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over this event,—the only event into the time of which we may not curiously pry, nor even presume to say that we have discovered it: for it is written, “ of that day, and of that hour knoweth no man.” The perfect certainty of the event, the entire uncertainty when, is God's own device for keeping his church in a continual state of expectation, looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. But besides this, it is accordant with the frailties of man's faith, and with God's kind accommodations thereto, that he should not suspend it upon one promise of the coming event, but add thereto signs of its coming, in a series of revelations which as they occur might fill the church's heart with more and more assurance, and produce an ever-accumulating mass of evidence, even unto the end. It was so with the first promise, “ The Seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent,” which opened more and more into its accomplishment: and why it should not be so with the promise of his coming again, which became a new form of the promise when he had come once, I cannot see any reason to suppose, but all the contrary. That he should come again is as much the palladium of the church, and her morning-star of hope since his resurrection, as that he should come at all was from the beginning of the world. It is most natural, reasonable, and accordant with God's purpose, that this our hope should be opened under the conditions of time, place, and circumstance, as was that of theirs. And if so, where should these conditions be found, but in the book which is expressly given for that end? If any wise man will reflect upon it, he will discover that without such a setting and enchasing in the conditions of time, and place, and succession, any object of distant hope will always drop away into an ineffectual and idle saying, like those local prophecies which you find in all parts of the country,—those guesses at prognostication which are handed down by tradition. God, to deliver the great objects of hope, his special truths of prophecy, from such an uncertain faith, doth make all things work together to their accomplishment; and in his inspirations doth set out, with such a distinctness as is proper to hope, the great events which draw on the great conclusion." I say with such distinctness as is proper to hope ;
because we are not to look for that degree of minute in. formation as to a future thing, that we have as to a thing past ; otherwise all liberty of action would be taken away. The operation and the advantage of the hope would be lost, if perfect distinctness were given to the object hoped for. An object of my hope acts upon me, and influences me the one way or the other, just because it is not certain, so far as I am concerned, until I take measures to make it so. The liberty of my action is an element in the accomplishment of every object of hope ; which liberty would be taken away if the object of hope were fixed, as to its manner of accomplishment, with that iron certainty with which the manner of events past is fixed. In order, therefore, to bring this hope of the Lord's coming again to be operative upon the church during the ages which were to intervene, a succession of great events, all ending in the consummation, is given. This succession is always sevenfold; seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials; and the consummation always is the coming of Christ, to which the precedent events are but the signs for keeping the faith of the church. The seventh always brings Christ, the former six prepare the way of his coming. This is true both of the seals and of the trumpets, which are a nearly parallel succession of events. And the seventh of each contain the period of the coming of the Lord. And that this event might be the more distinct, that period is again subdivided into seven parts, which are the seven vials, whereof the last brings the Lord in the destruction of Babylon, and the others lead on to it. But, it is not for the purpose of entering into details that we introduce this subject here ; and therefore let this suffice.
From this short sketch of the substance and method of the Revelation it must be manifest, that though the coming of Christ to destroy his enemies, and to give the kingdom to his saints, be the proper object of the book, yet doth it contain, in a way subsidiary and subordinate thereto, all the events whatever which Christ hath been doing upon the earth, or God doing by his means, from the time of his ascension until now, and which he is to do from this time till the time of his coming again. This book, therefore, in respect to its subject matter or substance, may be said to consist of these two parts; the signs ushering in
Christ's Second Advent, and the Advent itself. Of these two portions the latter is by far the more important, and to it the former is subsidiary. But it would be a great mistake to conceive of it as being, therefore, secondary ; for those signs do consist of a series of events, from the time of Constantine until this day, demonstrative of Christ's Headship of the church, and supremacy over the state ; and setting forth the various attempts of Satan against this Melchizedec-priesthood, and God's successive judgments for the same, within the bounds of the fourth kingdom of Daniel, which is the Roman empire, where the church hath had her chief battles to fight unto this day. To Christendom, therefore, doth that historical succession of events, leading on to the judgment of Antichrist, and the coming of Christ, serve the very same ends of consolation and support, which the Jews derive from the historical prophecies of the Old Testament, whereof they are the rightful heirs, as we Christians are the rightful heirs of the prophecies of the Apocalypse. But in like manner, as by reason of the typical and antetypical relation between Jews and Christians, the Old Testament is as profitable to us as to them ; to them literally and carnally, to us spiritually and typically; even so hath the Apocalypse an indirect relation to them also, being written in the language of the events described or foretold in the Old Testament. This is a very nice matter, and requires no little elucidation, which I shall endeavour to give it ; thereby exhibiting another view of the subject matter of the Apocalypse, and shewing its intimate relation to, and dependence upon, and exposition of, all the prophets whatsoever.
