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the iron reign of the Man of Sin. upon he made the cross the standard In this group of symbols the sacrifi- of his army. But as he was not then cial character of the Lord's supper, a professor of the Christian faith, his and the veneration amounting to friends, if not entirely, were chiefly idolatry of the cross, are made the Pagans. How, then, can we explain leading features of the Apostasy, the fact, that an army for the most which, headed by Constantine, de- part composed of Pagans consented feated the pagan party, and became to fight under the cross, and at a time the national religion of the Roman when its followers were suffering a Empire. Living, direct, and simple severe and almost exterminating perfaith in the God-man crucified, or in secution in those parts of the Empire His propitiatory life and death, which, not under the government of Constanwhen rightly viewed and deeply felt, tine? This can only be accounted imparts the profoundest conceptions for by supposing that the general feel. of the heinous and inexcusable na- ings of the Empire were fåvourable ture of sin, are here thrown out of to Christianity.

Constantine saw, view, whilst puzzle and mystery be- and acted upon this, and as success wilder and darken the mind, reduce crowned his choice, he was emreligion to form, will-worship, and boldened first to tolerate all religions, superstition, and impede effort in the but afterwards, finding that Paganism way of true vital and elevated godli- and Christianity could not exist toness.

gether, he determined to make the We have, here, therefore, the Con- latter the only religion of the Empire. stantinian church set up in the fourth But what effect had the measures of century. The Lamb symbolised the Constantine upon the Church? It leading error in the church, and the was no careless observer of his stansymbols of horns and eyes the Divine dard, much less was it ungrateful, ordinance of civil government. What that he was enabled by it first to proother errors, whether of doctrine or tect, and then disposed to profess practice, already existed in the Christianity; and though perhaps, thus Church, will be disclosed by the rup- far he followed his own suggestions ture of the seals, which did not merely, yet when he required all his originate but only let loose and subjects to profess the new religion, sanctioned what had been long held and divided the Church into patriarand observed. As the rupture of the chies, answering to the four civil divi. seals occupied all the time that Con- sions of the Empire, he was probably stantine took to subdue his enemies guided by the leading members of and rivals, it is highly probable that, the Church.* In conformity with during such interval, these errors in this view, an Elder declares beforethe Church grew both in number and hand that the Lamb shall open the in flagrant intensity.

book, or give freedom to the Church. "And when he had taken the book, But on renouncing the worn-out suthe four beasts and four and twenty perstitions of which as Emperor he elders fell down before the Lamb, was pontifex maximus, and making having every one of them harps, and Christianity the national religion, he golden vials full of odours, which are probably regarded himself as its suthe prayers of saints. And they sung preme and governing head. Nor a new song, saying, Thou art worthy would this be disavowed by the to take the book, and to open the Church. As early as in the second seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and century the bishops held provincial hast redeemed us to God by thy blood councils, which soon originated a difout of every kindred, and tongue, and ference of rank and consideration people, and nation ; and hast made in the episcopate,-the bishops of us unto our God kings and priests ; Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria being and we shall reign on the earth.” especially regarded with deference. (Verses 8-10.)

Then also began the mischievous apWe learn from history that Con- propriation of Jewish terms to the stantine laid before his friends an account of his dream and vision, where

* Gibbon, chap. XX., p. 468.

Christian Church, by designating On resuming the Divine service, bishops, high priests; presbyters, the four beasts and twenty-four elders priests; and deacons, Levites. Hence here acknowledge that the Lamb made as a matter of course, sprang up soon them official kings and priests unto afterwards the far greater error of re- God, but in chap. iv. it is implied only garding the Lord's Supper as a literal that the elders are priests, but here and true sacrifice. These evils very they declare that they are both kings much increased in the third century, and priests; and this is still more and no person promoted them so much strongly confirmed in that they are as the great and excellent Cyprian. not provided each with his own harp Such a state of things was favourable and vial,

