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cause the expressions employed here are perfectly similar to those, by which the Hebrew prophets had formerly painted the future condition of the Christian church53. But no past period of time corresponds to the lofty symbol of the apostle. To the fourth century, when the foundation of every future corruption was laid, they are doubtless inapplicable. Surely the prelate's adaptation of the prophetic emblems is altogether forced and unnatural; and, conceiving it to be the necessary consequence of his interpretation of the sixth seal, I cannot but regard it as a very strong argument against that interpretation, in addition to those by which it has already been combated.

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To prove that the passage under consideration cannot relate to the time of Constantine, I will quote a passage from the bishop of Bristol's own work against himself. After Constantine, the church,' says the prelate rather unguardedly in another place, was soon shaken and disturbed by heresies and schisms, by the incursions and devastations of the northern nations, by the conquering arms and prevailing imposture of the Saracens and afterwards of the Turks, by the corruption, idolatry, and wickedness, the

53 See this argument enforced, and passages from the Hebrew prophets and the Apocalypse contrasted together in opposite columns, by Mr. Taylor of Portsmouth, in his Thoughts on the Grand Apostacy, p. 195–205. As some persons, however, from the loftiness of the language, may possibly be disposed to doubt, whether the passage is not rather applicable to heaven than to earth; I will, for their satisfaction, enumerate some of the most eminent of the commentators, who have conceived it to be descriptive of the state of mankind in the latter. Such are Grotius and Hammond, Mede, More, and Vitringa, Goodwin (p. 55), Whiston and Jurieu, Pyle, Daubuz, and Sir I. Newton (p. 313). But if I am asked, whether there be no passage in the book of Revelation, indisputably announcing a future judgment or a future state, I appeal to the following verses (v. 13 and 14) in ch. XX. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell (that is, the grave) gave up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

usurpation, tyranny, and cruelty, of the church of Rome54" Yet, notwithstanding all this, the learned prelate hesitates not to maintain, that in the time of Constantine commenced that happy period, spoken of by the prophet, when the Christian church, consisting of men of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat, but God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

That this prophecy refers to the period, which will succeed the downfal of Antichrist, is so obvious, that the opinion has obtained not only the suffrage of many learned moderns; but claim the sanction of the most remote antiquity. It may be found in the writings of that celebrated African Father, Tertullian, who flourished at the conclusion of the second century".


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That vast assemblage of persons, of whom the prophet has drawn this symbolic picture, appear arrayed in robes, which have been washed, and are of a pure white. Palms also they have in their hands. Now a garment,' says Vitringa, is the symbol of the condition or state in which any one is.' The priests who sacrificed, as well among the Pagans as the Jews, were clothed in white. Hence,' says Dr. Lancaster, white garments, as being worn upon solemn festivals, were the tokens of joy and pleasure; as in Eccl. IX. 8;—to be clothed in white signifies in the prophetic style to be prosperous, and successful, and victorious;' and to put on clean garments after washing signifies freedom from oppression, care, and evil, together with honor and joy.' Civil liberty, and religious freedom, at length attain an universal prevalence; and the great body of Christians are emancipated from the shackles of usurped authority and from the pressure of persecuting laws. From Dr. Lancaster it may also be added, that branches of palm trees are the symbol of joy after a victory, attended with antecedent sufferings;' and that ' hunger and thirst are the

54 Vol. III. p. 316.

55 Scorpiace, adversus Gnosticos, c. XII.

symbols of affliction.' Great had been the sufferings of genuine Christians and of the true friends of mankind; but, at length, they are every where victorious over their enemies.

They shall, it is said, serve God in his temple, i. e. says Vitringa, in the communion of the true church. On the clause, occurring in the next verse, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat, two or three suggestions may be proposed. Brief as it is, but containing a well known symbol", does it not directly intimate, that the monarchies of the world, as such, are far from having a salutary operation; that, instead of shining with a friendly warmth, they burn with a pernicious heat? Will it not by some be thought to imply, that the deliverance of mankind from regal oppression is one of the prime benefits, which they will enjoy in the millenniary state? Since it declares, that no heat shall light upon them, perhaps too it may be pronounced to be of a yet larger signification; and to contain an assurance, that neither monarchs will continue to be a bane to human happiness, nor any other description of men whatever will be armed with a degree of authority, detrimental to the true interest of society.

