Author Topic: A history of apocalyptic interpretation  (Read 3051 times)


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A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« on: June 17, 2015, 07:21:05 PM »
I am posting this to show a scholarly attempt to record how the church through the ages interpreted the book of Revelation.  The early church disagreed on many things but there were somethings  which most agreed on and we should probably take heed of those as.  There was a post sometime ago which said Clement believed in a future temple and I said I thought he could be referring to the church as Peter and Paul both show that the temple is the church.  I also believe that Wesley referred to the same when he said "never more your temples leave."

The article is quite long and the author splits it into several periods starting with John to Constantine and ending with the French Revolution to the then current year, 1862. The first edition was in 1844.   I haven't as yet read all of it, but I hope to get around to if soon.


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2015, 07:24:06 PM »




IT will, I think, conduce to clearness, if we classify the Apocalyptic expositors whom we shall have to notice under the chronological divisions following: - 1. those between St. John’s publication of the Apocalypse, and Constantine’s establishment of Christianity in the Roman Empire; - 2. those from Constantine to Imperial Rome’s completed fall, and the rise of the Romano-Gothic kingdoms in Western Europe, ere the close of the 5th century; - 3. those between the epoch last-mentioned and the end of the 11th century; - 4. those from the 11th or 12th century to the Reformation; - 5. those of the æra and century of the Reformation; - 6. those from A.D. 1600 to the French Revolution; - 7. those from the outbreak of the French Revolution, A.D. 1790, to the present time. [1]


The earliest profest Apocalyptic Commentary extant is that by Victorinus, Bishop of Pettau in Pannonia; who was martyred in the Diocletianic persecution, just at the very ending of the period now under review. Before that time, however, various brief hermeneutic notices of certain parts of the Apocalypse had been given to the Christian world by some of the earlier fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and also by the Christian Pseudo-Sibyl: notices ranging in date from about the middle of the 2nd to the middle of the 3rd century; and which are too interesting to be past over in an inquiry into the history of Apocalyptic interpretation. I have indeed already partially noticed them, in my sketches of the æras or of the topics that they relate to, in the foregoing Commentary But I think it will be well here to present them again connectedly in one point of view, and somewhat more in full, as the fittest introduction to our whole subject. [2]

1. As regards the Pseudo-Sibylline oracles, - poems which were written and circulated under that title, through the pious fraud of certain Christians, about the middle of the 2nd century, - my readers will already have learnt from previous citations given from them in this Book, [3] that the destruction of Rome, the Apocalyptic Babylon, [4] was one prominent subject in them; and with ideas about it evidently borrowed from the Apocalypse. In Book viii, more especially, it is the burden of the song. And this will be found to be the idea of the writer, or writers, as to events connected with it: - that the destroyer Antichrist, himself of Latin extraction, [5] would be the first author of its ruin; this Antichrist equaling himself with God, and being (as is hinted [6] ) the Emperor Nero restored to life again, and now coming back from Asia in alliance with the Jews; but that the grand and final destruction would be by direct judgment from heaven. “Descending from on high thou shalt dwell underneath the earth; with naphtha and asphalt, and sulphur and much fire, thou shalt disappear, and become as burning ashes for ever. [7] And every one who looks on thee shall hear the deep sound of thy wailing from hell, and thy gnashing of teeth.” - Then, on Rome’s end, there would follow speedily, according to our Sibyl, the world’s end: [8] and then, on the opening of the first octad, [9] another and better world.

2 In Justin Martyr the chief direct reference to the Apocalypse is on the millennium announced by it; which, as we have seen, [10] he interpreted literally: - how St. John prophesied that believers in Christ would reign 1000 years with Him in Jerusalem, Jerusalem having been restored, enlarged, and beautified, agreeably with the Old Testament prophecies of the latter day; after which would follow the general resurrection and judgment. Further, in regard to Antichrist, though referring for authority more directly to Daniel, [11] yet it is evident that he considered the Apocalyptic ten-horned Beast, or rather its ruling head, to be identical with Daniel’s little horn of the fourth wild Beast; [12] and each and either identical with St. Paul’s Man of Sin, and St. John’s Antichrist: also that he regarded this Antichrist as still future, though at the very doors; as destined to reign literally 3 1/2 years; and as to be destroyed by Christ’s glorious advent. [13]

3. In Irenæus again these are the two chief Apocalyptic subjects commented on; and with just the same opinions respecting them as Justin Martyr’s. But his comments are fuller.

With reference more especially to the great subject of the Apocalyptic Beast, Antichrist, he directed his readers, as we saw long since, [14] to look out for the division of the Roman empire into ten kingdoms, as that which was immediately to precede, and be followed by, Antichrist’s manifestation. We saw too his jealousy that the true number of Antichrist’s name, 666, as in the most genuine manuscripts, not 616, as in certain falsified copies, should be well understood: also how he thought that, as being in some way of Roman polity or connection, (even though by birth a Jew,) Antichrist’s characteristic title, in fulfillment of the Apocalyptic enigma, might very probably be Aateinov, the Latin Man, seeing that they who then held the world’s empire were Latins; a name numerally equivalent to 666. [15] - The second lamb-like Beast Irenæus calls the first Beast’s amour-bearer; and also “the False Prophet,” as in Apoc. xix. [16] Under a notion of the Antichrist being a false Christ of Jewish origin, he fancifully suggests that the omission of Dan from those tribes of Israel out of whom an election was sealed, in Apoc. vii., might be an intimation of that being Antichrist’s tribe. [17] His idea of Antichrist sitting in the rebuilt temple of Jerusalem, and there showing himself as God, “setting aside all idols,” in order to concentrate men’s worship on himself, belongs to St. Paul’s prophecy of Antichrist, not St. John’s; and his idea of Antichrist’s 31/2 years being the half of the last of Daniel’s 70 hebdomads, not to St. John, but Daniel. [18] Again that of “Antichrist’s fulfilling the part of the unjust judge in St. Luke, by avenging the Jews of their adversaries the Romans, and transferring the empire to Jerusalem,” is altogether extra-Apocalyptic; and I must add very fanciful. Yet on this he mainly grounds his as yet peculiar opinion that Antichrist would transfer the seat of empire to Jerusalem, and there sit in the temple of God as if he were the Christ and God. [19]

There is yet another direct point of Apocalyptic explanation to be noted in Irenæus. We find in his 4th Book a passing notice of the white horse and rider of the first Apocalyptic Seal; and explanation of it as signifying Christ born to victory, and going forth conquering and to conquer. [20] This is quite a detached comment; without any reference to the contrasted symbols of the Seals following. - I may add too that he makes the Apocalyptic altar to be that on which Christians’ prayers and praises are offered in heaven, not that of the earthly Jerusalem. [21] And so again of the Apocalyptic temple.

4. Next turn we to Tertullian.

And on the subject of Antichrist, while agreeing with Irenæus in expecting his development chronologically after the breaking up of the Roman State into ten kings, or kingdoms, all in strict accordance with the Apocalypse, I see in Tertullian no intimation of his entertaining any such idea as Irenæus’ as to this Antichrist being a Jew of the tribe of Dan; or of his fixing an abomination of desolation in the sense of his own worship, in any rebuilt temple at Jerusalem. [22] Nor again does he, like Irenæus, refer to the last of Daniel’s 70 prophetic weeks, as furnishing out the time of 31/2 years to the two witnesses, and 31/2 to Antichrist. On the contrary he in one place elaborately draws out a sketch of the chronology, from the first year of Darius to that of Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans under Titus, to show that the whole 70 weeks were then fully completed, and the whole prophecy then accomplished. [23] And indeed it is evident that he regarded the 31/2 years of the witnesses and 31/2 years of Antichrist as one and the same; for in his view the death of the former was to be the death of the latter. [24] Moreover again and again he speaks of Christians, or the Christian Church, as God’s temple; [25] and in various places of heretics, awhile within the professing Church, as Antichrists and anti-christians. [26] - Yet again he distinctly notes the 144,000 on Mount Sion with Christ in Apoc. xiv. (the same of course with the 144,000 of Apoc. vii.) as the virgins of the Christian Church; [27] and consequently the sealed ones out of the twelve tribes as not Jews, but Christians. With the same anti-Judaic view he markedly speaks of the Apocalyptic New Jerusalem (though with the twelve tribes of Israel written on its gates) as Christian, not Jewish; the Jerusalem spoken of by St. Paul to the Galatians as the mother of all Christians. [28]

Turning to the Seals the first point that meets us is a passing notice of the rider in the first Seal; which symbol Tertullian seems to have explained like Irenæus. [29] - But by far the most interesting to my mind of has passing comments here are those on the 5th Seal’s vision of the souls under the altar, and that of the palm-bearing company, figured before the opening of the seventh Seal. [30] The martyrs of the former vision, he explains as martyrs then in course of being slain under Pagan Rome for the testimony of Christ: thereby distinctly assigning to the then passing æra that particular place in the Apocalyptic prefigurative drama. [31] The palm-bearers of the latter vision, that had to come out of the great tribulation, he identifies as that same second set of martyrs that had been predicted to the souls under the altar; - those that were to make up the martyr-complement by suffering under Antichrist, and so suffering to become triumphant, and attain Paradise. And hence chiefly he formed to himself an Apocalyptic plan, and “ordo temporum” in the prophecy: - how that before the judgment and vindication promised to the souls under the altar, the imperial harlot-city Rome was to be destroyed by the ten kings, (mark, not the ten kings and Antichrist,) after the vial-plagues had first been poured out on its empire: then the Beast Antichrist to rise, make war conjunctively with his False Prophet on the Church, and add an innumerable multitude of sufferers, during the tribulation of his tyranny, to the martyrs previously slain under Pagan Rome, Christ’s two Witnesses, Enoch and Elijah, specially inclusive: [32] then, Antichrist having been thereupon destroyed from heaven, and the Devil shut up in the abyss, the privilege of the first resurrection, and millennial reign with Christ, to be allotted to its chosen participants; and afterwards the conflagration to follow, in which fire the seven-hilled Babylon, with its persecuting princes and provincial governors, would meet their ultimate destruction and torment; [33] and the general resurrection and judgment.

As to the Apocalyptic millennium, Tertullian’s view will have been seen by the citations in my Millennial Chapter to be precisely similar to that of the two preceding Fathers. [34]

Altogether Tertullian’s is an eminently common-sense view of the prophecy; viz. as a prefigurative drama, in orderly succession, of the chief æras and events in the history of the Church and of the world, from Christ’s first coming, or near it, to his second. [35] Excepting his view of Enoch and Elijah as the witnesses, there seems to me little on which we might not even now join hands in concord with the venerable and sagacious expositor.

5. Next comes into review on this head Hippolytus, Bishop of Portus Romanus, now well ascertained to be the modern Ostia: [36] - one who was an immediate successor of Irenæus and Tertullian, indeed it is said Irenæus’ disciple; [37] and who suffered martyrdom, probably about A.D. 235, or 250, under the Emperor Maximin, or the Emperor Decius. [38] Jerome reports that he wrote a Treatise specifically on the Apocalypse, as well as one on Antichrist. [39] If so, the former has perished. But there is still extant a short Treatise purporting to be that by him on Christ and Antichrist, and with every mark of genuineness. [40] This includes in it sundry Apocalyptic notices of much interest; and I therefore give the following brief abstract.

After observing on God’s will that the mysteries of the future, foreshown by the ancient Prophets, or seers, should be concealed from none of his servants, he opens his subject by laying down strongly respecting the coming Antichrist, even as if his grand characteristic, (a view derived evidently in part at least from the Apocalypse, [41] ) that he would in everything affect resemblance to Christ. “The seducer will seek to appear in all things like the Son of God. As Christ a Lion, so he a lion, as Christ a King, so he a king; as Christ a Lamb, so he as a lamb, though inwardly a wolf; as Christ sent out apostles to all nations, so will he similarly send out false apostles:” [42] it being added that he would have also a similar connection with the Jewish people. [43] Then, after extracts from other Scriptures, and especially from Daniel’s two great symbolic prophecies of the quadripartite Image and the four wild Beasts, which he explains, just like the other Fathers, of the Babylonish, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires, and the little horn of the fourth Beast as Antichrist, he thus turns to the Apocalypse for information as to the fated end of both Antichrist himself, and his city Rome: - “Tell me, blessed John, thou apostle and disciple of the Lord, what hast thou heard and seen respecting Babylon: wake up, and speak; for it was she that exiled thee to Patmos.” [44] And then he gives in full the two Chapters, Apoc. xvii. and xviii., containing vision of her destruction. And, adding and interweaving other explanatory notices both from the Apocalypse and Daniel, he expounds the whole subject to the effect following: - that the last of Daniel’s 70 seeks, (for he insulates this last from the rest, in the manner stated below,) [45] that in which the Lord would confirm the covenant with many, and in the half of which would occur the taking away of the daily sacrifice and oblation, would fall at the end of the world: - that in the former half of it, or first 31/2 years, Enoch and Elias would preach as Christ’s two sackcloth-robed witnesses, the precursors of Christ’s second advent, as John the Baptist was the first; [46] include the rise and reign of Antichrist, his slaying of the Witnesses marking its commencement: - that of the two Apocalyptic Beasts the former, or seven-headed ten-horned Beast, [47] meant the heathen Roman empire, wounded to death by a sword; the other, or two-horned lamb-like Beast, Antichrist, inclusive of his False Prophet; who would revive as it were the image or ghost of the old empire, (such is his singular and ingenious interpretation of the giving life to the image of the Beast, and making it speak,) just as Augustus once did to it by his new laws and constitution; [48] and might thence very probably have Aateinov, the Latin Man, as his designative title, a name containing the fated number 666: [49] (the whole passage is every way most observable:) that meanwhile the Church, figured in Apoc. xii. as a travailing woman, because of daily bringing forth Christ (or Christ’s members) by her preaching in the world, [50] and clothed with the Divine Word, as the sun, and the starry crown of the twelve apostles, would, while the Antichrist established his abomination in the holy place, [51] flee to the mountains, pursued from city to city by him, and sustained only be faith in Christ crucified; his arms, extended on the cross, being like the sustaining wings of the great eagle in the Apocalyptic vision: - and that then, and thereupon, Christ’s coming would take place; Antichrist be destroyed by its brightness; and first resurrection of the saints follow; the just, welcomed by Christ, take the kingdom prepared for them (Matt. xxv.) from the world’s beginning, and, as Daniel says, shine forth in it as the sun and the stars; the judgment of the conflagration being meanwhile executed on unbelievers; and so Isaiah’s word fulfilled, “They shall go forth and look on the carcasses of the men that have sinned against me: for their worm dieth not, nor is their fire quenched; and they shall be for a spectacle to all flesh.” [52]

6. Next the name occurs of the famous Origen, Hippolytus’ contemporary; who has however left but little in his commentaries on Apocalyptic interpretation. [53] It may be well however to mark the three notices following.

1. Of the Apocalyptic book (Apoc. v.), “written within  and without,” he explains the writing without as the obvious literal meaning; the writing within as its spiritual meaning.

2. The 144,000, both in Apoc. vii and xiv., he explains as true Christians. [54]

3. Regarding the Antichrist whom he evidently identifies with the Apocalyptic Beast warred against by him that sate on the white horse in Apoc. xix., “the Word of God,” he strongly expresses his opinion, just like Hippolytus, as to the hypocrisy with which he would usurpingly ascribe to himself the titles, character, and functions of the true Christ. [55]

In passing on, the names of Dionysius and Nepos occur about A.D. 250, known in connection with the Millennarian controversy, and so with the Apocalypse and its genuiness; on which points, however, I have before spoken at the beginning of the Work. [56] Of these there is no need to speak now. - I proceed therefore,

7thly, to Victorinus; the author, as before observed, of the earliest profest and continuous Apocalyptic Commentary now extant; and who died by martyrdom under the persecution of Diocletian. His Commentary is noticed by Jerome, who speaks of it as one of millennarian views. [57] And hence has arisen a doubt as to the genuineness of the Treatise still extant, that goes under the name of Victorinus’ Treatise on the Apocalypse; containing as it does, at its conclusion, a distinct anti-millennarian declaration. [58] But the objection vanishes on examination; for various indubitable millennarian intimations occur in the body of the Commentary: [59] and the anti-millennarian passage is an evident interpolation by another hand, probably Jerome’s own; [60] as well as one or two shorter passages elsewhere. [61] Moreover in Ambrose Ansbert I have observed a reference to the true Victorinus’ statement on a rather singular point; which precise statement we find in the extant Commentary. [62] - In the edition given in the Bibliotheca Patrum Maxima, now before me, there is the farther disadvantage of transposition of various parts of the Comment from their right places. But the Apocalypse itself makes the rectification of this easy, as Victorinus’ is evidently an orderly Comment on it. - I have only further to premise, that the work is very short, occupying but seven folio pages, or fourteen columns in the Bibliotheca, Vol. iii. pp. 414-421. Of these fourteen columns, three and a half are devoted to the Apocalyptic introductory Vision and Epistles to the Seven Churches; three more to the Apocalyptic scenery; four to the Seals, Trumpets, and Witnesses; two to the Vision of the Dragon and the two Beasts; and one only to all the rest: herein well agreeing with what Cassiodorus says of it, that it only explained the more difficult passages. [63] - I now proceed to give an abstract of it: and this somewhat at large, as due to its chronological interest.

At Its opening Victorinus dwells on the particulars of Christ’s first appearance to St. John: - his head and hair white marking the antiquity of the Ancient of Days, for the head of Christ is God; and perhaps with reference, in the wool that it is compared with, to the sheep his members, in the snow to the multitude of baptismal candidates, white as snow-flakes from heaven: his face as the sun serving not only to express his glory, but the fact of his having risen, and set, and risen again in life on this world; his long priestly robe marking his priesthood; his zone the golden choir of the saints; his breasts the two Testaments, whence his people’s nourishment; and the sword from his mouth his preached word, by which men shall be judged and Antichrist slain: his voice being likened to many waters with reference not only to its power, as that of many people, but perhaps too to the baptismal waters of salvation issuing from him; and his feet to brass glowing from the furnace, in reference to the apostles purified in the furnace of affliction, by whom he walks as it were in his preached gospel through the world. - Then, after a short notice of the Epistles to the Seven Churches, (which seven he explains as representatives of the Church Universal, [64] ) he proceeds to the second series of visions, on the door being opened in heaven, and John called up thither: the heaven once shut having by Christ’s satisfaction been opened; and in St. John’s person, originally of the circumcision, but now a preacher of the New Testament, it being apparent that alike the faithful of either dispensation were now invited. [65] In the heavenly scene presented to John’s view, the throne was that of Divine royalty and judgment; its jasper color, as of water, signifying God’s earlier judgment by the waters of the deluge; its fiery sardine color that to come by fire; and the sea before the throne the gift of baptism, and offer of salvation through it, previous to judgment. The twenty-four elders he explains as the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles, seated on thrones of judgment: agreeably to the patriarchal privilege, “Dan shall judge his people,” and the apostolic, “Ye shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel;” - while the four living creatures typified the four evangelists, and their preaching of the gospel: the eyes within signifying the insight of that preaching into man’s heart; and the six wings of each (twenty-four in all) having reference to the twenty-four books of the Old Testament, because it is only by help of the previous testimonies of those books that the Gospel can fly abroad. - The voices and thunderings from the throne meant God’s preachings, and threats, and notices of Christ’s coming to judgment; the seven torches of fire the Spirit, granted to men in virtue of Christ’s crucifixion. - As to the seven-sealed book, it was the book of the Old Testament; a book, with its prophecies of things to occur in the last times, [66] opened by none but Christ: who alone, as the lamb that was slain, could fulfill its types and prophecies; alone as a lion, and through death, conquer death for man. Also the saints’ new song of thanksgiving had reference to the new salvation and new blessings, now imparted to believers, especially of the glorious promised kingdom. Even if the opening of the Seals were simultaneous, (?) yet did the arrangement of them indicate order; the first Seal indicating what took place first, [67] the foreshadowing of things that were to be in the last times.

Arrived thus at the opening of the Seals, Victorinus explains the four horses and riders of the first four Seals as indicating respectively the triumphant progress of the Gospel, begun from after Christ’s ascension, [68] and the wars, famines, [69] and pestilences, [70] which Christ said would precede his second coming: also the fifth Seal’s souls under the altar, as marking the continuous persecutions and martyrdoms of Christ’s saints; for whose consolation, till the last great day of retribution, white robes, or joys of the Holy Spirit, are given: the region under the brazen altar of vision figuring the place under-ground where the separate spirits rest; [71] while the place of the golden altar (as being that to which our offerings of prayer and praise are brought) [72] typified heaven. Further, the earthquake of the sixth Seal he makes to be the last persecution: [73] that wherein the darkening of the true doctrine to the unfaithful would answer to the eclipsed sun in the vision, and the bloodshed of martyr-saints to the moon like blood: the falling away of vain professors from the Church, under force of persecution, fulfilling the symbol of the falling stars from heaven; and the removal of the Church itself from public sight that of the rolling away of the figured firmament. [74] - In the sealing vision, Apoc. vii., next following, the four angels of the winds (the same as the four winds of Apoc. ix. 14, bound in the Euphrates [75] signified four nations, (nations being ruled over by angels,) who were not to transgress their limits till they should come in the last æra with the Antichrist; the Angel from the East meaning Elias; who would anticipate the times of Antichrist, turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, (i.e. of the Jews to the Gentile believers,) and convert to the faith both many of Israel, [76] and a great multitude of Gentiles: of all whom, now united in one as God’s elect, the white robes signified their washing in the blood of the Lamb, and subsequent preservation of the grace then given. [77] - In Apoc. viii. the half-hour’s silence figured the beginning of eternal rest; one half-hour only being mentioned, to signify the subject’s then breaking off. For chronological order is not followed in the Apocalypse: [78] but the Holy Spirit, when he has come to the chronological end, returns often, and repeats, by the way of supplement.

Next comes the vision of the incense-offering Angel. Victorinus supposes this incense-offering to depict the prayers of saints: (specially, on Antichrist’s reign approaching, the prayer that they may not enter into temptation:) the Angel being figured, because Angels offer the prayers of the Church, as well as pour out wrath on Antichrist’s kingdom; which wrath was signified alike in the seven trumpets and seven vials, the one set of symbolizations supplying what was omitted in the other. [79] - As to the particular subjects of these Trumpets and Vials, he does not unfold it in detail. He only generally says of them, that they depict “either the ravages of plagues sent on the world, or the madness of Antichrist, or a diminishing of the peoples, or the variety and difference of the plagues, [80] or the hope of the saints’ kingdom, or the ruin of states, or the destruction of the great city, Babylon, - i.e. the Roman.” And just expounding, as he passes, the warning cry of the eagle flying in mid-heaven, after the fourth trumpet-woe, to mean the Holy Spirit’s warning voice to men by the mouth of the two prophets, against the wrath to come in the impending plagues, he so proceeds to the Angel vision of Apoc. x.

The first part of which vision he makes refer, as a parenthesis, to St. John personally. The Angel is explained to be Christ; the open book in his hand the Apocalypse revealed to John; his lion-like voice, that declaring that now only is the time of repentance and hope; the seven thunders the mysteries of the future spoken through the prophets by the divine septiform Spirit; which voices John was not to write, because, as an apostle, of higher functions than that of interpreting Scripture mysteries; an office this latter belonging rather to Church subordinate functionaries afterwards. [81] Further, the charge to eat the book, and preach again to peoples and tongues, Victorinus explains of St. John’s returning personally on Domitian’s death to Ephesus, and publishing the Apocalypse; [82] also his taking the measuring reed with which to measure the Apocalyptic temple and altar, of St. John’s further publishing his Gospel: [83] whereby, and by the creed laid down in it, [84] the orthodox and faithful were marked out and defined as true Church-worshippers; and heretics, like Valentinus, Ebion, and Cerinthus, as to be excluded from the Church.

On the two Apocalyptic Witnesses Victorinus supposes a passing, in the resumed figurations of the future, into the last hebdomad of the last times; [85] during the former 31/2 years of which Christ’s two witnesses, Elijah and Jeremiah, [86] would prophesy: - these witnesses to be killed in Jerusalem (called Sodom and Egypt) by the Beast from the abyss, Antichrist, at the commencement of his 31/2 years’ reign next succeeding, after many plagues inflicted on the world, answering to the fire out of the mouths in the symbol: but to rise again on the fourth day after; the fourth, not the third, so as not to equal Christ.

So he comes to the vision of the Dragon and Woman, Apoc. xii.; or rather to the concluding verse of Apoc. xi., about the temple appearing opened, and the ark appearing, which he connects with it: to the chronological retrogression in which, from the last times previously depicted, he calls especial notice. [87] For he construes the Woman to signify the Judæo-Christian Church of the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, [88] (like the sun glorious in hope of the resurrection, like the moon bright even when to man’s sight dark in death, and only waning to grow again,) travailing with desire of Christ’s birth out of the Jews’ nation, according to the promise. Then in Christ’s birth, resurrection, and ascension, in spite of the Dragon or Devil, he sees fulfilled the mystic child’s rapture to God’s throne: the Dragon’s color red being explained as that of a murderer from the beginning; the third of stars swept by his tail, as the third part of men, or rather of angels, seduced by him; and his seven heads and ten hors, as of the same significancy with the Beast’s seven heads and ten horns, of which more presently. - Then the time changes. [89] The woman fleeing into the desert is the Church, made up or inclusive of the 144,000, [90] now in simply Christian guise: being forced by the Dragon’s flood-like armies of persecution into mountains and deserts; and upheld in her flight by the two wings of the two witnesses. [91] The Dragon’s fall from heaven, or interdiction from there appearing as before, [92] is explained as following Elias’ 31/2 years of witnessing. [93] and being the beginning of Antichrist. - For he (the Dragon) then stood on the sand of the sea, [94] as if to evoke him: the Antichrist, accordantly with St. Paul’s prophecy to the Thessalonians, having to rise from hell. [95] As regarded the Beast, or Antichrist, his likeness to the leopard signified the variety of nations that would be in the kingdom; his seven heads both Rome’s seven hills, and also seven Roman Emperors; [96] viz. Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, (which five had fallen at the time of the Apocalypse,) the sixth Domitian then reigning, the seventh Nerva, who was to continue but a short time, (for he reigned but one year and four months,) and the eighth Nero; who as a previous Roman Emperor, might be called one of (or of the same body with) the seven. [97] Of this Nero St. Paul spoke, when he said, “The mystery of iniquity doth already work,” for Nero was then reigning: and, having had his throat cut, and so his head wounded to death, he was to revive and re-appear as Antichrist. - Victorinus notes his Jewish as well as Roman connection. He would appear both under a different name, and in a different character from before. Professing before the Jews to be the Christ, with a view to gain them, and instead of patronizing idolatry, now inculcating the religion of the circumcision, he would by them be received as Christ: (a king and a Christ worthy of them!) moreover, whereas once most impure, now renouncing all desire of women, and so fulfilling Daniel’s prophecy. [98] - His number 666 is explained as some name of Greek numerals to that amount; and two solutions offered, veiled in a corrupt text, yet not I think undecipherable: [99] one, antemov, perhaps Victorinus’ own; the other, genshrikov, interpolated by some later copyist. [100] - Of his ally the False Prophet the two horns like a lamb’s signified his assuming the form of a just man; the fire from heaven that same which sorcerers seem to men’s eyes even now to evoke; the Beast’s image a golden statue of Antichrist: which image the False Prophet would get placed in the temple of Jerusalem, and from which Satan will utter oracles. - So will there be the abomination of desolation in the worship of idols instead of himself, and the introduction of heresy into Churches; [101] the desolation, because many men, previously stable, will by these false signs and portents be turned from the faith. - As to the ten kings, Victorinus says that they would have already received royal power, when Antichrist should either have set out from the East Romewards, or from Rome Eastwards; [102] and three of them would be eradicated by him, and the other seven become his subjects, and also the haters and burners of the harlot city, Rome.

The Commentary now hurries to a conclusion. Of the three angels of Apoc. xiv., flying in mid-heaven, the first (the same as in Apoc. vii.) is Elias, anticipating Antichrist by his preaching; the other two, other prophets associated with him. The earth’s harvest and vintage are meant of the nations destined to perish at Christ’s coming: the blood shed to the extent of 1600 (= 4 x 400) stadia, bloodshed in all the four parts of the world. The seven vials are the same seven judgments before signified under the Trumpets; and poured out on the contumacious, [insubordinates], after the Church’s retirement from the scene into the wilderness. [103] Standing on the glassy sea signifies standing firm in baptismal faith. The Woman sitting on many waters, and borne by the seven-headed ten-horned Beast, is the Babylon alike of the Apocalypse, Isaiah, and Ezekiel; viz. the city ROME seated on the Devil, as before explained, of Rome red with the blood of saints: her wickedness having been consummated by a Decree of the Senate, [104] and extending to the prohibition of all preaching of the gospel in all nations. Then Christ (answering to him that was figured on the White Horse with his armies) will come and take the kingdom; a kingdom extending from the river even to the world’s end: the greater part of the earth being cleansed introductorily to it; the millennium itself not ending it. All souls of the nations will next, and finally, be called to judgment. [105]

7. In the “Virginal Banquet” of Methodius, Bishop of Tyre, who like Victorinus suffered martyrdom in the Diocletianic persecution, we find here and there an Apocalyptic expository notice that may be worth our observation: - more especially his application of the Judaic emblems of the Apocalypse to the Christian Church. Thus he expounds the 144,000 sealed ones in Apoc. vii. and xiv., “out of all the tribes of Israel,” not as an election out of the literal Israel, but as a certain select company of the Christian Church, viz. its company of virgins; the palm-bearers in the same vision of Apoc. vii. being the general body of the faithful in Christ. [106] On the same principle he explains also Mount Zion and the temple to mean the Christian Church: [107] and again in Apoc. xii. makes the sun-clothed woman that brought forth the man-child to be the faithful Christian Church, bringing forth sons by regeneration in baptism. For, argues Methodius, this symbol cannot mean Christ’s own birth into the world; seeing that John’s commission in the Apocalypse was to see and record not things past, but things present and things to come. [108] Connected with which last-mentioned vision Methodius broaches a very original idea as to the desert into which the woman fled for refuge from the dragon. It is the Church’s appointed sojourning place or state in the world: a scene and state deserted of the evil, and in which many pleasant fruits and flowers grow for her use, as a in a garden of spices: [109] the 1260 days assigned for this meaning the whole times to come. [110] - With regard to which blessed times Methodius follows the generality of the Fathers before him in explaining them as the world’s seventh sabbath millennary, beginning with the 6000th year from Creation, after the type of the six days of creation, and seventh day of sabbath: “the first resurrection” being the literal resurrection of the saints to partake of it; [111] but the body’s change to an angelic substance not occurring till the end of the millennary. [112] He also speaks of the conflagration as that by which the world is not to be annihilated but purified. [113]

8. Last in this my first period let me notice Lactantius; a writer who, in his famous work on the “Divine Institutions,” formed a kind of connecting link between that period and the Constantinian æra, when the establishment of Christianity took place in the Roman Empire: for his work was nearly all written before the end of the Diocletianic persecution; though dedicated to Constantine in one of the closing Chapters. [114] The time of his writing the Book determines me to place him in the first period, rather than the second. His sketch, towards the conclusion of his Treatise, of the ending of the great mundane drama, involved necessarily certain Apocalyptic notices. Of these the following are I think the chief; being however partly mixed up with ideas derived from the prophecies of Daniel, partly with others of mere imaginary origin.