The Jew and the Christian can be as little separated as the body and spirit of a living man; and, like these two constituents of a living man, neither can they be confused or mixed up with one and another, but must be treated of as distinct, though co-essential to life. And as the sense, and the faculty acting by the sense (which is the understanding as distinguished from the reason), do give the only language through which spiritual truths or ideas of reason can attempt to express themselves ; even so the events of providence and ordinances of religion whereof the Jewish people were the subjects, and which are re. corded in their religion, their history, their law, their polity, their psalms, do present us Christians with the only language which is at all adequate for the expression of those spiritual truths which are our peculiar and proper treasure. The language of the New Testament is no more than the appropriation of Jewish words to spiritual ideas ; for example, redemption, baptism, sacrifice, atonement, propitiation, eating of flesh and blood, imputation, substitution, prophet, priest, &c. &c. But far beyond the power of particular examples is the fact that the psalmody of every Christian church chiefly consisteth of the Jewish Psalms, almost all of which have the most in. timate reference to the history of that people. It ought not therefore to astonish us to find the sublimest book of the New Testament written entirely, or alınost entirely, in the language of the Jewish history, either the past or the prophetical. Such a book is the Apocalypse, as we shall fully justify in the sequel of these lectures. There is not an ordinance of any prominence in the Jewish system which hath not here its exposition in spiritual and invisible truths. The tabernacle, the altar, the candlestick, the cherubim, the court of the Gentiles, &c. : the high priest, the king, the redeemer, the sacrifice, the redemption of land, the redemption of the wife, are all most prominent objects in the typography of the Apocalypse, being as it were the types with which it is imprinted. Again, the events of their history; their coming out of Egypt, their wilderness-wanderings, their deliverance from Pharaoh the dragon in the waters, their imprisonment in the strong. hold of Babylon, and their deliverance thence by the Lord and his sanctified ones, &c. &c.; these events are not only used in the Apocalypse, but the various passages, historical and prophetical, of the Old Testament which have reference to them are, as it were, diligently ransacked for striking and characteristic words and expressions, which are wrought into one beautiful Mosaic, arranged according to the interpretation of the Holy Spirit of truth. And not only so, but the most conspicuous and famous of the prophecies of the Old Testament which point to things future, in the history of the Jews ;-as, for example, their being sealed against the judgments which fall in consuming destruction upon the Gentiles; their being brought up from the valley of dry bones, and raised as it were from the dead; their looking upon Jesus whom they have pierced, and mourning with a godly sorrow and penitence; their being assailed in their own land by Gog and Magog; their becoming the nation of kings and priests upon the earth; their inhabiting their New Jerusalem of holiness, with the waters flowing forth from it to heal the nations ;-all these, and a vast deal more of the like glorious prospects of that people, are liberally used in the Apocalypse to express the parallel conditions of the spiritual seed of Israel, the regenerated sons of God, who have their mystical Babylon to be delivered out of, their mystical dragon to escape from, their first resurrection to wait for, their reign with Christ upon the earth, and their city of the New Jerusalem which cometh down from heaven. And what is of higher importance still, the offices of our Lord and Saviour, his present High Priesthood within the veil, his present royal dignity at the right hand of his Father's throne, his right as the Redeemer of his bride and of her inheritance, his future action as the man of war, his future enthronization upon the earth, and all other his functions, during his absence and during his presence, are here set down in the terms of the Jewish polity, which was for this as its chief end constructed of God. So that upon the whole, without going into further particulars, we may say that the Apocalypse is the key of the Old Testament; the revelation of things which, though revealed, were hidden, until this book should be given to open them, and which therefore is commanded not to be sealed. And besides this, there are all the predictions of the New Testament, concerning Christ's coming and the signs of it, the harvest and the vintage, the mystery of iniquity and antichrist, the bruising of Satan under our feet, the acts of Michael and his angels, and many more hints of things which receive their full development in this book. Then to all this must be added a regular succession of events within the bounds of Christendom down to the present time, which give veracity to the prophecy, and prevent its being rejected as a visionary set of conjectures, or treated as a grand mystical poem for the embodying of sublime ideas.