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“ The Book of the Apocalypse may be considered as a PROPHET continued in the church of God, uttering predictions relative to all times, which have their successive fulfilment as ages roll on : and thus it stands in the Christian church in the place of the succession of Prophets in the Jewish church. And by this especial economy, ProPRECY IS STILL CONTINUED, is ALWAYS SPEAKING; and yet a succession of Prophets rendered unnecessary.”
“ To attain this useful end of Prophecy—which is, to afford the highest proof of Providence—it was necessary that prophecy should be delivered in such disguise as to be DARK while the event is remote, to CLEAR UP as it approaches, and to be rendered PERSPICUOUS by the accomplishment."
BEFORE we enter upon the subject to which this work more immediately refers—which is CHRONOLOGICAL Prophecy-it will be found of material advantage briefly to turn our attention to the SYMBOLICAL VISIONS OF THE APO
It was not, indeed, my original intention to notice these any further than as they stand connected with chronological periods, and then only in the most cursory manner. Finding, however, that so disconnected a view of the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials would give but a very imperfect idea of the important bearing which the different kinds of prophecy have upon each other, I felt myself called upon, after otherwise finishing the manuscript, to make them, in a more particular manner than I had hitherto done, the object of study, and to form the best judgment in my power respecting their interpretation
In the prosecution of this task, I adopted a similar plan to that which I had previously followed in treating of the chronological prophecies ; and studied the structure and pecu
liarities of those symbolical visions, both of Daniel and St. John, of which the interpretation seemed unquestionable, for the purpose of applying the axioms, thus deduced, to those which were confessedly of a more doubtful and difficult character. These axioms I conceive to be, chiefly
First, That, on all occasions, these prophecies refer to the most important eras in history, and generally to the rise and fall of kingdoms, or great ruling powers : such, for instance, as the successive rise and fall of the four great empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome; the overthrow of Darius by Alexander the Great ; and the rise and fall of Popery and Mohammedanism.
Secondly, That these eras always relate to events which have a marked and decisive influence on the affairs of the church. In exemplification of this remark it may be noticed, that all the great wars and battles which have taken place without the pale of the Christian world, or which have not materially affected the church, have been passed by unnoticed.—And,
Thirdly, That prophetical eras have always a reference to PERMANENT CHANGES, and not to events which relate to the common course or existing state of things. On this account the exploits of Ilannibal, the Crusades, as well as the victories and conquests of Tamerlane, though
they were events of such high importance at the time, and make such a figure in history, are likewise passed over : they left things as they found them.
In order to convey to the reader, as clearly as possible, those ideas which have been suggested to my mind as the result of the method above stated, I have constructed a second chart, on which are laid down the various Apocalyptic visions, according to what I believe to be their respective dates. It will be perceived, by a reference to this chart, that I consider the seven Seals and the seven Trumpets as descriptive of TWO distinct series Of EVENTS, running in nearly parallel lines, and extending their influence more or less over the whole empire. This difference of character, in fact, I consider to be so complete, as to render it impossible that the two series of events could have been represented by any one set of prophetic symbols; and, therefore, that it was a matter of absolute necessity that a double set should be employed.
The first OF THESE SERIES, being given unde the emblematic representation of the opening of seals, has a reference to those great events which were to receive the stamp of legitimate authority, or, in other words, the seals of established empire.
THE SECOND SERIES, on the contrary, being given under the opposite emblem of the sounding of