He states, then, that the first grand preliminary to the consummation was the breaking up of the Roman empire; [115] an event to be hastened by the multiplication of emperors ruling it, with civil wars consequent, till at length ten kings should arise: whereupon an enemy from the extreme North should come against them, [116] overthrow the three Asiatic dynasties of the ten, be received and submitted to by the rest as their head, change the name and transfer the seat of the empire from West to East, and by his cruelties introduce a time of grievous calamity, especially to persecuted Christians; [117] portents on earth and in the sky accompanying, and plagues such as once in Egypt: [118] - that then, the consummation drawing on, a great prophet (Elias) [119] would be sent by God, with power of working miracles, shutting up heaven, turning water into blood, and by fire from his mouth killing such as would injure him; by whose preaching and miracles many would be turned to God: - which done, that another king would rise from Syria, begotten of an evil spirit; and, after destroying that former evil one, (the king of the North?) would conquer and kill God’s prophet afore-mentioned, his work having been completed; [120] whose corpse, however, left unburied, would on the third day be reanimated, and rapt before the enemies’ eyes to heaven: - that the king his murderer would be prophet too, but a prophet of lies; and with the miraculous power of evoking fire from heaven, arresting the sun in its course, and making an image speak: whereby he would make multitudes of adherents; branding them like cattle with his mark, and requiring worship from them as God and the Son of God: for that this would be in fact the ANTICHRIST; falsely claiming to be Christ, [121] but fighting against the real Christ, overthrowing his temple the Church, [122] and persecuting unto the death his saints and true Israel: [123] - that the fated time, the saints having fled in a last extremity to the mountains, the heaven would be opened for their deliverance; [124] and Christ himself intervene to save them, and destroy this Antichrist and his allied kings. After which the saints, raised from the grave, would reign with Christ through the world’s seventh chiliad; a period to commence, Lactantius judged, in about 200 years at furthest: [125] the Lord alone being thenceforth worshipped on a renovated world; its still living inhabitants multiplying incalculably in a state of terrestrial felicity; and the resurrection-saints, during this commencement of an eternal kingdom, in a nature like the angelic, reigning over them. [126]


On the whole, in reviewing our Sketch of this 1st and earliest Period of Apocalyptic Interpretation, the following points may remain in our minds as among its most marked and important characteristics.

1st, that the Apocalyptic figurations were supposed to be such as began to have fulfillment from the time of St. John, or commencement of the Christian æra. I believe there is no one expositor of the period just past under review that entertained the idea of the Apocalyptic prophecy overleaping the chronological interval, were it less or greater, antecedent to the consummation; and plunging at once into the times of the consummation, and of the then expected Antichrist. See e.g. Irenæus and Victorinus on the 1st Seal,; Tertullian on the 5th Seal; and also Methodius, &c. [127]

2. As regards the 1st Seal, and the interpretation of its white horse and horseman by Irenæus, and then Tertullian and Victorinus, as symbolizing Christ’s victories by the gospel, we have to note that though it is Victorinus who first conjoins this its explanation with that of the contrasted horse and horseman of the three next Seals, as symbolizing the “bella fames and pestis” that were to follow after the first gospel preaching and triumphs, antecedently to Christ’s second coming, so as predicted by Christ in Matt. xxiv., yet seems probable that Victorinus’ predecessors, as well as his successors, like him combined this view of the1st Seal with that of the next 3 Seals, and with similar reference to Christ’s prophecy respecting those antecedents to his second coming. Which being so, and as this is a primary and cardinal point in Apocalyptic interpretation, it will be well here to bear in mind Irenæus’ own caution, expressed with reference to another of the Apocalyptic mysteries; (I mean the Beast’s name;) viz. that “if meant to be known at the time it would doubtless have been declared by him who saw the Apocalypse.” As part and parcel of an interpretation of all the four first Seals taken from Matt. xxiv., whereof the explanation of the next three Seals as symbolizing war, famine, and pestilence constitutes another essential part, it is disproved at once by the impossibility of the 3rd Seal’s symbol, with its choenix or 5 lbs. of barley for a denarius, together with plenty of wine and oil, ever meaning famine. [128]

3. As to the great subject of Antichrist, while there was a universal concurrence in the general idea of the prophecy, there was in respect of the details of application a considerable measure of difference; - these differences arising mainly out of certain current notions of the coming Antichrist as in some way Jewish as well as Roman, and the difficulty of combining and adjusting the two characteristics. The Roman view followed of course Apocalyptically from Antichrist’s being figured as the Roman Beast’s 8th head, after the healing of his deadly wound; (for all identified the Beasts of Apoc. xiii. and xvii.; [129] ) and joined too in closest union with the seven-hilled Harlot: as well as from Daniel’s depicting him as a little horn of the 4th or Roman Beast. Of his supposed Jewish connection no Apocalyptic evidence occurred to the early patristic expositors: save only that Irenæus thought Dan’s omission in Apoc. vii. from the sealed tribes might arise from that being the Jewish tribe of Antichrist’s origin; a notion in which none, I believe, followed him. The idea arose chiefly doubtless from a vague expectation of his being a Pseudo-Christ, such as Christ told of in Matt. xxiv. 5, which reads: “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many,” the thought being that the Jews might receive this impersonator as their long sought Messiah: conjoined by some of the Fathers, as Irenæus and Hippolytus, with the idea that the abomination of desolation of which Christ then spoke as predicted by Daniel, and which would in fact have the Jewish sanctuary as its place of manifestation, was not only the one prophesied of in Dan. ix. 27, as what would synchronize with the end of the 70 hebdomads, but that associated prediction which that verse refers to in Dan. xi. 36, which reads: “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.” Whence the conclusion that the ending epoch of each, and ending epoch also of the 70 hebdomads, would be at the end of Antichrist’s 31/2 years, at the consummation.

Now we have ourselves elsewhere asked, Was there not this in the designation of the desolating abomination in Dan. xii. 11 which might serve to distinguish it from the desolating abomination of Dan. xi. 31 which reads: “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” and Dan. ix. 27, “: And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”; and the latter be meant distinctively by Christ, not the former? [130] And I wish here to state it as not improbable that they were asked, and to the same effect, by some also of the patristic expositors of the æra I am referring to. For alike Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian, and I may add too Tatian, all before the end of the 2nd century, and also Julius Africanus, at the commencement of the 3rd century, explained Daniel’s 70 hebdomads, and their abomination of desolation, as having had their full accomplishment on Christ’s death, and the consequent desolation of Jerusalem by the Roman armies; and so having no reference whatsoever to any desolation by the then future Antichrist. [131] Nor of the few who with Irenæus and Hippolytus referred that last hebdomad and its abomination of desolation to the end of the world and Antichrist, do I find that any but Hippolytus expounded the 70th and last hebdomad as broken off from the preceding 69 by a great chronological gap. Certainly no such gap is spoken of by Irenæus. [132] And as Apollinarius of Laodicea, who lived a century and a half later under Valens, made the 70 hebdomads to have had commencement with Christ’s first advent, and so to come down continuously to an epoch 490 years later, which he expected might be the time of Antichrist’s coming and the consummation, [133] so might some such view very possibly have been that by which Irenæus referred the last week to the consummation. (I refer not to Judas Syrus, another and earlier writer on the subject mentioned by Eusebius, because how he managed to make the period of the 70 hebdomads end nearly at his own epoch of the 10th of Severus, or about A.D. 203, does not appear: though I infer from Eusebius’ words that he too computed continuously. [134] ) Hippolytus stands alone, as I said, [135] in the exprest view of the 69 hebdomads reaching to Christ’s first coming, and the 70th beginning separately, at some vast chronological gap, just before his second coming. [136]

Reverting to those early expositors’ notices about Antichrist, let me observe further that in regard to his religious profession, though the expectation of its being Judaism was prevalent among them, yet the idea was also ever kept up (an idea derived from St. John’s epistles) that heretics professedly within the Church might be considered also as Antichrists: moreover that when the great and chief Antichrist came, he would sedulously affect external resemblance to Jesus Christ; agreeably with the lamb-like Apocalyptic symbol. [137] Such a notion as that of a professedly atheistic or infidel Antichrist was as yet unknown. - Again, as to Antichrist’s Roman connection, while all admitted this, and thus the Pseudo-Sibyl and Victorinus spoke of him as the resuscitated Roman emperor Nero, and also Irenæus, and yet more strongly Hippolytus, suggested that he might very probably on this account have for his name and number Lateinos, yet then and thereupon their views differed. For the Pseudo-Sibyl and Irenæus thought that he would be prominent in Rome’s destruction, transferring its empire to Jerusalem: Hippolytus, on the contrary, that he would be the restorer of the Roman empire in a new form, somewhat like a second Augustus. To which his opinion I must again beg my readers’ special attention; the rather, because, while expressing it, as I find from the original Greek, [138] he had the more usual reading before him in Apoc. xvii. 16 of ta deka kerata kai to qhrion, not, as his Latin translation first seen by me represents it, ta deka k. epi to qhrin; the reading adopted, as it seems, by Tertullian. But how so? Because it was the old imperial Rome that Hippolytus evidently looked on as that which both Beast and horns would unite to burn: this being a mere temporary burning from which the Beast would in a new form next resuscitate it; and quite distinct from the everlasting fire from God described in Apoc. xviii., as its subsequent and final doom. On the Apocalyptic Babylon’s meaning Rome all agreed. - Once more, as to the time of Antichrist’s duration, though all reckoned it literally as 31/2 years, (how but for this could they have looked for Christ’s coming as near? [139] ) yet, very remarkably, the testimony of Cyprian and of his Biographer was incidentally given even thus early to the year-day principle as a Scriptural one: all ready for its application to the prophetic chronological periods at God’s own fit time afterwards. [140]

4. As to the Apocalyptic Judaic symbols there seems to have been a general reference of them in this æra to the Christian Church or worship. so Irenæus, Tertullian, Victorinus, Lactantius expounded the Apocalyptic temple and altar: so Tertullian, Methodius, Lactantius the Apocalyptic 144,000 sealed ones out of the 12 tribes, and Apocalyptic New Jerusalem. A point important to be marked in the primitive exposition. [141]

On which point, and the general subject of the intent of Scripture symbols and figures, we have to remember that Origen, already briefly noticed by me, lived and taught about the middle of the third century. [142] And, had he fulfilled his declared intention of giving the Christian world an Apocalyptic commentary, [143] we can scarcely doubt but that it would have been of a character more mystical than those we have yet had to do with; though Victorinus’ exposition of the symbols of the primary Apocalyptic vision furnishes us indeed with a partial specimen. Origen’s principle of anagogical [144] or spiritualizing exposition, (a principle not altogether to be exploded, but needing in its application to Scripture analogy, and good sense, abundantly greater than Origen cared to use,) [145] could not but have been largely applied by him to the apocalyptic prophecy: especially as one involving constantly symbolic language, besides those allusions to Babylon, Israel, Jerusalem, which we saw, were always, according to him, to be construed anagogically in Scripture. But this commentary he in effect did not write: and it remained for others fully to apply his principles to Apocalyptic exposition in a later æra.

5. On the millennary question, all primitive expositors except Origen, and the few who rejected the Apocalypse as unapostolical, were premillennarians; and construed the first resurrection of the saints literally.


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2015, 07:25:40 PM »


The great Constantinian revolution, accomplished (as I before observed) just after Lactantius’ publication of his ‘Institutions,’ could hardly fail of exercising a considerable influence on Apocalyptic interpretation. A revolution by which Christianity should be established in the prophetically-denounced Roman Empire, was an event the contingency of which had never occurred apparently to the previous exponents of Christian prophecy; and suggested the idea of a mode, time, and scene of the fulfillment of the promises of the latter-day blessedness, that could scarcely have arisen before: - viz. that its scene might be the earth in its present state, not the renovated earth after Christ’s coming and the conflagration; its time that of the present dispensation; its mode by the earthly establishment of the earthly Church visible. For it does not seem to have occurred at the time, that this might in fact be one of the preparatives, through Satan’s craft, for the establishment after a while of the great predicted antichristian ecclesiastical empire, on the platform of the same Roman world, and in a professing but apostatized Church.

1. Eusebius (my first author of this æra) [1] seems in earlier life to have received the Apocalypse as inspired Scripture; and interpreted its Seals, somewhat like Victorinus, of the difficulties of Old Testament prophecy opened by Christ. [2] When the extraordinary Constantinian revolution established itself, though now commenced as to its apostolic authorship, yet he still continued to refer to its prophecies; with an application changed however, accordantly with the change in the times. Thus he applied to this great event both Isaiah’s promises of the latter day, and also (as his language indicates) the Apocalyptic prophecy of the New Jerusalem; [3] at the same time that the symbolic vision of the seven-headed dragon of Apoc. xii., cast down from heaven, was with real exegetic correctness (as I conceive) applied to the dejection of Paganism, and the Pagan emperors, from their former supremacy in the Roman world. [4] - As regards Daniel’s hebdomads, let me add, Eusebius, like most of the expositors before him, explained them continuously; and as long before altogether fulfilled. [5]

But to carry out such views of the New Jerusalem must soon have been felt most difficult: the Arian and other troubles, which quickly supervened, powerfully contributing to that conviction. It resulted, perhaps not a little from this cause, that the Apocalypse itself became for a while much neglected; especially in the Eastern empire, where the imperial seat was now chiefly fixed. There occur however passing notices, directly or indirectly bearing on Apocalyptic interpretation, in the writings of the two chief champions of the orthodox Trinitarian faith in the East and the West, I mean of course Athanasius and Hilary, which must not be past over in silence.

2. In Athanasius the main point to be marked is his strongly pronounced opinion respecting the Antichrist of prophecy, that an heretical anti-Trinitarian ruler of the Roman empire, like Constatantius, would well answer to him; albeit making a Christian profession, and professedly in the Christian Church. Thus, in a general way, with reference to heretical leaders, he spoke of Antichrist coming with the profession, “I am Christ;” assuming Christ’s place and character, like Satan transformed into an angel of light: [6] then elsewhere, in particular, spoke of Constantius as the precursor of Antichrist, [7] the image of Antichrist, [8] nay as every way answering to Antichrist. For what mark, said he, does Constantius lack of the Antichrist of prophecy? [9] - I may add that he too seems to have construed the 70 hebdomads of Daniel, like the majority of his predecessors in the ante-Constantinian age, as wholly fulfilled on the first coming of Jesus, the Holy One of Holies. For then, says he, the prophecy and the vision was sealed up, and the city and the temple taken. [10]

3. In Hilary, Bishop of Poietiers in France, the contemporary and friend of Athanasius, the following particulars of Apocalyptic exposition may be worth our notice. [11] - 1. Somewhat like Victorinus and Eusebius he suggests the idea of the Apocalyptic seven-sealed Book, written within and without, signifying the various things predicted in Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets, concerning Christ, and which were opened and revealed by Jesus; some already fulfilled when St. John was in Patmos, others yet unfulfilled and future. Moreover he thus somewhat originally divides and classifies them; viz. as Christ’s incarnation, passion, death resurrection, glory on ascension to heaven, reign, and final judgment: of which septenary, he says, the first five had been opened to the world on Jesus Christ’s first coming; the rest would be opened on his second coming. [12] - 2. To the Jewish symbols in Scripture prophecy he supposed generally that a Christian sense attached. So, more particularly, with regard to the New Jerusalem of Apoc. xxi., xxii.; [13] as also to the Zion, Jerusalem, Israel, and temple of the prophecies of the Old Testament. [14] - 3. On the subject of Antichrist he stated in a Treatise written before the year 356, [15] and when the West had been comparatively undisturbed by the violent aggressions of Arianism, that the predicted abomination of desolation was meant of a future Antichrist: the term abomination having reference to Antichrist’s appropriating to himself the honor due to God, as (after reception by the Jews) he sate in the Jewish holy place or temple; [16] that of desolation to his foreseen desolations of the once holy land and place by war and slaughter. Moreover he expressed his opinion that Moses and Elias, the same that appeared to Christ “ad sponsionem fidei” in the transfiguration, would be the two witnesses figured in the Apocalyptic prophecy as slain by Antichrist. [17] - A little later, after the flood of Arianism had swept with violence into the Western part of the Roman empire, the idea of Antichrist within the professing Christian Church forced itself on his mind, just as on that of Athanasius. Writing in 364 against Auxentius, the Arian Archbishop of Milan, he exclaims, “Is it a thing doubtful that Antichrist will sit in Christian Churches?” [18] And both there, and in his Treatise “De Trinitate,” written a little before 360, during his exile, he both denounces the Emperor Constantius as a precursor of Antichrist, [19] and directly designates the Bishop Arius, and the Bishop Auxentius, as Antichrists. [20] - 4. While commenting on the transfiguration, (“After six days Jesus taketh Peter and John, &c.,”) Hilary refers to the old idea of a seventh sabbatical millennary: saying that as Christ was transfigured in glory after the six days, so after the world’s 6000 years there would be manifested the glory of Christ’s eternal kingdom. [21] His great subject led him often to speak of the day and hour of the consummation being known to no man. [22] But this fact (considering the measure of doubtfulness attaching to our world’s chronology) [23] he did not regard as militating against the idea.

4. Turning to the East again, a very passing notice will suffice, of the Eastern Church’s three later patristic expositors of the 4th century, Cyril, Ephrem Syrus, Chrysostom: since, though acknowledging the Apocalypse as inspired, they yet made but little use of it. [24] - As regards Cyril of Jerusalem I may observe, that with reference to the expected Antichrist, he distinctly coupled together the two ideas of his being a ruler of the Roman Empire; (in fact the 8th head of the Apocalyptic Beast;) and his assuming to himself the title of Christ: - “This man will usurp the government of the Roman Empire, and will falsely call himself the Christ.” [25] But in what temple would he sit; the Jewish rebuilt temple, or Christian professing Churches? “That of the Jews.” But why? “Because God forbid that the temple meant should be that in which we now are.” Such was Cyril’s only reason against the latter view of the temple meant by St. Paul in his prophecy to the Thessalonians. This Antichrist, Cyril judged, was to be Daniel’s abomination of desolation standing in the holy place. - With regard to his contemporary Ephrem Syrus we may remark that he, like Hilary, noted how the wicked one, Antichrist, when come, would not cease to make inquisition for the saints by land and by sea; they seeking safety meanwhile in monasteries and deserts; the two witnesses Elijah and Enoch preceding him; and, on the Roman empire’s fall, Antichrist, and the consummation. [26] - As to Chrysostom, he judged that the temple of Antichrist’s enthronement would be not that which is in Jerusalem, but the Christian Church. “He will not invite men to worship idols, but will be himself an anti-theos. He will put down all gods; and will command men to worship him, as the very God. And he will sit in the temple of God: not that which is in Jerusalem, but in the Churches everywhere.” [27]

But it is time to turn Westward to Jerome and Augustine, those eminent expositors of the Latin Church, who, unlike the Greek fathers of the age, not only recognized the Apocalypse as a divine book, but continually referred to it: and in their passing notices on Apocalyptic interpretation threw out hints of much importance; and, on more than one point, with great and lasting influence.

5. Jerome. [28]

1 According to this father of the Church the Apocalypse was a book that had in it as many mysteries as words, while sundry particular words had each in them a multifold meaning: [29] and that the Apocalypse was to be all spiritually understood; because otherwise Judaic fables must be acquiesced, in such as those that the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and revival of its temple of carnal rites and ordinances. [30] In regard however of which his spiritual or figurative understanding of the Apocalypse, we should remember the check urged by Jerome himself against any undue license of fancy, at least in explaining the Old Testament; so as by those who with “anagoge veritatem historiæ auferant.” [31] - 2. The Apocalyptic 144,000 seen by St. John with Christ on Mount Zion, or sealed ones out of each and all of the tribes of the Apocalyptic Israel, are sometimes expounded by Jerome of the Christian apostles, martyrs, and saints generally, sometimes of Christian virgins or celibates more especially; [32] never of an election distinctively out of the Jews, or natural Israel. - 3. As regards the two Apocalyptic witnesses, though he has not given us his own opinion as to who or what made up his opinion about them, yet negatively he has pretty clearly intimated that in his judgment they were not Enoch and Elias; [33] cautioning his questionist on the point, the noble Roman lady Marcella, in a passage already referred to by me against expounding the Apocalypse otherwise than as a book which is to be understood spiritually or figuratively. [34] - 4. On the local scene of the two witnesses’ death, “the great city spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, and where also their Lord had been crucified,” we find expressed in Jerome’s works two different opinions. On the one hand, in the earliest written of his prophetic comments on Zeph. ii. 9, “Surely Moab shall be as Sodom and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah,” Jerome, in applying that designation and denunciation to heretical teachers within the Christian Church, fortifies that view of the passage by reference both to Isaiah’s designation of the false-teaching “viri ecclesiastici” of the Jews in his time as men of Sodom and Gomorrah, and also the Apocalyptic designation of the Christ-crucifying Jerusalem as Sodom and Egypt. [35] Again, in a Letter to Hebidia, written in his latter years, in explaining Matt. xxvii. 53, “Many saints which slept arose, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many,” he says that it was not until its rejection of the gospel-message preached by the apostles, and consequent ending of its day of grace, and abandonment to “the two destroying bears from the wood,” Vespasian and Titus, that the literal Jerusalem lost its title of the holy city: [36] it being the case thenceforward indeed, but not till then, that, instead of designation as the holy city, it was spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. On the other hand, in an elaborate argument on the whole Apocalyptic passage written by Jerome’s disciples Paula and Eustochium from Bethlehem, shortly before Alaric’s taking Rome, and which we cannot but suppose had the master’s revision and sanction before its dispatch, [37] a different view is argued for of the local scene of the Apocalyptic witnesses’ death. With reference to their urgent invitation to Marcella that she should quit the Romish Babylon and join them in their retreat at Jerusalem and Bethlehem, they anticipate her objecting that Jerusalem is branded in the Apocalypse as Sodom and Egypt; and urge against this the necessity of explaining the passage quite otherwise than of the literal Jerusalem. And this on two different grounds: - 1st, because in the immediate Apocalypse context, in contrast to, not identification with, the great city of the witnesses’ death, the Apocalyptic Jerusalem is designated as the holy city; (“the Gentiles shall tread down the holy city;”) and that cannot consistently be called Sodom and Egypt, which is almost in the same breath called the holy city: 2ndly, because in Scripture Egypt is never used figuratively for Jerusalem, but perpetually for the world. Hence, on the whole, they conclude that the great city of the witnesses’ death means the world. [38] Any one who consults Jerome’s comments on the (Old Testament) prophets may see how exactly the view of the figurative sense of Egypt in them corresponds with this exposition of the Apocalyptic phrase. [39]

On the great subject of Antichrist, 5thly, we meet in Jerome the same inconsistency, puzzling, and confusion, from his conjunction of some supposed Jewish as well as pseudo-Christian element in the expected Antichrist, as in certain early expositors. In regard of Antichrist’s political origin, he is marked by Jerome as the little horn springing from out of the midst of the ten horns, or kings, of the 4th or Roman Beast, that divide among themselves the Roman empire. [40] And his great city Babylon Jerome construes as distinctly Rome. [41] Moreover it is because of its ruler Antichrist’s blasphemies, he says, that the Roman empire is to be destroyed. [42] Again the professedly Christian (pseudo-Christian) religious character of Antichrist is remarked on also by Jerome repeatedly. Antichrist, says he, when interpreting St. Paul’s prophecy of the Man of Sin, “is to sit in the temple, that is in the Church:” [43] “I think all the heresiarchs Antichrists:” [44] : “It is only by assuming Christ’s name that the simpler ones of believers can be seduced to go to Antichrist; for then they will go to Antichrist, while thinking to find Christ” [45] Yet Jerome also supposes Antichrist so to profess himself Messiah, or Christ, as that the Jews will believe on him as Christ: [46] consequently as in profession a Jew. [47] - The same partially confused view as that of sundry earlier expositors about Daniel’s abomination of desolation had no doubt its influence to this effect. Yet Jerome distinctly recognizes the alternative interpretations of this abomination of desolation. It may mean, says he, on Matt. xxiv., 15, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” --- that is, either Cæsar’s image placed by Pilate in the Jewish temple, Or Hadrian’s in the ruined temple’s holy place, “which has stood there to the present day:” [48] or it may mean simply Antichrist; or “every perverse dogma which may stand in the holy place, that is in the Church, and show itself as God.” [49] As to the prophecy of the 70 weeks, connected in the one passage of Daniel ix. 27 with the abomination of desolation, Jerome only gives the opinions of others, (the same that I have a little previously abstracted principally from him,) [50] but shuns giving any of his own. [51] - Antichrist’s time of duration he of course expected to be 3 1/2 years, literally. But I must beg attention to the manner in which, in his exposition of Ezekiel’s symbolic bearing of the iniquity of Israel 390 days, and that of Judah 40 days, “a day for a year,” Jerome incidentally supports the old Protestant view of its furnishing a Scriptural precedent for the year-day theory. For, like Venema, he supposes Ezekiel’s lying prostate for so many days to be typical of the penal prostration of Israel and Judah for so many years; [52] not, like many late expositors, as typical of the previous prolonged duration of those nations’ sins.

6. Jerome’s view of the Apocalyptic millennium was much the same figurative view as Augustine’s: his opposition to the literal view of the first resurrection being in his remarks on Victorinus’ comment strongly expressed. [53] - At the same time he held the idea which the ancient premillennarians so much insisted on, that the world’s destined duration, after the type of the six days of Creation, was to be only 6000 years, and then the saints’ sabbatism to begin. [54]

Ere passing from Jerome let me remind the reader of his famous Latin translation of the New Testament, the Apocalypse inclusive; - that same which has ever since been so well known as the Vulgate: and let him mark in my biographical sketch of Jerome the favorable circumstances under which he made it; viz. while at Rome, in intimacy with Pope Damasus , with all Rome’s manuscript stores at his command; also his indefatigable care in collecting books bearing on Biblical literature, as well as indefatigable labor in studying them. Hence the evidently high value and authority of the readings that we find in his translations, even when varying from our best present Greek manuscripts. Of these I will here notice three, which I wish my readers specially to remember: - 1. the rendering of bilibris and tres bilibres in the 3rd Seal for one choenix of wheat and three of barley; this marking very strikingly to any one who reflects on the so defined weight of barley that was to cost but a denarius, the absurdly of all idea of such a symbolization signifying famine: - 2. that of quatuor partes terræ in the 4th Seal; four parts of the earth: not one forth part, quartam partem: - 3. the reading in Apoc. xvii. 16, “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” - either of cornua quæ vidisti in bestiâ; so in most MSS. and Copies; or, as in the Laurentian Copy, cornua quæ vidisti, et Bestiam; (not Bestia;) hi odient Fornicariam, &c. [55] - On two of these I have remarked already, in the progress of my Apocalyptic comment. [56]

Yet once more let me advent a second time to the exceeding interest that attaches to Jerome’s lively depicting of the grand event of the Roman empire’s predicted desolation by barbarian invaders, and incipient breaking up into the ten kingdoms, as in the course of fulfillment in his own time, and before his own eyes. “In our time the clay has become mixed with iron. Once nothing was stronger than the Roman empire, now nothing weaker; mixed up as it is with, and needing the helping of, barbarous nations.” [57] “He who withheld is removed, and we think not that Antichrist is at the door.” [58] Again, among the invading Goths that desolated the empire, and afterwards partitioned it between them, he significantly reckons ten nations. [59] Jerome had no idea of any such mighty chronological gap, as some modern expositors would advocate between the removal of the “let” and the rise of Antichrist.

The reader will not, I think, regret my having dwelt thus long on Jerome: considering that he was the most learned of all the ancient Fathers; and lived at an epoch so transcendently interesting, especially to the students of Daniel’s and the Apocalyptic prophecies.

6. Augustine.

My copious abstracts in the 1st Volume from this eminent and holy Father of the Christian Church make it unnecessary for me to do more than call attention here very briefly to three or four points in his detached Apocalyptic interpretations.

1. That the Apocalypse embraced for its subject of prefiguration the whole period from Christ’s first coming to the end of the world. [60]

2. That the 144,000 of the sealing vision (as also of Apoc. xiv.) depicted distinctively (not the earthly professing visible Church, but) the Church of the saints, or elect, [61] the constituency of what he calls the City of God, ultimately united into the heavenly Jerusalem: [62] while the appended palm-bearing vision figured the blessed and heavenly issue assured to them of their earthly trials and pilgrimage. [63]

3. That the millennium of Satan’s binding, and the saints reigning, dated from Christ’s ministry, when he beheld Satan fall like lightning from heaven; it being meant to signify the triumph over Satan in the hearts of true believers: and that the subsequent figuration of Gog and Magog indicated the coming of Antichrist at the end of the world; the 1000 years being a figurative numeral , expressive of the whole period intervening. [64]

I may add that he expounded the woman clothed with the sun, in Apoc. xii., of the true Church, or Civatas Dei; clothed with the sun of righteousness; trampling on those growing and waning things of mortality which the moon might figure; and travailing both with Christ personally, and Christ in his members. [65] - Further the complemental set of martyrs, told of to the souls under the altar, he viewed as martyrs to be slain under Antichrist. [66] - As to Antichrist himself, like other Fathers, he viewed him as one that would arise, and reign 3 1/2 years, at the end of the world; though meanwhile Antichrist’s body, and his great city Babylon, might be considered realized in the world and its members. So, on this important point, Augustine endorsed in a manner with his great name the spiritualistic generalizing system of Tichonius. [67]

7. To which expositor, Tichonius, last of this æra, now proceed we.

We know both from Augustine, [68] and from the later expositors Primasius and Bede, [69] that a Donatist of that name wrote on the Apocalypse; whose time of flourishing, according to Gennadius, was about A.D. 380; [70] as was at any rate partially included within the 30 years of the Donatist Parmenianus’ Episcopate from A.D. 361 to A.D. 391; [71] as the latter took umbrage at certain anti-Donatistic sentiments expressed by Tichonius, though a Donatist, and wrote against them. [72] Perhaps we might prefer to fix the date a little later than 380; as Tichonius had communication with Augustine, and indeed is by some said to have been reclaimed by him from Donatism: and we know that it was only in 391 that Augustine, was ordained Presbyter, in 395 Bishop. - Now there is still extant an Apocalyptic Commentary bearing Tichonius’ name, drawn up in the form of Homilies, in number nineteen; appended to the fourth volume of the Paris Benedictine Edition of Augustine. And the question has arisen respecting these, whether they are the real work of this aforesaid Tichonius, or not. The arguments against (as the Benedictine Editor observes) are 1. that, whereas Primasius says there were decided Donatistic statements in Tichonius’ work, [73] in this such are wanting, and anti-Donastistic inserted against re-baptizing. 2. that certain passages cited by Bede and Tichonius are here wanting; 3. that on a point in which Tichonius’ opinion is said by Augustine to have been illustrated with a copious argument, the opinion is here indeed given, but without any such copious argument in connection. To which I may add that there occur here and there brief quotations (unless indeed Tichonius be the original) from Augustine. [74] - On the other hand there are the arguments following in favor of the substantial identity of the extant Treatise with that of Tichonius: (arguments omitted by the Benedictine Editor:) - 1st, that the expository principles followed in the Treatise agree well with Tichonius’ expository rules, as recorded by Augustine: [75] - 2. that one of the anti-Donatistic sentiments, which more than once occurs in these Homilies, is precisely such a recognition of the Catholic Church as was objected to the real Tichonius, as an inconsistency, by his Bishop Parmenianus: [76] - 3. that a particular clause on the horsemen of the second Woe, quoted by Primasius from Tichonius, appears in the precise words in these Homilies: [77] and also, substantially, three explanations taken by Bede from Tichonius. [78] - There remains to be noted a very important chronological indication in the tenth Homily, which speaks of Arianism as then dominant; “Sicut videmus modo hæreticos esse in hoc sæculo potentes, qui habent virtutem Diaboli: sicut quondam Pagani, ita nune illi vastant ecclesiam:” and again, on the clause about all the earth worshipping the Beast, “Utique habent potestatem hæreticos; sed præcipuè Ariani:” - statements possibly referable to the Arian Emperor Valens’ oppression of the Trinitarians in the Eastern Empire, which occurred during the life of the real Tichonius; yet not probably so: as Valens’ power extended only to the Eastern or Greek Empire; not to the Western Empire, in which evidently [79] (and most likely in Africa) the writer of the extant Homilies resided. Hence more probably this indication points to the succeeding century; when the Arian Vandal kings Genseric and Hunneric [80] did really desolate the orthodox African Church. - On the whole, and adding to the other evidence in favor of this authorship the important fact of the manuscript’s bearing his name, I feel little doubt in my own mind that the main substance of the extant Treatise is from Tichonius: though with certain alterations introduced, and an abbreviation into Homiletic form, by some Presbyter of the Latin Catholic Church after the first quarter of the fifth century, probably an African. Thus we may fitly note its scheme of Apocalyptic interpretation as one appertaining to the æra under review: albeit, in its present form, as rather post-Augustinian than pre-Augustinian.

