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AN EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE
THE APOCALYPSE has now been before the world 1770 years. Since it's first. appearance among the Seven Ecclesias of Asia Minor there have been various short expository notices of certain parts of the prophecy by some of the earlier overseers of the Christian community, who flourished from about the middle of the second to the middle of the third centuries ; such as Justin Martyr Irenaeus Tertullian, Hippolytus, and the pseudo-Sybilline Oracles. The earliest essay at a systematic exposition of this wonderful and ingenious prophecy now extant, is one by Victorinus, overseer of an ecclesia at Pettau in Pannonia; who was put to death in the period (of the Fifth Sea], or "ten days' tribulation " of the Diocletian persecution, from A.D. 303 to A.D. 313.
The next hundred and sixty years, extending from the accession of Constantine to the wounding of the Sixth Head of the Beast, and the manifestation of the Seventh Head upon the Seven Hills, several scribes belonging to the Laodicean Apostacy, enthroned by Constantine as the religion of the Roman State, bestowed upon their contemporaries some bewildering speculations, by which the prophecy was intensely darkened. These were the ecclesiastical historian Eusebius ; the tutor of Crispus, murdered by his father Constantine, the chief bishop of the Apostacy named Lactantius; Athanasius, Hilary, Cyril, Euphrem Syrus, Ckrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, and Tychonius, who was said to be a Donatist, reclaimed from Donatism by Augustine.
After these came certain Latin expositors, named Primasius, Bede, Ansbertus, Haymo, Andreas, Arethas, and Berengaud. These flourished from the wounding of the Sixth Head, and in the period of the rising of the Ten Horns, to A.D. 1,100. These were no more luminous in their expositions than their predecessors. They failed to discern the signs of their own times; and, either endorsed the foolishness, or made more manifest the impenetrable obscurity, of them that preceded them.
Anselm, Joachim Abbas, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, the angelic doctor," Pierre d'Olive, and Walter Brute, followed after them; and set to their hands in the work of making darkness visible. They had no misgivings as to the divine origin of the Apocalypse. In this Luther, " The Great Father of the Reformation," who came after them in the 16th century, was not in the same assurance. He had doubts of the genuineness of the Apocalypse as an apostolic or inspired book; though he came at length when he perceived how it might be wielded against his, late master the Pope and papacy, to hold his doubts in abeyance, and presumptuously to venture upon its exposition. But this " great father " made out no better than the Laodiceans who preceded him. The " Mighty Angel," says he, " with a rainbow and a little bitter book, is Popery; the. open book being that of papal law,-,, given to John to eat ! " The Seventh Head he supposed, to be Spain; while the three frog-like spirits depicted papal sophists, like Faber, Eck, and Emser, stirring up opposition to what he called gospel. His conceptions of the Millennium were as cloudy as those of Jerome and Augustine, who could see nothing in it but the triumph over Satan in the hearts of true believers! In short, to men in the fog, even the truth itself is foggy Nit where The light within is not darkness, all things are bright and resplendent. Jerome. Augustine, and Luther did not understand the truth as it is in Jesus." nor the voices of the Old Testament; it was impossible, therefore, that they could discern the import of the Apocalypse, which is " the Mystery of the Deity as lie hath announced file glad tidings to his servants, the prophets " -- Apoc. 10:7. Luther was a useful anti-papal element of the Earth that helped the Woman " in her tormenting witnessing against "the god of the earth;" but, as a guide to the blind, and a teacher of babes, in the way of salvation; or an expositor of apocalyptic mysteries, his incompetency was only second to the Pope himself.
In the 16th century also appeared is apocalyptic expositors, Bullinger, Bale, Marlorat, Foxe, Brightman, Pareus, Ribera, and Alcasar. Bullinger interpreted the ascent of the witnesses of the ascent of their departed spirits entering Paradise! He dated the Millennium from Christ's ascension; or from A.D. 60, when Paul speaks of the gospel "having been preached to every creature under heaven;" or from A.D. 73, the date of the destruction of Jerusalem. In either case, of course, it has long since passed away. Bate commenced it at Christ's ascension. From these two may be learned all. It was only a question between them of more or less foolishness. Ribera and Alcasar were Spanish Jesuits who sought to expound the Apocalypse so as to deliver the Papacy from any identification with its symbols. Alcasar's Commentary was the result of over forty years' study; but a worshiper of the beast might study it twice forty years, and at the end thereof his speculations would not be worth the paper consumed. The true meaning of the Apocalypse is accessible only to the Brethren of Christ, and the fellow servants of the apostle, who keep the sayings of the book. All others will prove but vain and fanciful theorists with whom the secrets of the Deity are never found.