Immediately after this animating description of the meliorated condition of mankind, which is represented as already commenced at the close of the sixth seal, the seventh seal is opened, a period of great length, but of which the prophet has not defined the extent. remain in the same happy state of undisturbed tranquillity

during the whole of that time, is the be deduced from the account of it59.

That the world will

great truth which is to

Short as this account

56 To the same purpose Dr. More says, the temple signifies the church in its pure condition." Myst. of Godliness, p. 190.

57 Vitringa has not omitted to remind the reader of this verse, that by the sun the princes of the world are to be understood.

58 VIII. 1.

59 See this explanation of the seventh seal proved at large in Vitringa, though, indeed, he seems to have understood it of the universal Christian church, rather than of the world at large. Consult also Daubuz, p. 346,

is, (and there needed not to be any new exhibition of hieroglyphic emblems, since things were to continue as they were before represented to the apostle,) it conveys information, not only of the first importance, but altogether differing from the past experience of mankind. Hitherto

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the church of Christ, ever since its foundation, has been exposed to fluctuations and to calamities. Hitherto the progress of society has been often obstructed: has been sometimes retrograde. Hitherto no period of time has been exempt from the shock of revolutions and the prosecution of hostilities.

The words, which close the prophetic description that was last cited, are these (vii. 17), and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and this very expression occurs in ch. xxi, where St. John has given a striking representation of the millennium, a presumption that both the descriptions are designed for the same period.

With respect, however, to the latter of the two descriptions it may be noted, previously to the allegation of the three principal verses, that it corresponds not in all respects to the introductory stage of that period, but to the state of things, which will, after a considerable period has elapsed, be established. The new symbolic heaven and new sym. bolic earth the prophet announces in the first verse of ch. xxi, and the passage has been already produced. The 3d, 4th, and 5th verses are thus expressed: And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. And God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor

347. That the last of the seals is predictive of the peace and prosperity of the church, after the fall of Antichrist, was long ago observed by dif ferent commentators, and among others by the Venerable Bede, who flourished in this country as early as the seventh century.

60 I will dwell among you, not otherwise than if I had fixed my tabernacle in the midst of you.' Crellius in loc.

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crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me,

write: for these words are true and faithful.

'Because of this felicity,' says Peganius, all former troubles will be forgotten. There will be no more plagues, nor shall the Christians die an untimely death; but, after a long life, by a gentle change be translated into the life to come.' By the expression, there shall be no more death, is signified, says Crellius, that there will be no more violent deaths; for those few, which shall happen, will not be worthy of being included in the general account. In the Millennium,' says Daubuz on this verse, they shall enjoy long the happy fruits of their holiness, and exchange, as it were insensibly, and without sorrow, their mortal flesh with a speedy hope and assurance to receive for it an immortal state of life;' and there shall be no anticipated deaths before the usual course of nature.'

Of the causes, which, it may be expected, will, at a future distant period, contribute to prevent a sudden and premature dissolution, it is not difficult to anticipate some of the principal.

Human life will rarely be endangered by the poisons of the mineral, vegetable, or animal kingdoms; malignity will not administer them; accident will seldom stumble upon them; and, when they do touch the skin, or enter the stomach, their fatal effects will generally be counteracted by the application of antidotes, which time has discovered to

61 of this verse the former part implies, that this will be a state of things on earth, which was once in a far different condition; the latter, that it will assuredly arrive.

62 In v.7, it is declared, he that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. On this verse Peganius writes, the combat with flesh and blood, it is true, shall not cease, but the victory to those, who are in earnest, shall not be painful.' Temptations there will but he who conquers them will enjoy not merely the happiness, which this world can impart, but that richer and more permanent inheritance, reserved for him in a higher sphere of action.


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