To begin, there are in two different manuscripts two different introductions. In the one MS. (probably the original) the writer states at once the opening of his 1st Homily, the Origenistic interpretative principle of anagwgh, as that adopted in the commentary. “In lectione Revelationis beati Johannis Apostoli, fratres charissimi, secundùm anagogen . . explanare curabimus.” The other thus speaks: “Respecting the things seen by St. John in the Apocalypse, it seemed to some of the ancient Fathers that either all, or at least the greater part, presignified the coming of Antichrist, or day of judgment. But they who have more diligently handled it, judge that the things contained in it began to have fulfillment immediately after Christ’s passion; and are to go on fulfilling up to the day of judgment: so as that but a small portion may seem to remain for the times of Antichrist.” [81] - Which two beginnings are quite consistent. For the writer’s evident meaning in those words, “consummanda usque ad diem judicii,” is not that the Apocalypse was like a dramatic prefiguration of the great events of the coming future, to be fulfilled in succession and order until the consummation: but rather a representation (for the most part) of general truths, detached and unconnected, concerning the Church; all and ever in course of realization, and that will be so even to the end.

Thus, passing over his explanation of the primary Apocalyptic symbolization of Christ, the details of which he takes very much from Victorinus, and that of the Epistles to the seven Churches, which Churches he regards as representative of the Church universal, [82] - in the Seals, the rider and horse are expounded of Christ riding to victory on his apostles and prophets, the arrows the gospel-word preached, as pointed by the Spirit, in date from after the time of Christ’s ascension: the three next riders as the Devil, riding on bloody-minded, hypocritical, [83] and wicked persecuting men, in antagonism to Christ’s Church; the oil and the wine of the 3rd Seal signifying the righteous whom none can really hurt: [84] the souls under the altar as the cry of the martyred and persecuted against their persecutors. - So far with reference to the times of the Christian dispensation generally. In the sixth Seal, however, the earthquake is explained specially of the last persecution; and the falling of bad men from heaven, i.e. from the Church, [85] under it.

So arrived at the sealing and palm-bearing visions he expounds the one of the Church’s ingathering of its mystical number, the 144,000; [86] the other of Church privileges enjoyed by them under the present dispensation: [87] for he regarded the 144,000, and palm-bearing company, as one and the same body, [88] constituted of the elect out of both Jews and Gentiles. The half-hour’s silence he interprets, like Victorinus, as the beginning of eternal rest; the incense-Angel as Christ: then thus proceeds to expound the Trumpets, or Church-preachments acted out: [89] - viz. the first, of luxurious men of the earth, burnt up grass-like by the fire of concupiscence: [90] the second, of the Devil falling like a burning mountain on the world: the third, or star falling from heaven, of the falling from the Church of proud and impious men; and its making the waters bitter, of the heretical doctrine of re-baptism: the fourth, of evil and hypocritical men in the Church struck with darkness by the Devil, through being given up to their pleasures: [91] - then the fifth, of evil men and heretics, fallen from the Church, [92] and with the heart’s abyss of wickedness fully opened, so as to obscure the Church’s light by their evil deeds and doctrine; the men disguised with crowns, like those of the 24 church-representing elders, and with scorpion-like stings in the tail, (for the false prophet he is the tail,) striking both good, under devilish guidance, though only to quicken them to humility and repentance, and bad, so as to infuse the poison of their doctrine: - also the sixth Trumpet, [93] and its horse-borne myriads from the Euphrates, (the river of the mystic Babylon,) of the last persecution: (that I presume, by Antichrist:) the Angel’s cry from the golden altar signifying that of the faithful who dare to resist the mandate of the cruel persecuting king; the smoke, fire, and sulphur from the horses’ mouths symbolizing the chief’s antichristian blasphemies; the serpent-like tail, with head, the false teachers and their heretical poison; and the chronological tetrad of an hour, day, month, and year answering to the tetrad of a time, two times, and half a time, or the 3 1/2 years of Antichrist’s continuance. [94]

On the descent of the Covenant-Angel, i.e. Christ, Tichonius explains his opened Book as the Bible; his lion-like cry, after planting his feet on land and sea, as that of the universal gospel-preaching by the Church over the whole world; and the seven answering thunders as the same with the seven Trumpet voices, or Church-preachments, sealed to the bad, though understood by the good. - Then the introductory charge, prior to the witness-narrative, “Measure the temple,” &c., is well and rather remarkably explained of a recension and preparation of the true Church “ad ultimum;” all other professors of religion except the true, whether heretics or badly-living Catholics, like the Gentile outer Court, being shut out; - and the sackcloth-robed witnesses themselves as either the two Testaments, or the light-giving Church fed by the oil of those two Testaments: [95] their appointed time of prophesying being the whole time from Christ’s death. For the phrase “these have power,” not, shall have, marks the whole of time current till the last persecution: and the chronological term 1260 days, is one inexplicable as the numeral, not only “of the last persecution, and of the future peace, but also of the whole time from the Lord’s passion; either period having that number of days.” [96] Thus we have here a view of the witnessing large and connected. And, during this prolonged time of the Church’s testimony, the killing their injurers with fire out of their mouths is well explained of the destroying effect of the Witnesses’ prayers; and the heaven’s not raining, of the absence of blessing on the barren earth. - After which, and on their finishing their testimony, (a testimony carried on to the very eve of Christ’s revelation,) the Beast from the abyss, or “wicked ones making up the Devil’s body,” [97] especially under Antichrist, [98] shall conquer them that yield, says Tichonius, and slay the stedfast, in the plateia or “midst of the Church:” till after 3 1/2 days, meaning 3 1/2 years, [99] their dead bodies shall rise, and ascend to meet Christ at his coming.

Next let me sketch, in illustration of his Commentary, Tichonius’ exposition of the connected visions of the Dragon, Beast, and Beast-riding Harlot; given in Apoc. xii., xiii., xvii. [100]

The travailing Woman then, he says, is the Church, ever bringing forth Christ in his members: the Dragon, the Devil seeking to devour them; his seven heads and ten horns indicating all the world’s kingdoms ruled by him; [101] his dejection from heaven to earth by Michael, i.e. Christ, his being cast out of the Church, or hearts of saints, into the hearts of earthly men: - the floods cast from the Dragon’s mouth against the woman, the multitude of persecutors: the two-eagle-wings given to aid her flight from him, the two testaments, or perhaps the two witnessing prophets Elias and his companion: the woman’s wilderness-dwelling, the Church’s desolate state in this world; the time, times, and half a time measuring it, a period on the scale perhaps of a year, perhaps of a hundred years to a time: [102] (on the smaller scale, I presume, the term of special suffering under Antichrist, on the larger that of the Church’s whole tribulation, from Christ’s first to his second coming:) [103] the Dragon’s rage and planning against the woman’s seed, after the absorption of the floods from his mouth, the Devil’s plan to raise up heresies against it, after the failure of the Roman Pagan persecutions: - floods absorbed “ore sanctæ terræ;” i.e. through the prayers of the saints.

Further, as before, the Beast he expounds as the impious of the Devil’s body; [104] its leopard spots signifying the variety of the nations under his rule in the time of Antichrist, its seven heads and ten horns the same with those on the Dragon figured previously: the head wounded to death, and reviving, being the revival of heresies and heretics in power through Satanic influence, after demolition by Scripture testimonies: and the Dragon’s giving the Beast his authority,” what now we see;” viz. heretics, especially Arians, vexing the Church, (the Devil’s influence aiding them,) so as formerly did the Pagans. A partial adoption this (as also on Apoc. xii.) contrary to his usual generalizing system, of the Constantinian explanation of the Dragon’s dejection and discomfiture in the fall of Paganism. [105] - Further, the second Beast he interprets to be an heretical church, [106] “feigning Christianity, in order thereby the better to deceive:” and setting up for adoration the Beast’s Image; i.e. a system of Satan masked or disguised under a Christian profession. [107] - The Beast’s mark and number is stated as civ¢, = 616 numerally; [108] and which also indicated an affection of likeness to Christ: (whose monogram, Tichonius seems to hint, was crv: [109] ) the heretics designated by the Beast boasting to be of Christ, when persecuting him. [110]

As to the Woman on the Beast, it is explained thus. Corruptelam dici tsedere super populos in eremo. Meretrix, bestia, eremus, unum sunt; . . . quod totum Babylon est:” [111] and Babylonia, the great City, is expounded as the world and its evil population. (of the seven hills nothing is said.) The Beast that was, and is not, and shall be, [112] is explained in the sense that bad people rise from bad, in perpetual succession. The ten horns hating the woman, [113] means that the wicked will hate and tear themselves; and, under God’s permissive anger, make the world desolate. - Further, the cry “Come out of her, my people,” is one daily fulfilled in the passage of some from out of the mystic Babylon to the mystic Jerusalem; (while others pass from out of Jerusalem to Babylon;) [114] and again, the cry to the birds to congregate to the supper of the great God, figures out the conversion of nations; seeing that when they are incorporated into the Church they are spiritually eaten by it. [115] And so, as to the Beast’s destruction, Tichonius makes it (agreeably with his system) that of the wicked who, from being constituents of the Devil’s body, became members of Christ’s body. [116]

So we advance towards the conclusion. - Omitting lesser points, [117] I may observe that in Apoc. xx. the millennium  is explained, on the Augustinian principle, as begun at Christ’s first coming and ministry: the strong man armed being ejected out of the hearts of his people by one stronger, and bound from ruling over them: the first resurrection meaning that on remission of sin at baptism; [118] the 1000 years, all yet remaining of the world’s sixth chiliad; (the whole for the part;) [119] and the “little while,” of Satan’s loosing, the 3 1/2 years of Antichrist.

As to the New Jerusalem, alike in Apoc. xxi. and Apoc. iii, it is similarly explained of the Church in its present state; commencing from Christ’s death: [120] (though not without a passing counter-view, given apparently by another hand, which applies it to the glorified Church after the resurrection: [121] ) its four gates towards the four winds marking its diffusion over the world; the tree of life meaning the cross, and the river of life the waters of baptism. [122] - Agreeably with which view the palm-bearers’ blessedness in Apoc. vii. was also explained, as we saw, of the Church in the present life; when Christians rise to new life at baptism, put on Christ, and are filled with the joy of the Holy Ghost. [123]

To this last expository view I must direct particular attention; as being now for the first time put forth in an Apocalyptic commentary; though not without a partial precedent, as we saw in Eusebius. [124] At the same time it is to be observed that by the Church Tichonius meant Christ’s true Church; perpetually distinguishing between it and the ficti et mali within, as well as heretics and Pagans without it. - In his explaining away of Babylon the seven-hilled city, as merely meaning the world, though expressly defined by the Angel to mean Rome, he was supported, as we saw, by Augustine. This, with his correspondent generalizing view of the Beast, is another of the characteristic and notable points of Tichonius’ commentary. With what misleading effect it past downward into the middle age, as the received system of interpretation, will appear in my next Section. [125]


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2015, 07:28:12 PM »

A.D. 500 TO 1100. (Primasius)

The period included in this Section comprises that of the early establishment, and growth to mature strength, of the Papal supremacy over the ten Romano-Gothic kingdoms of the revived Western Empire; also in Eastern Christendom the reign of Justinian, and rise of the Saracens, and then of the Seljukian Turks, down to the first Crusade. Its history is sketched in my Part II., Chapters iii., iv., and v. How the end of the eleventh millennary of the Christian æra constituted an important epoch in the history of Apocalyptic interpretation, such as to furnish a fit ending to the present Period, will appear at the close of this Section. - We open on it with the important question, Did prophetic expositors now, after the breaking up of the old Roman empire, recognize the signs of the times, and look out for a Roman Antichrist?

The Latin expositors that I shall first notice under this division are Primasius, Bede, and Ambrose Ansbert, of the 6th and 8th centuries: then (after a few passing words on Haymo) the Greek expositors Andreas and Arethas, also of the 6th and 8th or 9th centuries, respectively. And I shall close with another Latin expositor who flourished later, perhaps near about the end of the 11th century; I mean Berengaud.

1. Beginning with Primasius, his name appears in the second Conference of the fifth General Council, held at Constantinople A.D. 553; [1] where he is noted as a Bishop of the Byzancene or Carthaginian province; in which province he is supposed to have been Bishop of Adrumetum. [2] The manuscript of his works was discovered in the monastery of St. Thenderic near Lyons, in the 16th century; and was published, with a high eulogy on the author prefacing it, by the learned Gagnæus. [3] These works are all given in the xth volume of the B. P. M.; that on the Apocalypse occupying from p. 287 to p. 339.

There is so much of general resemblance in this Apocalyptic Commentary to that of Tichonius, (to which indeed he refers, as also to Augustine, as an exemplar before him at the outset, [4] ) that there will be no need to enter so much at large into it, after the full sketch just given of Tichonius. His mention of Jerome’s Origenistic saying at the outset, that the Apocalypse has as many mysteries as words, and many hidden meanings too in each word, [5] is ominous; and might well prepare us for the kind of commentary following. Indeed, his seeking for mysteries has imparted an air of mysteriousness and obscurity to parts of it, such that I do not wonder at Ambrose Ansbert’s complaining of its frequent unintelligibility. [6] What follows will give a sufficient notion of his general views, and of his more remarkable particular explanations.

He begins with stating the objects of the Apocalypse. It needed to be revealed how the Church, then recently founded by the apostles, was destined to be extended; (for it was to have the world for an inheritance;) that so the preachers of the truth, though few and weak and poor as regards this world, might yet boldly make aggression on the many and the great. [7] Which Church, its great subject, was in different parts of the Apocalypse ever prominently though variously depicted: - alike, he says, by the seven Asiatic Churches and seven candlesticks, and seven stars; (the fitness of the septenary to signify unity being fancifully accounted for;) [8] by Christ himself, too, as figured on the scene, the Church being Christ’s body; [9] and yet more by St. John as a representative: (even his opening act of falling as one dead before Christ, being but a type of the Church dead to the world:) [10] also, in the other and higher visions next vouchsafed, alike by the heaven, by the figured throne placed in it, by Him that sate on the throne, by the twenty-four elders, and by the four living creatures: which last however may mean the four Evangelists: [11] - “Quod est thronus hoc animalia; hoe et seniores; id est ecclesia.” [12] - I need not suggest the confusion of ideas, and incoherence of interpretation, necessarily arising from this confused generalization, and identification in meaning, of the varied scenic imagery of the Apocalypse.

The Sealed Book he explains as meaning either Testament: the Old Testament being, like the side of the Apocalyptic scroll without written, outwardly visible,; the other the New, like the side within written, hidden within the symbols of the Old. [13] The successive symbols of its six Seals, as opened, he expounds very much like Tichonius; with additional conceits however, arising out of his straining to find out yet further mysteries. [14] Like him, besides noting certain devilish agencies as meant figuratively in the second, third, [15] and fourth [16] Seals, opposed to Christ and his Church, after their going forth to victory, as figured in the first, he also adds Victorinus’ literal solution of the bella, fames, pestis: and like him joins Victorinus in explaining the fifth Seal of martyrs generally, the sixth Seal, both in general and in detail, of the last persecution, [17] towards the end of the last age of the Church: the chronology here passing from the whole period of Christianity generally to its last epoch specially. By which persecution (a persecution I presume by Antichrist, though Antichrist is not indeed mentioned as its author) the world generally, Primasius supposes, is to be oppressed. The elemental convulsions in the Seal he expounds, as might be expected figuratively.

Like Tichonius, again, he interprets alike the 144,000 [18] and the palm-bearing white-robed [19] company to mean the whole Church of the elect; and interprets the four angels of the winds (a point unnoticed by the former expositor) to be the four winds spoken of by Daniel as striving on the agitated scene of the four great empires: while the Angel from the East symbolizes Christ at his first coming, restraining by the power of his gospel-preaching the hostile powers: this being the stone cut out of the mountain, which was to smite, and in fine destroy, the great image. [20] The great tribulation out of which the palm-bearers were to come he explains generally by the text, “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God;” not with reference to any final tribulation. And their predicated happiness he does not, like Tichonius, confine to the Church in its present state, though he seems to include it; but refers such particulars as, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,” to the Church’s future bliss. - The half-hour’s silence he explains with his two predecessors of the beginning of the saints’ eternal rest.

In the Trumpets he still follows Tichonius. Throughout the time of the Church’s preaching-voice, fulfilling the Angel’s trumpet-blowings, there would be the destruction of the earthly-minded temporally or spiritually in God’s wrath; by the Devil’s burning fury; by the falling to earth, and consequent embittering of the streams of doctrine, of many once in the ecclesiastical heaven: as also by the obscuration in part of the Church’s light; and by heretical teachers too, and false prophets, with venom-distilling tails, like those of the scorpion-locusts of the 5th Trumpet: - until, under the 6th Trumpet, or in the 6th age, the four winds (this should be marked) would be loosed from long partial confinement in the mystical river of Babylon; (this corresponding with the loosing of the Devil, mentioned in Apoc. xx., after the millennium;) and with the force of eight myriads, [21] or myriads of myriads, including both heretics and the whole body of the wicked, urge during the fated “hour, day, month, and year,” or quadripartite period of the 3 1/2 years, the last and great persecution.

In the vision of the rainbow-crowned Angel of Apoc. x., Primasius combines Victorinus’ and Tichonius’ explanations. The Angel he explains to be Christ; the opened book the New Testament; the seven thunders the Church’s preaching; the sealing a proper reservation of its truths such as Christian discretion might dictate. Again, Christ’s charge to John to eat the book, and prophesy again, he explains as true both of John personally, by the publication of his Apocalypse and Gospel, so as Victorinus would have it, and of the Church’s preaching always, so as Tichonius; a sweetness resulting to the preacher where the word is received by the hearer, and pain and bitterness where it is rejected and in vain. - The measuring the temple follows naturally; signifying, as it does, the informing and instructing the Church, especially in matters concerning the altar, or Christian faith. - Further, as to the two+ Apocalyptic Witnesses, their testifying included both the Church’s witness, with the two Testaments, throughout the whole time of Christianity; that being the mystical sense of the 42 months, [22] as Tichonius had previously set forth; [23] and also specially their witness, and that of Elias, in the first half of Daniel’s last hebdomad; [24] very much as Victorinus. The witnesses’ death he explains as occurring in the literal Jerusalem: this death including the hiding of living Christians in secret refuge-places from Antichrist’s violence, as well as the death of others: the 3 1/2 days of their exposure as dead being the 3 1/2 years of Antichrist.

In the vision of the Woman and Dragon we still see Tichonius’ track followed. It is the Church bringing forth Christ in his members; and the Devil wielding the supremacy of this world’s dominion, and seeking to devour the new man: which new man is as it were caught up to God’s throne; because his conversation, as Paul says, is in heaven. The wilderness where the woman is nourished is this world of her pilgrimage; the two wings sustaining her, the two Testaments; the 1260 days’ period of her sojourning, both that of the Christian dispensation generally, and specially the 3 1/2 years of Antichrist. - Again, as to the Beast, of Apoc. xiii., it is the whole mass of the reprobate, making up the Devil’s body; the last of its heads being Antichrist, under whom fully and specially the Devil will act out his purposes. Primasius, like others before and after him strongly marks this Antichrist’s affected impersonation of, or substitution of himself for, Christ; and blasphemous appropriation to himself of Christ’s proper dignity. [25] - The Image of the Beast (the second two-horned Beast) Primasius seems to view as the ecclesiastical præpositi, or rulers, hypocritically feigning likeness to the Lamb, in order the better to war against him: [26] and (somewhat as Tichonius too explained it) by the mask of a Christian profession, under which mask the Devil puts himself before men, acting out the Mediator. [27] He gives for the Beast’s name and number, 666, the words antemov and arnoume: [28] the former from Victorinus; the latter from, or antecedently to, the pseudo-Hippolytus.

The Vials, now filled with God’s wrath, he views as the same that were previously seen held by the twenty-four elders, or seven Trumpet-Angels, full of the prayers of saints: [29] for, to the wicked such prayers “are a savor of death unto death in them that perish.” They signify generally God’s spiritual judgments on them. Under the sixth Vial Primasius speaks of Christ as the king (regi, in the singular,) from the East, or sun-rising: [30] and of the way as now prepared for his coming to judgment, by nothing of good remaining, and the earth being, as in the parallel symbol Apoc. xiv. 15, “ And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe,” dried up in readiness for burning. - In Apoc. xvii. the Woman means the worldly, reprobate, or evil body; the desert in which she appears God’s absence: (a striking sentiment!) [31] the ten horns of the Beast she rides on, Daniel’s ten kings just preceding Antichrist; the diadems seen upon them marking them out as then the alone reigning powers. The seven hills indicate Rome; but Rome only as a type of the ruling power and dominion. [32] The destruction of Babylon in Apoc. xviii. is of course the destruction of all worldly, Christ-opposing powers.

The millennium Primasius expounds as Augustine and Tichonius; the new heaven and earth, and the new Jerusalem, as a new world, so changed from the old as may befit the saints in their new bodies; i.e. after their own resurrection, and the condemnation of the wicked. [33]

2. The venerable Bede comes next in our list of Apocalyptic expositors; the date of his death, in the Northumbrian monastery of which he was the ornament, being A.D. 735, at the age of 63.

At the outset of his Commentary his full citation of the seven rules of Tichonius prepares the reader for its general Tichonian character. It has however points of peculiarity in certain passages worth the notice.

The figures of the opening vision of Christ and the seven candlesticks, or Churches, together with the letters to those Churches, [34] are explained much as by Tichonius or Primasius; the latter of which expositors is also often referred to by Bede. Of the new vision commencing in Apoc. iv. his expository views, as to order and subject, are thus stated: “Descriptis ecclesiæ operibus, quæ et qualis futura esset, recapitulat à Christi nativitate, eadem aliter dicturus. [35] Totum enim tempus ecclesiæ variis in hoc libro figuris repetit.”

So the seven-sealed Book, containing the mysteries of the Old and New Testament opened by Christ at his incarnation, is expounded as follows: - the 1st Seal to figure the primitive Church in its triumphs; the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th the “triforme contrà eam bellum,” of bloody persecutions, false hypocritical brethren, and soul-destroying heretics such as Arius; the 5th the glory of deceased martyrs, under the golden altar of incense; the 6th the last persecution of Antichrist: all much as by Tichonius. - In the 4th I observe that Bede, while reading, like Jerome, [36] “super quatuor partes terræ,” notices also that another Latin Version (evidently Tichonius’ or Primasius’) [37] read “super quartam partem,” answering to the epi to tetarton of our present Greek MSS.

In the sealing vision of Apoc. vii. the 4 Angels of the winds are construed by Bede as the 4 great prophetic empires; whom Christ, the Angel from the East, restrains, in so far as the sealing or the care of his saints may require it: the 144,000 of Israel signifying the whole number of the redeemed; [38] and the palm-bearing vision their glory after death, more especially that of the saints victorious over Antichrist. - As to the half-hour’s silence after the opening of the 7th Seal, Bede suggests that it may answer to the 45 days mentioned in Dan. xii., intervening, according to Jerome, [39] between Antichrist’s destruction and the commencement of the saints’ reign. An original explanation, I believe.

The Trumpets Bede explains generally like Tichonius and Primasius. The following points of detail may be remarked as interesting, and mostly original. The seven trumpet-blasts of the Church’s preaching he compares with those after which the walls of Jericho fell. - In the 1st Trumpet, symbolizing the destruction of the impious by fire and hail, he refers it to the torments of hell, combining the transition from icy cold to fiery heat. [40] - After the 4th Trumpet the voice of the eagle flying through mid-heaven, with its cry of Woe, is the voice of preachers forewarning men of Antichrist’s being near at hand; - “In the last days perilous times shall come:” “And then shall that Wicked One be revealed,” &c.: after which the day of judgment. - On Apoc. ix. 6, “In those days men shall seek death, &c.,” he cites illustratively Cyprian’s remark respecting the Decian persecution, “Volentibus mori non permittebatur occidi.” - In the 6th Trumpet the 4 Angels loosed are explained as the same with those holding the winds in Apoc. vii.; the plague being that of Antichrist and his heretical ministers loosed from the Euphrates, or river of Babylon, against the Church; and the hour, day, month, and year signifying the evil spirits’ constant preparedness for destroying men. - The rainbow-crowned angel vision in Apoc. x. is inserted with a new recapitulation, to signify the preparation made by Christ’s first coming for the destruction of the Adversary: - Christ’s feet like pillars of fire answering to Peter, James, and John, who seemed pillars of the Church; the planting them on sea and land, the preaching the gospel over either; and the seven thunders the Church-preaching's under influence of the divine septiform Spirit; with reservation of its mysteries from all but fit hearers. - In this Bede follows Primasius.

In the Vision of the two Witnesses, Apoc. xi., the measuring reed is explained by Bede as the gospel-rule, whereby all but true professors are excluded from the Church, and counted with Gentiles. These tread down the holy City, or Church, not only specially during Antichrist’s time, but also in a manner always; he being the proper head of which they are the body. Meanwhile the two Witnesses, or Church formed out of the two people of Jews and Gentiles, and with Christ as their head, perform their ministry; [41] the 3 1/2 years’ time of their sackcloth-robed witness being commensurate with that of the treading down of the Holy City, and especially that of Daniel’s abomination of desolation, or Antichrist. Their death signifies Antichrist’s all but suppression of the witness during the time of his reign: [42] the great city of their death being the “civitas impiorum” which crucified Christ, and the 3 1/2 days of their exposure as dead the 3 1/2 years of Antichrist’s reign; after the end of which the saints rise to glory. [43]

As to the Beast in Apoc. xiii. and xvii., its body is the whole body of the wicked, its last head Antichrist: the 2nd lamb-like Beast, meaning Antichrist’s pseudo-Christian false prophets; [44] and what is said of their persuading men to make an image of the Beast, the persuading men to imitate and become like him. As to the city of Antichrist’s origin Bede notes doubtingly the idea of its being the literal Babylon. [45] His name, like Primasius, he explains as teitan, avtemov, or arnoume. - The contrasted 144,000 with the Lamb on Mount Zion, he explains (as before in Apoc. vii.) not as mere virgins, but the whole faithful Church of Christ.

Of the millennium Bede set forth of course the now universally received spiritual view, which had been first propounded by Jerome and Augustine.

Bede introduces his Apocalyptic Commentary by a versified sketch of what he viewed as its general purport and more characteristic points: [46] and he concludes by a request to the reader for his prayers.

“Explicato tandem tanto tamque periculoso labore, suppliciter obnixèque deprecor, ut si qui nostrum hoc opusculum lectione vel transcriptione dignum duxerint, auctorem quoque operis Domino commendare meminerint; ut qui non solum mihi, sed et illis, laboraverim. Illorum vicissim qui meo sudore fruuntur votis precibusque remunerer; lignique vitæ, cujus eos aliquatenus odore famáque aspersi, suis meritis faciant visu fructuque potiri. Amen!”

3. Ambrose Ansbert is my next Latin Expositor. He fixes his own æra to about A.D. 760 or 770. For he dedicates his Apocalyptic Commentary at is commencement to Pope Stephen; and at the end tells us that it was written in the times of Pope Paul, and of Desiderius, king of the Lombards. [47] Now Desiderius was king of the Lombards from 756 to 774; in which year he was defeated, and the Lombard kingdom overthrown by Charlemagne. Also Pope Stephen III died in 757, Pope Paul in 767, Pope Stephen IV his successor in 772. [48] He further tells us in his Postscript, that he was a native of Provence in Gaul; and had become a monk of the monastery of St. Vincent in Samnium. [49] Elsewhere he mentions that he had to write the comment with his own hands, the aid of a notary not being afforded him. [50] The Commentary is a copious one, occupying some 250 folio pages in the Bibliotheca; viz. from p. 403 to p. 657 of is xiiith volume. He makes mention of Victorinus as the earliest Apocalyptic expositor among the Latins; and as expurgated and altered by Jerome: also of the two next as Tichonius and Primasius: - a specification satisfactory, as showing us that we still possess all the earliest Latin expositors on this Book. A few detached notices on it are also mentioned by him as occurring in the works of Augustine and Pope Gregory the 1st. [51]

In his comment Ambrose Ansbert treads in the steps of Tichonius and Primasius so closely, that there seems to be as little need as in the case of Primasius to give lengthened details. At the outset he recognizes John’s representative character, - representative of the Church generally, of holy preachers, particularly: [52] also the principle of the Church (or at least its prelates) being figured in the twenty-four elders: and all comprehended indeed in Christ himself too, as being his body; the 24 thrones being thus included, as if one with it, in the circuit of Christ’s own throne. [53] The seven-sealed Book Ansbert views with his predecessors as the Old and New Testament; the Old written without. [54] An ominous notice of the seven different modes of expounding, viz. the historic, allegoric, mixt historic and allegorie, mystical, parabolic, that which discriminates between Christ’s first and second coming, and that which “geminam præceptorum retinet qualitatem, id est vitæ agendæ vitæque figurandæ,” is developed in some six folio pages preceding his exposition of the Seals. [55] - In which exposition of the Seals, while explaining the 1st, as usual, of the progress of Christ and his gospel, it is spiritual evils that he considers chiefly symbolized in those that follow. His chief differences from his predecessors is in making the rider of the black horse in the third Seal, with a pair of balances, to mean the Devil and his followers deceitfully weighing the world against Christ, so as to cheat men with the idea of the world being the more valuable; [56] also, in the fourth Seal, in making Death and the pale horse that he rides to mean the Devil killing men’s souls by means of heretical teachers. In which Seal, let me observe, he reads with Jerome and Bede “on the four parts of the earth,” not “the fourth part.” [57] Further, it is observable that under the sixth Seal he makes the rocks of refuge in the last great persecution, and under fears of the approaching day of judgment, to be “suffragia sanctorum;” that is, of departed saints and of angels. For, says he, even with regard to “the elect,” and the good works that may have preceded, yet “necesse est ut semper ad coelestium civium confuginamus latibula; id est Agelorum intercessionibus ab irâ Judicantis nos deprecemur liberari.” [58] So does the taint of angel and saint worship, then current, appear on the face of this Apocalyptic Exposition. - In the scenic figuration next following the angels of the winds are explained as the evil spirits acting in the four great idolatrous empires, so as by Primasius; and the 144,000 as the mystic number of the elect: the numeral 12, here squared, having parallelism with the 12,000 stadia measure of the new Jerusalem.

Proceeding to the Trumpets, he makes the preparatory half-hour’s silence to be that of the Church’s silent contemplation: (a half-hour, not a whole hour, because in this state its contemplation can never be perfect:) and then (first I believe of expositors) compares the seven Trumpet-soundings with those of the jubilee-trumpets under the old law: as also those sounded on the seven days’ compassing of Jericho; - Jericho, the type in its fall of that of this world. [59] - Inconsistently with what he had said before of the need of the “sufferings of the saints,” he explains the Angel-Priest with the incense-offering so as Tichonius, Primasius, and Bede before him, to be Christ our Mediator. [60] In the 5th Trumpet he suggests that the specification of “hair as the hair of women” might refer to the fact of women having been so often misled by, and given patronage to, heretics: e.g. Constantine’s sister, and afterwards Justina, in the case of Arius and the Arian heresy; Priscilla in that of Montanus; Lucilla in that of Donatus. [61] In the 6th Trumpet he supposes the four Euphratean Angels to be identical with the four Angels of the winds of Apoc. vii.; [62] and the hour, day, month, and year to be equivalent to the 3 1/2 years; like Primasius and other expositors before him.

