« AnteriorContinuar »
whole of chapters xii., xiii., and xiv. ;--this important vision doth chiefly concern the church, which is set forth, first, by a woman, and then by a select company of one hundred and forty-four thousand standing upon Mount Zion. And her circumstances are laid out by the church-symbols of the wilderness, the beast like a lamb, the harvest and the vintage, being introduced with a command to measure the temple and them that worship therein. Now the great question always is, What doth it reveal concerning Jesus Christ? This will, as in the former cases, be best understood by observing the manner of his appearance, which is given x. i: He descends from heaven “ clothed with a cloud ascended, and is to come again (Acts i.); "and a rainbow upon his head,” which was given to Noah as the sign of the covenant which God made with men for the safe possession of the earth, and the preservation of all flesh thereon, Gen. ix. 9-17. This rainbow-assurance of the earth's perpetual safety from the destruction of water, is seen surrounding the throne of the glory of God in heaven, both by Ezekiel i. 28, and by John iv. 3, to signify that God remembereth his covenant with man for the earth; and the seven-sealed book, which imparteth the title to the inheritance he hath in his right hand. This book, the Lamb (Representative and Saviour of all flesh) having received and opened, he becomes proprietor of the earth; the true Noah, the Redeemer of the inheritance, whose work of presenting spotless flesh upon the cross, and rising again immortal, being foreseen, obtained for Adam, and Noah, and Abraham, and every other man, those terms of favour which God was pleased from time to time to give. Christ, the Purchaser and the Possessor and the Bestower of all redemption, being come, the sign of the covenant becometh his by right; and from around the throne the rainbow passeth to encircle his person, and shew that he is the invested one, who shall yet inherit and possess all things. I think that the open book in his hand doth likewise point him out to be the Redeemer of the inheritance; who (Jer. xxxi. 10-13), according to the custom, was possessed both of a sealed and an open book. The sealed book
а be receives in the presence of the elders (ver. 9), in virtue of being the Redeemer; and now he presents himself with an open little book. Whether this be the sealed book now opened, or whether it be the other form of the evidence of the purchased redemption, is not at present to be inquired into; nor doth it affect the great result, that Christ appears at the head of this fourth vision in his character of Redeemer of the inheritance, clothed with all the rights thereof; and bent on the very purpose of taking possession of it. For he sets his one foot upon the earth, and his other foot upon the sea, and proclaims the age of time concluded, and the eternal age begun. Now, as we have already observed, though these visions of Christ's glory be set forth by a suc. cession of acts, commencing from Constantine's time, this is only to keep attention alive and carry it forward to the great ultimate act, which attendeth upon Christ's coming or revelation ; in the symbols of which he is always arrayed at the head of every vision;-at the head of the first, as the Lamb receiving in the presence, and with the adoration of all creatures, the title-deeds of universal creation, and exalted into the fellowship of the Father's throne; at the head of the second, as the High Priest on the day of atonement, which is the redemption of the church out of her thraldom by the destruction of her enemies in the day of his appearing. And now at the head of this the third of the visions of future things, he is represented as coming in power and great majesty to take possession of the earth which he hath purchased and delivered. Accordingly, at the close of that vision (xiv. 14) we find that he comes seated on the cloud, to gather in the harvest of his people, and with his feet to tread the wine-press of the wrath of Almighty God. We say, therefore, in general, that the object of this fourth vision is to present us with Christ, as the Head of the church and the rightful Proprietor of the inheritance, coming to chase out of the earth every Antichristian pretender to the supremacy, and to bring himself and his church into the glorious and everlasting possession thereof. Accordingly, the great enemy of God and man (Rev. xii. 9) appears in three Antichristian forms; that of ch. xii. and ch. xiii. and ch. xvii., being, as we shall shew, the Roman empire in its Pagan, its Papal, and its Infidel conditions, of which we have already seen two complete, and the initiation of the third under Napoleon, but wait for its completion in another mightier and more terrible than he, just about to arrive. Satan, embodied in the first of these three forms of Rome and its ten dependent kingdoms, doth set himself against the church represented as a woman, whose seed or man-child – Christ not personal but Christ mystical, at least so many of the church as suffered under Paganism - doth overcome him, and work a straitening of his condition, and a confinement of it to the earth. He then takes to himself the artifices and subtleties of superstition, and in the form of a lamb doth counterfeit the true church, and guide the beast into the utterance of all blasphemies and the commission of all cruelties whatsoever. Meanwhile Christ, by means of his church set forth during this Papal period of one thousand two hundred and sixty years, by the symbol of the Jews in the temple, contradistinguished from the Gentiles in the outer court and city (xi. 1), and also by the one hundred and forty-four thousand on Mount Zion (xiv. 1), who are the same as the sealed tribes (vii.), being, as we shall shew, a Protestant church and