longer (at least after the present and next chapters) have the verifying test to appeal to, point by point, of agreeing prophecy and history : but only from the prediction itself to infer, with more or less of the uncertainty of conjecture, the nature of the things predicted.—Preparatorily, however, to entering on this new field of inquiry, I have to request the reader to look back with me; and to consider attentively (though as much as possible in brief) each principal step of the way we have travelled thus far, and the strength and sufficiency of the evidence that has guided us on it. It will be of infinite advantage towards a right commencement of the consideration of the future, if we enter on it with a deliberate and thorough conviction of our having been right all along on main points in our interpretation
of the past : and of our being almost beyond a question at that precise position in the Apocalyptic prophecy asserted at the head of this chapter ; from the which position it will be our next duty to commence our glancings into futurity.
On looking back, then, he will observe that on the simple theatric scene' (if I may so call it) of a temple like that of Jerusalem, in the foreground, with its court, and holy place, and holy of holies, to represent the Church in its various parts and characters,—and a world outstretched beneath and around, in miniature but living landscape, with its land and seas and rivers, to represent the world of the Roman Empire,-the FIRST Act of the prefigurative drama (a drama written apparently on a scroll within and without, and divided into septenaries of Seals, Trumpets, and Vials, of which the Trumpets were all included in the 7th Seal, and Vials in the 7th Trumpet,*) —I say that the FIRST Act of this drama began by the going forth, one after the other, on the successive openings of the four first Seals in the scroll of futurity, (and probably upon that Roman world in landscape,) of four horses, white, red, black, and livid pale : each bearing its own rider, marked by his proper badge; and with brief explanatory words accompanying the exhibition. After which, on the opening of the fifth Seal, a voice, as from murdered ones beneath the great altar in the temple-court, was heard crying out, “ How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not avenge our blood against them that dwell on the earth : "--and then presently, on the sixth Seal's opening, a revolution sudden and universal appeared before the Evangelist to pass upon the symbolic earth, and its associated heaven and heavenly luminaries : a revolution whereby the enemies of the LAMB, it was declared, were overthrown; and consequently, it might be inferred, their political supremacy and system done away.-So ended the first act of the drama.
1 See Vol. i. p. 100. 2 The reader will have the goodness to refer to the Exposition, as well as to the Chart at the beginning of this Work; in explanation, in all its various points, of the sketch of evidence following.
And in explanation of the four earlier of these prefigurative visions it was supposed, as a first preliminary, that the horse in every case represented the Roman people, in their character of a martial military nation : this supposition being made not gratuitously, or merely because of the otherwise general fitness of the symbol ; but on various classical evidence of its propriety, especially when associated with a rider bearing such badges as in the first Seal. Which premised, -forasmuch as the colour on the successive horses, interpreted agreeably with the Roman and Greek understanding of them, did conjunctively with certain explanatory words in each case accompanying, indicate states respectively of national triumph, happiness, and prosperity, of bloody civil war, of impoverishment and want, and of extraordinary mortality,—this last by the agencies of sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts, such as to cause in the horse the hue of a body in dissolution, -it was inferred that successive æras of prosperity, civil war, impoverishment, and mortality corresponding, were portended to the Roman Empire : the first to begin very soon, according to the revealing Angel's express pre-intimation, after the time of St. John's banishment in Patmos; the rest to follow in succession. Can we well have been wrong in these our inferences as to the meaning of the symbols ? —And what then the result of appeal to history, in verification of them ? It was found that Gibbon marked out four æras, or epochs, in the Roman imperial history, precisely agreeing with the prefigurations :—the 1st one of both early and later signal triumphs, and moreover of a prolonged general happiness and prosperity unexampled, he says, in the world's history, beginning from Nerva's accession, the very next year after St. John's seeing the vision in Patmos, and lasting eighty years and more, to the death of the second Antonine :--the 2nd, one of civil war and bloodshed, I See Vol. i. p. 122.
Apoc. iv. 1.-See Vol. i. p. 110.
almost as remarkable, begun with the murder of Antonine's son and successor Commodus, near the end of the second century, and extended, with intervals of intermission, far onwards into the æras of the two next Seals :—the 3rd, one of fiscal oppression, and consequent impoverishment and distress of the Roman people, dated by Gibbon from a memorable edict of the Emperor Caracalla, issued towards the close of the first quarter of the third century, and noted by him as one of the permanent causes of the empire's decline :—the 4th, beginning about twenty years later, one of some twenty years and more of continued mortality, through three chiefly out of the four predicted agencies of destruction ; to an extent, such, he says, that we might suspect from certain statistical tables, " that war, pestilence, and famine had consumed in a few years a moiety of the human species ;” and with such effect on the empire as to make it seem as if" approaching to the last and fatal moment of its dissolution.”—Yet more, whereas it seemed reasonable to suppose that in perfect prefigurative pictures, such as all must be that have a divine original, not the mere nature only, but the instrumental causes also, of these states of prosperity or of suffering, might probably be revealed, and the riders of the horses, characterized by their respective badges in the vision, appeared to be the fit symbols to foreshow it,-a comparison was instituted in each vision between the prophecy and the history on this point also.-And on examination it appeared that whereas, according to Gibbon's declaration, the instrumental causes of the white of the first æra were the five good emperors from Nerva to the 2nd Antonine inclusive (a line united as one by successive adoptions, and, as traced up to Nerva its head, of Cretic original,) - of the red of the second æra those that had the power of the sword, i. e. the military power, including its chief Generals very specially, -and of the black of the third æra the Provincial Governors, in their several provinces of administration,—so lst the crown (the imperial crown) given to the rider of the white horse did in fact mark