After this I see no variation from Primasius worth noticing either in the exposition of the rainbow-crowned Angel’s figuration in Apoc. x., or that of the Witnesses in Apoc. xi. Indeed he often quotes at length from Primasius, though without acknowledgment; for example in the exposition of the verse, “Thou must prophesy again,” as applicable both to John specially, and the Church universally. [63] The two Witnesses also he makes to be the Church preachers generally, as well as Enoch and Elias specially; [64] reproving Victorinus for suggesting Jeremiah in the special case, instead of Enoch. [65] The great city in which the Witnesses would be slain might be either the world, or the earthly literal Jerusalem: their witnessing time of 1260 days (= 3 1/2 years) either, mystically, the whole time of Christ’s Church witnessing; (a period borrowed from the 3 1/2 years that was the whole time of Christ’s ministry:) [66] or 1260 days literally: the 3 1/2 days’ apparent death of the witnesses being the 3 1/2 years of the last persecution. Following speedily on which will be the 7th Trumpet of the last judgment, at Christ’s coming. [67] - In Apoc. xii., he expounds the travailing Woman, both of the Virgin Mary and the Church, specially and generally. - On Apoc. xiii. he makes Antichrist to be the eighth head of the Beast, accordantly alike with the symbol of the Beast from the sea in Apoc. xiii., one of whose seven heads had been wounded to death but revived; and also with the Angel’s explanatory observation to that effect in Apoc. xvii. [68] The second or two-horned Beast he explains distinctively from the other, like Gregory and Bede, as signifying the preachers and ministers of Antichrist: [69] feigning the lamb, in order to carry out their hostility against the Lamb: just as Antichrist too, the first Beast’s head wounded to death, would, he says, exhibit himself pro-Christo, [70] in Christ’s place. The “bringing fire from heaven,” he explains as pretending, and seeming to men, to have the power of giving the Holy Spirit, such as Simon Magus wished to obtain by money; [71] and that the second Beast would by its preachings, signs, and dogmas, make men believe that the Holy Spirit resided in Antichrist. [72] (This idea seems to me original, and deserving of remark.) Also that the Beast’s image meant Antichrist, as pictured to themselves by men (after the antichristian preachers’ teaching) to be Christ’s image, though really the Devil’s image. - On the Beast’s mark he observes, that its being required on the forehead meant a man’s profession; on the hand, his acts: and that this was the case even within the Church, in the case of false professors. Further, as names containing the number 666, he mentions Irenæus’ teitan, as well as those in Victorinus and his interpolator, antemov, genshrikov: there being added for the first time a Latin solution also, a very curious one,) DIC LUX. [73]

After the Vials, in which nothing appears to me observable, but that he makes the ulcer of the first Vial to be infidelity, (Such as with the Jews and Pagans, [74] ) the subject comes up again in Apoc. xvii., of the Beast and the Harlot riding him. Here Ansbert speaks of the old notion that the Beast that was and is not meant Nero, once one of seven Roman emperors, and destined to rise again in the character of Antichrist, as “absurd:” [75] adding that the Beast (answering to Antichrist’s body) had in fact existed from the beginning in Cain, and the wicked afterwards; and that it might be said to have been, and not be, and yet be, because of the fleeting and successive generations in whom he rose and fell of evil men. [76] - Of the seven kings symbolized by the Beast’s seven heads, of which five had fallen, his solution is certainly as “absurd” as that he ridicules: - viz. that, as in man the five senses exist before reason, and then, on reason’s unfolding, man’s sixth and mature age begins, to be improved to the man’s salvation, or abused to his destruction, so in its sixth age, then current, the world had come to its maturity; and, preferring error, [77] that so in the seventh would come Antichrist. [78] - On the millennium he of course follows his two predecessors and Augustine. And the New Jerusalem, and its blessings, he explains partly of the Church’s present blessings; partly of those to be enjoyed in its future and heavenly state. [79]

4. Early in the next, or 9th century, fourished Haymo, Bishop of Halberstadt; who wrote an Apocalyptic Comment which forms a thick substantial duodecimo, (i.e. in the princeps Editio printed at Cologne, A.D. 1529,) after collation, it is said, of many manuscript codices. But I do not see need to cite from or refer to it at any length. For I have found it, on examination, to be very mainly copied or abridged from Ambrose Ansbert. There is scarce a chapter in which the examiner will not observe this. - I shall therefore only mention four notabilia in his Commentary; - 1st, that in Apoc. vi. 8, “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” - on the 4th Seal, he reads like Jerome, [80] Bede, and Ambrose Ansbert, “super quatuor partes terræ, on the four parts of the earth,” not the fourth part; explaining it as meant either of the reprobates in all the four parts of the earth, or the four great kingdoms of prophecy: (he does not seem to have been aware of any different rendering:) - 2 that in support of his view of the 3 1/2 days of the two Witnesses lying dead meaning 3 1/2 years, he cites (first I believe of expositors) the well-known passage from Ezekiel iv., as well as that from Numbers xiv.: - 3. that the reading first given by him in Apoc. xvii 16, “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” - is “cornua quæ vidisti in Bestiâ,” epi qhrion; there being noticed however by him afterwards the other reading “reges et Bestia,” given by Ansbert, or kai to qhrion: - 4. that on Apoc. xviii. 3, “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” -- speaking of the reprobated merchandise of Babylon, he applies it to those who then sold their souls for lordships and bishoprics; “comitatus et episcopatus, cæterasque dignitates hujus sæculi.”

I now turn to Primasius’ and Ambrose Ansbert’s two chief contemporary expositors in the GREEK Church and empire; viz. Andreas, and his follower Arethas.

5. Andreas was Bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia. His age is said by Bellarmine, and also by Peltan the Jesuit, in his Preface to the first printed Edition of Andreas’ Apocalyptic Commentary, [81] to have been uncertain; save only that it was later than Basil, the famous Father of the fourth century, since Andreas quotes him. By Cave and Lardner, [82] while admitting its uncertainty, he is assigned to the latter part of the fifth century. And so too Professor M. Stuart. [83] But I think internal evidence is not wanting to fix his date a half-century at least, if not a whole century, later.

For first, besides other authors, he quotes Dionysius, the so-called Areopagite; [84] one whose work is cited by no authority of known earlier chronology than the middle of the sixth century. [85] Secondly, after noticing (under the fourth Seal) a pestilence and famine in the Emperor Maximin’s territory, at the close of the Diocletian persecution, in which dogs were wont to be killed that they might not prey on the unburied corpses, Andreas speaks of the very same things having occurred in his own time; “Kai en hmetera de genea toutwn ekaston sumban egnwmen” - a statement scarcely applicable except to a time of very aggravated pestilence and mortality; and most exactly applicable to the æra of the great and almost universal plague and mortality under Justinian, prolonged from A.D. 542 to 594; during which it is expressly on record that corpses were frequently left unburied. [86] - Thirdly, while recording generally the calamities experienced by the generation then living, from barbarians invading the province or empire, [87] Andreas more than once particularly specifies the Persians as persecutors and slaughterers of Christians, both long previously, and even up to the time when he wrote; also their having been ever given up to magic (mageiaiv) and superstitions: [88] - statements well applicable to the period of Nushirvan’s invasion of the Syrian province, A.D.546, or of his last brief war with the Romans A.D. 572; and still more to that of Chosroes’ invasion and desolation of Cappadocia and other Roman provinces, in the year 611. [89] On the other hand there is no notice whatever of Mahommedism or the Saracens; who in the year 636 A.D. finally overthrew both the Persian empire and the religion of the Magi. - Fourthly, on Apoc. xvii. 1-3, “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3: So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” -- Andreas argues against ancient Rome being meant “as the city which now reigns over the kings of the earth,” because of its having some long time before lost its imperial dignity: [90] a statement scarcely applicable to the time of Theodoric, A.D. 500, when Rome exhibited not a little of its ancient splendor; [91] but strikingly according with the period from after its ruin by Totilas, about the middle of the sixth century, till the accession by Gregory to the Popedom at the end of that century; when, to use Gibbon’s language, Rome had reached the lowest point of depression. [92] - Fifthly, he alludes to the Roman Emperors reigning at Constantinople, as those that had held a rod of power strong as iron for the depression of heathenism: [93] a characteristic probably referable to the time of Andreas’ writing as well as to times previous. In which case the period of the Constantinopolitan Emperor’s great depression at the time of Chosroes’ invasions, from A.D. 611 to 622, would so seem to be set aside. - Sixthly, he speaks of certain Scythian Northern Hunnish nations, as among the most powerful and warlike of the earth: [94] - a statement perfectly applicable to the æra of the empire of the White Huns of Bachara and Samarcand: whose kingdom in 488 stretched from the Caspian to the heart of India, when Perozes the Persian king fell in an unfortunate expedition against them; [95] and continued till their subjugation, about A.D. 550, by the Scythian Turks of Mount Altai. [96] - On the whole we may date Andreas’ Treatise, I think, with some measure of confidence, between A.D. 550 and 579: - about 550, just before the Huns’ overthrow by the Turks, if Andreas’ word Hunnish be construed strictly; about 575, if the word seem applicable also to the cognate race of the Turks. [97]

Let me now turn from this argument, which has indeed occupied us too long, to our Author’s Apocalyptic Commentary. Like his predecessors, he speaks in the introduction of the tripartite sense of Holy Scripture, its body, soul, and spirit: and that the spiritual or anagogical sense is applicable in the Apocalypse, even more than in other Scripture. [98] Yet in fact Andreas admits a larger mixture of the literal, here and there, than Tichonius, Primasius, or Ansbertus: and there is also somewhat more of a consecutive historical view of its different parts; as of a prophecy figuring successive events from St. John’s time to the consummation. [99] - Passing by the primary figuration of Christ, which he explains somewhat as Victorinus, and the Epistles to the seven Churches (representative of all Churches), on which I give two or three of his detached remarks below, [100] he exemplifies in the heavenly scene next opened the literally tendency I spoke of, by explaining the glassy sea before the throne, not only anagogically of the virtues and blessed tranquility of the heavenly state, but literally also, as perhaps the crystalline heaven. - Of the seven-sealed Book (the Book of God’s mind and purposes, or Book of prophecy) he explains the several Seals to signify as follows: - 1st, the apostolic æra, and apostles’ triumph over Satan, more especially in the conversion of the Gentiles: - 2nd, the æra of anti-gospel war, and bloody martyrdoms, next after the apostolic; when Christ’s words were fulfilled, “I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword:” - 3rd, that of Christians’ grief for the falling away of professors, through inconstancy, vain-glory, or weakness of the flesh, and so, when weighed in the balance, being found wanting; the oil of sympathy for such being mixed by true Christians with the sharp wine of rebuke: (there being also perhaps, adds Andreas in a more literal sense, a famine at the time:) - 4th, a calamitous æra of joint famine and pestilence, in judgment on the apostate and impious, [101] such as Eusebius relates to have happened under Maximin the Eastern Emperor, when corpses lay unburied, and dogs were killed that they might not devour them: [102] - 5th, the martyrs’ cry for vengeance against their injurers, [103] and so for the consummation: in regard of whom, while waiting till the martyr-number should be completed, it was shown that, white-robed in their virtues, they now repose on Abraham’s bosom, anticipating eternal joys: - 6th, a transition to the times and persecution of Antichrist: (though some had suggested, Andreas says, both here in in the sealing vision, a retrogressive reference to Titus’ destruction of Jerusalem: [104] ) in reference to which times of Antichrist the earthquake figured a change of things, or revolution, as usual in Scripture; the obscuration of the sun and moon God’s judicial blinding of men’s minds; the falling stars the apostasy and falling away of those who were thought to be lights in the world; and the rolling up of the sky, perhaps physical changes in the natural world for the better, [105] such as Irenæus expected at the consummation; or perhaps, seeing that the unrolling of Hebrew scrolls (unlike that of our books, says Andreas) was the unfolding of their contents, the revelation and manifestation of the heavenly, blessings laid up for the saints. [106] - After which the 144,000 of the sealing vision depicted the body of true Christians, distinguished on Antichrist’s coming by the sign of the cross from unbelievers: (not the Christians saved at the siege of Jerusalem:) the winds held signifying some deadly stagnation of the aerial element then to occur; [107] and the palm-bearing vision the happiness of the heavenly and everlasting rest, by God’s throne, of the innumerable company of both earlier martyrs and the martyrs under Antichrist: when (the wicked having been cast into hell) the angels and saved ones of men will constitute but one family.

At the opening of the seventh Seal, a regression is supposed from this palm-bearing scene: its loosing, as of the 7th and last Seal, indicating as its result the dissolution of each polity of this world; [108] the silence in heaven, the angelic hosts’ reverential awe, or perhaps their ignorance of the time of the consummation; the half-hour of its duration the brief space intervening before the end; and the Trumpet-figurations judgments in the interval. Of these Trumpet-woes he explains the first, which was to fall upon the land, literally, [109] (and I think rightly,) of the burnings and slaughters through invading barbarians, by which the third part of things inland would be consumed: [110] - the second, on the sea, figuratively, as meaning the Devil and his burning wrath, falling on the world, especially near the time of consummation: [111] - the third, again, similarly, of sufferings through the Devil fallen star-like (as Isaiah’s Lucifer) from heaven: - and the eclipses in the fourth of very much the same judgments as in Joel ii. 31, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.”; mercy however restricting their duration to the third part of the day and the night. - Then the Angel’s warning-cry, next heard, he speaks of as marking Angel’s pity for men’s woes. [112] And he interprets the fifth Trumpet’s scorpion-locusts of demons, (once bound by Christ, but now loosed a little before the consummation;”) [113] with influences darkening the soul, and for some fated quintuple of time [114] wounding with a poison-sting, which being that of sin, is death: [115] - also the sixth Trumpet’s four angels from the Euphrates of hell’s most evil demons, [116] bound (like those of the previous plague) at Christ’s coming; but now let loose, to stir up nation against nation, as well as against Christians: and urging on either spiritually-destroying suggestions to sin, or literally-destroying barbarian armies; perhaps locally from the Euphrates, as Antichrist would come from the East. [117]

In the vision of the rainbow-crowned Angel of Apoc. x., (a created Angel, according to Andreas,) the planting of his fiery feet on land and sea is curiously explained of indignation to be manifested against robbers by land, and pirates by sea: [118] the opened book, as the record of names and deeds of such specially wicked ones: the seven thunders, as seven voices prophetic of the future, either by this one Angel, or by seven others taking up the subject in response: the sealing them up, as tantamount to Daniel’s sealing till the time of the end; the issues of futurity being till then uncertain: the oath, as to the effect that no long time after, at the conclusion of the sixth age, [119] and in the days of the seventh Trumpet, all would end, and the saints rest begin. - Then, in what ensues, Andreas follows his predecessors in applying it personally to St. John: John’s eating the book, (a book sweet for the joyous things predicted in it, bitter for the bitter things,) [120] and charge to prophesy again, being significant of his personally prophesying again to the end of the world, by the publication of his Apocalypse and Gospel. - In the Witness vision the temple meant the Christian Church; its outer court, the concourse to it of Infidels and Jews: [121] the Holy City (or New Jerusalem), the faithful Church; [122] the 3 1/2 years of the Gentiles trampling it, those of Antichrist’s persecuting the faithful: the two Witnesses, Enoch and Elias; endowed by God’s mercy with miraculous powers antagonistically to the Satanic supernatural powers of Antichrist: the time of their slaughter by Antichrist, that of their warnings against him being completed: the scene of their lying dead, the old and desolate Jerusalem: (Antichrist there fixing his royal seat probably, in order to seem the fulfiller of the prophecy, “I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen,” and so deceiving the Jews into a belief on him:) the rising of the Witnesses, 3 1/2 days after death, their literal resurrection: the tenth part of the city falling, and seven thousand slain, the judicial fall and ruin of the impious of the seventh age of the world, not even the Witnesses’ resurrection having induced repentance: the rest that glorified God, those that, when the martyrs rose to glory, might be deemed not unworthy of salvation. - Then the seventh Trumpet figured the general resurrection; the temple’s concomitant opening, the manifestation of the heavenly blessedness of the saints; and the lightings and thunderings, the torments of the damned.

In the vision of the Dragon and Woman, Apoc. xii., Andreas (following “the great Methodius,” whom he cites) [123] makes the Woman to signify the Church, bringing forth (just as in Isa. lxvi., which the citation refers to) a Christian people: the moon under foot meaning either the world, or the Jewish ritual law; and the male child, and his iron rod, having fulfillment in the Roman Christian people and emperors, ruling the heathen. [124] Further, the Dragon was the Devil: his seven heads symbolizing seven chief devilish powers, from conquering which the Christian warrior wins his diadems; his ten horns, the ten anti-decalogic sins, or decuple division before the consummation of the mundane empire: his symbolical fall, that when he was first cast out of heaven on his transgression; or that spoken of by Christ as fulfilled on his coming, when Satan seemed like lightning to fall from heaven. - During Antichrist’s 3 1/2 years’ reign, the Church’s abstraction from the world is to fulfill the figure of the Women’s flight into the wilderness, with perhaps a literal flight into deserts: the two Testaments being in God’s providence the wings supporting and preserving her from the waters, or multitude of the impious, (whether men or dæmons,) ejected by the Dragon against her.

Then, on the Beast of Apoc. xiii., [125] Andreas, professedly, but not really, following Hippolytus, [126] interprets it as Antichrist: stating that this Antichrist, or pseudo-Christ, [127] is to rise after the ten kings’ rising, answering to the ten toes of the prophetic image: and, coming with the title of Roman king, [128] to overthrow their princedoms; like Augustus healing and restoring the Roman kingdom, when (like the Beast’s wounded head) as it were dissolved by its division into ten. [129] - The second Beast with the two horns like a lamb, he prefers to explain, after Irenæus, as Antichrist’s prodromov and false prophet: exhibiting a show of piety; and with pretence of being a lamb, when in fact a wolf. - The image of the Beast he supposes to be literally meant of some image of Antichrist made by the False Prophet; through which the Devil would speak, as by the heathen idols. - Antichrist’s miracle he explains as Satanic impostures: his name, with the number 666, as either a personal noun, such as Aampetiv, Teitan, Aateinov, Benediktov; or an appellative, as kakov odhgov, amnov adikov, palai baskanov; of all which names the number is 666. [130] - With regard to the Harlot seated on the Beast in Apoc. xvii., he observes that Rome had been judged by certain earlier writers to be the city intended; because of its being built on seven hills; and having had too seven chief persecuting emperors, from Domitian to Diocletian inclusive. But he objects its having then for some time lost its imperial majesty: unless, indeed, he adds, very remarkably, this should in some way be restored to her; [131] “a supposition involving the fact of a previous overthrow of the city now ruling,” [132] i.e. Constantinople. Further he notices the fact of ancient Babylon and Jerusalem having been each called a harlot; and that the old Rome was called Babylon by St. Peter: also the special fitness of either appellative to the ten Persian capital (Ctesiphon). So too the characteristic “drunk with the blood of saints,” applied alike to Old Rome, under the emperors, down to Diocletian; to New Rome, or Constantinople, under Julian and the Arian Emperors: and to the Persian capital: for who can calculate the sufferings of the saints in Persia? Thus the harlot-city meant might be any one of those, if at the time of the end invested with the world’s supremacy: or perhaps, Andreas adds, generically the dominion of the world. - The “Beast that was, and is not, yet shall be,” he explains to signify the Devil; broken in power by Christ’s death, and banished into the abyss or elsewhere, yet fated at length to revive in Antichrist. The Beast’s seven heads he interprets to mean the seven successive seats of the world’s supremacy, Nineveh, Ecbatana, Babylon, Susa, Pella, Rome, Constantinople; or the first kings reigning in each respectively, the representatives of the respective empires. He adds however Hippolytus’ alternative explanation of them as seven ages: and Irenæus’ suggestion that as seven is a sacred number, so there might be fated a septenary of dominant empires in the world; the old Roman empire being the 6th, and perhaps that of new Rome or Constantinople the 7th: but in this, and in every case, the seventh having in St. John’s time not come. The Beast, or Beast’s eighth head, is Antichrist; called “one of the seven,” because of springing from one of the heads, or kingdoms, viz. the Roman; for he is to rise and flourish not as a foreigner, but as king of the Romans. [133] The Ten horns or kings that were to reign one hour with the Beast, he identifies with Daniel’s ten horns: and construes the one hour to mean either some short time, or perhaps a quarter of a year; because wrh in Greek means not only an hour, but also one of the year’s four seasons. In verse 16 he reads “The ten horns and the Beast (kai to qhrion) shall hate the whore.” But in his comment he speaks as if the ten horns did so, under the Devil’s influence, not Antichrist’s: and marvels at his so acting against a harlot antichristian city. [134]

Reverting to Apoc. xiv., I may observe that Andreas views the 144,000 with Christ on the Mount Zion (or Christian Jerusalem) as the virgin-saints of the New Testament; a body different probably from those of Apoc vii., because of the fact of the former being noted (which the others are not) as virgins. - The three flying angels are warners against Antichrist, and the Babylon of this world. - The earth’s harvest he makes to be Christ’s gathering of the good; (like wheat, with its increase of 30, 60, or 100 fold;) while the vintage in the gathering of the bad to judgment. [135] - Then, advancing to the Vials in Apoc. xv., xvi., he explains the harpers by the glassy sea to be the saved ones; and the glassy sea itself, mixed with fire, to symbolize their tranquil happy state, yet as those that had been saved by fire: the song of Moses being that song by the saved ones of the Old Testament dispensation, that of the Lamb by the saved ones of the New. [136] The statement that none might enter the temple till the plagues of the seven Vial-Angels [137] had been fulfilled, he expounds to mean that the saints might not enter on the rest of the heavenly Jerusalem, till after the finishing of God’s indignation against the wicked. - The plague of the first Vial he makes to be the inward corroding ulcer of heart-grief at the plague suffered; and perhaps also literally outward ulcers, the fit symbol of that within. [138] Again, the statement under the sixth Vial respecting the way of the kings from the East being prepared he expounds as meaning that a way would be opened for Gog and Magog to come across the Euphrates: or perhaps for Antichrist coming from Persia, whither the Jewish tribe of Dan, whence he is to spring, was once carried captive: he, together with other kings from the East, bringing death with him; whether to men’s souls, or bodies, or both. The pouring out of the seventh Vail into the air, he supposes to indicate lightning's and elemental convulsions, such as once at Mount Sinai; in fulfillment of Heb. xii. 27, “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.” As to the great city tripartited, as the result of this seventh Vial’s outpouring, he judges it to be Jerusalem, great from its religious celebrity, rather than from its actual extent; and which is then and thereupon to be divided, in respect of its population, into Christians, Jews, and Samaritans.

I need only add that, as to the millennium, he explains it anagogically, as Augustine: notes there being two deaths, that of the flesh and of sin temporary, that of hell eternal: also two resurrections, that by baptism, and that to incorruption; the first, and its accompanying millennial rule of the saints over sin and Satan, being but an introduction to the other. - Gog and Magog meant the Scythian or Hunnish nations; even in Andreas’ time a mighty power, and only restrained by God till the time of Antichrist: that these will, on Antichrist’s coming, gain the empire of the world; surround the Church, or camp of the saints; and also assail “the new Jerusalem,” the city loved by God, whence the Gospel went forth. [139] - The heavenly Jerusalem he explains as the saints’ heavenly state; then when St. Paul’s prophecy of the creation’s deliverance is to take place from the bondage of corruption: the state being one of perfect union, many mansions, and eternal joy; its full fruition taking place not till after the saints’ rising again. [140] Such expressions as that the kings and nations of the earth bring their glory into it, he expounds of the then manifested glory of the good deeds of such as have reigned over their passions, and have pleased Christ. [141] On the “sea then being no more,” he explains it both literally and figuratively. What need any more of the sea, when men need not to sail on it, for fetching from other regions the earth’s fruits and merchandize? And what can there be of the troublesome tossing of life, which the figure means, when no more of fear or trouble is ever to betide the saints?

In concluding summary Andreas states very distinctly his view of the Apocalypse being a prophecy of the things that were to happen from Christ’s first coming even to the consummation. [142]

I observe in fine that there is an air of much piety in this Commentary. I may exemplify in Andreas’ remark on the sin of adding to, or taking from divine Scripture, Apoc. xxii. 18, 19, “ For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

19: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” [143] He here waxes quite warm in speaking of the superiority of Scriptural to all classical or dialectic or reasoning knowledge. [144]

6. Arethas, a successor of Andreas in the Bishopric of Cæsarea, was his follower also in great measure in the Commentary that he wrote on the Apocalypse. Thus much he tells us himself. [145] Respecting his date there seems to me to have been a considerable mistake on the part of most that have expressed an opinion about it. Alike Coccius, the Editor of the B. P. M. (which work gives a Latin translation of Arethas’ Commentary in its ixth Volume, [146] ) and Cave too, and Lardner, and just recently Professor M. Stuart, [147] assigned to his the date of A.D. 540 or 550. On the other hand Casimir Oudin and Fabricius incline to identify him with a Presbyter of the same Cappadocian Cæsarea, of the name Arethas, who, about A.D.920, translated a work of the Constantinopolitan Patriarch Euthymius. But, says Cave, [148] Oudin had no argument or evidence to adduce in favor of his conjecture. Nor Indeed Fabricius either; if (not having access to his work) I may judge from the reference to him in Lardner. [149] I have observed, however, very decisive evidence in the Commentary itself, of Arethas having lived as late at least as near the end of the eighth century. For he speaks of the capital and palace of the Saracens as being then still at Babylon, evidently meaning Bagdad: [150] - a capital not built till A.D.762; [151] and where the Saracen Caliphs continued to hold a waning empire through the ninth century, till its extinction A.D. 934 by the Bowides. [152] A curious reference to Constantinople, which will be found in my page 180, following. [153] may possibly appear to furnish a further indication. The identity of our Cæsarean Bishop with the Cæsarean Presbyter that translated Euthymius seems to me more than doubtful. The very appellative of the one as a Bishop, the other as only a Presbyter, constitutes a presumption against that idea. Moreover, Arethas’ reference to the Saracens and Bagdad seems to indicate the fact of their empire being still powerful there. - I say still, after Arethas’ “in hoe usque tempus;” and powerful, because of his representing it as in place of the old lion-like Babylonian empire. Hence, on the whole, we may I think reasonably reckon his date as somewhere within the limits of the first half of the 9th century; between A.D. 800 and 850. [154]

In the heading of his Apocalyptic Commentary there is, as hinted by me just before, an intimation of its having been very much taken from that of Andreas. He generally indeed gives the opinions of the latter; sometimes in the form of direct quotation, and by name; more often silently: adding however from time to time some strange conceits of his own [155] . It is only the more important variations from Andreas that need here to be noticed. And these are as follows.

Under the sixth Seal he singularly explains the earthquake, &c., there figured, of the literal earthquake and elemental convulsions at Christ’s death and resurrection: [156] particularly dwelling on the adjective olh attached to selhnh in his copy: [157] the moon having been (just agreeably with it) whole, and at the full, on the occasion of its eclipse at the time of Christ’s death, and so the eclipse miraculous. - He adds, however, a notice of the interpretation by certain other expositors, explaining it “tropicè” of the destruction of Jerusalem; and that of Andreas, referring it to the convulsions under Antichrist.

Under the Sealing Vision he suggests the possible reference of the four angels of the winds to the desolations of Judæa by the Romans; or, yet more probably, to the desolations of Antichrist: then, in speaking of the sealing itself, more distinctly and decidedly explains and sealing 144,000 as meaning the Jews converted to Christianity before the destruction of Jerusalem, asserting that Jerusalem was not destroyed when John received these revelations; the Virgin Mary having only lived fourteen years after Christ’s ascension, and John immediately after her death removed to Ephesus. [158] Which passage has been naturally adduced by the advocates of an early date to the Apocalypse, in support of their opinion: but of which the value as an authority, small in itself because that of so late a writer, is rendered yet smaller by the fact of Arethas having not once only, but twice, stated from Eusebius, that it was under Domitian’s reign that John was banished to Patmos. [159] - On the Angel’s charge, “Thou must prophesy again,” Arethas observes that it was hence that the vulgar opinion arose that John was to live to the end of the world; and then to prophesy with Enoch and Elias, and with them suffer martyrdom, in the time of Antichrist. [160] - In the first part of Apoc. xii. he interprets the travailing Woman to mean the Virgin Mary; and the Woman’s flight of 3 1/2 years into the wilderness to have been fulfilled in the Virgin’s flight into Egypt, and stay there near 3 1/2 years till Herod’s death: adding however the alternative solution also of the Woman’s signifying the Church; and the wilderness flight her retirement from the world during the 3 1/2 years of Antichrist’s reign. - With regard to the Beast of Apoc. xiii., or Antichrist, he suggests the same solutions of his name and number as Andreas; viz. - lampetiv, teitan, lateinov, o nikhthv, kakov odhgov, alhqhv blaberov, palai baskanov, amvov adikov: and suggests that the second Beast would act the same part as forerunner to Antichrist that John the Baptist did to Christ. - On the declaration that the great city was to be divided into three parts, he notices Andreas’ idea, that it was the literal Jerusalem that was to be so tripartited: and also as an alternative, that it might mean the world and its empire, as subjected successively after Christ, in chronological tripartition, to Pagan kings, Christian kings, and Antichrist. [161] The Babylon there mentioned he prefers to understand of Constantinople; with reference apparently to some recent domineering of the civil power over the ecclesiastical; which made that city answer, in his view, pre-eminently to the type of Babylon. [162] - On the summons to the birds in Apoc. xix., to gather to God’s great supper, he strangely explains them to mean the souls of saints, called from a state of depression to meet Christ in the air. [163] - And, finally, he makes the New Jerusalem to represent the habitation and polity of the saints after the resurrection, conjunctively with Angels: “Civitas quod ominium tum Augelorum tum hominum futura sit domicilium.” [164]

6. I now return Westward from Greek Christendom, to note a somewhat later Latin Expositor of the Apocalypse; [165] one whose epoch, I now think, was near about the conclusion of the period included in this Section, though elsewhere referred by me to a considerably earlier period: - I mean Berengaud.

In my Vol. iii. p. 279, I have noticed this Commentary. I had stated originally that the writer (probably, from his reference to the Rules of that order, a Benedictine monk) had in a singular manner intimated his name under the enigmatic form of Greek numerals; [166] also that by his noting the facts of the Saracens who had overrun; Asia, as well as the Lombards who had conquered Italy, having had their kingdoms overthrown when he wrote, [167] his æra seemed fixed as not earlier than the end of the ninth century. An approximation this to his real age which well agreed with that drawn by the Benedictine editors of Ambrose, from his specification of archdeacons receiving hush-money for overlooking the fornication of the priesthood, as a sin of the then times: this crime being prominently noticed in Synods held at Paris, Chalons, and Aquis-Granum, in the same ninth century. [168] But the crime continued flagrant long after, so as to be by no means any certain or specific chronological designative. [169] And a notice as to the then existing Jerusalem being inhabited by Christians [170] seemed to me afterwards to mark a much later æra than the 9th century; in fact one subsequent to the taking of Jerusalem by the crusaders. A lateness of date corroborated by the late epoch at which Berengaud’s comment is said to have come into notice. [171]

The Commentary is one too original to omit noticing; and goes on a regular connected chronological plan, which (however unsatisfactory it may be as an exposition) makes it easy to read, in comparison with the other Latin Commentaries of the æra under review. This chronological plan is sketched at the outset, and adduced repeatedly, even to the end. It is founded on the frequent septenary division of the Apocalyptic prefigurations: to all which seven (except the seven epistles to the churches) Berengaud supposes that substantially the same chronological reference and order attaches; a chronology commencing from the creation, and reaching to the consummation.

Thus in the opening figuration of Christ he remarks on eight particulars as given in the description; his priestly garment, his zone, his head, his eyes, his feet, his voice, his sword, and his face as the sun; and of these the first seven are expounded as typical of that “civitas Dei quæ ex omnibus electis constat; [172] et quæ ab initio usque ad finem tendit, in septem partes divisa.“ Which seven parts are 1. the elect from the Creation till the Flood; 2. the patriarchs and saints from the Flood to the giving of the Law; 3. the multitudes saved under the ministry of the Mosaic Law; 4. the prophets; 5. the apostles; 6 the multitude of the Gentiles that believed in Christ; 7. the saints that are to conflict with Antichrist at the end of the world. The 8th particular noted in the symbol, viz. Christ’s face as the sun, he makes to prefigure the Church of the elect after the resurrection; when they too shall all shine as the sun in the firmament. - The testifying of the sain


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2015, 07:30:29 PM »
PERIOD 4 From 1100 A.D.

To The Reformation

IN this fourth Period it is my purpose to sketch most prominently the partially contrasted and partially accordant views of the Apocalyptic prophecy, propounded very influentially by the Romanist Joachim Abbas and his followers, on the one hand, and the very early pioneers of the Reformation on the other. A briefer notice will suffice of Anselm of Havilburg before Joachim, and of Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas after him. - I have already just hinted the various new and important characteristics of the new opening æra which combined to exercise a considerable influence on Apocalyptic interpretation, and to give a new and increased interest to the Apocalyptic Commentaries that now appeared: besides that, in the progress of time, new and important acts had occurred in the history of Christendom, with which to compare the details of prophecy. Germs of thought now arose that were to receive afterwards a fuller development; and prophetic views destined, ere very long, to help towards producing great and unexpected results.

