« AnteriorContinuar »
the internal state of the true Church during the prevalence of the completed Apostasy'.
While pursuing this topic, it predicts the ultimate universal preaching of the everlasting Gospel, as synchronising generally with the fall of the mystic Babylon: and it divides those successive troubles, which take place at the time of the end or during the effusion of the seventh vial, into two grand classes, the harvest and the vintage of God's wrath ; teaching us, that the winepress shall be trodden in a certain country, the space of which extends 1600 furlongs.
Having thus cleared the way by this prefatory statement, I shall proceed to consider at large the contents of the little open book, according as it naturally divides itself into five parallel sections : the vision of the two witnesses ; the vision of the dragon and the woman; the vision of the tenhorned beast from the sea ; the vision of the twohorned beast from the earth; and the vision of the Lamb with the hundred and forty and four thousand saints.
" Rev, xiv.
RESPECTING THE FIRST SECTION OF THE LITTLE OPEN
BOOK, OR THE VISION OF THE TWO WITNESSES.
The first of the five parallel sections, into which the little open book divides itself, comprehends the vision of the two witnesses.
I. Of this vision, the first clause is couched in a strain of symbolisation evidently borrowed from the antecedent prophecies of Ezekiel and Zechariah · And there was given to me a reed like unto a rod : and the angel stood, saying ; Rise, and measure the temple of God and the altar and them that worship therein. But the court, which is without the temple, leave out, and measure it not ; for it is given unto the Gentiles : and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
In this first clause of the prophecy, three particulars are set forth to be considered : the holy city, viewed as comprehending the temple with its outer court; certain persons denominated Gentiles, to
See Ezek. xl. xli. xlii. Zechar, ü. 1-5. · Rev, xi. 1, 2.
whom the holy city and the outer court are given up during an allotted period of 42 months; and certain other persons, who are said to be measured while the Gentiles are contradistinctively left unmeasured, and who are described as faithfully worshipping God within the precincts of the temple.
1. The period, during which we are to look for the accomplishment of the present vision, is expressly specified to be the famous period of those three times and a half, which constitute the latter moiety of the seven times. For the holy city is to be trodden down by the Gentiles during a term of 42 prophetic months : and 42 prophetic months contain 1260 prophetic days: and 1260 prophetic days are equivalent to three prophetic times and a half or 1260 natural years.
Hence the holy city, here spoken of, cannot be the literal Jerusalem : because the treading down of this holy city is limited to 1260 natural years ; whereas the treading down of the literal Jerusalem by the literal Gentiles has already continued more than seventeen centuries'. But, if the holy city here spoken of cannot be the literal Jerusalem, it must of necessity be the mystical Jerusalem or the visible Church of Christ limited however (as the subject of the entire little book is limited) to the geographical platform of the Western Empire.
2. This mystical holy city is to be trodden under foot by certain mystical Gentiles, as the literal holy
I Luke xxi. 24.
city is trodden under foot by the literal Gentiles : for, if the holy city, in the present vision, be mystical; the Gentiles, who tread it down, must no doubt be mystical also.
Now the identical period, during which the mystical holy city is trodden down by these mystical Gentiles, is that period mentioned by Daniel, during which the times and the laws and the saints are given into the hand of the Papal little horn. Hence, the treading down of the holy city by the Gentiles, and the oppression of the saints by the Papal little horn, are throughout synchronical.
The present clause declares, therefore, that the visible Church of Christ in the Western Empire should be trodden down by certain persons figuratively denominated Gentiles, during the same period as that throughout which the times and the laws and the saints are given into the hand of the Papal little horn.
Such being the case, the Gentiles, who tread down the holy city, must plainly be the adherents of that western little horn, who obtains and exercises a synchronical sovereignty over the saints. Consequently, if the western little horn be the Papacy, the adherents of that little horn must be the adherents of the Papacy: for the whole of the little book, as its contents abundantly shew, relates altogether to the affairs of the western third part of the Roman Empire ; that is to say, the affairs of the Latin Empire in the West.
The question then is, On what account, or with what propriety, are the papalising Christians denominated Gentiles or Pagans ?
To this question it is not difficult to give a satisfactory answer. The adherents of the man of sin are the main upholders of the great Apostasy : and the great Apostasy itself consisted in a lapse, from the primitive simplicity of the Gospel to the ancient demonolatrous Paganism of the Gentiles exhibited under a new appellation and tricked out in a slightly varied attire. Of ancient Paganism the basis was the worship of the demon-gods or hero-gods : and these personages were no other than the souls of illustrious mortals, canonised after death? Of the modern Apostasy in the Christian Church the basis is the worship of a new race of demon-gods or hero-gods, as they are expressly styled by St. Paul in his prophecy respecting this identical lapse from the genuine Gospel?: and these personages, like their predecessors of Greece and Rome and Egypt, are the souls of illustrious mortals canonised after their departure from this world. The resemblance, in short, is so strong between the ancient and the modern Gentiles, that, as it has been elaborately pointed out by a great expositor, so it could not fail to be noticed by a great historian. Mr. Gibbon, simply stating a naked matter of fact, re
· Hesiod. Oper. et Dier. lib. i. ver. 120–125. Cicer. Tusc. Disp. lib. i. § 12, 13. Hor. Epist. lib. i. epist. 1. ver. 5_12. See my Origin of Pagan Idol. book i. chap. 1.
9 Tim. iv. 1-3.