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church throughout all the world,” collected in every age :- for the time of these interluded visions, I repeat, is indefinite. They have palms in their hands; this denotes, that the season of their consummation is symbolized – the season until which the martyred souls beneath the altar were told that they must rest - is now in the view of the prophetic Spirit. That the hundred and forty and four thousand symbolizes all the redeemed from among men — the number of the elect completed, or soon to be completed - is corroborated by chap. xiv. 1, &c.
10. “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”
This ascription of salvation, in the usual style of prophecy, implies, that salvation, final deliverance, and victory, are already, in anticipation, theirs :
11. “ And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen; blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."
The angels, observe, surrounding the throne, and them that stand before it, sing this song of praise and congratulation. But why, it may be asked, do not the cherubim and elders join in this song? I should say, because this glorious company is but another emblem for the same thing as the cherubim with the elders -- they both symbolize the church triumphant: the latter are included, at least, in the same mystic hundred and forty and four thousand that have the seal of God upon their forehead; and who these are, is beautifully described to us in the closing part of the vision :
; 13. “ And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these that are arrayed in white robes ? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, or any heat. For the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them into living fountains of water, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Notwithstanding the nominal changes in the world below, tribulation was still the lot of the faithful followers of Christ. The many did but cleave to them with flatteries, and in the midst of a world that called itself Christian, they still were found the objects of hatred and persecution. What had been foretold to Daniel soon began to manifest itself in the professed church : “ And some of them of understanding,”— or, “who cause to understand, Christian teachers,” — “shall fall to try them,”-or, “by them,” — " and to purge, and to make white, even to the time of the end." The first very extensive corruption in the church, that deceived them that had not received the love of the truth that they might be saved, was the Arian heresy. This struck at the fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith, and, by immediate and inevitable consequence, overthrew the doctrine of the atonement: by which doctrine we are taught to regard “ the church of God” as that " which He hath purchased with his own blood,”*-- the incarnate Eloah himself becoming a Lamb
• Acts, xx, 28.
for a burnt-offering. Thus we find that the faithful, under this first prevailing corruption in the outward church, are distinguished, in the passage before us, as those who held and realized the atonement in the blood of Christ, — “ They had washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Hence their right and title, and sure possession of everlasting happiness.
The Seventh Seal.
We now return to the narrative of the prophecy which we are considering. The last chapter stopped us in our course, and permitted us to ascend the hill of vision, where it disclosed to our view a distant prospect of the land of promise. We must now descend to resume our journey towards it; travelling through the epochas and eras of history, which will lead us at length to the great day of Christ's appearing and kingdom.
Chap. viii. 1. “ And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”
This short silence seems, from the order of events in history, to denote the interval of peace enjoyed by the new modelled empire. “ The latter part of the reign of Constantine was peaceful and splendid. Both Eusebius and Lactantius celebrate the peace and tranquillity at that period enjoyed throughout the world.
Daubuz observes, that some medals of Constantine are still preserved, with the head of the emperor on one side and
this inscription, ConstanTINUS AUG.; and on the reverse, BEATA TRANQUILLITAS.” 1
“ 2. And I saw the seven angels that stood before God, and to them was given seven trumpets. And another angel came, and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given him much incense, that he should offer it up with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand; and the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth; and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake; and the seven angels that had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”
We are still admonished that the imagery of the vision is similar to that of the Jewish sanctuary. The throne of the Most High is the mercy-seat. The altar, the angel with the censer, the incense, and the golden altar, are all emblems of the propitiation through the sacrifice and intercession of Jesus Christ. The prayers of all saints, presented with the memorial of that acceptable sacrifice, appears to me, like the cry of the martyrs in a former vision, to represent the prayer of the universal church for the coming of the day of Christ. There is a voice that comes up before his throne, as our Lord has taught us, from his injured people continually: “ And shall not God avenge his own elect that cry unto him day and night?” The symbolical act of casting fire from the altar upon the earth, and the effects produced, seems intended to represent, that the judgments to be poured out upon the Christian world, are to avenge the
cause of God's covenant, the corruptions of the times, and the oppression of his servants. We are now to attend to these judgments, which the angels, with their trumpets, are to announce in order.
The First Trumpet. 7. “ And the first angel sounded, and there followed hail, and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth, and the third part of trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up." The next great event that produced important changes in the Roman world, was the invasion of the Goths and other barbarians. Their point of attack from the north, their multitude, and the destruction that they made by fire and sword, in the fairest provinces of the empire, well answer to the symbols of the prophecy. It is, indeed, a singular coincidence that both poets and historians should see something in the irruptions of these barbarians on the civilized world that suggested to them the same metaphors. Claudian compares them to a storm' of hail ; ? and the infidel historian who is our chief guide to the interpretation of these prophecies, more than once employs the same metaphor to illustrate their devastations; and I think I discover, in the page of Gibbon, the meaning of the prophecy, when it designates “ the trees” and “ green grass” as suffering the greatest injury from this desolating storm: for it will appear, from his narrative of the invasions of the Goths under
· Claudian de Bello Getico, ver. 173.-DAURUZ.