1. And 1st, before proceeding to Joachim Abbas, let me briefly notice a short Treatise on the Apocalyptic Seals by Anslem, Bishop of Havilburg in the Magdeburgensian Diocese: [1] a Treatise composed A.D. 1145, as appears on the face of the document; and on the following occasion. It seems that Anselm (who had been previously Secretary to the Emperor Lotharius the Second) having been sent on an embassy to the Greek Emperor Manuel at Constantinople, was challenged by some Greek bishops there, publicly to discuss the points of difference between the Latin and the Greek Churches; with which request he complied: and that having successfully defended, as was thought, the Latin cause, he was desired by Pope Eugenius to write an abstract of the discussion; which he did, in the form of dialogue. By way of introduction to this discussion, and with a view to answer difficulties on religion, which might arise in some minds, from the circumstance of so many different forms of religion existing in different countries and different ages, he prefixed to the Dialogues a preliminary book, showing that there had been from the first one body of the Church, governed by one Spirit; that in the Old Testament times, from Abel even to Christ, the Church had ever held the rite of sacrifice, though with ceremonies often varied; and been under the influence of faith, though with imperfect knowledge of the articles of Christian faith: also, with reference to New Testament times, that various different successive states of the Church had been expressly foreshown, indeed seven different states from Christ to the consummation; the prefiguration of them having been given in the Apocalyptic Seals. In this curious manner it is that Anselm’s views on this prophecy were given to the world. It may perhaps be called the earliest Church-Scheme, properly speaking, of the Apocalyptic Seals; and is, in brief, as follows.

1. The white horse typifies the earliest state of the Church, white in the luster of miraculous gifts: [2] the rider Christ, with the bow of evangelic doctrine, humbling the proud, and conquering opposers; so that the Church (Acts v. 14, “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.).” was then daily increased.

2. The red horse is the next state of the Church, red with the blood of martyrdom; from Stephen the proto-martyr to the martyrs under Diocletian.

3. The black horse depicts the Church’s third state, blackened after Constantine’s time with heresies, such as of Arius, Sabellius, Nestorius, Eutyches, Donatus, Photinus, Manes; men pretending to hold the balance of justice in their discussions, but falsely weighing words and arguments: [3] while on the other hand, Church Councils laid down what are rightly called Canons, (so Anselm seems some way to have understood the voice from among the Cherubim in the Apocalyptic vision,) by which the faith was defined.

4. The pale horse signified the Church’s fourth state, colored with the hue of hypocrisy too generally prevalent afterwards; “as pale is neither white nor black, but either falsely.” And so, adds Anselm, has the Church suffered from these, that the rider may well be called Death, Death the slayer of souls. - This state he makes to have commenced from the beginning of the fifth century, and to have continued even to his own time. Nor will it terminate, he asserts, till the time when the tares shall be separated from the wheat in judgment, and the saints follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.

5. Souls under the altar. Here is the Church’s fifth state. Then the souls of the saints which will have shed their blood for Christ, considering the infinite miseries of the Church in its three previous states, moved with compassion will cry out, “How long, O Lord, dost thou not avenge our blood?”

6 The sixth state of the Church is when there shall arise the most vehement persecution in the times of Antichrist, [4] answering to the great earthquake of the sixth seal. Then Christ, the Sun of righteousness, shall be hidden; Christian professors fall from the Church into earthly-mindedness; and the heaven, or Church itself, pass away, together with its sacraments, altogether from the public view.

7 The seventh state is that of the saints’ rest; a rest in the beatific vision: as it is said, “When he had opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for about the space of half an hour.

So Anselm of the seven Apocalyptic Seals: a scheme chiefly exhibiting views of the Church’s successive trials and evils. - I may observe, further, that in one or two passing notices of the vision of the Dragon and travailing Woman, Apoc. xii., he makes what is said of the Dragon’s persecution of the Woman, or Church, after she had brought forth Christ her male child, to be chronologically parallel with the times of the red horse of the second Seal; also the Dragon’s going forth to persecute the rest of the Woman’s seed, (Apoc. xii. 17, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”) to have been fulfilled in the heresies introduced after Constantine’s overthrow of Paganism, [5] by heretics that bore on their hearts the mark of the Beast.

2. I now pass on to Joachim Abbas; a person of greater repute and greater influence, as an expounded of prophecy, than any other whatever in the middle age. He was a Calabrian by birth, and in early life had made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem: a city at that time still held by the successors of the Crusaders; though threatened by Mussulman enemies surrounding it. The lively recollection of what he then saw had probably not a little influence on Joachim’s interest in and views of prophecy. Indeed it was there and then, in the Holy Church and Sepulcher, that the idea was first impressed on his mind of having a call to the illustration of prophetic Scripture. [6] About the year 1180 he had been elected Abbot of the monastery of Curacio in Calabria, near Cosenza: but, having already at that time become famous for his gift in Scriptural research and explication, he received express permission from Pope Lucius III, in the year 1182, to retire a while from the Abbacy and its active occupations, in order to give himself more entirely to these studies. In 1183, at the Convent of Casemaire, Luke, then a monk of the monastery, and afterwards Archbishop of Cosenza, tells us that he was assigned as secretary to Joachim: [7] and that night and day both himself and two other monks were employed by Joachim, as his assistants and scribes in two works on which he was then busy; one of the Concord of the Old and New Testament, the other on the Apocalypse. [8] It was for a year and a half, according to this informant, that Joachim thus occupied himself at the convent, “dictating and correcting.” At what time he finally finished his Apocalyptic comment seems uncertain. In A.D. 1190, when our king Richard was at Messina, on his way to the Holy Land, he was full of the subject. We have in Roger de Hovenden an interesting account of the king’s sending for him, and hearing him lecture on it, induced by his high reputation for prophetic lore; [9] together with a sketch of certain views as to the future which he then propounded from the Apocalypse: views partially contradicted however by the event soon after; and which in the commentary, as finally corrected by him, appear, as we shall see afterwards, considerably modified. In the copy of the commentary handed down to us, [10] I observe a notice of something that he states himself to have heard in the year 1195. [11] Hence I conceive that he corrected and improved the Work till near the time of his death; which happened, according to Fleury, in the year 1202. - I now proceed to give a sketch of his exposition.

A brief Prologue, and then an Introduction Book, are prefixed to the Exposition; which Exposition is itself divided into six PARTS. - In the Prologue he takes care prominently to state, that he had not entered on the work presumptuously, and merely from his own judgment; but by the authority, and at the command, of the Roman See; a brief Monitory of Pope Clement on which point, and one which alludes to the previous mandates of the two Popes preceding, is inserted. [12] And, in the same spirit of deference to the Roman See, he leaves also prefixed a solemn charge to the Priors and Brethren of his Abbey, to have his writings immediately and formally submitted to its judgment; in case of his death occurring before this was done. [13]

From the Introductory Book, (one of several chapters, preceding the main Commentary,) [14] it may suffice to note what he says of the Three Ages, the Apocalyptic seven-sealed Book, and the Concord of the Two Testaments.

1. Noticing the old Jewish threefold division of time, before the law, under the law, and under the Messiah or gospel, he observes that the last period of these three may be itself divided into three; viz. that of the gospel letter, gospel spirit, and vision of God; so making up five in all; [15] and that, omitting the first and last of the five, he would mean by the three states of the world, [16] when spoken of in his Treatise, the three intermediate æras; viz. 1 from Abraham to John the Baptist and Christ; 2 from Christ to the time of the fullness of the Gentiles; 3. from that to the consummation.

2. He states that certain mysteries of the Old Testament history were depicted by the seven Seals of the Apocalypse seven-sealed Book: and that these mysteries were opened by Christ after his resurrection. [17]

3. He illustrates the concord of the two Testaments; and correspondence of certain events affecting the Old Testament Church, with certain that affected the New Testament Church, the latter being a kind of fuller expansion and accomplishment of the types of the former: and this in the seven æras following, signified under the seven Seals. [18] We have here the key to Joachim’s Apocalyptic views.

                OLD TESTAMENT                                                                                                NEW TESTAMENT

SEAL                                                                                                       SEAL

1. From Abraham or Jacob, to Moses and                                       ½         1. From Christ to death of John the Evangelist

        Joshua; in which æra occurred Israel’s                                     ½          - Conflict of the Church with the

        war with the Egyptians                                                             ½                Jews, under New Testament Moses.

2. Joshua to David. - Wars with the Canannites                              ½          2. Death of St. John to Constantine.- Persecutions

                                                                                                        ½                of Pagan Rome.

3. David to Elias and Elisha. - Schism of Israel                               ½          3. Constantine to Justinian. - Persian oppression

        and Judah, and civil wars.                                                          ½                of the Church . Schism of the Greek Church

                                                                                                        ½                from the Latin.

4. Elisha to Isaiah and Hezekiah. - Wars first                                  ½          4. Justinian to Charlemagne. Persian persecutions.

        with Syrians, then with Assyrians, resulting                              ½                Saracens overrun and desolate the Greek Church

        in Israel’s ten tribes’ destruction.                                             ½                and nation.

5. Hezekiah to Judah’s captivity by the Babylonians;                       ½          5. Charlemagne to the time now present. - The Greek

        after previous partial suffering from the                                   ½                Church now separated from the Roman. German

        Egyptians under Pharaoh Necho. Meanwhile                            ½                Emperors from Henry the 1st (men worse than

        there had been settled in the Samaritan                                    ½                heathens) endeavored to destroy the liberties of

        countries a mixed people; half heathen,                                   ½                of the Church. The Latin or Roman Empire

        half not.                                                                                   ½                answers to Babylon. [19]

6. Jews’ return to Malachi’s death. -                                                ½          6. Times just about beginning, in which the Roman

        Babylon overthrown by the Persians. Jews                                ½                Babylon (or Babylon of the Roman empire) will

        suffer from Assyrians under Holofernes, and                            ½                be struck to death.

        Syro-Macedonians under Antiochus. [20]                                       ½

7. Malachi to John the Baptist and Christ. World’s first state ends   ½          7. End of the second state in the world’s conversion and sabbath. [21]

“Apertio sexti sigilli,” he concludes, “nuper initiata, in paucis anis vel diebus consummationem accipiet. Exinde erit sabbatum, sicut in diebus Johannis: [22] et in eo status iste secundus consummationem accipiet. Ut autem in tempore sexti signaculi percussa est vetus Babylon, ita et nunc percutietur nova. Et sicut tunc Assyrii ét Macedones deterruerunt Judæos, ita et nunc Saraceni, et qui post eos venturi sunt pseudo-prophetæ, facient mala multa in terrâ, et talem tribulationem qualis non fuit ab initio. Consummatis autem pressuris istis adveniet tempus beatum:” - a time when “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.,” [23]

Other chapters are on “the Dragon and Antichrist;” “De duplici intelligentiâ distinctionis;” “Pulchrum mysterium;” “On the difference of sabbaths;” “On the perfection of the numbers five and seven,” &c., not now needful to enter on. Let me only in passing call attention to the heading of one; “De vitâ activâ designatâ in Petro, et de contemplativâ in Joanne.” [24] On various occasions this view of Peter as type of the priestly order, John of the monastic, is put forward by Joachim.

In proceeding I omit noticing the Part i. of Joachim’s Commentary, [25] relative to the Epistles to the seven Churches, as not to my point: and pass on to its Part ii., [26]   Leaf 114, where it enters on the subject of the Seals: observing, as we pass on, that he explains the four Cherubim around the throne to signify the four Ecclesiastical orders of pastors, deacons, doctors, and the contemplatives: [27] or, with a certain reference to chronological succession, first, the apostles; second, the martyrs and confessors; third, the doctors of the 4th and 5th centuries; fourth, the virgins or monks. [28]

The 1st Seal then having been opened by Christ, its white horse was the primitive Church: the rider Christ, as man, with his crown of righteousness, in person conquering alike the world, death, and Satan; and to the disciples triumphantly assigning the kingdom, the Jewish perfidy being overcome. (Just as Israel emerged from, and conquered, the Egyptians.) It was the first Cherub, or Apostolic Order, which, as with a voice of thunder, here invited the world to contemplate.

In the 2nd Seal, the red horse symbolizes the Roman Pagan priests and armies: the rider the Devil, that great homicide, or the Roman persecuting Emperors actuated by him. So were wars kindled, and peace disturbed. And especially what bloodshed of the saints in the Roman persecutions; till the Church’s victory over Paganism under Constantine and Pope Sylvester! (So, in Jewish history, the conquest of the Canaanites under the Judges, to Samuel and David.) The Order of Martyrs by their sufferings invited attention to this Seal.

3rd Seal. The black horse was the Arian Clergy, masters of error and darkness: the balance symbolizing the “disputatio literæ,” [29] and cunning dialectics of the Arians. “Sed tu tene tuum pondus: tu serva numerum quem audisti!” viz. “a choenix of wheat for a denarius.” This choenix, or two pounds, (bilibres) of wheat (the food of man), Joachim explains as having reference to the two Testaments, of which the perfect doctrine well corresponds with the Denarius, as the perfect number: while the three choenixes or bilibres, i.e. the six pounds of barley (more properly the food of cattle), might refer to the “sex tempora laboriosa,” from Abraham to John the Baptist, “quibus indicta sunt omnia servilia ad sanum atque perfectum intellectum perducere!” Or perhaps the two pounds’ weight of wheat, announced from among the four living creatures, might allude to the cry of the two Seraphim, Holy, Holy, Holy! “Which cry had the wretched Arius heard, he would never have impeached the Deity of the Son or Holy Ghost.” [30] - The Order of the Catholic Doctors here proclaimed the truth.

4th Seal. - The pale horse signified the Saracens, those destroyers of much of the Greek Church and Empire; the rider Mahomet. For, “Quis tàm rectè More appellari potuit quàm ille perditus Maometh, qui tot millium hominum factus est causa mortis!” (Joachim identifies this with the little horn of Daniel’s fourth Beast; and supposes the subject to be continued to the 5th and 6th Seals, as well as referred to again more fully afterwards.) By “Hades following” was perhaps meant Meses Mutus; a Mahommedan persecutor of Christians, then ruling in Mauritania. [31] - It was the Order of Monks and Virgins that here answered to the fourth Cherub, crying, Come and see! - (Israel’s fourth tribulation, from the Syrians and Assyrians, is the Jewish, parallel referred to by Joachim.)

5th Seal. - By the altar of God, which is associated with this Seal, as the four Cherubs were with the Seals preceding, is meant the Romish Church, including both clergy and monks. As the four primary persecutions originated in Judæa, Rome, Greece, and Arabia, so this fifth in Mauritania and Spain; where many Christians of the Romish communion have been killed even until now. For, whenever the Saracen powers might seem to have fallen, they have always remarkably been revived, like the Beast’s head in Apoc. xiii.: much as was also revived the Assyrian power, again persecuting Israel, under Holofernes. [32] To which are to be added the injuries suffered by the Romish Church from the Latin Emperors. [33] “And they cried, How long, O Lord, dost not thou avenge, &c.” A different cry this from that of the proto-martyr Stephen! For of the just, some, like him, are more patient. - The white robes given signify how the martyrs pass from mourning to joy. - The words, “till their brethren be judged, that are to be slain even as they,” show that after the fifth Seal, “in cujus extremitate nos sumus,” [34] there remains still to be accomplished a final martyr-conflict and suffering.

6th Seal. - Earthquake, &c. Here is the beginning of the Apocalyptic Babylon’s day of judgment. “Perpende verba hæc misera Babylon; ecce enim appropinquat desolatio tua; à sæculis predicta est. . . Necesse est enim ut in sexto recipias quod in quinto tempore contulisti.” But who or what is Babylon? Whoever by moral or physical influence opposes the Church of Peter. [35] Specially he includes here all false Christians or false members of the Roman Church in the Germanic Roman Empire; those princes inclusive who are to tear the Harlot, as stated in Apoc. xvii., and who are afterwards openly to fight with the Lamb: “Ipsi enim reges qui percussuri sint Fornicariam, ut emudent superficiem terræ, pugnaturi sunt cum Agno; et Agnus vincet illos.” [36] This day of judgment, he says, is to be understood in a larger sense, as well as stricter: the large for a certain indefinite period of judgment; as Paul, “Us on whom the ends of the world are come:” [37] a stricter, when the just shall rise to eternal life, the wicked to eternal punishment. - Here the earthquake is the earthquake of terror in the hearts of men: the sun and moon darkened, the spiritual eclipse of Christian doctrine, as set forth both by the monastic and the clerical orders: (of which, as even now almost commencing, fearful symptoms appear:) the heaven passing away, the passing away of the light-dispensing Church, so as that there be no more public preaching: (though some will still exhort in secret:) just as it is said in Apoc. xiii., “that none might buy or sell,” i.e. none offer (Professedly) the priceless gospel, but they that had the Beast’s mark. The islands and mountains fleeing away means the dissolution of episcopal churches and monasteries. The kings of the earth noted are the same that in Apoc. xix. are seen to gather against the Lamb; being God’s instruments, bad though they be, for purging the Lord’s threshing-floor of its chaff in the mystic Babylon. At which time many thousands will fall in martyrdom, to complete the martyr-number, as intimated in the fifth Seal. [38] - Then, Babylon having thus been judged, the Mahommedan nations (jointed) by false prophets apostatized from Christianity) will prophecy triumph to their law. But the Lamb shall conquer them.

Sealing Vision. - The four angels here are the same evil angels as those that (Ps. lxxvii.) once afflicted Egypt; and which use infidel nations that surround the Church as their agents: judicially permitted to withhold the life-giving influences of the winds; i.e. of the preaching of spiritual doctrine. (Or, if good angels, they may signify the four preaching orders, judicially withholding the word, under God’s direction; like as in Amos viii., and in the rain-withholding of the two witnesses.) The sealing angel is either Christ, risen from the dead, and having the name of the living God as the Divine Author of life: or perhaps the Roman Pontiff, charged like Zerubbabel of old to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple; Christ acting and triumphing in him “maximè cùm ipse solus principaliter teneat locum ejus.” [39] Whichever it be, he will arise as with the influence of the morning sun; at which the wild beasts, or adverse powers of darkness, will get them away to their dens (Ps. civ.), while he preaches with certain evidence the near resurrection of the dead: - that so, in this breathing-time between the two last tribulations, the faithful ones may be prepared with the armor of light, to resist in the evil day; to complete the mystic number of the elect 144,000, including both converted Jews and Gentiles (these being the same that are again mentioned in Apoc. xiv., and figured too in the 144 cubits of the Holy City,) and to fight the remainder of the battle, under the Lamb and his followers, with the Beast and kings of the earth. - The interval will be like the six years after the return from Babylon, in which the Temple’s rebuilding was completed. - Besides which 144,000, an innumerable number will be killed for Christ’s name, whose blessedness is declared in the palm-bearing vision; a blessedness partly in this world, where they begin the ascription of praise to God the Savior, and lasting afterwards through eternity: the angels (here meaning all the elect ones [40] ) crying Amen! Their serving him alike day and night in his temple, means serving him in times alike of joy and sorrow, in his Church, [41] for no temple appeared in the New Jerusalem; nor is servitude known in heaven. And so at length they reach heaven afterwards; when they drink of the fountain of life in his presence, where there are no tears.

7th Seal. As in Luke xxiii. it is said that “the women rested (siluerunt) on the Sabbath according to commandment,” so the half-hours silence of this seal may mean the sabbath-keeping, especially in a contemplative life. So in Ps. lxxxiv., “I will be silent to hear what the Lord God may say concerning me.” - In the corresponding æra under the Old Testament, viz. after Ezra and Malachi, there was a cessation too from writing Scripture. So under the coming 7th Seal the time of expounding Scripture will be ended: the mysteries of the Old Testament being solved “per concordiam;” or manifest concord, I suppose, with those of the New Testament dispensation. (Did Joachim believe the prophetic Expositor’s office closed in himself?) - He adds, “The half-hour specified I deem to be the seventh and last half time of the 3 1/2 prophetic times, whether literally or mystically understood.” [42]

PART III. - With the Trumpets Joachim makes the chronology of the Visions to retrogress to the commencement of the Gospel dispensation: the seven Trumpet-Angels being New Testament preachers, appointed to raise their voice like a trumpet; just as Israel’s trumpet-priests round Jericho. With what those priests did in one week we may compare what has been done in the sixth age of the world: the world being fated to fall, together with Antichrist, on the completion of seven times from Christ’s birth; which seven times are all included under the world’s sixth age. [43]

The incense-Angel is explained as Christ, after his death and ascension, offering (together with the saints) the prayers of his people; [44] then sending down fire of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, and all others of spiritual understanding. Whereupon, like the thunderings and voices in vision, the voice of the Gospel sounded forth to the world; and a movement of men’s hearts and souls resulted, like to the earthquake. - This stated, Joachim next proceeds to expound the Trumpets.

Trumpet 1. - The Trumpet-Angel here is the Apostolic band, and chiefly St. Paul, preaching against Judaism the spirituality of the law; which the hail, mixed with fire and blood, cast on the earth, signifies the spirit of hardness of heart, mixed with fiery and bloody zeal, infused into the Jews: [45] the result being that a third of professedly believing Jews (the vain carnal-minded of them) apostatized from the faith to Judaism or heresy.

Trumpet 2. - This Trumpet-Angel signifies the Martyrs and Doctors of the post-apostolic age, preaching against the Nicolaitan heresy: Nicolaus with the zeal of his hot malice, who taught doctrines like those of Balak, being like a burning mountain cast into the sea of Gentilism; through which a third were caused to die from the faith.

Trumpet 3. - The third Trumpet-Angel symbolizes the Christian Doctors from the time of Constantine. The falling meteor was Arias: whose pestiferous error fell on bishops and priests, from whom should flow forth streams of wisdom; and embittered the waters, Scripture being now perverted by them. - Which Arian error, and Arian persecution too, continued till the time of the Saracens. [46]

Trumpet 4. - The Trumpet-Angel in this case typifies the Holy Monks and Virgins: who, like celestial luminaries, walking in the high pathway of contemplation, gave light to the world; but were in a large measure quenched by the outburst of the licentious Mahometan heresy, and of the Saracens.

The Woe-denouncing Angel that next followed, I think, says Joachim, to have signified Pope Gregory I: who wrote so much, and so earnestly, on the world’s end as near at hand, and the coming trials of the consummation. [47] If his predictions were not fulfilled, the failure arose, not from Gregory’s having been deceived, but from God’s mercy in withholding judgment, and prolonging the time of probation.

Trumpet 5. - “And who the scorpion-locust of this Trumpet but the heretics commonly called Pathareni, [48] the modern Manichees?” So Joachim expounds the symbol. It is notable as about the earliest application of such Apocalyptic emblems by Romish writers to anti-Romish schematics.

And here, let me observe, Joachim gives the current account of these heretics (the commingled Waldenses and Cathari apparently) just, no doubt, as it had reached him: nor can I pass on without briefly sketching it, as being a testimony hitherto unnoticed. He tells then that they believed all bodies and flesh to have been created by the Devil, [49] and Christ not to have come in the flesh; condemned lawful marriages, and enjoined abstinence from eating flesh: [50] though plausibly professing all the while to be the holders and teachers of the apostolic faith: [51] that they lived a simple life, supported by their own labor; and made great pretence to purity and righteousness; [52] yet, when meeting at night in their synagogues, did there the deeds of darkness: [53] that their origin was of ancient date, beyond known record: [54] that they were divided into believers and perfect men; the latter alone bound to observe their stricter rules of life: [55] that they were bent on proselyting; [56] using, or rather abusing Scripture (like the lamblike-horned false Prophet) for the purpose; [57] affirming that the poor man, on joining them, became instantly rich; [58] urging from their own simpler and more primitively Christian life, in contrast with that of the Catholic clergy: [59] that in doing this they made light of the risk incurred; even as if they despised the present life, and counted on eternal life, if punished with death in consequence; [60] in which case, and when burnt as heretics by the Catholic authorities, they were esteemed by their brethren as men crowned with martyrdom. [61] - Is not all this very corroborative of the view given by me of these so-called heretics, and other cognate sects, in my second Volume?

As to the Apocalyptic details, they are thus applied to the Pathareni. The original opener of the abyss God only knew. That it was some of the clergy however was evident, [62] taught by the father of lies to probe the depths of worldly science; the scorpion-locusts being the Pathareni heretics, emerged out of the smoke of the heresy: - again the trees and grass, which the locusts are bid not to hurt, are the perfect and the simple-minded Catholics; the latter of whom, when interrogated by the heretics, turn a deaf ear, saying it is not for them, but the clergy, to dispute on questions of faith. [63] On the other hand the men converted by the Pathareni into “believers” soon feel the venom of the sting of their perverters; the very “paleness of their face” showing them to be so wretched that they would rather die than live: [64] - conscience meanwhile accusing them of having joined the heretics only from regard to temporal benefit: it being a custom of these Pathareni to make collections at their meetings; [65] and to hold out to poor Catholics, with whom they express sympathy, that by joining them they may both temporarily profit, and also, keeping the apostolic faith, gain eternal life. [66] - The breastplates indicate the hard-heartedness of the Perfecti: the rushing locust-wings their noisy arguings from Scripture: the five months of their commission, a period probably of so many generations: five months being equivalent to five times thirty days, and sometimes a day used for a year. [67] For it is long since the sect first began; indeed no one knew when. [68] - Finally, the locust-king Abaddon might be the pseudo-Apostolic man whom these heretics all profess to obey. [69]

On the whole, adds Joachim, considering what St. John says, that “whosoever denies Jesus to have come in the flesh is an Antichrist,” and also what St. Paul prophesies of apostates in the last days, “forbidding to marry, and that there should be abstinence from meats,” we may probably conclude that Antichrist is even now in the world, though the hour of his revelation has not yet come: the time for this being under the sixth Trumpet, after the desolation of the Roman Empire, [70] which still offers him resistance. But the fifth Trumpet-woe is indeed but a preparation for the sixth: so that Antichrist must anticipate the latter in his rise , so as under the fifth, either by himself of by his messengers, to have begun to spread his poison. [71]

Trumpet 6. - The voice from the four horns of the altar means the concurrent voice of the four evangelists, declaring the evils fated to occur at this epoch of the consummation: - the four angels bound, the same four evil angels as in Apoc. vii., waiting only the summons to do evil, on the summons of their father the Devil, at any time, and for any time, whether “the hour, day, month, or year:” [72] the Trumpet-Angel, Christian preachers; whose it is to loose the evil angels, either by ceasing to pray for Christendom, or simply (so as Isaiah in what is said of his making the heart of the Jews hard) in the sense of announcing their being loosed: [73] whereupon the four angels are to lead on deceived myriads, as believers in the Antichrist, or rather Antichrist, of prophecy. Among these, some of the Saracens will be eminent; the same that constituted the fourth Trumpet-plague; now revived, after a temporary decline, like the Beast from the earth: many Jews too joining, and also the Pathareni. “Indeed,” adds Joachim, “a sensible and God-fearing man, escaped from captivity, in Alexandria, told me last year, i.e. A.D. 1195, at Messina, how he had been assured by a certain eminent Saracen, that the Pathareni had sent envoys thither to conclude an alliance with the Saracens, which had in effect been concluded.” [74] Thus was a foundation laid for the mystery of iniquity. By these other savage nations are to be led on; as the Turks from the East, the Moors and Berbers [75] from the South, and from the North savage nations north of Germany: all which until the sixth Trumpet-blast, continue bound in, or by, the great river Euphrates, or Roman empire; an empire intended to be a bulwark to the Church. But when the sixth Vial has been poured out, and the Euphratean waters dried up, then these powers are to fall on Rome, the proud city, the mystic Babylon. (Would that it may take warning!) A prelude to which has been seen recently in the case of its Emperor Frederic: who (in 1189) crossed the sea with multitudes; but returned (in 1191) with a mere remnant, nothing done. [76] - The lion-like heads of the symbol, adds Joachim, indicate open force; the serpent-tails, secret poison; whereby (the numbers being irresistible) the enemy will both dominate over the body, and by torments seek to quench faith in the soul. Joachim further intimates the identity of these powers, especially the Saracen, with the ten toes of Daniel’s image; as also with the ten horns of the Beast; or ten kings in Apoc. xvii., that are to tear the desolate the harlot city Rome. [77] - And he observes that he is not to be thought inconsistent or absurd in thus a second time supposing the Saracen power to be an actor on the scene; in the 6th, as well as in the 4th Trumpet: because the Beast’s last head but one, after seeming to be dead, revived again as its last head, to do worse evils than before.

In (Apoc. ix. 20, “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:”) - a notice having been added of men’s general non-repentance after the plagues above-mentioned, and of their worshipping dæmons, and idols, &c., [78] there is given in Apoc. x. a vision of an angel of light, sent to improve the respite before the last and greatest tribulation: the elect being thus helped to salvation, and the condemnation of the impenitent increased.

But who meant by this Angel? Doubtless some eminent preacher, in the spirit and power of Enoch, if not Enoch himself, [79] descending from heaven to earth, i.e. from the contemplative to the active life: the iris (rainbow) about his head indicating his spiritual intelligence; his face like the sun, the communication of the light of spiritual intelligence; his feet as pillars of fire, the firmness of his tread (through recognition of their concord [80] ) in either Testament, Old or New, the land or deeper sea; as also his shedding forth luster on either: his lion-like voice being a cry directed against the infidels remaining; and the seven thunders the accordant answering voices of doctors inspired by the seven spirits of God: voices sealed however from the carnal; as says the apostle, “The natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit of God,” and Christ, “Cast not your pearls before swine:” though the book of Scripture will be still opened to all. The Angel’s oath indicates that it will be one part of the answering preacher’s mission to proclaim the last time and day of judgment must begin, as near at hand: though till the event it must remain uncertain, as Augustine says, [81] how long may be the last day spoken of in Scripture, or in what order the details of judgment; save only that the judgment must begin , and that speedily, at the house of God; and that the subsequent “time being no more,” means the ending of the troublesome times of the world in the final sabbath: [82] which warning cry, however, the children of this world will not hear; but say, “Where is the promise of his coming (parousia)?” [83]

In the charge “Go take the Book and eat it,” John is the representative of the monastic order; [84] as Peter elsewhere of the clerical. And, the latter being almost effete and worn out, [85] it will be the special office of the former, when enlightened by the spiritual expositions of the messengers to truth, to preach the Gospel of the coming kingdom. - This will be the third preaching course opposed by the enemy: the other two being that by Moses, and that by Christ and his apostles. [86]

Apoc. xi. 1; “And there was given me a reed like a rod: and the Angel said, Rise and measure the temple, &c.” The holy city here mentioned means (not Jerusalem and the Jewish synagogues, nor yet the Greek Church and empire, which are rather Samaria, but) the holy Roman Church and empire, ‘tota Latinitas:” [87] the temple symbolizing the ecclesiastical order, generally; the altar, specially the consistory of cardinals. [88] To this Church was the promise given, “Thou art Peter, and on this rock, &c;” while the Greek Church, because of its schism from the Universal Shepherd, and not being under the apostolic reed or discipline, is but like the temple’s outer court, which is cast out and given to the Gentiles. Already we see this in great part fulfilled; the Saracens having widely laid waste the Greek churches. And it must be desolated yet more; [89] just as the ten schismatic tribes of Israel were in Old Testament times wasted, and carried captive, by the Assyrians. [90] - And, adds Joachim, (here more fully stating his view of the judgments coming on Rome and the Popedom, which views, already hinted under the sixth Trumpet, will occur again at Apoc. xiii. and xvii., and call for the reader’s special notice,) because of the Latin Church not repenting, but adding sin to sin, therefore the Gentiles, after desolating the Greek or outer court, are also to tread for 42 months the holy city, or Latin Church and Empire: [91] - the so defined period being identical with the 3 1/2 times of the reign of Daniel’s little horn, or eleventh king. [92]

On the Apocalyptic Witnesses there arise, says Joachim, the two questions; 1. Who the two? 2. Whether to be taken personally or figuratively? - On the primary question he states the general patristic opinion that they were to be Enoch and Elias; but, with deference, expresses his own opinion that they meant rather Moses [93] and Elias: - the same that appeared together at Christ’s transfiguration, and whom what is said in the Apocalyptic sketch of the Witnesses better suits: viz. their turning the waters into blood, which Moses did, conjointly with other plagues in Egypt; and inducing a drought of 3 1/2 years, which did Elias. - As to the second question, he quotes Jerome, saying, when asked about Enoch and Elias, the then supposed Witnesses to come, “that all the Apocalypse was to be spiritually understood: because otherwise Judaic fables would have to be acquiesced in; such as the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and renewal in its temple of carnal ceremonies.” [94] Whence, argues Joachim, we must suppose that Jerome only expected two individuals, or perhaps two spiritual orders, to come in the spirit and power of Enoch and Elias, so as did John the Baptist previously; to preach, and have the fight with Antichrist. [95] On the whole the leaning of Joachim’s mind seems to be to Jeremiah’s view; and that the spiritual or figurative significance was to be attached to the indicated witnesses, Moses and Elias; the two orders of clerics and monks being perhaps thereby intended: (the latter by Elias who was unmarried: [96] ) some individual preacher having also previously appeared, as in Apoc. x., or some spiritual preaching order, answering to Enoch: which three he further identifies [97] with the three angels in mid-heaven with gospel-voice and warning cry, before the fall of Babylon, described in Apoc. xiv. - At the same time, when coming to the notice of the 42 months of the prophesying, he enunciates both as regards the Apocalyptic Witnesses, and the Beast also that they are to conflict with, a larger and more general explication, as well as the more special: “the 42 months in which they are to preach, clothed in sackcloth, signifying so many generations, of the cleric and monastic witnessing orders;” [98] i.e. according to his own explanation elsewhere, [99] on the year-day principle 1260 years. During all which time, says he, the Gentiles and antichristian unbelievers, even till Antichrist, are to tread the Holy City; though but partially, and not so as under Antichrist proper: - just as we have already seen the outer court (or Greek Church) many years trodden by them. [100] - The Witnesses’ shutting heaven during the time of their prophesying is to be understood figuratively; so as in Isaiah, “Make the heart of this people fat, &c.,” and, “I will command the clouds that they rain on my vineyard:” also the fire evoked by them from heaven, of the power of the Spirit in their words to confound their adversaries. [101] Their being said to stand before the Lord of the whole earth, may mean before Daniel’s little horn, or xith King; (just as Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh;) seeing that he, as Prince of the world, is to reign for 3 1/2 times, in judgment on the sins of men. Or, if Christ be meant as the Lord of the whole earth, their standing before him may indicate that in the time of their witnessing, (or at least before its conclusion) Christ is to appear in that character, and to take to himself this earth’s dominion: as it is said in Psalm ii. 8, “I will give thee the heathen for thy inheritance, and uttermost parts of the earth for a possession.” [102]

“And when they shall have completed their testimony, the Beast, &c.” By this Beast (as will be again stated on Apoc. xiii. and xvii.) there seems to be meant “the unbelieving multitude that were to persecute the Church, from Christ’s death down to Antichrist inclusive:” the same as the fourth Beast of Daniel. [103] Which Beast, towards the end of his reign, [104] (false prophets assisting,) with both by fraud and force make war upon the two witness-leaders, and the body of the saints, too, more generally: [105] first however inflicting a death-blow on the Babylon (or Roman) power resisting him. [106] - As to the place of their slaughter it might be the literal Jerusalem, were the two Witnesses to be slain two men literally. Against this, however, stands the fact that Jerusalem is never called the great city, so as Nineveh of Babylon. [107] Therefore we may rather understand generally by the phrase the kingdom of this world; the body of the citizens of which have had part in slaying the saints, and in spirit participated in Christ’s crucifixion: also by the witnesses slain, all the preachers of truth. [108] At the same time, if the prophecy is meant specially about two individual witnesses, the city may be (though still not necessarily so) the literal Jerusalem; Daniel’s 11th king having then proclaimed himself savior of the Jewish people, and led them back to Jerusalem. - As to the 3 1/2 days of the witnesses lying dead, the meaning is affected by the same considerations. If the witnesses be two bodies or successions of men, and the 1260 days of their prophesying be meant typically of the whole time from Christ to the consummation, (already in Joachim’s time near 1260 years,) then the 3 1/2 days must mean some lesser time, after which the kingdom under the whole heaven is to be given to the saints. But if they be two individuals, and the larger specification of time is to be taken literally, then there must be meant the two literal witnesses’ literal resurrection at the brief literal interval of 3 1/2 days: though not the general resurrection of the dead, which is to be not till the end of the world. [109] He speaks of a large gathering of people, on the occasion, and to the place: and says that in the earthquake following, the tenth part of the city (the holy city or Church) which fell meant those clerics who, though professedly in Rome, are yet really infidels, belonging to Antichrist; and who will then openly apostatize from the faith: also that the seven thousand are laymen deceived by these clerics of Antichrist’s faction, and who will also similarly apostatize.