but each has harps and vials. to the measures of Constantine. If, Why? Evidently because they offihowever, covetousness—if supreme ciate not for themselves alone but for love of the world is idolatry, our con- others also, and as no such office duct is of the same character when under the Gospel has existed, either dependence is transferred to human in heaven or upon earth, except the power. “Cursed is the man who royal and priestly office of Christ, it trusteth in man." But was the Church is just of that objectionable character aware that it was guilty of idolatry which was established in the Conby its incorporation with the Empire ? stantinian Church. That the serNo, certainly not. God's most de- vice also takes place on earth and voted servants probably regarded not in heaven is undeniable. Had Constantine's interposition as 'a gra- there been vials only, we might justly cious providence for the benefit and infer that the definition given of them enlargement of the Charch. They is used in its loosest sense for prayer hailed his measures with joyful accla- generally, which includes praise, but mations, and entertained the most harps and song forbid such a general sanguine hopes of an approaching notion, and oblige us to restrict the millennium of universal Christianity. former to deprecation, and the latter This is intimated in the verses under praise and thanksgiving. But the consideration. No sooner did the union of the two is an earthly, not a Lamb (the Empire Christian) take heavenly service. This is still further possession of the sealed book (sealed confirmed by the character of the song, by the Pagan part of the Empire) that it is new, which cannot describe than the Church broke out into a the novelty alleged to Christianity song of joy, confidence, and exultation when first announced, for at the time and said, we shall reign upon the of the scene it was at least centuries earth.” But though God's servants old, but must denote something new, then sanguinely looked for the rapid when compared with the Gospel set conversion of the world, such were up by Christ and by His apostles. the corruptions then in general fa- The vision evidently points to novelvour, that the union was prejudi- ties which hitherto had no existence. cial rather than helpful to the in- Now, the Church of Constantine exterests of true religion, and hastened actly answers to this description. on the coming and foretold apostasy. Never was a greater change than It was not the cause of the down- what he brought about-never did a ward tendency of the Church, it only superstition more truly deserve progave an impetus to what already ex- phetic reprobation and exposure. It isted. This great departure is here was, indeed, new when compared with brought before us. The worship of that at the opening of the vision; for the four beasts and twenty-four elders, if chapter iv. was Jewish in its chain chap. iv. 8-11, was addressed alone racter, it was neither superstitious to God, but here, on resuming the nor idolatrous; but Constantine's was suspended worship, the Lamb en- both, and was composed of evils which grosses, if it does not entirely absorb, could not be too highly reprobated, the attention of the Church. Here is and were not likely to be passed over dependence on the civil power com- by prophecy. bined with the worship of God and of It is remarkable that the four the sacramental elements.

beasts, which I have supposed to be

the civil power under Christianity, was present to John's senses was a are here official priests, confirming symbol, and cannot be taken literally, my theory, that the priesthood very these angels are not inhabitants of soon appropriated all power, both heaven, but members of the visible civil and ecclesiastical, to itself. Church. Nor am I deviating from

No writer of the New Testament the New Testament generally or from uses the word "redeemed," whatever

the principles of the vision itself. In Greek word it stands for, in reference the first part of the prophecy we are * to heaven, but always to describe expressly told that the angels of the something on earth. No violence, seven Churches are human agents. therefore, will be done by such an But even the Gospels and Epistles application of it here. Nay, what use this term figuratively, when it is authority have we to give it any other

entirely surrounded by the literalities meaning ? Even John himself else

of prosaic and earthly life. Take where uses it in this sense. In chap- the following instances :—The two ter xiv. we have two contemporaneous men sent by the Baptist to Christ are events—the downfal of Popery and in the original termed angels ;* so is the propagation of the Gospel. The

the Baptist himself, “Behold I send chapter opens with the worship of the

my messenger”ť (angel); the disciples Reformed Church : the song is new, sent by Christ to a village of the new to the world long accustomed to Samaritans, “ And he sent by mesPopery, and understeod only by the

sengers "I (angels); and finally, so redeemed. And who may these be ? are the two men sent to Jericho and They are with the Lamb on Mount

sheltered by Rahab. But if this Zion, listening to God's worship there word is often used figuratively, in established. They are virgins, or letters and history, what other sense uncorrupted by the spiritual idolatry is it likely to bear in a vision, the surrounding them. They follow the

greater part of which is evidently Lamb whithersover He leads them.

