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glyphics, and particularly from the work that goes by the name of Horapollo. There is also a modern work on this subject, which inay
be consulted with advantage, Lancaster's SymWidebolical Dictionary; but he should be received
with caution, having, in many instances, like Daubuz whom he follows, fallen into the common blunder of commentators, that of confounding tropes, figures, and metaphors with symbols.
§ 3. Of the Structure of the Apocalypse. Though the subject of this section has been in some measure embraced in the two preceding sections, there is still room for some farther observations. One point in particular, respecting the structure of this remarkable prophecy, deserves great attention. A considerable portion of the particulars detailed by John, was not, as has been generally imagined, exhibited to him in dramatic action,-if, on such a subject, I may employ such a term. On the contrary, many of the things, which he states himself to have seen in the vision, were brought to his view, precisely as he intimates in the first verse of the first chapter (see § 2) :—they were symbolised to him : they were symbolical representations, such as he describes ;--that is, pictures of some kind,
contained in a book, which was unrolled before
a him. Had translators properly attended to the circumstance, that, in this part of the prophecy, especially from the beginning of the sixth to the end of the ninth chapter, John, besides describing the other circumstances of the vision, gives a detailed account of things, circumstances, and actions, seen by him in pictorial representations, in the unsealed roll itself, they would, perhaps, have succeeded better in attaining the author's sense; and many of the sudden changes in moods and tenses which occur, and which hasty critics have presumed to stigmatise as arbitrary, capricious, and not to be accounted for, would have been seen to be perfectly appropriate, and absolutely required by the very nature of the detail.
It is the more surprising that recent expositors should have so generally overlooked the circumstance of the sealed book or roll, of which the Apocalypse treats, exhibiting, when opened, a series of symbolical pictures ; as the fact had occurred to Mr. Harmer, and had been stated by him in his very useful work on Oriental customs. . His words are: “St. John evidently supposes
paintings, or drawings, in that volume which “ he saw in the visions of God, and which was “ sealed with seven seals; the first figure being “ that of a man on a white horse, with a bow
“ in his hand,” &c.: and further on, after speaking of two manuscripts of the Pentateuch, adorned with paintings,—“Such a book, it “ seems, was that St. John saw in a vision." Had commentators taken this view of the symbols described by John, it would have tended very much to obviate some of the difficulties they have met with in their attempts to explain the Apocalypse.
Having already had occasion to show, in the Second Dissertation, § 14, that these symbolical pictures had reference to the book of Daniel as a sealed book, the meaning of which was thereby explained to John, and through him to the Christian church, it is not necessary that I should here dwell long on this part of the structure of the prophecy. One observation, however, presents itself. Some commentators, mistaking entirely the nature and object of the sealed book, conceive the Apocalypse to be “ di“ vided into two main branches; the former a “ sealed book, containing seven seals, or sealed “ and hidden prophecies; and the latter an open “ codicil, containing several open and clear
ones," --thus actually converting what, John plainly teaches, was done for the opening and explaining of a book that was formerly sealed, into the formation of a new sealed book, containing “ seven sealed and hidden prophecies!"
To treat the Apocalypse thus, is to lock it up. If these prophecies be indeed sealed, vain must be every attempt to explain them. This notion has been taken up from an idea that “the BOOK” of ch. v. “ sealed with seven seals," must be different
. from the “ little open book” of ch. x. 2. But had
, those who have embraced this opinion attended to the Greek text, they would have seen that the expression used in the latter imports, that the book there spoken of is one “ that had been “ opened" (avewyjévov), plainly intimating that,
having been opened,”—which is the correct sense of the Greek,-it had been a sealed book ; and that, having been so opened, by the removal of the seals, as detailed in the preceding chapters, it has been explained in such a manner that it may now be understood: and, accordingly, John was commanded to eat the book (ch. x. 9), that is, properly to consider and digest its contents, that he might be able to prophecy still farther respecting peoples, and nations, and tongues, and many kings, or kingdoms. Nor does the circumstance of its being called “ a little book” (Bißrapídios) in ch. x, at all alter the case; for this only serves to describe still farther the “ book” (BiBríov) of ch. v, informing the reader that the one alluded to the one " that had been opened,” by removing the seals from it, is not a large volume ;-a fact which is
correctly true respecting the book of Daniel, and particularly the sealed parts of his prophecy. Every notion then, of such a structure as that which has just been alluded to, should be rejected, as quite foreign to the nature and design of the Apocalypse.
Another opinion which has been very generally entertained respecting the Apocalypse, should also be noticed in this place; namely, that system which considers the book as being composed of seven seals, all of which, in their order, embrace distinct and successive periods; to each of which certain events are supposed to correspond, as its individual contents; and to the last, in particular, is appropriated, as its contents, seven trumpets ; all of which, consequently, are subsequent to the first six seals, and also represent so many distinct periods in succession. The seventh trumpet also, like the seventh seal, is, in this system, divided into seven distinct and successive periods, for the pouring out of seven vials of wrath, all of which are subsequent to the first six trumpets.--All this is laid down “ for the sake of method !” and it is held, by those who conceive this to be the structure of the book, to be a sufficient reason for rejecting any proposed explanation, that it would “ introduce confusion into this order.” In imitation of the savage policy of Procrustes, what