But if Enoch (or perhaps Moses) and Elias are thus to come in the third state before the consummation, how need we to watch and beware, lest any enemy come saying, “We are Enoch and Elias,” and deceive many! Because it is as clear as the light that a Beast with two horns like a lamb is to come; symbolizing false prophets, such as Christ bids us to beware of. [110]

Trumpet 7. - Now the mystery hidden in the Old Testament, from Moses to John the Baptist, will be consummated. - The great voices in heaven are preachers of that æra in the Church, announcing and rejoicing over the coming good; the 24 typical elders representing the union of all prelates in the song. [111] - The time of the dead being judged is that of the Beast and False Prophet being cast into the lake of fire; Antichrist and his fellows being specially meant in the corrupters of the earth then to be exterminated: [112] at which time will begin the third or sabbath state; [113] corresponding, perhaps, with Apoc. xx. 4, “I saw thrones, &c:” [114] until the saints in the new bodies ascend to inherit the kingdom prepared for them.

I think, adds Joachim, that there will elapse but a brief interval between the sixth trumpet’s sounding and the seventh’s. [115]

PART IV. Apoc. xii. - The travailing Woman here figured, Joachim makes to mean the Church generally; but specially that Church of hermits and virgins, the children of which are the 144,000 of Apoc. xiv.: this Church answering to the prototype of the Virgin Mary, “Queen of heaven;” being clothed with Christ the Sun of righteousness, trampling on all sublunary glory, and bearing the crown of the twelve virtues. [116]

Of the figured Dragon, or Devil, the body are the multitudes of the reprobate; the Dragon’s seven heads, the seven chief Church-persecuting successive kings of the reprobate; [117] his ten horns, ten kings that have yet to reign; [118] his tail, the last antichristian tyrant at the end of the world; the third part (said of the stars drawn by the tail), the same third as in the four first Trumpets. [119]

The Apostolic Church having brought forth Christ, its male child, (as He said, “Who is my mother? Are not these?”) [120] the Devil tried to kill him; but he rose, and ascended into heaven. - In the first battle of martyrs ensuing, Michael, the invisible protector of the Church, acted chiefly through Peter and his successors; [121] the invisible Dragon through the Dragon’s two first heads, Herod and Nero. This great battle may seem to have ended in the days of Constantine. And so the Apocalyptic song of exultation is to be referred to that emperor’s time, when the saints then surviving were crowned with glory. [122] - Thereupon the Devil, (cast down to the earth, or into the hearts of the earthly-minded,) persecuted the woman by means of the Arian heretics and heresy; [123] and she fled to a life of retirement and contemplation: the two wings helping her being wisdom and the love of God; the time of her sojourning in the wilderness (like Elias’ 3 1/2 years of seclusion) being 42 months, or 1260 days; i.e. the while time of the Dragon, and that in which all mysteries are to have their consummation; the water cast out of the mouth against her being Arian heresies and persecutors. [124] - The Dragon’s first war having thus been against Christ and his apostles, the second against the early martyrs under Pagan Rome, the third against the confessors against Arianism, his fourth was to be against those that were given to contemplation, psalms, and prayers. [125]

Apoc. xiii. - The Beast here figured is a compound and combination, says Joachim, of Daniel’s four Beasts. - In Daniel the first Beast was the Jewish Antichristian body; the second the Roman Pagans; the third the Arians; the fourth the Saracens: the first resembling a lion, with two wings, answering to the Pharisees and Sadducees; the second a bear; the third a leopard, with four heads; (signifying the Arian Greeks, Goths, Vandals, and Lombards;) the fourth very terrible, and having ten horns. [126] - How terrible Daniel’s fourth, or Saracenic, is told by its desolation of the churches in Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Africa, Mauritania, and the islands of the sea; where Christ’s name is abolished, and Mahomet acknowledged as the prophet of God. [127] Besides that the other Beasts submitted after a while to the Christian Church: but this, though once humbled and apparently dead, has revived, and is as terrible as ever. The ten horns with diadems are ten kings yet to be, at that closing time of the calamitous period, when the Beast’s kingdom shall end. [128] - “I saw one of the heads as it were wounded to death, and the deadly wound was healed.” The Jewish, Pagan, and Arian heads were actually wounded to death; [129] and who ever heard of their revival? though the Beast itself indeed, (or antichristian body,) survived under another head. But with the Saracen head many may think the prophecy of the wounded head’s revival to have been already fulfilled. In the time of Pope Urban and the early crusaders, A.D. 1095, [130] when Jerusalem had been taken by the Christians, the Saracens in Egypt and Asia made stipendiary, the African neighboring cities conquered by the Norman kings of Sicily, and the Moors repeatedly vanquished in Spain, the Saracen supremacy seemed wounded to death. But how, says Joachim, it is revived, and as terrible as ever. [131] He prefers, however, to understand the deadly wound as still future when he wrote, and to be effected by spiritual weapons rather than temporal: [132] also the revival to be in a power answering to Daniel’s eleventh or little horn: - a horn unspecified by St. John; probably because of his prominent specification of the Dragon, or Devil, who was in fact most specially to inspire and rule in it. [133] Joachim dwells on the fearfulness of the consequent apostasy; “All the world wondered after the Beast:” commiserating those that might then be alive; urging mothers to teach their children to flee for safety to the deserts; and answering the arguments of infidelity, drawn from the enemy’s success and dominancy, by reference to God’s faithfulness and wisdom. “Here is the faith and patience of the saints.” - As to the Beast’s 42 months, 3 1/2 years, or 1260 days of duration, taken generically, with reference to the “totius Bestiæ universitatem,” the length is stated as 1260 years in Joachim’s Book De Concordiâ: [134] besides which there is to be a final paroxysm of the Beast’s persecution for 3 1/2 years literally. [135]

The second Beast, says Joachim, is plainly explained by John himself to signify a false prophet, or pseudo-prophetic sect or body; [136] the two horns being not improbably, he adds, Satan’s counterfeits of the Enoch and Elias that are expected: just as Antichrist will be his counterfeit for Christ. Hence the double danger of receiving the counterfeit as true, rejecting the true as counterfeit! “What if Enoch and Elias were to knock at thy door to-morrow?” [137] - It would seem that these false prophets will issue out of the bosom of the Church; knowing and speaking the Christians’ language, and so more powerful to deceive. [138] These may confederate with the former Beast, Daniel’s eleventh Horn, and make the earth worship it: as Simon Magus confederated with the Pagan Nero against Christianity, the Jews with the Romans, and Arians with the secular emperors; or as the Pathareni, “the dregs of heretics,” now sustain themselves through worldly potentates. [139] And so soon as “the new Babylon” (i.e. Rome) [140] shall have been given into the hand of the Beast to be desolated, and Daniel’s eleventh king (the last of these kings) have begun to reign in the Saracen kingdom, [141] then the false prophets may seize the occasion of making an alliance with the Gentile king; and preach up his religion as true, the Christian as false. [142] - But why two Beasts? Because, as Christ is both anointed king and priest, so Satan may put forth the first beast to usurp his kingship, the second to usurp his priestly dignity: the latter having at its head some mighty prelate, some Universal Pontiff, as it were, over the whole world; who may be the very Antichrist, of whom St. Paul speaks as being extolled above all that is called God and worshipped; sitting in the temple of God, and showing himself as God. [143] This may be while making use of the strength of the Beast for his purposes. - Other doctors regard the first Beast, or Daniel’s eleventh king, and also Gog, as Antichrist: which I, says Joachim, regard as thus far true, because there are, as St. John says, many Antichrists; and what may be wanting of fulfillment in the one, may be supplied in another. [144]

The Beast’s image Joachim makes to mean “some tradition composed by false prophets in memory of the first Beast,” [145] saying that this is the kingdom that is to endure for ever; some expression, I suppose he means, of the Beast’s mind, profession, and doctrine. [146] Its receiving breath and speaking is when the malignant spirit shall do miracles by it. The character to be impressed is some edict of his commands: [147] the sellers and buyers that must bear it, preachers and hearers. - The name and number 666, said to be “the number of a man,” [148] is mysterious. “We must wait and know the name, before speculating as to the number; which name however is not revealed.” This premised, Joachim proceeds to a passing speculation on the subject, as fanciful surely as any of the speculations of his predecessors. The number 666 may be fitly typical, he says, of the whole time from Adam to the end of the world. For 600 may represent the six ages of the world, or whole time of the Beast; 60 the six periods of the sixth age from Christ, in which the Beast has more grievously persecuted the Church of God; 6 the time (42 months) of Daniel’s eleventh king, or little horn, in which the persecution is to be consummated. - This however he admits to be speculation. “Expectanda usque tempus revelatio hujus nominis; et tune ei qui habet intellectum licebit numerum computare.” [149]

Apoc. xiv.through xvi. I must hasten over these intervening chapters to resume and complete the abstract of Joachim’s views on the Apocalyptic Beast, as again described in Apoc. xvii., and the Babylon connected with it. - The 144,000 on Mount Zion he expounds as the monks and virgins of the Church, opposed to those that had the Beast’s mark; and who in the fourth period have to sustain the chief burden of the conflict against the Saracenic Beast: [150] - the first of the three Angels flying in mid-heaven as identical either with the woe-denouncing eagle of Apoc. viii. 13, (i.e. “the holy Pope Gregory I, whose voice of warning of God’s coming judgment was just before the false prophet Mahomet’s deceptions,” [151] ) or the Angel-prophet with the little book of Apoc. x. 1; the other two with the Witnesses of Apoc. xi. respectively; [152] the voice of the first synchronizing with the opening of the 5th Seal, and 5th period; the other two with the opening of the 6th; [153] the last (perhaps the two last) sounding after the destruction of Babylon by the Beast and ten kings; [154] and when, the Roman Christian Empire having thus fallen, they will be hoping to destroy Christ’s name from off the face of the earth. [155] - The voice, “Blessed are the dead, for they rest, &c.,” intimates the glorious sabbath awaiting both those who, after the completion of the sufferings of Christ’s body in the sixth period, shall then reign with Christ; and those too who, Antichrist having fallen, shall remain on earth in this life until the last day: [156] in which day at length will be the harvest of the good, and the vintage-treading of the bad.

So Joachim comes to his PART V., and to the Vials of wrath poured out by the seven Angles: [157] which, though specially called the last plagues, yet had reference to the same six or seven periods, and same evils, that were before noted under the Seals’ and Trumpets’ septenaries; with this difference however, they were now depicted distinctly as effusions of God’s jealousy and wrath against those who suffered from them. [158] Of these Vials the first was poured on Judaizers, who worshipped the Beast under his first head of Herod and the Jewish synagogue: the 2nd on the Gentile Church’s recreants, unfaithful from the Christian faith before Constantine: the 4th on the hypocritical of the contemplative orders: the 5th on false ones in the Clergy and Conventuals, who, thought they ought to be God’s seat, have yet yielded themselves to be the seat of the Beast: [159] the 6th on the Roman State or Empire, as being the New Testament Babylon; the drying up of its Euphrates figuring the weakening of its strength, through God’s just judgment, so as to disable it from resisting the kings of the East that are to come and desolate it. [160] - After which its desolation that “Wicked One” is to be revealed, of whom Paul speaks; the three spirits like frogs, next figured being meant of him and his associates. -And then who can tell how soon Christ may come? “Behold I come as a thief.” - Finally, by the air on which the 7th Vial is poured out, there is meant that spiritual Church which will remain after the judgment on Babylon; a judgment by which it will be cleansed, and made meet for the bridal. [161] - So Joachim comes to the vision of the Harlot and Beast in Apoc. xvii.

PART VI. Apoc. xvii. - The Angel-revealer of this vision is the 6th Vial-Angel; the 6th period, current at the time referred to , being the time of its right understanding. [162] By the harlot he meant Rome: - not indeed the Church of the just that sojourn in Rome, but rather the multitude of Rome’s reprobate or opposing members; the harlot’s place moreover being not in one province or kingdom, but over the whole area of the Christian empire. [163] The kings of the earth that fornicate with her, Joachim makes to be bad prelates with the charge of souls: [164] the Beast (as before) the infidel powers, in connection


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2015, 07:31:52 PM »

At the Reformation the light which had previously gleamed here and there on the subject of Antichrist, and then been at length for a while all but extinguished, burst into a blaze; and the voice of the Waldenses, Wicliffites, and Hussites, protesting against Popes as the Apocalyptic Beast, and Rome as the Apocalyptic Babylon, revived, after a temporary suspension, in power hitherto unparalleled. Vain was the authoritative prohibition of writing or preaching on the subject of Antichrist, by the 5th Council of Lateran. [1] There was an energy in the impression and the voice, as if derived not from books or earlier traditions, but from the Spirit’s own teaching. Alike in Germany, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Sweden, England, it was received as an almost self-evident and fundamental truth by the founders of the several Protestant Churches: indeed as, in itself, a sufficient justification of the mighty act of their separation from Rome. [2] But the difficulty remained to adjust and explain certain details of the Apocalyptic prophecies respecting the Beast, Antichrist, and Babylon; as well as to offer a satisfactory and consistent solution of the many other mysteries of this prophetic Book. Nor was the difficulty slight; or one soon, or as yet fully, to be overcome.

It is my purpose in the present Section primarily, and at large, to set forth the Apocalyptic views in the 16th century of the Fathers of the Protestant Reformation; then very briefly, in conclusion, to sketch the views of Apocalyptic exposition with which, after long reflection, the Papal Doctors, as that century drew to a close, thought best to meet the arguments so fearfully urged against them from the Apocalyptic Book.


1. And on this head my illustrations of the history of Apocalyptic interpretation must commence of course with a brief sketch of the views of the great Father of the Reformation, Luther. - In my Vol. ii. ch. iv., [3] I have described the time and the manner in which the idea of the Popes being the Antichrist broke upon the mind; and also in the chapter v., next following, [4] how it was primarily from Daniel’s prophecies respecting the little horn and the abomination of desolation, that he drew this his conclusion. It was also there intimated that in 1522, at the time of concluding the translation of the New Testament, he had come to doubt of the genuineness of the Apocalypse as an Apostolic or inspired Book. [5] But it would seem from a Latin Treatise of his, now in my hands, “De Antichristo,” dated by himself at its ending, Wittenberg, April 1, 1521, [6] (the very day, I believe, before his setting out for Worms, [7] ) that the doubt had not then fixed itself in his mind: for he not only alludes in more than one place to the Apocalypse, [8] as an inspired prophetic book, but interprets the prophecy of the scorpion-locusts in Apoc. ix. in considerable detail. And other evidence appears to the same effect in the writings of the year 1520 just preceding. [9] A few years later, viz. in 1528, he is stated to have found and republished an Apocalyptic Commentary, expounding the Beast to mean the Popedom; written some hundred years, [10] or rather, as Pareus shows, some 150 years before Luther’s time: [11] an evidence of his inclining then again, as at first, to view the Apocalypse as inspired Scripture. Finally, in 1534, he prefixed to the Apocalypse in his great Edition of the German Bible a brief explanatory sketch: from which, and from certain notices found elsewhere in his writings, [12] I may give what follows as in the main his views on the subject.

Like most of his predecessors, he judged that the Book must be more or less a prefiguration of the chief events and æras of Church History: the Seals chiefly prefiguring the physical or political evils under which the Church and world connected with it was to suffer, the Trumpets the spiritual; and either septenary running on from the commencement of the Christian æra to the consummation. - Thus in the Seals, the 1st, or white horse and rider, indicated (as in Zech. i 6, “But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers?  and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.”) the persecutions of tyrants; the 2nd, or red horse, wars and bloodshed; the 3rd, or black horse, famine; the 4th, or pale horse, pestilence and mortality: all to have fulfillment, from time to time, to the last day: - the 5th Seal figuring martyrdoms of the saints, early begun, and ever and anon repeated, even to the end; the 6th, great political revolutions; and its sealing and palm-bearing visions, the preservation and ultimate salvation of the saints. The 7th Seal’s half-hour’s silence he does not explain. - Of the Trumpets he makes the 1st to figure the heretic Tatian and his Eneratites, enjoining righteousness by human works of merit, so as did afterwards the Pelagians; the 2nd, Marcion, and the Manichees and Montanists, exalting their fancies about Scripture; (so as to late Munzer and his Anabaptists;) the 3rd, Origen and the false philosophy, revived in our own high schools; the 4th, Novatus and the Donatists, denying repentance to the lapsed; [13] the 5th, Arius and the Arians; [14] the 6th, Mahomet and the Saracens: contemporary with whom was the Woe of the Papacy: depicted alike in Apoc. x., xii., and xiii.

And here, on Apoc. x., xi., is the most curious particular explanation in Luther’s Commentary. Deeply impressed with the Pope’s and Papacy’s mock show of Christ and Christianity, and with an impression also, probably, even then, of the resemblance of those seven thunders, which sounded in sequence to the rainbow-crowned Angel’s cry, to the Papal mandates and thunders, [15] he was led to explain the whole vision, including the Angel himself, of the Popes and Popedom. “The mighty Angel,” he says, “with a rainbow and a little bitter book, is Popery;” Popery in the speciousness of its spiritual forms and pretensions. So the Popes, he thinks, are figured as a mock Christ on the scene of vision; the opened book being that of Papal laws, given the Evangelist to eat, as representative of the Church visible; the lion-like voice and seven thunders, the great swelling words and thunders of the Popedom. - Moreover, it is the Popes that are still symbolized [16] at the commencement of Apoc. xi. as measuring the temple, or Church, with their laws and regulations; casting out the court without; (in the sense, I presume, of anti-papal heretics;) and establishing a mere formal kind of Church, with outward show of holiness.- The subject having to be renewed and more fully developed in the vision of the two Beasts, Apoc. xiii., Luther speaks of the interposition, for the comfort of God’s people, of two intermediate and very different visions: viz. 1st, of the two Witness-preachers, signifying a succession of faithful witnesses kept up for Christ; 2ndly, of the Woman with child, meant of Christ’s true Church, and God’s provision for her, during the Beast’s reign, in the wilderness. - In Apoc. xiii., Luther explains the first Beast to mean the Papistic secular revived Roman empire, the second Beast the Pope’s ecclesiastical or spiritual empire: Popery now ruling by the sword, as before by the book; and constituting the third and last Woe, proclaimed by the seventh Angel. Of the seven heads of the Beast the five that have fallen are, he says, those in Greek Christendom; the sixth, “which is,” that of Papal Germany; (the head wounded to death, or old Roman empire, having been thus revived:) the seventh, or “that which is to come,” he considers to be Spain; the eighth, (“which is of the seven,”) Rome or Italy. the ten horns are Hungary, Bohemia, Poland, France, England, &c.; which, though Popery’s profest defenders, are sometimes to attack and desolate it. The Beast’s image is the new empire, which is but the shadow of the old. [17] - The number of the Beast, 666, Luther explains to signify the number of years that the Beast may be destined to endure; measured, he says in his Table Talk, from Gregory, or perhaps Phocas. [18] - The seven Vial-Angels he interprets of the gospel-preachers of the latter days: the seat of the Beast being thereby darkened; and the Euphratean drying up, under the sixth Vial, also figuring the exhaustion of the wealth and power of Papal Rome, the modern Babylon: while the three frog-like spirits depicted Papal sophist, like Faber, Eck, and Emser, stirring up opposition to the Gospel. - Finally, the millennium is the 1000 years between St. John and the issuing forth of the Turks: (these latter being the antitype to the Apocalyptic Gog and Magog;) Satan’s incarceration and binding meaning only that Christianity and Christians will, during that whole period, subsist in spite of him. - I may add that he in various places notes his view of the predicted Antichrist as one that should be an ecclesiastical person. So in his “De Antichristo;” [19] saying, “The Turk cannot be Antichrist, because he is not in the Church of God.” And again, “Who ever so came in Christ’s name as did the Pope?” [20]

On the whole it will be seen that Luther did not advance far towards the solution of Apocalyptic mysteries. His explanation of Apoc. x. - xi. 2, seems to me the most observable of what is peculiar to him; and that of the two Beasts of Apoc. xiii., as signifying respectively the secular Roman Empire and the ecclesiastical. Of these opinions, the former, about the rainbow-crowned angel and the seven thunders, was never, I believe, adopted by any other expositor of note: [21] the other has had its advocates and followers event to the present day. [22]

2. It will have been observed that Luther does not enter on the question of the meaning of the several Apocalyptic periods; more especially the 3 1/2 times, 42 months, and 1260 days. - But it was quite impossible that Apocalyptic interpretation could go on without that question being considered, and concluded on. Accordingly we find that, almost immediately after Luther’s publication of his Bible, it, was discussed by the chief Protestant prophetic exposition that followed; and in most cases the year-day question, Vol. iii. p. 284, I have illustrated the somewhat curious ground on which they fancied that his view might be partly based, from Osiander’s Book entitled “Conjecture de Ultimis Temporibus, ac de Fine Mundi;” a Book first published at Nuremberg, A.D. 1544, and dedicated to Albert Marquis of Brandenburgh and Prussia. “Sunt duo genera annorum magnorum in sacris litteris; unum Angelicum, alterum Mosaicum. Annus Angelicus constat ex tot annis civilibus nostris ex quot diebus nostris constat annus noster civilis. Nobis enim qui coelo inclusi sumus cursus solis ab occidente ad orientem, et rursus ab oriente ad occidentem, diem absolvit; id quod fit spatio 24 horarum. Angelis autem, qui extrà et suprà globos æthereos versantur, dies est quem sol in zodiaco ab austro in aquilonem, et ab aquilone rursus in austrum, circumvolvendo conflcit.” So that to an Angel’s view (as outside, I suppose, of our solar system) the only mundane revolution observable would be the annual; and consequently our year be to them a solar day. [23] - Aretius of Berne, who taught theology with much reputation at Marburg, and died A.D. 1574, urged the same explanation a little after Osiander: [24] and so too Chytræus, in his Apocalyptic Exposition published in 1571, of which more presently. And, advanced so far as they now were in the Christian æra, it became a primary element with all such expositors, in calculations of the probabilities of the future, to consider what the probable commencing date of these same fateful prophetic periods: as the lapse of 1260 years from it might be supposed to fix the epoch of the consummation; except, indeed, in so far as the Lord might in mercy shorten the days. By help of the last consideration the earliest Reformers, German, Swiss, and English, even though taking the year-day view, might yet hope for a speedy consummation to the world; as I have already shown in my Part iii. Chap. v. [25] Others looked to an epoch further forward, as supposable. Said Aretius: “We may reckon Antichrist’s beginning from Constantine’s establishment of Christianity, A.D. 312; 1260 years from which end in 1572.” - Said Chytræus; “If numbered from A.D. 412, when Alaric took Rome, and overthrew its empire, the end will be in 1672; or, if from the time of Phocas, A.D. 606, when the Pope’s supremacy began, (I beg the reader’s attention to this,) then the end may be expected A.D. 1866.” [26] Other Protestant Expositors however of this æra construed the prophetic periods less definitely.

3.Reverting to the more general subject of Apocalyptic interpretation, I shall select Bullinger and Bale, as two of the more eminent and characteristic of the Apocalyptic Expositors of the middle of the period under review, in Germany, Switzerland, and England respectively. [27]

Bullinger’s work, which is in Latin, is made up of the Conciones delivered by him at Zurich; and dedicated, as a book well fitted to furnish them with consolation, to all the exiles from France, England, Italy, and other kingdoms, taking refuge in Germany and Switzerland. The date of the Preface is Jan. 1557: a date during the reign of our Popish Queen Mary; which explains those terms in the dedication, and adds to the Book’s interest. [28] The following are in brief the heads of his exposition.

Of the Seals he makes the first to signify the triumphant progress of the Gospel, even under suffering, whether from Pagan or Papal powers, from its beginning to the end: - the second, wars, including alike the Roman civil contests, the Gothic and Saracenic desolations, the Bellum Sacrum begun in the xith century, and then the Turkish Othman wars: - the third, scarcities, inflicted from time to time, from that mentioned in the Acts under Claudius the Roman emperor, even till now; e.g. that in 1529: - the fourth, pestilence, as under Decius, Justinian, Gregory, &c. &c: - the fifth, martyrdoms of the saints, begun by the Roman Pagan emperors, continued by the Arians, and then for above 500 years by Antichrist, even unto now, and which must be expected till the completion of the elect: - the sixth, “corruptela doctrine sanæ in ecclesiâ,” from the heresies of Valentinus down to those of Mahomet and the Papal Antichrist: heresies whereby men’s minds had been agitated, the Sun of righteousness been obscured, the doctors of the Church fallen, like falling stars, by apostasy, and the heaven of Christ’s true Church been withdrawn, [29] - In the Sealing Vision there was figured the hindrance of the breathing of God’s Spirit in gospel-preachings and Bible-reading; a hindrance enacted by Pagan Roman emperors first, then by Popes: while the sealing itself told of the multitudes saved all along, even in Papal Anti-Christendom; [30] and the palm-bearing, of the saints’ ultimate blessedness in heaven.

Proceeding to the Trumpets, (the silence in heaven having been explained simply of the waiting on God’s revelations in admiration, and the Incense-Angel as Christ the intercessor, the great remedial object in all heresies and troubles about to be noted under the Trumpets,) he thus expounds them; premising that the use of trumpets in Israel was for convoking assemblies, moving the camp, and war. - The 1st was the Trumpet of alarm, as sounded by the apostles and early Christians, against Judaizers and pseudo-Christian philosophers: the 2nd, that against Valentinus, the Manichees, and Montanists: - 3. against the star fallen from heaven, or Arias: 4. against Pelagius and Pelagianism: - 5. against the first Woe, Popery: Gregory the Great’s successor, Boniface, having, under Phocas, opened the pit of the abyss, with his Papal clergy, the king of the locusts the Pope; the time mentioned (five months) having reference to that brief duration of the natural locusts; and indicating that the time of the plagues figured was defined and limited by God. In Trumpet 6, the second Woe, or Mahommedan Saracens and Turks, was figured with reference to their course of universal desolation: [31] the Euphrates being taken literally; and the four angels loosed explained as Arabs, Saracens, Turks, Tartars; the previous four great Euphratean powers of Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, having had their power long bound.

After a curious interpretation of “the rest of men non-repenting,” in (Apoc. ix. 20, “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:”) - as if meaning people, both nationally and individually, that were spiritually killed neither by the Papal nor Mahommedan plague, i.e. who, though neither Mahommedans nor Pagans, had yet not given themselves to God, [32] and must consequently not expect to escape God’s judgment, Bullinger proceeds to Apoc. x., xii., a part relating (as I believe in common with him and other Reformers) to his own times; and which he appears to me to have explained better than all else in his Commentary. The Angel-vision in Apoc. x. he explains of Christ’s intervention through the Reformers, [33] against the Papal Antichrist and Mahommedans; the antithesis between Christ, as here figured, and the Papal Antichrist, being drawn out in detail. The book opened is the Gospel, opened to men by gospel-preachers, and with the aid of printing, in spite of the Pope: the seven thunders, the gospel-preaching by Christ’s faithful servants, as by men with the spirit of those two apostles who were called sons of thunder; the sealing them being meant in the sense of authentication to the good, and that of being hidden to the wicked: the oath (one deeply to be noted [34] ) alluding to the 3 1/2 times of Dan. xii.; and showing to Christians at that time living that their redemption, as to be effected at Christ’s coming and the resurrection, was even then drawing nigh: the charge, “Thou must prophesy again,” meant of preachers of St. John’s spirit and doctrine against Antichrist and Mahommedanism in the last times; [35] and showing (I beg attention to this, as a point in which I now first see that Bullinger anticipated me) that God’s own legitimate commission attached to the ministers of the reformed Protestant Churches, although not ordained by bishops. [36] He notes how by translation of the SS into German, Spanish, French, Italian, English, besides sundry Eastern languages, John’s doctrine might be said to be preached by faithful ministers over a large part of the world. This is the case even now; says he: “Hodiè ista et audimus et videmus.” [37] Finally, “the court within” [38] cast out, he takes to be the Roman Pontifix and Pontificii, “excommunicated by God;” but does not apparently follow up his own principles by explaining it, in the manner I have done, of the excommunication as acted out by the Doctors of the Reformation. [39]

So Bullinger comes to the Witnesses. - The number two indicated these Witnesses for Christ to be but few, yet sufficient. The 1260 days of their witnessing in sackcloth, and of the Gentiles treading the Holy City, are an uncertain, yet, in God’s purpose, definite time. For above 700 years we know that there have existed such, who opposed themselves to Papal abominations. - The statement, “When they shall have completed their testimony the Beast shall kill them,” he applies individually; in the sense that none shall be cut off till they have done their appointed work. The great city of their slaughter is the empire of Papal Rome, spread over the world: analogously with the fact of their Lord’s place of crucifixion having been within the old Roman empire: - the Papists’ prefigured joy at Christ’s Witnesses’ death being ever notorious; and just recently illustrated from the rejoicings of the Romanists, even then when Bullinger wrote, at the news of Queen Mary’s persecutions of the Protestants in England: [40] the 3 1/2 days of their lying dead, the short time before their revival in others; so as Huss and Jerome, for example, killed at Constance, were quickly revived first in the Bohemians, then in Laurentius Valla, Savanarola, Luther. [41] The Witnesses’ ascent to heaven he makes that of their departed spirits entering Paradise; and the falling of the tenth of the city, and killing of the 7000, to mean the mighty defections already begun from the Papal Church and empire. He notes too the taking and sack of Rome itself in 1527, by the Constable Bourbon. [42] - On the 7th Trumpet he says, “It must come soon: therefore our redemption draweth nigh.”