Next after the era of the Lutheran rebellion against papal authority came Mede, Jurieu, Cressener, Bossuet, Vitringa, Daubuz, Sir Isaac Newton, Whiston, and Bishop Newton. Mede first published his Clavis Apocalypltica in 1627, and his Commentary in 1632. He was regarded by his contemporaries in England as a man almost inspired for the exposition of apocalyptic mysteries. And assuredly in comparison of all his predecessors who had written upon the subject, lie was a great light shining into thick and incomprehensible darkness. In several important points he much advanced the science. He interpreted the prophetic periods on the year-day principle; made the resurrection and ascension of the witnesses an ascent to political eminence; made the Sixth Head under which John lived, the Imperial Caesars; adopted lateinos as the Beast's name and number, explained the sun of the fourth vial of the German Dynasty, as the chief luminary in the Papal Imperial system; indicated Rome as the throne of the beast upon which the fifth vial would be poured; interpreted the drying up of the river Euphrates of the exhaustion of the Ottoman power; and coincided with Justin, Irenaeus, and others of the earliest date, in the first resurrection, being the literal resurrection of the saints to be developed on Christ's coming to the Antichrist's destruction; after which the Millennium will be introduced. This is quite refreshing after all the absurdity to be waded through in the writings of fifteen hundred years.
Jurieu, who wrote in 1685, indicated the death of the Witnesses as occurring in that year; and that they would lie dead and unburied in the street of the great Papal city, or empire, which he judged to be France, where, of course, their resurrection and ascension would ensue.
Cressener seems to have been the first who, in my judgment , rightly, in 1690, concluded that the Seventh Head was the Ostrogothic, which continued but a short time: the Eighth being the revived secular imperial, confederated with a Roman ecclesiastical head, somewhat as under the old emperors; that is, the secular Western Emperors combined with the Popes. The Image of the Beast lie makes to be the Roman Church, and the name lateinos.
Vitringa's exposition was no improvement upon Mede, Jurieu,
and Dr. Cressener. He was a spiritual Mllennialist, whose
future age was to be characterized by a thorough of the world,
by what lie regarded as "the Church," which would
then answer to the New Jerusalem! Alas, for the world if its
evangelization depend upon the ecclesiastics of Vitringa's
church! He was a very learned man, and well versed in the
wisdom current hundred and fifty years ago; but in apocalyptic
intelligence, his wisdom was the foolishness of a babe.
Whiston, Sir Isaac Newton's successor in the Mathematical Professorship at Cambridge, combated the opinions of others without shedding upon the subject any particular light of his own, save that the seven vials ought to be deemed contained in, and the evolution of, the Seventh Trumpet.
When the great French Revolution caused the astonished world to shake to its foundations, a shock was given to the minds of men whose vibrations have not yet subsided. The murdered witnesses, slain by the sanguinary Bourbons, had started into life, and ascended into political eminence, as Mede had taught his readers to expect. This, and the coincidence also, that this ascension was exactly 1260 years from the epoch of the delivery of the saints into the hand of the episcopal element of the Little Horn by Justinian, in A.D. 533; all concurred in arousing some to a renewed and earnest study of the prophetic word. Prominent among these was Mr. Bicheno, who published his "Signs of the Times" in 1793. His writings were interesting, though abounding with many speculations proved fallacious by the lapse of time. One thing, however, he did which should not be forgotten. He showed that the three days and a-half daring which the two witnessing prophets were to lie unburied in the platea of the great city, should be interpreted as three lunar days and a half of years ; and that firieit. therefore, was right in his conjecture that their death ensued, A.D. 1685.
