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is employed for the purpose of exhibiting a prophetical scene, and more particularly when the connexion of that passage with those that preceded it is duly considered, may be readily understood, from the known signification of each. And, thus, the symbolical language, in which “ the Revelation” is written, becomes quite as definite, and intelligible, as any other language can possibly be: and a reference to the pages of history is the only thing required, in order to determine, whether any prophetic vision, thus recorded, has, or has not, received its completion.
Such is the simple principle, on which this Analysis is founded: but I have given so many illustrations of it, both in the Introduction, and in the body of the work, that any thing further upon the subject, in this place, would be altogether superfluous.
It only remains, then, to give a general view of the scope of the following Work, composed upon this principle, which I now offer to the British Public.
I. The main design of the Holy Spirit, in granting this “ Revelation” to St. John, was, that he might afford a prospective, and emblematical, yet
most succinct, description of the various condition of the Christian Church, through all succeeding ages; that the attentive perusal of it might become the means of exercising her sagacity, her faith, her patience, and virtue, throughout the whole period, during which she might be “ militant here on earth.” But, in subserviency to this excellent
purpose, the prophet was also enabled to prefigure the leading, and merely political, “signs of the times," (if any thing, in the dealings of the Almighty Creator of the Universe with his rational and accountable creatures, can be so denominated) so far as they would be intimately connected with, and would, therefore, tend to confer every requisite degree of elucidation upon, that primary and most important object.
And, accordingly, it will be seen, how remarkably all the more striking characteristics of the times, as they succeed each other, will be found to illustrate the Divine Economy, in the government of the world ; and gradually to prepare the way for the development of the great and salutary ends, decreed by an allwise Providence.
II. The whole period, to which “ the Revelation” relates, and which will elapse between the time, when it first began to receive its accomplishment, and that, at which the Eternity of the future state will commence, is distinctly resolved into six parts; all differing materially from each other in their respective qualities ; and separated from each other by events, of the most decisive and appropriate descriptions. These are,
First, that space, during which the Roman Empire was PAGAN, and which was continually, in a greater or less degree, a season of depression and persecution, to the Church of Christ.
SECONDLY, the interval between the time, when, under Constantine the Great, Christianity became the established Religion of the Empire, and the Church enjoyed a season memorable for its tranquillity,—and that, at which the Bishops of Rome attained the title, and assumed the power, of @CUMENICAL OG UNIVERSAL Bishops; when the remarkable period of the “ one thousand two hundred and sixty (prophetical) days,” or natural years, had its beginning.
THIRDLY, that long and dreary season, which intervened between this last-mentioned date, and the completion of the Reformation in England, in the sixteenth century.
FOURTHLY, the time which will elapse, between
this firm Establishment of the Reformed Religion, and the close of the one thousand two hundred and sixty years above mentioned.
FIFTHLY, that, which will succeed the close of this prophetic period, and extend to the end of the Millenium ; and,
SIXTHLY, the comparatively short season, which will have to elapse, between the conclusion of that happy period, and the termination of the general Judgment.
Of these portions of duration, it is evident, that the three first have long since expired; and that the fourth is nearly expiring, not requiring, now, more than thirty-seven years, for the completion of the one thousand two hundred and sixty.
And all that vast variety of events and circumstances, which are detailed in this Sacred Book, will be found, as far as they have hitherto taken place, to have been noted in their proper places, according as, in the lapse of time, they have occurred respectively in one or other of the past divisions of this great period. But the undeviating accomplishment of the prophecy, in those portions of it which relate to what is past, is a sure pledge of its fidelity and certainty as to what is to come : and thus, by a suitable attention to
" the Words of this Prophecy,” and to the prevailing “ signs of the times” which are therein described, well-informed Christians, in every age since it was written, might be easily able to ascertain, what portions of the prophetic scenery corresponded with the times in which they were living; and might thus be led to form the most just and exalted ideas of the God of Prophecy and Truth.
III. But, besides this mode of dividing the whole period, comprehended in this grand scene of Prophecy, according to the leading, and most prominent events prefigured by it, there is also an emblematical mode of doing it, which is specially pointed out by the Book itself. For, with the exception of that part of it which succeeds the close of the one thousand two hundred and sixty years, it is resolved, by a septenary arrangement of SEALS, TRUMPETS, and Vials, into a number of successive and well-defined portions, in the following order :
The opening of the first six SEALs, in regular succession, displays to view the principal characteristics,
1. Of the reigns of Nerva and Trajan ;