symbolical, and where the prophet They are the first-fruits of that era, who witnessed it, representing events just as the apostles were of the Chris

which took place after his death, was tian dispensation. What are these himself, in those instances at least, but descriptions of an earthly service, if not in others, a symbol ? Who, and how can they with any propriety then, are intended by the multitude apply to heaven proper? If, indeed, before us? I reply, the laity of the they do, then must the angels (chap. Church. And the term angel was xiv. vers. 6-8) preach the Gospel in highly significant when so applied. heaven proper, and not in the meta- In what light were laymen regarded by phorical heaven, the visible Church.

the spirit of innovation and apostasy But this cannot be. We have here,

then prevalent and growing? As its therefore, the redeemed in the mili

servants. It was not, indeed, denied tant Church ; for if St. John uses the

that they were brethren and members term in this sense in one part of the of the Church ; they were not, howprophecy, he may likewise do so in

ever, so much regarded as brethren the verse under consideration.

as property ; for the term Church was “And I beheld, and I heard the

generally restricted to the priesthood, voice of many angels round about the whilst the laity held a position much throne and the beasts and the elders :

more ambiguously defined. and the number of them was ten

(To be continued.) thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands ; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb THE MUCH-NEGLECTED BOOK ; OR that was slain to receive power, and A PLEA FOR THE BIBLE. riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." (Verses 11, 12.)

Two questions will naturally suggest Following the principle I have

themselves to every inquiring mind. adopted, as the only consistent rule * Luke vii, 24. + Matt. xi. 10; Mark i. 2. of interpretation, viz., that whatever # Luke ix. 52. James ii. 25.

BY J. G. SPARKES.

1. What book is referred to ? 2. for its power is irresistible, whilst the Against whom is the charge brought humblest mind has been marvellously of neglecting it? The answer given upheld and supported, the afflicted to the first question is this : viz.--the quickened ; an influence, we affirm, book of which we complain being which it makes the devoutest student neglected, we will not say, altogether know, feel, and own; for it can condespised, is no ordinary book ; but a vince the unbeliever, convict the very extraordinary one. It is of very gainsayer, and, at the same time, ancient date. In fact, the oldest console the backslider, and comfort the extant. It is not only very old; oppressed and persecuted child of God. but it is the best, yea, the very best Where, then, we ask, is there another book in the world. Its author was book to be found of equal magnitude not any human person ; but a Divine

and power? Search every library person—not man—but God. Written throughout the universe, and we ven. by the finger of Deity and with the ture to say its like can nowhere be pen of inspiration. A volume, there- discovered. It is the ordinary means fore, of such an high and holy of conversion. (Ps. xix. 7.) It is the character-stamped with such an vast instrument for the evangelisaauthority, demands the most solemn tion of the world. By the Word of respect, and the greatest reverence. God souls are born again. It is the In a word, the book alluded to, is none medium of light to the spiritually other than the Bible. It is the book blind. (Ps. cxix. 130.) It is Jehovah's of books ; for there is not another to proclamation of love and mercy to be met with equal to it, for beauty of guilty man,—the record of His rediction, or sublimity of style, or vealed will. Learn it well, that thou simplicity of language. It deals mayest know how to do it. with subjects of the highest moment. It is the potent lever which raises It should not be taken up lightly and the moral as well as the spiritual tone laid down at will. It has reference of society. It is in fine, the most to eternity; and the deep things of complete and precious thesaurus of an eternal world are its theme; there- all true piety. For what has made fore, the person reading or studying men wise, holy, and good, and powerit, should read it as for eternity. Of ful? What, but the Bible ?

Yea, its excellency, too much can never be what has made England the first in said.

civilisation ? what, but the Bible? The exclamation of the Queen of Yes, she owes her greatness, grandeur, Sheba to Solomon, when she had seen and glory, to the adoption of Bible the manifestation of His wisdom, principles, and that alone. It were power, and greatness — “Behold," indeed an insult to God, and derogasaid she, “the half was not told tory to the Bible, to say that the me," may, with equal propriety be altar, and not the Bible were the applied to the Holy Book. In praise safeguard of the nation.