Since Mr. Bicheno's time several writers on prophecy have risen up. Of these may be mentioned Irving, Faber, Keith, Cuninghame, Frere, Bickersteth, Elliott, and others. But I am not aware that they have added anything that would at all increase the intelligibility of the Apocalypse. 0f this I am well assured, that from the days of Justin Martyr in the beginning of the second century, to the publication of Mr. Elliott's elaborate commentary, there has been produced by no writer, a systematic and thorough exposition of the Apocalypse that will stand the test of scripture, history , and reason enlightened by the truth. If there ever were such a work, it is certainly not, extant. A perusal of' a digest of their apocalyptic speculations, has convinced me that none of them, from Justin Martyr to Elliott, understood the. prophecy. With no other guides to the blind than these, it is not to be wondered at that men should give the Apocalypse the go-by, and, with a reviewer in a London weekly, conclude " that nothing is more ridiculous than for any one to arrogate to himself the power of interpreting the prophecies contained in Daniel and the Revelation; being convinced that it would require as divine and miraculous an inspiration to interpret and apply those prophecies as Was necessary to utter them." This is the conviction of' the general public, which, like the public of the third century that had no ear for what the Spirit said to the ecclesias, pronounced it " without sense and without reason ;" and denied that it was even a revelation. If so, then the man That composed it was the most extraordinary genius of the ancient or modern worlds. But it is not necessary I to defend the Apocalypse at this crisis. The Constitution of Europe for the past thousand years which it so accurately exhibits, is evidential of its inspiration. It was revealed to be understood by the uninspired : and that it can be understood by them is proved to a demonstration by the three volumes of Eureka, which are now, through the munificence of a few CHRISTADELPIANS, who desire to understand this neglected portion of' "the Word," and have confidence in the author's ability to expound it, in the hands of their fellow-servants and brethren. I claim no "divine and miraculous inspiration;" yet, I maintain, that whatever failures others may, learnedly have accomplished, the exposition I have given in these three volumes, however "ridiculous" and " arrogant" it may be considered to affirm it, cannot be set aside by a fair and candid appeal to the testimony of Jesus, political geography, and the truth of history.
Since the publication of the second volume, and even since the writing of the third was finished, events have, been progressing steadily and stealthily to the appointed end. The most striking characteristic of the times is the neglect, or indifference to, tending to the repudiation of, the Public WOMEN OF EUROPE, apocalyptically styled "the Mother of Harlots, and all the Abominations of the Earth." The women with whom the Lamb's Virgins are undefiled : Apoc. 14: 4. Behold the changed policy (it the Two-Horned Beast of the Earth since the overwhelming defeat of its hosts at SADOWA. This power, that formerly gave life to the Image, enabled it to speak, and caused that as many a, would not worship it should be killed, has now taken almost at I the life out of it, so that it can no longer speak in terror to the worshipers of the boost in all the Austrian Empire. Territorial continuity with " St. Peter's patrimony " being interrupted, through the intervention of the revolutionary 'kingdom of Italy, the Concordat, the political bond between " His HOLINESS " and "His Apostolic Majesty," is dissevered, and the worshipers of the beast are freed from the audacious inspection. and profane decrees, of the "EYES like the eyes of a man and tile MOUTH speaking great things and blasphemies." inspired by "the Spirit of the Age," which is "the Spirit of Life from the Deity" that entered into the slain prophets, who ascended to power in 1789, the Reichsrath, or Imperial Legislature of Austria, practically abolished one of the seven sacraments of the Church of Rome in authorizing "civil marriage." Besides this, it proclaimed "liberty of worship" to all sects; and has taken tile education of the people out of the hands of an accursed priesthood, and given it to schoolmasters of their own choice. By the Concordat the Roman Pontiff King, was above the emperor in all the spiritual affairs of the Austrian Empire; throughout which, all such things were "given into his hand" as absolutely as when Justinian made him "Head over all the Churches" of his estate. But behold how great a reverse of fortune hath befallen the "UNIVERSAL BISHOP" in this False Prophet section of his dominion. What doth all this mean? What else than that the 1335 and 1260 years of his ascendancy from the times of Justinian and Phocas, are come to an end; and that he is doomed no longer to "practise and prosper" to the ruin of the saints, and the quenching of the Spirit of' the Age; which is a spirit of liberalism, and of democratic hostility to the old order of things in Church and State -- a spirit that may be impeded, but cannot be extinguished till the manifestation of THE ANCIENT OF DAYS.
