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respectively, but which ultimately resolve thenselves into one series, filling up the prophetic history, as one whole, reaching to the end of time.
To determine the respective boundaries of the distinct insulated visions, or exhibitions, of which the Apocalypse is composed, is difficult; not from want of precision in the prophecyfor it is a Revelation-but from the peculiar structure of the book; and it is to be feared, that some of these boundaries have not yet been settled with accuracy, notwithstanding the meritorious labors of different critics and expositors. What others have failed in, it would be presumptuous in the present writer to assert he has been able to accomplish; but, without pretending to speak with confidence, he thinks, that the general contents of the Apocalypse may be briefly enumerated in the following summary.
1. The title and introduction of the amanuensis John, followed by a short notice of the place where the visions were seen, the circumstances with which they were introduced, and the commandment given to him to write the things he might see, in a book, and to send the book to the seven churches in Asia. (Ch. i.)
2. Seven epistles addressed to the seven churches respectively. (Ch. ii. and iii.)
3. John's description of the heaven (whatever
that was) into which he was, in vision, admitted, (see Dissert. 7. § 5.]; a description of the one sitting upon the throne in the heaven, and of the opening of the first six seals of a certain sealed book. (Ch. iv. to vi. inclusive.) See Dissert. 2. § 14.-And here let it be observed, that Vice the prophetic history embraced by the first six seals, reaches to the “great earthquake,” (vi. 12.) by which all the enemies of Christ's Kingdom 12.90€
. shall be ultimately destroyed. This earthquake, bere one as almost every reader must know, has been pretty generally applied to the overthrow of pa
fat ganism, and the establishment of Christianity as the religion of the Roman empire by Constantine ; but the terms which it employs, namely, the sun, the moon, the stars of heaven, are by no
, means descriptive of the pagan priesthood; and are, indeed, in the prophecy itself, explained to mean the kings of the earth, the great men, the chief captains, &c.; and the period to which this destruction refers, is emphatically called the great day of the wrath of the Lamb. It would be foreign to the purpose of the present volume to go more into detail on this subject in this place : suffice it to say, that the period intended is the same to which Paul alludes in his second epistle to 'the Thessalonians, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that
obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus CHRISTI who shall be punished with everlasting destruction.
4. Between the opening of the sixth and the seventh seal, John announces the appearance of four angels or messengers, commissioned to hurt the earth and the sea. Of course this, though mentioned after, has reference to some event prior to the great earthquake; but the issue of the sealing of the servants of God in their foreheads, mentioned immediately after the introduction of these messengers, is prospective, extending to the period when God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. (Ch. vii.)-See Ch. xxi. 4.
5. The singular contents of the seventh seal -seven messengers, and the evils denounced by the trumpets of the first six against the enemies of the Messiah. (Ch. viii. and ix.) --In Ch. viii. (v. 5.) occurs the intimation already noticed in § 1. warning the reader to expect thunderings and lightnings, and an earthquake. (See above,
6. The book which had been sealed exhibited to John when opened, and a command to him now to eat the same book, that he might be qualified to prophesy concerning peoples, and nations, and tongues, and many kings-i. e. kingdoms. (Ch, x.) But, previous to this command, an intimation is given in v. 7, that, when the seventh angel shall begin to sound, the mystery of
Gon shall be finished. From this it appears' evi- ) oh dent that the pouring out of the seven vials cannot relate to events posterior to the sounding of the seventh trumpet, as many have maintained.
7. The measuring of the sanctuary (vadv, not temple, as in the common version) and the altar and worshippers, the death and resurrection of the two witnesses ; the great earthquake, and fall of the tenth part of the city, (viz. the mys
han? tical Babylon, or great antichristian community or family, known by the name of Christendom]; the sounding of the seventh trumpet; and the final victory of the Messiah (Ch. xi.), which being fully set forth John is now completely qualified to prophesy, in consequence of having eaten the unsealed book.-Observe particularly, that the earthquake (xi. 13.) is “ the great earthquake" before mentioned on the opening of the sixth seal (vi. 12.), which in its issue absorbs all rule, authority, and dominion, in the reign of the Messiah; being followed instantly by the sounding of the seventh, or what Paul calls the last trumpet (1 Cor. xv. 53.), when the dead shall be
!!! judged. (Rev. xi. 18.)—And observe farther, that ch. xi. concludes with one of those retrospective summaries before noticed. (See § 1. p. 153.)
8. What, for distinction's sake, may be called John's first prophecy, embracing the history of the woman clothed with the sun, and the war of
Michael with the Dragon (Ch. xii.); the reign and marks of Antichrist, under his two forms of empire or dominion, namely, the civil (Ch. xiii. v. 1–8.), and ecclesiastical (v. 11-18.); described as two wild beasts; the victory obtained by the followers of the Lamb, and the final destruction of their enemies. (Ch. xiv.)
9. John's second prophecy; or a more particular description of the plagues denounced against Antichrist, and inflicted by the pouring forth of seven vials of wrath. (Ch. xv. and xvi.)
-In ch. xvi. 18, 19. occurs the third retrospective enumeration mentioned in p. 154. .
10. Information afforded to John, by a messenger, concerning the judgment of the great whore, her character, the beast that carries her, the ten kings [i. e. kingdoms] that gave to her their power,
and the overthrow of these kings, (Ch. xvii.) See Dan. vii. 7-11. and 19_26.
11. A farther description of the overthrow of Antichrist and his supporters. (Ch. xviii.)
12. The triumph of the Saints, and some farther particulars respecting the final destruction of Christ's enemies. (Ch. xix.)
13. The binding of Satan for 1000 years—the first resurrection—the loosing of Satan for a short space, and his deceiving of the nations for the last time the second resurrection and final judgment. (Ch. xx.)