Passing on to Apoc. xii., Bullinger explains the travailing Woman, like most of his predecessors, of the Church; [43] the triumph and ascent of Christ’s members being assured and involved in that of Christ himself; who is here figured not merely as the Child caught up to God’s throne, but also as Michael the Church’s protecting Angel. But he gives a new interpretation to the Woman’s flight into the wilderness; as meaning that of the Church from Judæa and the Jews, (who of old constituted God’s enclosed vineyard,) to the Gentiles. [44] The 3 1/2 times are expounded generally, as before. And so too, in a general sense, the Dragon’s seven heads and ten horns; as indicating that the Devil “præfuit omnium seculorum monarchis impiis, et omnium cornuum vel regnorum sanguinolentorum præsultor fuit.” [45] Then, in Apoc. xiii., the first Beast is rather, remarkably made by him the old Pagan Roman empire; remarkably, I mean, for Bullinger, a Protestant. (As offered by Papal expositors, e.g. Bossuet, the explanation was quite natural.) The seven heads had allusion to Rome’s seven hills: and also to seven of its kings; whether the seven earliest kings, or the seven Julian Emperors, ending with Nero: in whom (sc. Nero) the Beast suffered a deadly wound; which however was healed by Vespasian. [46] The ten horns might indicate that Rome’s empire was then made up of many kingdoms, or perhaps that it at last was to be dissolved into many: viz. under the desolation of the Goth and Vandal invaders of the 5th century; as it was said in the prophecy, “He that killeth with the sword shall be killed with the sword,” &c. [47]

The second Beast is explained to be the Papal Antichrist, (being the same as Daniel’s little horn and St. Paul’s Man of Sin,) rising up under Gregory I, and his successor Boniface, to be Universal Bishop, soon after Totilas’ utter destruction of old Rome; just as this second Beast was seen to rise after the first. The Beast’s two lamb-like horns indicated his claims to both sacerdotal and royal supremacy, in heaven too and on earth: agreeably with which the Pope has the two swords, and Boniface VIII, at the first Jubilee, A.D. 1300, appeared on day in the pontifical habit, another in the imperial purple. Bullinger draws out here a contrast of this Antichrist and Christ: and notes his changing times as well as laws; substituting his feriæ for Christ’s sabbath, his traditions for Christ’s written Scripture. In short, one must be blinder than Tiresias, he says, not to see in the Popes the great predicted Antichrist. [48] - The image of the Beast is the new Roman or Western Secular Empire: which is, indeed, says he, but the shadow of the old one. [49] The explanation of the second Beast’s giving breath to the image is, on this hypothesis, obvious. Unless the Pope confirm the new emperor’s election, his election is invalid; and in the ceremony of his confirmation he has to take an oath of allegiance to the Pope. So is the emperor in a manner the Pope’s creature; and in case of Councils alike, general or national, (so Bullinger all but touches on what I believe the true explanation,) the Council “Papæ spiritu regitur.” [50] - But already he has had to meet difficulties from his explanation of the first Beast. The second was to exercise all his power enwpion, before, or in presence of, the first. How does Bullinger get over the difficulty? He refers to Aretas, saying, that it might be in the sense of following and imitating. [51] I need not say how incorrectly. Again, it was to make the earth adore the first Beast. How so? By making men regard the Roman empire, says Bullinger, as something divine. Further, the miracles of the second Beast, said to be done in sight of the Beast, meant in sight of the first Beast’s image, or ghost. And his causing that all who adored not the Beast should be killed, was meant of not adoring the decrees (the Conciliar decrees) of the new Roman empire, as inspired by the Pope. On the name and number he prefers Irenæus’ solution of Aateinov: dwelling on the Latinism of the Papacy, much like Dr. More afterwards. [52]

Proceeding onward through the next three chapters, it may suffice to observe that he interprets the Angel with the everlasting Gospel in Apoc. xiv., and also the two Angels following him, of gospel-preachers then in existence; the invention of printing aiding their progress; [53] that the Vials of Apoc. xvi. are explained as the closing judicial plagues on the Papal Egypt: the 1st being the “posca Gallica,” which first broke out, he says, A.D. 1494, in the Neapolitan war between French and Spaniards, and was rife especially in the Romish convents; [54] the 2nd, pestilences generally; the 3rd. Popes and Papal princes, stirring up bloody wars in which themselves were slain; the 4th (on the sun), heat and drought; the 5th (that on the Beast’s seat), the darkening of Rome’s majesty through the progress of the Reformation; the 6th, on the Euphrates, the drying up of the resources and powers of the Papal Babylon; while the three frogs consequent thereon were the Papal legates e latere, issuing forth to the kings of the earth, (and so, like the frogs of Egypt, even in king’s houses,) to stir them up to war against Christ’s gospel-ministers. The 7th, or Vial on the air, meant elemental convulsions, like those predicted by Christ, Matt. xxiv., as to precede his coming: and the three parts into which the great city would fall in consequence, those of true Christians, Papists, and “neutrals.” - Further, on Apoc. xvii., feeling the difficulty of his original solution of the first Beast as the old Roman empire, he speaks of the Apocalypse as here conjoining in the figured Beast, whereon the Woman sate, both the Beast and Beast’s image, old and new Rome, the empire and the Papacy. [55] The “was and is not” he thus explains. The old empire was from Julius to Nero, in the Julian Cæsars; then, after a while, became great under Trajan. [56] The “five heads that have fallen,” were the five emperors that had followed after the deadly wound under Nero; viz. Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus: the one “that is,” Domitian; the 7th, that was to last but a short time, Nerva; (so does Bullinger unconsciously fall in with Victorinus;) the 8th Trajan: which last might be called of the seven, as having been adopted by Nerva. [57] - The statement that the ten kings received power at one hour with the Beast, he makes to have reference to the second Beast, or Popes, not the first; (so again showing, indeed now confessing, the difficulty from his solution of the first Beast; [58] ) these being the ten horns, among which the Papacy was as the dominant little horn; also, while explaining the ten kings desolating Rome primarily of old Rome’s desolation in the days of the Goths and Vandals, he suggests (after Luther) that there may not improbably be a second and future sense, as well as a primary one; and that these kings may be ultimately instruments for desolating Papal Rome too, though none but Christ will destroy it. - Finally, the bridal in Apoc. xix. Bullinger makes to coincide with the saints’ resurrection; [59] the vision of Christ and his army on white horses to symbolize the last judgment; the Beast then taken with the False Prophet to be the Papal Roman Empire: [60] (mark again this necessary inconsistency resulting from his former explanation of the seven-headed Beast:) also the millennium to be the 1000 years either from Christ’s ascension to A.D. 1034, when under the pontificate of Benedict IX Satan seemed loosed to deceive the nations; or from A.D. 60, when Paul speaks of the Gospel having been preached over the whole world, to the pontificate of Nicholas II, A.D. 1060; or from A.D. 73, the date of the destruction of Jerusalem, to the pontificate of Gregory VII, A.D. 1073. At the same time he objects not, he says, if any prefer to follow the chiliasm of Papias. [61] - The Gog and Magog loosed he of course interprets of the Turks: makes the first resurrection to be that from sin, the second that from the grave: and in the figured new heavens and earth recognizes the renovation of this our world. [62]

Bale, Bishop of Ossory under Edward VI, and twice an exile from England, viz. in 1540 under Henry VIII, and in 1553 under Mary, [63] next calls for our notice. - He published his Apocalyptic Commentary, under the significant title “Image of both Churches,” i.e. of the true and the false, shortly, as it would seem, before Bullinger’s [64] It consists of three Parts, published at three different times, and paged as separate volumes: the first with frequent marginal references to previous authors, of the incorrect printing of which he complains grievously; [65] the other two, in consequence, without. His first Preface gives a very copious list of Apocalyptic expositors, from the earliest period; which I think it may be well to abstract below. [66]

The Seals he explains, much like other Reformers, to prefigure, as they were opened, the mysteries of the seven ages of Christ’s Church, though not without certain peculiarities in the details: - 1. Christ and his apostles’ triumphant progress: 2. the earlier heretics figured by the red horse, and Pagan Roman persecutors figured by its rider with the great sword: 3. the Arians, Pelagians, and all false Prelates; with the Devil, holding his deceitful pair of balances, for their rider: 4 Popery as commencing with Boniface I, and Mahommedism with Mahomet; the horse symbolizing “the universal synagogue of hypocrites, or dissembling Church of Antichrist; pale as men without health,” and ridden by “Death and Damnation:” [67] 5. the martyrdom of Christ’s saints, specially by the Papal Antichrist; e.g. those of the Publicans, [68] Albigenses, and Waldenses: 6. the convulsions of Antichrist’s kingdom, now at length revealed in its real character: convulsions begun under Wicliff, [69] continued under Huss, and now experienced yet more: the true sun Christ eclipsed in it; the moon-figured Church, once fair, now taught only of flesh and blood; the stars, or doctors, fallen from Christ’s heavenly doctrine, &c.; the heaven of true doctrine past away; their mountains too of strength passing from before them, under the preaching of the Word and with fearful looking-for of judgment. [70] - In the Sealing Vision the Angels of the winds are explained to mean Antichrist and his agents, seeking to withhold the Holy Spirit: and the sealing of the 144,000 as figuring Christ’s intervention to mark and seal his true Church; an intervention specially evident at the time then present. - In the 7th Seal the half-hour’s silence betokened the peace then to be given to the Christian Church, when Babylon shall have fallen, the Beast been slain, and the Dragon tied for 1000 years. For, as all the age after Christ is called by John “the last hour,” [71] this half-hour may well mean the 1000 years of Apoc. xx. “In the time of which sweete silence shall Israel be revyved, the Jewes be converted, the heathen come in agayne; and Christ seeke up his lost sheepe, and brying hym agauyne to hys folde; that they maye appeare one flock, lyke as they have one shepeherde.”

The æras of the Trumpets Bale, like others before him, identifies with those of the Seals: [72] - the 1st being figurative of the wicked Jews and Gentiles, opposed to and persecuting the Christians in the apostolic æra; the 2nd of false brethren, inciting the Roman emperors against Christians; the 3rd of heretics, such as Arius, Eutyches, Valens, that fell by apostasy from Christ’s Church, and poisoned by their heresies the streams of religious doctrine; the 4th of the progress of superstition, image-worship, and hypocrisy, obscuring the light of truth, and ending in Popery and Mahommedism. - Then the Woe-denouncing Angel he makes to be men like Joachim Abbas, raising their warning-voice; followed afterwards by such as Arnold and Savanarola. The fallen star of the 5th Trumpet Bale explains as “the shyning multitude of prelates, pastours, and relgious fathers, fallen away from the doctryne of the Spyrite” in the middle age: darkening the light by false teachers, as by smoke from hell: and from which came swarms of Cardinals, Popes, Abbots, monks of every order, schoolmen, &c., like beasts. The 6th Trumpet’s horsemen from the Euphrates (the river of Babylon) he expounds to mean the Antichristian Papists, ever prepared for evil, whether at the hour, day, month, or year: many, however, from among the four angels (whom he pretty much identifies with the horsemen) “that were sometime Antichristes, hypocrites, tyrauntes, and murtherers, having been loosened from Euphrates by the present age’s gospel-Trumpet’s sounding;” “the Lord having anoynted many with his Spirit in this age to preache delyveraunce to the captive, and to pen the pryson to them that were in bondage.” [73]

The Vision of Apoc. x. Bale explains clearly and strikingly, just as Bullinger, or the Reformation: the book opened being the Scriptures; the Angel, the gospel-preachers of the Reformation, whose light is to be seen alike in the isles and on the continent; the seven thunders, God’s fearful coming judgments: which fact was to be noted, though the mysteries were sealed up and hid; such as about the hour and day of judgment, of which knoweth no man. As to the time, times, and half a time of Daniel, which seemed alluded to in the Angel’s oath, the time was that from Daniel to Christ; the times, the ages from Christ to the 7th Seal’s opening, and 7th Trumpet’s sounding; the half-time, that from thenceforth, wherein the days shall be shortened for the elect’s sake. Of which 7th Trumpet the sounding must be near, though when we know not. And then in that 7th age of the Church all shall be finished. So “are the faithful to be ascertained that their final redemption is at hand. [74]

In Apoc. xi. (which begins his second Part and Volume) Bale makes the measuring-rod to be God’s word, “now graciously sent us out of Zion, by men having his special grace, as by John, to have dominion heere in the midst of his enemies:” [75] the temple, God’s congregation or Church, defined and discriminated by his word from the synagogue of Satan; the altar, Christ; the Gentiles cast out, Popish prelates and priests that forsake Christ; the Holy City, “the living generation of them that fear the love God;” the two Witnesses, faithful protesters for Christ, that continue with God’s people all through the time of the Church’s oppression by the Gentiles; and that were never in more power than now, in this sixth age of the Church. - Of the Witnesses’ slaughter by the Beasts Antichrist, when they have individually finished their testimony, and their reviving in others, much, says he, has been already fulfilled, though something remains to be accomplished yet. The 3 1/2 days of their exposure, or 7 half-days, he supposes to be the seven ages of the Church. The Witnesses being seen by their enemies to ascend to heaven, is illustrated from the acknowledgment often made even here by Romanists, to their having been godly men. The “tenth part of the city falling,” is the decay of the riches of the Papal Church. - “Thus,” says Bale, in concluding this subject, “have we heere what is done already; and what is to come under this sixt Trumpet, whereunder we are now, which all belongeth to the second wo.” [76] The 7th Trumpet, he adds, is to introduce the full declaration of God’s word, and peaceable time figured by the half-hour’s silence. Which, however, will not always continue; as there is to follow in that last age the outbreak of Gog and Magog, and the last judgment. [77]

Passing to Apoc. xii., Bale interprets the vision of the Woman and Dragon much as others before him. The woman is the Church bringing forth Christ in his members; the Dragon, the Devil; the Dragon’s seven heads having a probable reference, he conjectures, 1st, (and before the flood,) to the serpent, in which form he first tempted man; 2. to the calf, as the early object of idolatry; 3, 4, 5, 6, to Daniel’s lion, bear, leopard, and terrible Beast; 7. to man; this last figuring the Papacy. - In Apoc. xiii. he makes the first Beast to be “the universal or whole Antichrist;” including all Antichrist’s members, from the beginning of the Christian æra. And thus “none other is this Beast, here described, than was the pale horse in the 4th age, the cruel multitude of locusts in the fifth age, and the horses of incomparable lewdness for the sixt.” His seven heads he makes the same as the Dragon’s; the deadly wound of the 7th head, that by the Reformation; [78] the healing of it accomplished by the partial re-establishment of Popery, as now in England under Bishops Bonner and Gardiner, “with authority to hang and burn at pleasure, by act of Parliament:” [79] the duration of which healed head however will be but short, as shown us in Apoc. xvii. - As to the second Beast, it figures false prophets and teachers, such as have been even from the world’s beginning; the lamb’s horns indicating their counterfeiting of Christ and Christianity: the Beast’s image, Popish emperors and kings, [80] now especially, speaking as dictated by their Confessors: the Beast’s name and number perhaps (as earlier Expositors suggest) the names antemov, arnoume, (this Bale specially affects,) [81] teitan, or Dic Lux: or perhaps Dialolus Incarnatus, or Filius Perditionis; which two last want but 4 and 6 respectively of the fated number 666. Bale also adds, as adopted from “a certain unnamed disciple of Wielif,” (he should have rather said from Joachim Abbas, [82] ) a suggestion of the 600 indicating the world’s 6 ages till Christ’s coming, the 60 the 6 æras since Christ to the ending sabbath, the 6 that ending sabbath itself.

In Apoc. xiv. he explains the 144,000 as “the universal congregation of Christ, (contradistinctively to that of Antichrist,) all clear from the superstitions of men:” their song of harmonious voice, of God’s holy word. The three flying Angels, next following, he interprets very much as Bullinger, and with special reference to the time of the Reformation: also the earth’s harvest and vintage as close at hand. The seven Vials Bale makes to synchronize with the seven æras of the Seals and Trumpets. Passing over the rest, the drying up of the Euphrates in the 6th, under which Bale supposed men then were, was the drying up of the worldly spirit; “pompes, possessions, and pleasures of he Antichristian church of Babylon:” not till the completion of which will the way of the kings from the sunrising be prepared, or “governors rule according to Christ’s doctrine.” Also the three frogs he explains as the spirits of idolatry, filthy superstition, and hypocrisy; even then gathering the Antichristian powers to battle against Christ and Christ’s ministers. - In Apoc. xvii. John’s being carried by the Spirit into the wilderness, to behold the vision of the Harlot, is resembled to the then recent escape of many of the Reformers out of Babylon: [83] that the Beast “was” is explained of the Antichristianism of the pre-Judaic and Judaic times: that it is not refers to the destruction in St. John’s time of the Antichristian Judaic power; and yet is, was meant of its revival in the Popes and Mahomet. Also its seven heads meant alike the seven hills of Rome, and the seven monarchies of the seven climates of the world: 5 heads having fallen from Rome’s universal monarchy, viz. all in Africa, Asia, and part of Europe; the 6th being the feeble Roman Western Empire remaining; the 7th the spiritual empire of the Popedom raised by Phocas. [84] As to the ten kings (which, says he, some think to be England, France, Spain, Portugal, Castile, Denmark, Scotland, Hungary, Bohemia, and Naples,) they received authority at one hour with the Beast, when at the 4th Lateran Council they were allied together for a crusade, and had Papal confession enjoined on them. And, while omitting all primary reference of the statement about the ten horns tearing the whore to the Gothic and Vandal desolations of Old Rome, he anticipates Bullinger’s other view of the prophecy’s reference also to the time of the end: saying that it is reserved as their destiny to tear and desolate the harlot Rome: a thing already indeed begun, not only by secular rulers, but even ecclesiastical, as Cranmer, Latimer, Luther, Zuingle, Calvin, Bullinger, [85] &c.

In Apoc. xix., Bale says, on the Lamb’s bridal; “Sence the begynning of the world have the faithfule prepared for this heavenlye marriage; and in the resurrection of the righteous shall it be perfectly solemnized, celebrated, and magnified; such time as they shal appear in full glory with Christ. In this latter time will the true Christian Church be of her perfect age, when all the world shall confesse his name in peace, and apte unto this spousage.” - Yet on the millennium, Apoc. xx., contrary to his previous identification of it with this coming period of rest and evangelization of the world, [86] a period destined to follow on the destruction of the Popedom, he reverts to the old Augustinian solution: making it the 1000 years from Christ’s ascension to Pope Sylvester II: so Wicliff, says he, in his book De Solutione Sathanæ. Then was the Devil loosed in the Papal supremacy; and the Turks also, as Gog and Magog; though no doubt the foundations of the Popedom were laid 400 years earlier by Phocas. It was now at length a plenary loosing; but only “for a little while:” as Berenger, and then the Waldenses, Wicliffites, &c., very soon after opposed the Papacy; and subsequently, yet more, the Reformers Luther, &c. “And I doubt not but within few dayes the mightie breath of Christ’s mouth, which is his lyving gospele, shall utterly distroye hym.”

On the new heaven and earth Bale professes to look for an earth purified and renovated by the fire of judgment, “goyng before the Judge;” very much as in King Edward’s Catechism, cited by me at p. 102 of this Volume.

4. A brief notice may suffice of the two interpreters Chytræus and Marlorat, who published some twenty years later, in the middle æra of the Reformation; for they both very much followed in the track of their predecessors.

Thus in David Chytræus’ Explicatio Apocalypsis, published Wittenberg 1571, the six first Seals are made to depict the gospel-progress, wars, famines, pestilences, persecutions, and political commotions, &c., as from time to time repeated, or continued, throughout the whole time of the Church; and the Sealing Vision the multitudes sealed and saved through all this same period. Of the Trumpets the four first Chytræus interprets of the heresies of Tatian, Marcion, Origen, and Novatus; so as Luther, says he, in his Bible, “ad marginem Editionis Germanicæ:” the 5th, of the Papacy, as established by Gregory and Phocas’ Decree; the 6th, of the Saracens and Turks; the Euphrates being specified, says Chytræus, with a more specific geographical reference than others, because of the Saracen capital Bagdad being situated by it. - The Angel vision in Apoc. x. is Christ’s succouring the Church in those times of darkness, by opening the Scriptures and raising up true preachers: [87] John’s charge to prophecy again being given him, not so much in his personal as in his representative character: the office assigned to these gospel preachers being to attack the Papal and Mahometan errors, till the 7th Trumpet’s sounding, or the end of the world. - In Apoc. xi. the figuration of the temple showed that even in the worst times, under Popery and Mahommedanism, there would be a Church of God, recognizing the true altar, or Christ in his characters of Priest and Mediator; and the exclusion directed of the outer court meant God’s own exclusion of Papists; boasting themselves to be the true Church, but rejected by the measuring rod of God’s law. The 1260 days of the Gentiles treading the holy city are to be explained, Chytræus adds, as angelic days, i.e. as 1260 years: and to be calculated (I noted this a little previously [88] ) perhaps from Alaric’s taking Rome, A.D. 412, perhaps from Phocas’ Decree, A.D. 606; on the former of which suppositions the date of ending would be A.D. 1672; on the latter, 1866. Correspondently with which view of that mystic period the two Witnesses signified all Christ’s successive witnesses during the 42 months of Antichrist’s reign; such, says he, as have been recently detailed in the “Catalogus Testium.” [89] Their death and speedy revival he explains, like Bullinger and others, to signify the speedy revival of other witnessing and witnesses, on each individual occasion of their temporary suppression by Antichrist. - In Apoc. xiii. he follows Bullinger in making the first Beast the old Pagan Roman Empire; explaining too its seven heads after him: only he makes the wounding of the seventh head to be that of the Goths. I should have observed that he notes on the 1260 days, how some had explained them of the Interim, from May 15, 1548 to the beginning of 1552: - the first introduction this, I believe, of the Interim into Protestant Apocalyptic interpretation. The second Beast is Rome Pontifical; the image of the Beast the Western Empire, the shadow of the old one. - The Beast’s name and number some, he says, explained as a title, e.g. Aateinov; some as chronologically marking the time from Christ to Phocas or Pepin. - The millennium is 1000 years from Christ to Gregory VII and the Turks.

Augustin Marlorat’s Exposition of the Revelation of St. John, published A.D. 1574, with a dedication to Sir. W. Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer under Queen Elizabeth, is professedly collected out of divers notable writers of the Protestant Churches; viz. Bullinger, Calvin, Gaspar Meyander, Justus Jonas, Lambertus, Musculus, Œcolampadius, Pellicanus, Meyer, Viret. - The first novelty that I observe in it is on the 2nd Trumpet; where the figure of the burning mountain cast into the sea is explained of the Roman empire swallowed up, as in the sea, by Christ’s kingdom. The 5th Trumpet is applied to Mahomet and the Pope; the 6th to the Papal Antichrist yet more strongly. - On Apoc. x. I mark the clear decisive explanation of its Angel-Vision usual among the Reformers, as figuring the opening of the Scriptures, and revived gospel-preaching at the Reformation: also the exclusion of the outer court in Apoc. xi., as signifying the exclusion of Papists: there being here, however, in Marlorat this variation, that on the Angel’s oath, living securely as he did under the Protestant Queen Elizabeth, he not unnaturally expresses a strong opinion that the 2nd Woe had past in time, even though the 7th Trumpet might not have sounded. - In Apoc. xii. he interprets the Dragon’s seven heads like Bale: in Apoc. xiii., the first Beast as Antichrist and his kingdom: (the deadly wound, made by Mahomet, being healed by the Popes:) the Beast’s image as the images of saints; the Beast’s name and number, much as Chytræus. Finally, in Apoc. xx. he explains the millennium as the period from Christ to Antichrist; during which Satan, he says, was restrained: and he takes occasion on it to reprobate the errors of the Chiliasts.

A word, ere I pass to the last quarter of this century, on Bibliander: an expositor contemporary with the two former; and who, in his exposition of the Seals, as I learn from Foxe, [90] offered certain noticeable novelties. Like Berengaud he supposed them to symbolize successive ages of the world from the beginning: but not the same as Berengaud. According to Bibliander the 1st Seal figures the age from Creation to the Flood; the 2nd from the Flood to Moses; the 3rd from Moses to Christ; the 4th from Christ to Constantine; the 5th from Constantine to the commencement of Papal supremacy by Phocas’ grant, and of Mahommedanism by Mahomet about A.D. 606; the 6th (including Pepin and Charlemagne’s acts of aggrandizement to the Roman Church) from Phocas to the Councils of Constance and Basle A.D. 1431; [91] the 7th from thence to the consummation.

5. In conclusion of my Historic Sketch of Protestant Apocalyptic Expositors of the century and æra of the Reformation, I shall now briefly state the opinions of Foxe, Brightman, and Pareus; expositors who published in the last quarter of that century, as dated from A.D. 1517.

The Exposition by Foxe, our venerable English Martyrologist, was written (as appears by two chronological notices in the book) in the year 1586; [92] and had been only advanced to Apoc. xvii., when the work was interrupted by his death. [93] The next year it was published by his son, under the modest title of Eicasmi in Apocalypsin; (Conjectures on the Apocalypse;) with a Dedication to Archbishop Whitgift; in size making a thin folio of about 400 pages. It seems to me to deserve attention, not merely from the venerable character of the writer; but also from the learning and original thought and views manifest in the Commentary itself.

Thus, to begin, [94] he makes the horses and horsemen of the four first Seals to signify the same four great empires of the world that were previously symbolized by Daniel’s four beasts, the Assyrian, Persian, Greek, and Roman: [95] the fifth picturing primarily the Christian martyrdoms under Pagan Rome, from Nero to Diocletian: secondarily, and by the intimation added, “till their brethren should be killed even as they,” the later succession of martyrs also, slain under Antichrist, whereby was to be made up the Christian martyrs’ complement: which later succession, having commenced from the time of Satan’s loosing 1000 years after Constantine, [96] or near about the æra of Wicliff, had when Foxe wrote amounted to the same number ten, [97] as the successive persecutions of the Christian Church under Rome Pagan. - On the sixth he compares its symbols of the earthquake and the elemental convulsions with similar ones in Isaiah and Joel, denoting Babylon’s overthrow and Jerusalem’s respectively; as well as others figuring the last judgment. And he thence infers that it may signify primarily the overthrow, following on the completion of the first set of martyrs, of the Roman Pagan persecuting emperors and empire accomplished by Constantine: yet so as to symbolize also, secondly and chiefly, the greater day of judgment; on the completion of the second and final set of Christian martyrs, slain by Antichrist. Which judgment, Foxe thought, might be regarded as very near at hand.

The Sealing Vision, included in the same sixth Seal, showed the preservation of the saints at this period of the judgment, amidst the physical disturbances of the mundane system, (for the stagnation of the winds, the literal winds, indicated a stop in the usual course of nature,) [98] and conflagration of the world; just as the fate of the antichristian and wicked had been depicted in the previous figuration: the 144,000 sealed, whom Foxe identifies with the innumerable body of the palm-bearers, being the universal church of the redeemed.- Then, the half-hours silence in heaven, Foxe, dissatisfied with other views, conjectures to mean the peace of the world under Augustus, preceding Christ’s birth: and that the prayers of all saints that followed, being prayers of the saints after Christ’s death and ascension, while under persecution from Jews and Romans, brought down on their persecutors the judgments symbolized in the Trumpets. Thus Trumpet 1 was the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; Trumpet 2 the plague and other troubles under Aurelius, after the fourth Pagan persecution: Trumpet 3 the plague under Decius of which Cyprian wrote, and that far greater one, together with all the other troubles, under Gallienus; Trumpet 4 the convulsions and quenching of the political lights of the Roman empire by Goths, Vandals, and Lombards; [99] Trumpet 5 the woes possibly of the Papacy, but more probably in Foxe’s opinion of Mahommedanism, the one from Phocas, the other from Mahomet; [100] (the five months specified having reference simply to the time of the natural locusts, that constituted the figure, making their ravages;) [101] Trumpet 6 the Turks. On which last point Foxe is very strong. “It is clearer than the light itself,” he says, “that this is the main intent of the Trumpet.” [102] He dates the Turks’ power in Asia from A.D. 1051, when the alliance was formed by them with the Caliph of Bagdad; [103] and traces their history thence downward to A.D. 1573.

“And the rest,” it is said, Apoc. ix. 20, “repented not of worshipping idols, &c.” The Anglo-Rhemenses, observes Foxe, [104] explains this of heathen idols. But were the Greeks that have been slain and enslaved by the Turks, worshippers of such idols? - Then he proceeds to the vision of Apoc. x., xii.; all under the same sixth Trumpet, “in quâ hactenus versamur.” [105] In Apoc. x. the magnificent vision of Christ, there given, signified chiefly two things: - 1st, the restoration of gospel-preaching, “Thou must prophesy again;” the book in the Angel’s hand figuring God’s word, and John being a representative person on the scene of vision: 2nd, a declaration of the surely approaching judgment under the seventh Trumpet. [106] He explains both these of his own æra, though as begun indeed earlier, even from the time of Wicliff: (times included likewise in the Turkish woe-period, or 6th Trumpet;) and he refers in one place, as illustrative, to the wonderful discovery of printing. Mark specially, he observes more than once, the word “Prophesy again.” [107] It implies there having been previously a cessation of it; so as in fact for centuries under the Papacy. - Then, preparatorily to the next vision, Foxe has a dissertation to show that the great Antichrist of Scripture prophecy is the Pope, not the Turk; and the temple he was to sit in, the Christian Church. Accordingly in Apoc. xi. the temple is the Church; its inner court true worshippers, its outer false: also the measuring it indicated its reparation and reformation, during the then current woe of the sixth Trumpet, “as in our day.” This reformation implied a previous corruption of it, he adds, by Antichrist: the progress of which he traces. - As to the 42 months, during which the Holy City was to be trodden down, it was no doubt the same as the 42 months of Apoc. xii., xiii. And this, arguing from the length of the Jewish and Roman Pagan persecutions of the Church, from Herod’s beheading of St. John to Constantine, and which he computed at 294 (?) years, [108] he deemed to be on the scale of one month to seven years; a singular scale, applied however by him to the number in Daniel also! This then would be the duration of the Turks and Pope jointly oppressing the Church; a term equal to that of the Jews and Pagan’s oppression of it, till Constantine. And as from Satan’s loosing and the rise of the Ottomans, A.D. 1300, 286 years of the term had, when Foxe wrote, elapsed, there would now remain of it but eight years more. - Similarly the Witnesses’ 1260 days of prophesying in sackcloth, dated by Foxe from A.D. 1300, would on the scale before mentioned have to end in 1594. At the same time he mentions Aretius’ and Chytræus’ view of the period, as one of angelic days, i.e. of years: ending, if measured from Constantine, in 1572; if from Alaric, (A.D. 412,) in 1672; if from Phocas, in the year 1866. [109] - The witnesses prophesying 1260 days in sackcloth, and then being killed by the Beast, he explains of the proceedings of the Council of Constance in the condemnation of Huss and Jerome: (so too, he says, Bibliander:) its first Session having been Dec. 8, 1414; and last, May 22, 1418, just 3 1/2 years after. After which time their principles, thought to have been suppressed, soon revived. Foxe dwells long and minutely on this history; deeming it evidently a very remarkable fulfillment of the prophecy. [110] - Since which time the revived Witnesses had come down to the time of Luther and the Reformers. - All this had been under the sixth or Turkish Trumpet; which Foxe regarded as then, when he wrote, near its end: the 7th Trumpet being thus close at hand; when the Church would have its time of blessedness accomplished, in Christ’s coming and the saints’ resurrection.