Then, if we turn our attention to Spain, the "Most Catholic," from which the virtuous and immaculate ISABELLA, the last of the infatuated and atrocious Bourbons, the ensanguined murderers of the saints, hath so recently been expelled, what see we there? Do we not behold the Spirit that rose and ascended to power in 1789, notwithstanding all its misfortunes, and frequent discomfitures triumphant in 1868? The virtuous, pure, and most catholic daughter of His Papal Holiness, his last and most devoted friend among the Ten Horns, driven into exile at the end of the 1335 and 1260? A letter front Spain to La Liberte, dated Sept. 22, says: "Isabella has lost her throne. She seized it in 1839, supported by the Spanish Liberal party, which in 1837, made her proclaim the Constitution, which suppressed les seigneuries, les droits des aines, and tithes. It was this party which caused her to sell the mortmain property, suppress privileges, shut up the convents, sending away with a pension 30,000 monks useless to the country, and hurtful to public prosperity. But as soon as the Queen was married to Prince Francis of Bourbon, in 1846, reaction gained the upper hand everywhere. All the conquests made by the Liberal party were lost again. In 1863, Conservatives, Progressists, and moderate Liberals, wished to resist the reaction. Marshall O'Donnell, the head of this party, recognized Italy, and promulgated several liberal laws in 1866. The Revolution was vanquished. O'Donnell could not profit by his success, for, to the great amazement of everybody, lie was suddenly replaced by Narvaez two days after his victory, Since then all the constitutional system has disappeared; and Spain is in the same condition as if Don Carlos and his ideas had triumphed in 1840.
"The Queen has become the humble servant of the Pope. All Spain nearly burst with laughter, when, a year ago, she read the papal letter announcing to the whole world that Pius 9 sent the 'golden rose' to Isabella, in recompense for her virtues and the purity of her life!
"The struggle has now begun between the Liberal and the reactionary party. Everything would incline one to believe that the latter will be beaten; for, in fact, the Liberal party, composed of all shades opposed to absolutism, form a very compact whole."
Here is the last pillar of the papal throne levelled with the dust. While yet upon the throne, the same correspondent wrote, "the clergy is above the Queen." But where will they be now that the spirit of '89 has driven into exile the humble servant and most catholic daughter of their UNIVERSAL BISHOP, the lambskin-invested wolf Of the Seven Hills? Will Louis Napoleon now be able to send 40,000 troops through Isabella to garrison. Rome and protect the Pope against Italy, while he combats Prussia for the Rhenish frontier of France? May we not rather expect that the Spanish section of "the Revolution" will ally itself with the Italian section, and revive the work with renewed energy of "hating the Harlot and making her desolate and naked, and eating her flesh, and burning her with fire?" Further developments will soon illustrate this point in the Roman Question; though it is not to be expected that Rome will become the capital of any other dominion than is enthroned there. No Ninth Head can constitutionally exist upon the Seven Hills.
And what see we in England? We behold there the Spirit of '89 in its British manifestation, carrying out the principle of hatred and desolation, of stripping and eating, in regard to the Anglo-Hibernian Harlot, a daughter of ROME, "Mother and Mistress of All Churches," and sister to those other "Harlots" of England and Scotland, "as by law established." This, hating, desolating, stripping, eating, and burning of eccclesiastical establishments has been a striking characteristic of the past seventy-five years. The abolition of the Gallican harlot is "only a question of time." The world will progress until the ignorance, superstition, hypocrisy, and spiritual wickedness in the high and low places of old, worn out, ANTICHRISTENDOM, shall come to be abolished by Christ and his Resurrected Brethren, whose apocalypse is soon to be revealed. With all these signs of the times before the faithful, well may they rejoice and lift up the head; for assuredly "their redemption draweth nigh."
In conclusion, as the Corsican remarked concerning the leadership of his victorious hosts, "it is the hand of God that leads my armies;" so, when I consider the difficulties surmounted in the development of this Exposition, I may truly affirm, that the power of the Deity has performed the work. The labor has been diffused over twelve years; but, if I had not well understood "THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM," which "is the Power of God," I might have contained in my earthen vessel all the lore of ancient and modern times, and consumed twelve years thrice told in the study of its mysteries, yet should I have signally failed, and have had to confess with Dionysius, "that great bishop of Alexandria," as Eusebius styles him, that the words of the Apocalypse were "too lofty to be comprehended by me." I have been careful to treat nothing as non-essential or unimportant because of apparent difficulties. The work is now finished by "the power" aforesaid through my instrumentality -- a work concerning which it may be said in the words of an old Roman exile, Exegi monimentum perennius aere: this generation may not appreciate it, but one in the future will.
The following is my scheme of the prophecy to be studied in connexion with the Chron. Tab. in Vol. I., p. 428, and the Tab. Analysis, Vol. 2. P. 96.