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the things to be done at Christ's second coming, are not only for predicting but also for effecting a recovery and re-establishment of the long lost truth, and setting up a kingdom wherein dwells righteousness.
“ The event will prove the Apocalypse; and this prophecy, thus proved and understood, will open the old prophets, and all together will make known the true religion and establish it. For he that will understand the old prophets must begin with this; but the time is not yet come for understanding them perfectly, because the main revolution predicted in them is not yet come to pass. In the days of the voice of the seventh Angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets : and then the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and he shall reign for ever. There is already so much of the prophecy fulfilled, that as many as will take pains in this study, may see sufficient instances of God's providence: but then the signal revolutions predicted by all the holy prophets, will at once both turn men's eyes upon considering the predictions, and plainly interpret them. Till then we must content ourselves with interpreting what hath been already fulfilled.”
Having thus explained the principles, on which it appears that we ought to be guided in the examination of the Apocalypse, we will next proceed to the examination of the prophecy itself.
2 Rev. x. 7; xi. 15.
upon the Apocalypse of St John,
EXAMINATION OF THE PROPHECIES OF THE APOCALYPSE.
PART I. SECT. I.
The Opening of the Apocalypse. THE Apocalypse opens with a degree of solemnity, which is highly becoming the character of this book, as containing the last and closing series of prophecies, connected with the final accomplishment of the dispensations of the Almighty relative to the great scheme of man's redemption; and with a dignity which is eminently calculated to bespeak attention to the awful subjects which it contains.
The opening portion of the Apocalypse may be divided into three parts:
I. First, that which contains the title or inscription of the Book.
II. Secondly, that which contains the address or message to the seven churches of Asia, to which this portion of the Apocalypse is more particularly addressed.
III. And, thirdly, the glorious appearance of the Redeemer himself, and his commission to the Apostle St John.
CHAP. I. 1-3. 1. (1) The opening of the Apocalypse is as follows:
“ The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant
EXAMINATION OF THE PROPHECIES,
John; who bare record of the Word of God, and of the tes- 2 timony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed 3 is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
This book is here, in the very opening of it, designated by its title, “ The Revelation of Jesus Christ;" who is at once the Author and the great Object of the Prophecy. But he is said, moreover, to have received this Revelation from “ God the Father, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass;” by which are meant those important events connected with the church and kingdom of the Redeemer, which, beginning from the time of the delivery of the prophecy, shall follow in rapid succession until their final consummation'. This is in perfect agreement with the whole scheme of the Christian revelation, which is mediatorial throughout; and in which the Son, though equal in knowledge and in power to the Father, is constantly represented in Scripture as receiving both from Him?.
It was in this power that the Redeemer made his most astonishing revelations, and performed his greatest miracles: and it was in virtue of that universal power which was given unto him after his resurrection“ in heaven and in earth,” that he gave his commandment to his Apostles to preach the Gospel to every creature'.
It was also, in like manner, from Him, the great Author and Object of prophecy from the beginning, that the Apostle of the Apocalypse derived his sacred commission to declare the important events, which it was his especial province to foretel; and by his
See Woodhouse, Grotius, Vitringa, Mede, Daubuz.
? John iii. 35; v. 19, 27; viii. 28, 38;
xiv. 6, 10; Phil. ii. 9. Compare Woodhouse ad locum.
3 Matt, xxviii. 18–20; Mark xv. 16.
authority he pronounced this blessing on “ him that readeth, and those that hear the words of this
prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein: because the time is at hand?.”
II. The second division of the opening part of the Apocalypse contains the address or message to the seven churches of Asia.
CHAP. I. 4-8. “ John to the seven churches which are in Asia : Grace be unto' you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and
which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before 5 his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,
and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of
the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our 6 sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto
God and his Father ; to him be glory and dominion for ever and 7 ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye
shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds 8 of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am
Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come,
the Almighty.” Such are the terms in which the message is conveyed to the churches from the Eternal Father, who is, and who was, and who is to come; from the Eternal Spirit', and from the Redeemer himself; who is here represented under the glorious titles of “ the faithful witness, the first-begotten from the dead, the prince of the kings of the earth.” By the first of these titles he was spoken of prophetically by Isaiah"; such he was eminently in the last scene of his earthly life, when before Pilate he witnessed a good confession*; and such he also describes himself to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans," the faithful and true witness'." ” But He is also spoken of as “ the first-begotten from the dead,” with reference to that prophetical declaration of his resurrection, which God made by David, when he said of him, “ Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee“;" and in conformity with the doctrine of St Paul, who, speaking with reference to the Redeemer, says of him, that he “ was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by his resurrection from the dead?” Moreover, he is entitled “the Prince of the kings of the earth.” Such is the prophetic character of the Messiah in other parts of Scripture; and such he is declared to be in the sequel of this prophecy, when he appears as a triumphant conqueror, “and hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
1 With regard to the particular import of this expression, see Woodhouse ad locum.
2 See Woodhouse ad locum, pp. 9_15, 16, 17. The remark of the Ve
nerable Bede on the passage is as fol-
3 Chap. lv. 4.
“ So that this salutation to the churches,” to use the words of Dean Woodhouse, “ divested of its prophetical form, and of that imagery which had been derived to it from the scenery of the vision, will be found equivalent to the epistolary and plainer language of St Paul,— The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you”.?”
But why, in this passage, is the general order of Scripture inverted ? Why is the Holy Spirit mentioned before the Son ? “ This,” as has been observed by the same excellent commentator, may be in part accounted for from the impression remaining upon the imagination of the writer, after he had
5 Chap. iii. 14.
6 Chap. xix. 16. See Woodhouse ad locum.
9 2 Cor. xiii. 14. Woodhouse ad locum.