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My first observation is, that after all the thought, learning, and ingenuity that have been brought to bear on the elucidation of the Apocalypse, there appear to be but three grand Schemes of interpretation, that can be considered as standing up face to face against each other ; with any serious pretensions to truth, or advocacy of any literary weight and respectability. The first is that of the Præterists , restricting the subject of the prophecy, except in its two or three last chapters, to the catastrophes of the Jewish nation and old Roman Empire, one or both, as accomplished in the 1st and 2nd, and 5th and 6th centuries respectively: a Scheme originally propounded by the Jesuit Alcasar, as we have seen ; adopted with alterations in detail by Bossuet ; and now, with their several mutata mutanda, urged alike by the more eminent of the later German biblical critics and expositors, by Professor Moses Stuart in the United States of America, and by the disciples of the German School in England, whether among Dissenters or Churchmen.—The 2nd is the Futurists' Scheme; making the whole of the Apocalyptic Prophecy, excepting the primary Vision and Letters to the Seven Churches, to relate to things even now future, viz. the things concerning Christ's Second Advent : a Scheme first, or nearly first suggested by the Jesuit Ribera, at the end of the 16th century; and which has been urged, though under a new form, alike by Mr. Maitland, Mr. Burgh, Mr. Newman, Mr. Govett, and others, not without considerable effect and success, in our own times and æra.—The 3rd is what we may call emphatically the Protestant Scheme of Interpretation ; which regards the Apocalypse as a prefiguration in detail of the chief events affecting the Church and Christendom, whether secular or ecclesiastical, from St. John's time to the consummation :-a Scheme not inconsistent so far with the general views of the earlier patristic expositors : and which, in its particular application of the symbols of Babylon and the Beast to Papal Rome and the Popedom, was early embraced by the Waldenses, Wickliffites, and Hussites ; then adopted with fuller light by the chief reformers, German, Swiss, French, and English of the 16th century; and has been thence transmitted downwards uninterruptedly even to the present time.
My second observation has respect to the details of this last-mentioned Protestant Scheme of Apocalyptic Interpretation. The Reader
will be in a position, after reading the Historical Sketch now concluded, to appreciate better the meaning and correctness of what I stated in my Original Preface, as to the defectiveness of this Scheme, so far as it had been up to my own time unfolded, on “the earlier) Seals, the vision of the rainbow-crowned Angel of Apoc. x, the Witnesses' Death and Resurrection, the Beast's seventh Head, and the Image of the Beast ;” also what I there said as to the originality of the solutions proposed in the Horæ “ of the three first Seals, of the sealing and palm-bearing Visions, of the rainbowcrowned Angel described Apoc. x, and its included notification on the Death and Resurrection of the two Witnesses ; also of the Beast's seventh Head, of the Image of the Beast, and of the Apocalyptic structure itself.”
For it is to be understood that on these points the modern Interpreters of the Protestant Scheme had, up to the time of the publication of the Horæ added nothing, at least nothing of importance, to the lucubrations of their predecessors. It seems to me to have been the chief office, and a most important one surely, fulfilled by them, especially by those venerable men Mr. Faber, 'and Mr. Cuninghame, (of whom, though so often differing from their opinions, I would wish to speak with all respect and kindliness,) to awaken the alarm on the fact of the seventh Trumpet's having sounded at the French Revolution; to bring out more and more into general notice the results of the learned researches of their Protestant predecessors, further fortified in various ways and illustrated ; and to arouse and keep up an interest, often too ready to flag, in the great subject of Prophecy. So too, in regard to Messrs. Bickersteth and Birks, and their joint-propounded Scheme of Apocalyptic Interpretation, if the same want of advance seem to me to be stamped on it, and that it is indeed in character a Scheme singularly fanciful, yet am I well aware, and rejoice to think, how in other ways they have promoted the cause of prophetic truth. How could it but be so, with that spirit of holy love and spiritual-mindedness, which my excellent friend first-mentioned has ever carried into its discussions : -a spirit as congenial with the purer atmosphere of heaven, as it is unsuited to the stormy and lower regions of literary controversy ? And Mr. Birks has not only by his masterly work on the First
Elements of Prophecy, advanced the cause of truth, and shown himself its martel and hammer against what I must beg permission anticipatively to call the reveries of the Futurists : but moreover, by his exquisite description of the City that is to be revealed at Christ's blessed advent, has done much to enlist each hallowed feeling of the heart on the side he advocates ; a description such that one might almost suppose the golden reed to have been given him, with which to delineate it, by the Angel that showed to the beloved disciple the Lamb's bride, the New Jerusalem.—Whether as regards the solution of Apocalyptic enigmas left unsolved by previous interpreters the Author of the present Work has been more successful, it will be for the Reader to consider and judge.'