Such an of it, none can speak too bighly; utterance is the effect of a disordered nay, none can ever eulogise it enough. mind,—the ebullition of a feverish It has that of which no other book brain. What the material sun is to can exult. Not only does its great- the natural world, so is the Bible to the ness of matter, and dignity of title, moral and spiritual world. It gives exceed all other books ; for it is rich, light, warmth, life to the soul. Yes, not high, and holy, and yet so simple, like the moon, which only shines with that it is not beyond the weakest a borrowed light, but rather like the mind to comprehend. Yes, a child of sun, illuminating the dark parts of the ordinary capacity may understand earth with its own bright beams. the blessed truths it contains. Beyond How could the preacher, the Scripthis, it possesses that within itself, ture reader, or the missionary do which no other book does ; viz. an the Lord's work without it? Iminherent power, yea, an energy which possible. What, again, we ask, none can gainsay or resist (Heb. iv. would the Christian do without this 12); under whose force giants of chart? How could he traverse the mighty intellect have been prostrated; road to glory, or reach the land of immortal bliss ? Surely, then, we prevail; for it is impossible to dismay say, that, next to the great gift prove that of which a person is of God's eternal Son, it were the conscious of to himself. best, richest, the most glorious boon, In proof, a champion of this stamp yea, the highest behest ever bestowed once boasted to a Scripture reader, on man by his beneficent Creator. that he had been often visited by Such, and much more, is that blessed clergymen and others, but no one of all books, the Bible. It is the had been able to convince him that pastor's text-book of theology, his the Bible was true. “You know," was flock's richest treasury of knowledge the earnest appeal of this man of God -the Church's safe guide-book to to him ; " you know what I once was ; heavenly wisdom-the believer's pass- you see what I am now-a Christian.' port to glory. Ye who possess this This was too much for this Goliath treasure, prize it; sell it not; but keep of infidelity “ You have done me," it as your heritage for ever and ever. were his emphatic words. To return;

Let us hasten, in the next place, to our purpose is not so much with men show that this blessed book is much of that class, but rather with others neglected by many, This charge of a more hopeful character. Our it is feared, may be brought against desire is, if possible, to speak to the those who possess the precious life- conscience. Oh, may the arrow of giving word, as well as against those conviction, by the power of the Holy who do not. Now, however startling Ghost, enter into that chamber of the the statement may appear, yet, it is soul! Be it remembered, that this is nevertheless true, as we shall pre- how God works with man now. To sently prove.

That it should be inform the mind and yet never reach disregarded by the irreligious and the conscience, were worse than useprofane, is no wonder; that it should less. This, surely, should be the aim be so frequently made light of by the of every Christian teacher; and yet, professing Christian, is a thing to be at the same time, he should endeawondered at. That it should be so vour to speak the truth in love, and is surpassing strange. One can well from his own heart to that of another, imagine why the infidel, for instance, for--as saith the “wise man”—“As the scoffer, the sceptic, and the free- in water face answereth to face, so the thinker should despise it. The reason heart of man to man." (Prov. xxvii. is obvious. If it were a book written 19.) Having said this much, turn for him, rather than what it is,- we now to establish the charge which against him,-then would he love it, is brought not only against the nonand write in its defence and not Christian, but also against the proagainst it. Be this as it may, yet fessing Christian. even he is sometimes compelled to It is an axiom in law that every own that it differs from all other man is innocent until proved guilty. books, both in point of doctrine and Now what is the real nature of the authority; though he is at a loss to case? Let us first state this,—that know the cause. It is a fact, much we do not say, 0 Christian, that thou to be deplored, that, in all ages there altogether despisest the Book, but that should have been found persons who thou dost not esteem it so highly as have written against it, both in the thou oughtest to do. Permit a few Church and out of her. To their questions to be asked of thee. Hast shame be it spoken; yet all their thou learnt to look upon it as the attempts to lower its dignity, power, ultimate court of appeal in all matters and influence have, as well might be touching thy eternal interest? Hast expected, proved fruitless. Miracles not thou rather gone to other books and fulfilled prophecy are the argu- for wisdom and counsel ? Like ments generally brought forward to King Asa, who, in his sickness, prove its divine authority ; but we “sought not to the Lord, but to the are apt to think that a much weighter physicians.” (2 Chron. xvi. 12.) To reason might be given ; viz.: that of the traditions of men hast thou gone experience. Other evidences may fail for advice, and with what result ? to convince the doubter, but this will Has thy mind been relieved under

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