nation which had been redeemed from the Papal earth (xiv. 4); no other, indeed, than this British nation ; by means, I say, of the British church-nation which hath been in a state of Protestantism during all the period of the Papacy, and not from the time of Luther merely, Christ doth maintain his cause in an embodied form, fitted to withstand and counteract the embodied error in the other Papal kingdoms acting under Rome. And for this service our nation hath had the singular grace of being sealed from all the chastisements of infidelity inflicted Papal Europe for nearly thirty years. When the infidel form of Antichrist shall appear again in the glory of its strength and make war with the Lamb (xvii. 14); by whom the standard of the truth shall be upborne, it is not now the place to say expressly, because, being a future thing, it needeth much care to present it in its due form; but I may just hint, that I believe this honour
I is reserved for the kings from the East, for whose march I believe the way to be even now preparing, by the drying up of the waters of Euphrates, or the wasting away of the resources of the Turk, who for six or seven centuries hath held Israel's inheritance in his thraldom, and spread himself like an impassable river between the Ten Tribes and their inheritance. However this may be, it is enough for this sketch to have said, that, during these three weary attacks of Antichrist, the church, in the strength of her Captain, hath maintained the post, and will maintain it, till He shall come, who will come and will not tarry.
There is another view of the contents of this little book, which I think myself justified in thus early submitting as confirmatory of the above, and well combining with it, and necessary indeed to its complete explication, and derived from a source altogether different, and therefore the more strengthening to the conclusion. This little book, out of which all the prophecies concerning the beast and the woman, or Antichrist and the church, cometh, is thus de. scribed, x. 9: “ Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey." And it is again repeated, ver. 10: “And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey : and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter." The particularity of this, without any use whatever of or reference to it afterwards, made me to suspect that an important link of connection was in it, like that so often contained in several other seemingly extraneous things in the Apocalypse; and being at the bead of the book, and characteristic of it, it seemed to me that it would have an importance proportionate to its place. Moved by this suspicion, whereof no one can estimate the force who is not well versed in the structure of the Apocalypse, I found that the same character belonged to Ezekiel's prophecy, and to it alone, at the head of which these words are written (ii. 9, 10; ii. 1, 2): "And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein : and he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. “ Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest ; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll." And the effect which it produced upon him in his belly, or inward parts, is thus described (iii. 14): “So the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.” This very remarkable coincidence led me to reflect a little more deeply upon the points of coincidence, between Ezekiel's
prophecy and this of John ; and I perceived that as this is expressly to the church and of the church, so Ezekiel is commissioned to the Jewish church, and to that only (iii. 4–6). Furthermore, I perceived this to be in one word the substance of Ezekiel's prophecy: The Schechinah or glory of the church (ch. i.), the argument for rem ng it away
from the children of Israel (iii-x.), the removal of it (x.), the desolate condition of the church in his state of privation and destitution (xi-xxxiv.), the preparation for its return (xxxiv—- xliii.) and its final return and perpetual abode amongst them (xliii-end): Ezekiel may be characterized as the prophet of the departure, the absence, and the return of the visible manifest glory of God to the Jewish church and nation. That the Schechinah, or glorious Presence which led the children of Israel out of Egypt, and settled with them in the most Holy Place of the tabernacle and temple, should be removed, was an event of such fearful import as must have entirely overwhelmed the church; but for the previous prediction of it by a prophet, to whom, this office being fulfilled, God gave to predict also the re-edifying of his temple, and the return of his glory thereto, never to depart from it any more. Returning with this information, which I believe to contain the true and characteristic honour of Ezekiel as a prophet, I find that the little book of the Apocalypse, sweet and bitter, hath exactly the same intention by the Christian church : which it first presenteth (xii. 1) in the glory of those resurrection-raiments with which Christ invested her in the days of Apostles, and which wore not out till after, by her body of martyrs, she had overthrown Paganism from the supremacy. Soon thereafter the glory departed: and the next vision represents that same woman who had fled into the dreary wilderness, to escape
rage of the beast, and had abidden there for 1260 years, coming right lovingly up thence as his paramour and his prostitute. This is the condition of the church with her glory departed ; under which, with the exception of the sealed nation, she has continued over all the ten kingdoms which are the bounds of this prophecy, during the twelve hundred and sixty years of the Papacy. This inglorious and adulterous church being removed by consuming judgments (forshe, being the free wife, cannot be treated by chastisement merely for