' I should observe that Mr. Fry, in his Works on the Second Advent and on Unfulfilled Prophecy, has approximated more nearly than any other Expositor I am acquainted with to my explanation of the two first seals : interpreting the first of the prosperity of the Roman Empire from Nerva or Trajan to Commodus, the second to begin with Commodus, and to include the rebellions of the Prætorian Guards and civil wars consequent. In the details however, he differs essentially ; making Trajan the rider of the first horse, Commodus of the second, Septimius Severus of the third : which third seal he explains not at all as I do, but as Mede and Bishop Newton. The important consideration had not crossed his mind, of the representative character of each rider; nor of the significant meaning of the crown, (distinctively from the diadem,) and bow, and sword, and balance, as class-badges designative of office, age, or country.—It may be proper to observe, that I was not aware of these his views until after my own first Volume (including the Seals) had been printed.
CRITICAL EXAMINATION AND REFUTATION OF THE
FOUR CHIEF COUNTER-SCHEMES OF APOCALYPTIC INTERPRETATION ; AND ALSO OF DR. ARNOLD's GENERAL PROPHETIC COUNTER-THEORY.
It was stated at the conclusion of my Sketch of the History of Apocalyptic Interpretation, that there are at present two, and but two, grand counter-Schemes to what may be called the general Protestant view of the Apocalypse : that view which regards its prophecy as a prefiguration of the great events that were to happen in the Church and world connected with it, from St. John's time to the consummation ; including specially the establishment of the Popedom, and reign of Papal Rome, as in some way or other the fulfilment of the types of the Apocalyptic Beast and Babylon. The first of these two counter-Schemes is the Præterists', which would have the prophecy stop altogether short of the Popedom; explaining it of the catastrophes, one or both, of the Jewish Nation and Pagan Rome: of which Counter-Schemes there are two variations so considerable as to demand each one a separate and distinct notice. The second the Futurists', which would have it all shoot over the head of the Popedom into times yet future ; and refer simply to the events that are immediately to precede, or to accompany, Christ's second Advent. I shall in this second Article of my Appendix proceed successively to examine these two, or rather three, anti-Protestant counter-Schemes ; and show, if I mistake not, the palpable untenableness alike of the one Scheme and of the other. Which done, it will be my next duty to consider the chief Protestant Apocalyptic Scheme, that runs counter in its grand outline of arrangement to the one given in the Horæ : viz. that which, instead of regarding the seven Trumpets in their natural way as the development of the 7th Seal, just as the seven Vials also of the 7th Trumpet, in continuous evolution of the future, would regard the Seals and the Trumpets as chronologically parallel lines of prophecy, each reaching to the consummation ; the 1st unfolding the fortunes of the Church, the 2d of the world. After which an examination of the late Dr. Arnold's general prophetic theory will complete our review of counter-prophetic Schemes, and fitly close the whole.
With regard to the Præterist Scheme, on the review of which under its two chief and most accredited forms we are now first about to enter, it may be remembered that I stated it to have had its origin with the Jesuit Alcasar ;' that it was subsequently with variations adopted and improved (after Grotius and Hammond) by Bossuet, the great champion of the Romanists; then afterwards by Hernnschneider, Eichhorn, and others of the German critical and generally infidel school of the last half-century, with their several variations ;2 finally, still with new points of difference, by Professor Moses Stuart of the United States of America.3 In some way or other all these explain the prophecy, so as I just before observed, to have reference to the catastrophes of the Jewish nation and Pagan Rome. But some advocate a more definite plan of historic explication, within these historic limits; others a less definite. Some contract the Jewish part of the Scheme, so as only to embrace the last Jewish wars, waged after Domitian's time by Trajan and Adrian ; others insist chiefly on Titus' previous destruction of Jerusalem. Again, in regard of heathen Rome's part in it, some conceive the prophecy to embrace the whole 400 years of Roman imperial history, from Domitian to Rome's completed destruction by the Goths; others contract it mainly within the times of Nero, Vespasian, and Titus.—I shall pretty well exhaust whatever can be thought to call for examination in the system, by considering separately, first Bossuets or the Roman Catholic most favorite form of the Præterist Scheme; then the favorite German form of the Scheme ; as propounded by Eichhorn, Hug, and Moses Stuart.
See p. 456 suprà.
2 See Ibid. pp. 480, 481.
Ib. p. 485,