In Apoc. xii. the Woman travailing was God’s true Church, - that same of which David in his 87 Psalm described the glory: [111] the Dragon, the Devil; seeking through Herod to destroy Christ at his birth, and persecuting him afterwards till his death and ascension. After which event Woman flying into the wilderness, which from the more immediate observation and fury of the enemy, like the caves and dens of the earth spoken of in (Heb. xi. 38, “(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”,) [112] had for 1260 mystic days, meaning 294 years, as stated before, i.e. until the time of Constantine, (and the Devil’s coincident millennial binding,) to undergo oppression and persecution. [113] - The first Beast of Apoc. xiii. is explained by Foxe, as by Bullinger, of the heathen Roman emperors: his seven heads, besides their primary signification of Rome’s seven hills, meaning either, so as Bullinger had interpreted them, the seven original kings of Rome, or, as Chytræus, the seven Julian emperors to Nero; or perhaps, as Peter Artopæus and D. Fulco, (Foxe should have added the earlier Osiander,) the seven orders of chief ruling magistrates, Kings, Consuls, Decembirs, Dictators, Triumvirs, Cæsars, and Emperors of foreign ancestry. [114] (Let my readers mark this very important step of progress in Apocalyptic interpretation.) The ten horns Foxe inclines to interpret as the emperors who originated the ten Roman Pagan persecutions of the Church. The 42 mystic months of his ruling as a persecutor were to be taken, as before, to signify 42 x 7, or 294 years. And here Foxe recounts, somewhat mysteriously, that his secret of the mystic numbers, and true scale of computation intended, had been revealed to a friend of his, a martyrologist; meaning, I presume, himself. [115] - The Beast’s head wounded was fulfilled in the Goths’ destruction of old Rome; its healing, in the uprising of the Roman Papal supremacy. - So he comes to the second Beast; which he interprets of course as the Popes, or Antichrist: who, while reviving the old Roman Empire that had been wounded to death, [116] fulfilled also the symbol of two horns like a lamb by their hypocritical pretensions to Christianity; as also indeed, agreeably with the Apocalyptic sketch, to miracles. It had in Hebrew the name VWGxmr (Romanus) =  666; a name which Foxe preferred to others of the same numeral value in Greek or Latin: and in the oaths of fealty to the Romish Church, imposed on all functionaries, secular and ecclesiastical, stamped them as it were the Papal character or mark. [117]

Of the Apocalyptic Vials the five first were explained by Foxe as woes poured out on the old Roman empire; the other two on that of Papal Rome: viz. 1. Gallienus’ elkov or plague; 2. and 3. the bloodshed in the civil and foreign wars of the persecuting emperors; 4. the plagues of drought and famine about the same æra; [118] 5. Rome’s destruction (the seat of the Beast) by the Goths; 6. the Turkish plague from the Euphrates, the same as in the 6th Trumpet. [119]

The millennium, or 1000 years of Satan’s binding, he explains, as I before observed, of the 1000 years from Constantine to the acme of Papal supremacy, and the outbreak of Ottoman Turks, about 1300, A.D.

On the whole, the following points seem to me chiefly notable in Foxe’s very valuable and interesting Commentary: viz. his reference of the fifth and sixth Seals, partially at least, to Diocletian’s persecution and the revolution under Constantine; his strong and distinctive application of the 6th Trumpet to prefigure the Turks; his application of the visions in Apoc. x., xi., of the Angel’s descent, John’s prophesying, and the measuring of the temple, to the Church’s revival in the Reformation; and his explanation, after Fulco and Artopæus, of the seven heads of the Beast; all advances in the right path, I conceive, if not altogether correct: - also his date of Satan’s binding, as one to be computed from Constantine; Foxe being, I believe, the first so to compute it. He was followed herein soon after by the Romanist Alcasar. Here I conceive him to have been quite in error; as also in that on which he thought himself favored with peculiar discernment; viz. the scale on which the prophetic periods were to be calculated.

Passing over Junius, as an Apocalyptic expositor not so important as to call for any detailed notice, [120] I proceed to one of whom it is my duty to speak fully and particularly, I mean Brightman. His Commentary, which is dedicated to “the holy reformed Churches of Britany, Germany, and France,” appears to have been written and first published in the year A.D. 1600, or 1601, before the death of Queen Elizabeth. [121] It is one of great vigor both in thought and language; and deservedly one of the most popular with the Protestant Churches of the time. He himself gives a brief summary of it; which I here subjoin, with a few illustrative Notes. [122]

“Apoc. vi. The Seals. 1. The truth is first of all opened, and overcometh, [ this is the white horse,] under Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus Pius; [123] at the voice of the first Beast, Quadratus, Aristides, and Justin Martyr. 3. At the voice of the second Beast, (viz. the same Justin Melito of Sardis, and Apollinarius,) cometh forth the red horse under Marcus Antonius Versus, confounding all things with wars. [124] 5. The third seal being opened, the third Beast, Tertullian, crieth out under Severus the emperor, when the black horse scourgeth the world with famine and barrenness. 7. The fourth seal is opened; and then speaks the fourth Beast Cyprian, Decius being emperor; when the pale horse wasted all with war, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts. 9. The fifth is opened, [125] and some intermission of the public persecution given under Claudius, Quintilius, Aurelian, and the rest, till the 19th year of Diocletian. 12. The sixth is opened, when Diocletian and Maximian Herculius rage: till at length they were cast out of their empire by the power of the Lamb; for fear of whom those tyrants fled, and hid themselves. [126]

“Apoc. vii. The seventh seal offereth first a general type of all the ages following. 1. When wicked men were ready to trouble all the world with contention, ambition, heresy, war, they are restrained by Constantine the Great; till he had sealed the elect, by providing for the faithful (who were few and living in obscurity) in that great calamity of the Church which straightway followed. 9. Which rueful time being at least passed over, the prosperity and happiness of the faithful grew great. [127]

“Apoc. viii. Secondly, to this seventh seal belongeth the silence that was in heaven: i.e. peace procured by Constantine. 2. The trumpets are prepared, and Constantine calleth the Nicene Council to cut off troubles; which yet by it are more increased. 6 The Angles sound the trumpets; at the sound of the first whereof the contentions of the Arians about the word co-essential arose. 8. At the sound of the second, the burning mountain of ambition is cast into the sea, by the decree concerning the primacy and dignity of bishops. 10. At the third the star falleth from heaven; the Arian heresy being defended by Constantius and Valens. 12. At the fourth, the third part of the sun (the Church of Africa) is smitten by the Vandals. 13. The world is warned concerning more grievous Trumpets to ensue by Gregory the Great.

Apoc. ix. 1. At the fifth sounding the bottomless pit is opened, [128] and swarms of locusts crawl out: that is, of religious persons in the West, of Saracens in the East. [129] 13. At the sixth the Turks invade the world, which is punished for the Romish idolatry. [130]

“Apoc. x. 1. At what time the T


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2015, 07:35:42 PM »



The century and æra of the great Reformation had past: - that Reformation on gospel principles of which Pierre d’Olive had expressed his expectation as a probable final testing to the Romish Church; in order, by her rejection of it, to justify even before men her divinely doomed utter destruction. [1] And so the now separated powers of Protestantism and Popery, in professing Christendom, stood face to face in opposition; with their armory and weapons of argument, as well as of political force, outdrawn, or preparing against each other. Among which of course was the argument from prophetic SS, specially of the Apocalypse, which both parties professed to receive as divinely inspired: and which, according to its own opening words, as well as according to the early Christian Fathers’ acceptation of them, was to be regarded as God’s prefiguration of the things destined after St. John’s time to befall the Church and the world; and consequently as involving his view and judgment respecting them. - Long had this been lost sight of. For 700 or 800 years after the fall of the old Roman empire the Apocalyptic prophecy had been expounded, we have seen, as if little more than a repetition of mere general common-place enunciations respecting the world’s wickedness, the Church’s sufferings, and God’s consequent judgments, under the form of a store-house of figures in which the expositor’s fancy might luxuriate without check or limit: [2] without any definite prediction of coming events, anything of chronological order and succession in the predictions; any possibility of a gathering from them of the lessons of real prophecy; any possibility of a gathering from them of the lessons of real prophecy as to the things which already had been, since St. John’s seeing the visions in Patmos, or the things which were still to be thereafter. [3]

So, I say, it was through seven centuries of the middle age; till at length, about A.D. 1200, Joachim Abbas opened the way, however imperfectly, to its explanation, as a foreshadowing, distinctly and definitely, of the history of the Church and world from Apostolic times to the time then present, and still beyond it: - an opening followed up with more light, both spiritual and intellectual, and better advantage, though still very imperfectly, by the expositors of the æra, in its foreshadowing's: - I mean, 1st, the glorious sudden light-bearing descent of the covenant-Angel, with the opened gospel in his hand, Apoc. x., just in the deepest and most hopeless state, as prophetically depicted, of Christendom under the 6th Trumpet of the judgment of horsemen from the Euphrates, which they could not but construe very generally of the Euphratean Turks; [4] a vision including the oath that but one more Trumpet remained to be sounded ere the consummation: [5] 2ndly, the predictions concerning the Roman seven-headed Beast, or Papal Antichrist, and Christ’s true Church, and its destined persecutions and sufferings under him: 3rdly, concerning the sackcloth-robed Witnesses raised up to protest against it; all for apparently the same mystic period, however and whencesoever to be measured, of 1260 days, 42 months, or 3 1/2 times. [6] It was just as Tertullian, in the time of the early Christians’ persecution under Pagan Rome, had seized on the true intent of the 5th Seal’s vision of the souls under the altar, with a kind of special instinct, as specially concerning them; [7] and the Constantinian expositors of the 4th century had specially and instinctively seized on the prophecy of the Dragon’s dejection in Apoc. xii., as meant of them and their æra. [8] And this strongly of course helped to strengthen the conviction in the minds of the Reformers of the whole prophecy being indeed, when rightly understood, a prophecy definitely historical; and, with the master hand of divine philosophy, picturing in it the intermixed fortunes of the Church and the world from St. John’s time to the consummation.

But much beyond this they progressed not. On the fundamental point of the structure of the Apocalypse, and order and relationship of its several parts, they held the most diverse opinions. Did the seven-sealed Book contain in itself the whole of the Apocalyptic predictions, or but a part? Were the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials chronologically continuous, the one set of figurations chronologically following the other in what they prefigured? or were they of range chronologically parallel; each reaching to the consummation? Had the killing and resurrection of the Witnesses been yet fulfilled; or were they events still future? Were the figurations always definite figuring's of the æra symbolized; or sometimes mystically; and, if so, whether on the year-day principle of measure, or what other; and whence moreover to be measured, and when terminated? Again, finally, what of the 1000 years of Satan’s binding, told of in Apoc. xx.; and, if already fulfilled, or fulfilling, how to be reconciled with the other statements in the prophecy? On all these points opinions the most different had been expressed by the Reformers; the questions remained sub judice (that is, ‘not yet legally decided’), the difficulties unsolved. [9] They were problems, apparently, for the Protestant interpreters of the next age; that of which I am not to speak.

Our 6th Section of the History of Apocalyptic Interpretation opens naturally with Mede in England, Pareus’ immediate successor, and from him passes to Jurieu the French Protestant: then (after brief notice of the anti-Protestant expositors, though themselves Protestant, Hammond and Grotius) to Cressener, Vitringa, and Daubuz, as the next expositors of chief repute among Protestants, and Bossuet among Roman Catholics; then next to Sir Isaac Newton, Whiston, and Bishop Newton; the last-mentioned a summarizer of the most generally received Protestant prophetic views at an epoch immediately prior to the French Revolution.

1 Mede. - It was in 1627 that Mede first published his Clavis Apocalyptica, in 1632 his Commentary; the former laying down from internal evidence (independent of any particular historic system of explanation) the “synchronisms” and mutual relationships of the several parts of the prophecy; the latter his historical explanation, conformably with those synchronisms. The reputation of these works, especially in England, is well known. He was looked on, and written of, as a man almost inspired for the solution of the Apocalyptic mysteries. And certainly of his general discernment and theological learning, as well as of that which he brought to bear on prophecy, there might well be entertained a high opinion. Yet, if it be permitted to express freely my judgment on so great a man, I must say that I think his success was at first over-estimated as an Apocalyptic Expositor. For if on various points he much advanced the science, especially as regards his principle of inferring the structure of the prophecy from its own internal evidence, prior to any historical application, and thence laying down of its synchronisms and the mutual relationship of its several parts, (the place of the millennium of Satan’s binding inclusive,) and last (scarce least) his appending of a Tabular Scheme of the Prophecy, according to his view of arrangement and connection of its parts, - an appendage attached by him to his Commentary first I believe of Apocalyptic Expositors, and without which, in my opinion, no Apocalyptic Commentary can be complete, - while, I say, on these points, and certain historical illustrations also of the prophecy, he advanced the science of Apocalyptic interpretation, on others I conceive him to have caused it very materially to retrograde. So, above all, in regard of his idea, prominently marked in the Tabular Scheme, of the Apocalypse having been divided into two separate Parts, written respectively in two separate Books; viz. 1st, the seven-sealed Book given into the hand of the Lamb to open, (Apoc. v. 7, “ And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne”); 2ndly, the Little Book given opened into the hand of St. John by the Covenant Angel, (Apoc. x. 9-11, “And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. 10: And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. 11: And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”), each having a general parallelism of chronology with the other, and each its own proper synchronisms.* On this more as I proceed.

* It may be well to append a list of these his Apocalyptic synchronisms; a notice being added where Mede seems to me to have been in error: -

1. The 3 1/2 times, 42 months, or 1260 days, of the women’s being in the wilderness, the ten-horned resuscitated Beast’s reigning, the outer court of the temple being trod by Gentiles, and Christ’s two witnesses witnessing in sackcloth.

2.The coincident duration  of the ten-horned Beast and the two-horned of Apoc. xiii. (Qu. in Mede‘s sense ?)

3.Ditto of the ten-horned Beast and mystic Babylon.

4.Ditto of the 144,000 of Apoc. vii and xiv. with the above.

5.Of the time of the inner temple-court’s measuring, Apoc. xi., and of the Dragon’s War with the travailing woman, Apoc. xii. (Qu. ?)

6.Of the Seven Vials, and Babylon’s and the Beast’s verging to destruction.

7.Of the 7th Seal, and 7 Trumpets evolving it, with the ten-horned and two horned Beasts of Apoc. xiii. (Qu. ?) Mede dates the rise of the ten-horned Beast too early, I conceive, viz. from the time of Alaric’s capture of Rome, figured in Trumpet 1.

8.Of the measuring of the inner temple Court, (as also, according to synchronism 5, of the Dragon’s war with the travailing Woman,) with the six first Seals. In order to this the Dragon’s war with Michael and the woman must be regarded as extending to the whole two centuries of the war of Christianity and Heathenism in the Roman empire, between St. John’s time and Constantine: not as that of the last crisis of the war.

9.Of the seven vials with Trumpet 6. - A manifest error, I conceive; and in marked inconsistency with Mede’s own view of the 7th Seal as unfolded in the 7 Trumpets; a view which suggests the similar evolution of the 7th Trumpet in the 7 Vials.

10.Of the millennium of Satan’s binding, Christ’s reign, and also the New Jerusalem, and Palmbearers’ ovation, with the 7th Trumpet, after the Beast’s destruction: (Rather with the concluding æra of the 7th Trumpet.)

11.The speedy sequence of the things figured in the first Seal on, or after, the time of the revelation of the visions to St. John in Patmos. “I will show thee the things which must shortly come to pass.”

The Tabular Scheme of his views copied from his own Book on my next page, (itself, as I said, the first of its kind, and so of the more especial value,) combined and compared with the observations on them scattered through the Horæ, will do away with the necessity of entering into them so much in detail as might otherwise have been desirable. In general he considered the 6 first Seals to be a figuration of the successive fortunes of heathen Rome, after St. John down to the overthrow of heathenism in it by Constantine; then the Trumpets to be the unfolding of the 7th Seal, and figuring of the subsequent history of the Roman world and Christian Church to the consummation: a most important, and I doubt not true, view of the structure of that part of the prophecy. More particularly the 1st Seal is supposed by him to depict the early gospel victories; the 2nd, the wars of Trajan and Hadrian; the 3rd, the severe justice, and procurations of corn, notable in the reigns of the two Severi; the 4th, the famine pestilence and murderous wars of the æra of Gallienus; the 5th, Diocletian’s persecution; the 6th, the overthrow of Paganism and its empire by Constantine. - Again of the Trumpets, the 1st is explained of Alaric; the 2nd of the Gothic and Vandal desolations of the Empire, that followed, down to Genseric; the 3rd of the extinction of the Hesperus, or Western Empire, by Odoacer; the 4th, of the ravages of Totilas, whereby imperial Rome received its last desolations; the 5th, of the Saracens; the 6th, of the Turks. - In most of which particulars I conceive Mede to have made advances to the true interpretation: adjusting the 5th and 6th Seals, as he did, to the times respectively of Diocletian and Constantine, not of Claudius and Diocletian like Brightman; while following Brightman mainly in the exposition (the heathen Rome-referring exposition ) of the four Seals previous: [10] also in the four earlier Trumpets, instead of Brightman’s “contention, ambition, heresy, and war,” his applying the emblems to prefigure the successive epochs in the Goth’s desolations and overthrow of the Western Empire. In the evolution, however, of the particular details he seems to me unsuccessful: the one third of the four first Trumpets having no definite explanation; and the land, sea, and rivers being expounded loosely and figuratively, so as I have stated in my Vol. i. pp. 354, 355. The two prophetic periods in the fifth and sixth Trumpets are explained by him, as are all the other prophetic periods, consistently on the year-day principle: - the locusts’ 150 days of the ravages of the Saracens on the Italian coast from A.D. 830-980: (a solution certainly anything but happy; forasmuch as all the main strength of the Saracens had in 830 past away: [11] ) the Euphratean horsemen’s hour day month and year, more happily, of the 396 years’ interval, from the Turkman’s investiture with the sword by the Caliph at Bagdad, A.D. 1057, to the destruction of Constantinople, A.D. 1453. [12] In his reference of the smoke and sulphur of the sixth Trumpet to the Turkish cannon, he well, in my judgment, follows Brightman: explaining the figures definitely, and according to the analogy of Scripture prophecies, from visible appearances: and he adds too, as confirmative of the meaning of the emblem in the fifth Trumpet, a notice from Pliny of the flowing hair of the Saracens, on the same interpretative principle; [13] a principle often greatly helpful towards the discovery and confirmation of the truth.

But now comes what seems to me, as before observed, to have been a most unfortunate step of retrogradation in Mede’s Commentary; [14] viz. his explanation of the little book in Apoc. x., not as the gospel book opened to the world, in the times, when somewhat advanced, of the Euphratean or Turkish Woe, so as, according to the earlier reforming Fathers, at the Reformation, but as a book of (somewhat as by Brightman before him) new and distinct prophecy from that of the seven-sealed book: the Covenant-Angel’s descent and lion-like cry, the seven answering thunders, the Angel’s oath, and the giving John the book to eat, being acts merely introductory to, and the ushering in of, this new prophecy. “The former prophecy,” says Mede, “was of the fates of the Roman Empire; this, by far nobler, of the fates of religion and the Church.” Hence, besides a departure from all simplicity of Apocalyptic arrangement, [15] the setting aside of that which had been the most striking as well as most true feature in the Protestant Commentaries of the preceding æra; viz. the application of the vision of the Covenant-Angel’s descent, with John’s prophesying again, and his measuring of the temple, more or less to the great Protestant Reformation. Reasons Mede gives none; except that the charge, “Thou must prophesy again,” indicated a new prophecy: that which assuredly the word prophesy need not indicate: [16] and which involves too the setting aside of the representative character of St. John; a view so early taken, so long cherished, and so excellently applied by the Reformers on this particular passage, though never indeed fully carried out. Unfounded, however, as was Mede’s view of this vision, and of the little book, it has been repeated and perpetuated by Apocalyptic Expositors, to the great obscuration of the Apocalypse, even to the present day. [17] - The fact was, I little doubt, that Mede saw the need of some Book or Chart, separate from that on which the series of Seals and Trumpets were outstretched, on which to have visibly written the evidently chronological parallel term (in his view) of the 1260 years’ visions; and, seeing nothing else in the prophecy that could by any possibility be turned to his purpose, seized on the Little Book of Apoc. x. for it. How was it that he did not see that the very fact of its being given to St. John opened, not to open, precluded the idea of its being a prophecy to be unfolded in the chapters subsequent; and that to the Lamb alone belonged the honor of unfolding the events of the coming future? - I might add, how was it that he overlooked the simple obvious fact of the Apocalyptic prophecy being said to be written without, as well as within; so offering the exact thing that he wanted. See my own Apocalyptic Chart of the writing within and without prefixt to this Commentary. But, very strangely, the thought of this seems never to have occurred to any one but myself. The prophecy of the little Book thus introduced, Mede begins its development by the very singular interpretations, first of John’s measuring of the inner court and temple, then of his casting out of the outer-court and not measuring it, as indicating two chronologically successive states of the Church of lengths proportional, [18] the first the more primitive Church of the first three or four centuries, (answering chronologically to the period of the six first seals,) which was conformed to the rule of God’s word; the second that which succeeded, and was in character gentilized and apostate. With which latter coincide, according to him the 1260 days, or years, of Christ’s two Witnesses’ prophesying in sackcloth; the two signifying many,  or sufficient at least to keep up a valid testimony.- So Mede comes to the clause, Apoc. xi. 7, “When they shall have completed,” or, as he renders it, “when they shall be about finishing, their testimony, the Beast shall kill them,” &c.: a passage which he construes as predicting what was still in his time future; and that which would immediately precede the fall of Papal Rome. For the tenth part of the city, whose fall is mentioned immediately after the Witnesses’ resurrection and ascension, (ascent to political eminence, says Mede,) is made by him to mean the whole city of modern Rome, as being in size but the tenth part of ancient Rome. A curious notion; and which he illustrates by an ichnographical plate, exhibiting the comparative local extent of the two cities.

In Apoc. xii. the vision of the Woman and Dragon is explained (I doubt not truly explained retrogressively) of Constantine’s war with, and overthrow of, the Roman Pagan Emperors and Paganism. - In Apoc. xiii. and xvii. the first Beast is the Papal Secular Empire, or Decem-regal Body of Western Christendom, [19] under the Pope, as the Beast’s last ruling head: [20] the five heads of the old Roman Empire, that had fallen in St. John’s time, being Kings, Consuls, Dictators, Decembirs, and military Tribunes, so as they had been interpreted by Fulke, Foxe, and others; the 6th, or head reigning when St. John saw the vision, the Imperial Cæsars; (Caesars then Pagan, but destined in time to be changed into Christian Cæsars, which last might be reckoned a new head to the Beast, says Mede, or might not; [21] ) the seventh the Popes; the Beast’s deadly wound having remained unhealed in passing from the sixth to the seventh or last head. [22] As to the Beast’s destined duration, it was that of 1260 days, or 1260 years, measured from the Gothic desolations of ancient Rome. The second Beast was the Pope patriarchally viewed, and Papal clergy: [23] the image of the Beast the first Beast itself, or secular decem-regal Empire; as being (if I rightly understand Mede) but the shadow and revived ghost of the old imperial Roman Empire, or Beast under its sixth head. [24] The Beast’s name and number is Aateinov.- In Apoc. xiv. the first flying Angel Mede makes to be Vigilantius and the early iconoclastic Emperors; the second, the Waldenses; the third, Luther. - In Apoc. xvi. the Vials, which he considers to figure the destruction of Antichrist, are, 1st, the wound given to the Popedom by the Waldenses, Wicliffites, and Hussites; 2nd, Luther’s secession and protest; 3rd, Queen Elizabeth’s secession and protest; these three Vials being past, the rest future. Of which last the fourth, on the sun, would be on the German Emperor, as chief luminary in the Papal Imperial system; and, while I write, says Mede, news is brought of a Prince from the north (meaning Gustavus Adolphus) gaining victories over the Emperor, in defense of the afflicted German Protestants: the 5th Vial, that on the seat of the Beast, meaning one on Rome; the 6th, that of the drying up of the Euphratean flood, the exhaustion of the Turkish Empire; [25] by the which the way of the Jews from the East would be prepared: the 7th and last, on the air, being one on Satan’s power, as the Prince of the power of the air.

Finally, as all know, the millennium is construed by Mede, like as by the oldest patristic expositors, Irenæus, Justin Martyr, &c., as a binding of Satan on Christ’s second coming: - a mighty step of change this from the long long-continued explanation of the symbol as meant of his 1000 years’ binding from Christ’s time, or Constantine’s: [26] the first resurrection being the literal resurrection of the saints, fulfilled also on Christ’s coming and Antichrist’s destruction before it. As to the New Jerusalem, Mede regards it as of millennial chronology; at least in its commencement. [27]


2. Jurieu.

It was in 1685, just after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, that Jurieu, who was one of the exiled French Calvinists ministers, published his work on the Apocalypse: [28] a work mainly based on Mede’s views; but with various new particular applications to his own time and country. [29] A brief notice of these will suffice.

In the Seals Jurieu only differs from Mede by expounding the first Seal not of Christ, but of a Roman subject, and Roman emperors; [30] (viz. of Vespasian’s and Titus’s victories and general prosperity;) this consisting well with Mede’s explanation, which Jurieu adopts, of the horses and horsemen of the three next Seals, as having reference to the times of the Roman emperors Hadrian, Severus, and Gallienus, respectively. The 5th and 6th Seals are explained by him of the times of Diocletian and Constantine.

In the Trumpets, while otherwise following Mede, Jurieu improves on him by expounding the fallen star in the 3rd Trumpet that made bitter the third part of the rivers, not of the extinction of the Western Empire by Odoacer, but of a certain part of the Gothic ravages of Western Christendom: (viz. of those in the provinces, which were like the empire’s rivers; Rome and Italy being as the sea:) the extinction of the Western Emperors being symbolized by the darkening of the heavenly lights in the 4th Trumpet. [31] The 5th and 6th Trumpets he explains, after Mede, of the Saracens and Turks.

The little book, in the hand of the iris-crowned Angel, Apoc. x., he interprets with Mede as a new prophecy: and adopts the idea too thrown out by our English expositor, that as the unmeasured state of the court, or Church, was to be for 3 1/2 times, i.e. 1260 years, so the proportion of the Jewish temple proper to the court indicated the Church’s previous better and measured state to be about 360 years; an indication agreeable with fact. [32] The Beast moreover he explains like Mede: making its 7th head to be Papal Antichrist; and the possible two-fold division of the 6th or imperial head into Pagan and Christian emperors, to be the solution of the enigma of the last being both the 8th and the 7th.

In his 12th Chapter, on the Witnesses, Jurieu expresses his opinion that the last persecution of Christ’s people had commenced in the year 1655, “when the Duke of Savoy undertook to destroy the faithful of the valleys of Piedmont;” and which had, when he wrote, “already lasted 30 years.” This was followed in 1671 by “the persecution of the Churches of Silesia, Moravia, Hungary;” and then, in 1685, by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In which last act he considers the death of the two Apocalyptic Witnesses to have begun at least to have fulfillment: their prefigured resurrection being anticipated by him either in 3 1/2 years from that date, or 3 1/2 years from some further act of the same persecution, as extended perhaps to the Waldenses, or other Protestant Christians: [33] an act such as might furnish a kind of extended commencing date to the 3 1/2 mystic days of the Witnesses lying dead in the street of the great Papal city, or empire; i.e. as he judged, in France. [34] which would fall from the Popedom by embracing the Reformation. After this, some time might probably elapse in order to the full effect of the exposure of Antichrist: and thus the epoch of the fall of the Popedom might probably occur about A.D. 1710 or 1715; this being the end of the 1260 years, as computed from A.D. 450 or 455. [35]

In the details of the Vials Jurieu altogether deserts Mede and other expositors; though agreeing with Mede in placing them mainly under the 6th Trumpet. [36] “I am persuaded,” he adds, “that God hath heard and answered the very ardent desire which I have had to pierce, penetrate, into these profound mysteries; to the end that I might descry, (that is, to discover by observation and investigation of) the deliverance of his Church.” [37] So, the Vials generally being regarded by him as “the steps by which the Babylonish (or Papal) empire passes to come to its ruin,” [38] the 1st Vial is explained by him as the gross corruption of Popery, and the sudden, violent eruption of its sores, in the 10th century: Vials 2 and 3 figured the bloodshedding in the earlier and later crusades: Vial.4 was the intolerable scorching of the Papal despotism, from the 11th to the 14th century: Vial 5, on the seat of the Beast, was the transference of the Pope’s residence from Rome to Avignon: Vial 6 was the drying up, as it were, of the Bosphorus, before the Turks, and their consequent overthrow of Constantinople and Eastern Christendom which Bosphorus had been previously the Eastern barrier to Greek Christendom, so as had been the Euphrates in old times to the Roman Empire: Vial 7 was the earthquake of the Reformation; the great City, or Papal Christendom, being after it divided into the three divisions of Papists, Lutherans, and Reformed; for as to the English Church, since it was in communion with the Reformed, it could not be considered a fourth division. [39] - As to the time remaining after this, before the final judgment on Babylon, it could not, added Jurieu, be long. “The 7th Vial hath already lasted longer than any of the rest; and it is probably that it must last about 200 years [i.e. from 1517.] But the reason of this is that this 7th period is itself divided into three other periods, the harvest, the vintage, and the time that is betwixt the harvest and the vintage. The harvest is already past; [40] the time betwixt the harvest and the vintage is almost expired. We are approaching the vintage; and at this day ought to say, Come, Lord Jesus, Come.” [41]

On the millennium Jurieu, like Mede, shows that it never yet had had fulfillment; and anticipated from it a reign of the saints on earth, the Jews’ restoration, and fulfillment concurrently of the prophecies of the blessedness of the latter day in the Old Testament. He also decidedly inclines to think that the first resurrection is a literal resurrection of the departed saints; then at length to take part in the glory of the manifested kingdom of Christ.

3. I turn to Jurieu’s English contemporary, Dr. Cressner.

During the reigns of Charles the 2nd and James the 2nd, now just ended, a mighty change had come over the spirit of the dream, at least among the ministers and adherents of the established Church of England, from that which had rested on the minds, and dictated the acts, of the founders and chief ornaments of that Church in the century of the Reformation. The religion of Rome had become not only fashionable at court, but the religion covertly or avowedly of the reigning kings themselves. Moreover, the sufferings of the episcopal clergy during the 15 years’ ascendancy of Cromwell and the Puritans had tended to make them look on the latter as their nearest and principal enemy; and, by a consequence not unnatural, to regard Popery with less of disfavor, and sometimes even with the thought and desire for friendly approximation and union. This feeling could not have its effect on the current view of the prophecies in Daniel and the Apocalypse, which had been hitherto by the Reformers, like German, Swiss, and English, applied undoubtedly to the Roman Popedom. By the celebrated Dutch scholar and politician Grotius, and by our English Dr. Hammond, a præterist view was adopted of the Apocalyptic prophecy about the Beast and his great city Babylon, very like Alcasar’s; [42] referring it all to the old Pagan Roman city and empire. Dr. Cressener himself, writing in the year 1690, strongly speaks of the change: (I subjoin the passage, [43] as well worth perusal:) and tells moreover how the very study of those prophecies had in consequence fallen into disfavor. [44]

His own Book, which was first published in 1690, and is dedicated to the Queen Mary, then reigning with her consort William of Orange, is entitled “A Demonstration of the first Principles of the Protestant Applications of the Apocalypse,” and well answers to its title. Its one grand subject is the Apocalyptic Beast of Apoc. xiii. and xvii. And in a series of connected propositions he incontrovertibly establishes, against Alcasar and Bellarmine, that the Apocalyptic Babylon is not Rome Pagan, as it existed under the old Pagan Emperors; nor Rome Paganised at the end of the world, as Ribera and Malvenda would have it to be; but Rome Papal, as existing from the 6th century. For, he argues, it is Rome idolatrous and antichristian, as connected with the Beast or Roman Empire in its last form, and under its last head; [45] which last head is the seventh head revived, after its deadly wound with a sword: with and under which the Beast exists all through the time of the old empire into ten kingdoms, until Christ’s second coming to take the kingdom The 6th, or imperial head ruling in St. John’s time, must, he argues, have fallen at the latest at the time of Herulian chief Odoacer, and Ostrogothic king Theodoric, reigning in the 5th century. [46] And he concludes (though here, I conceive, exception might be taken against him) that the 7th head was the Herulian and Ostrogothic, which continued but a short time: the 8th being the revived secular imperial, confederated with a Roman ecclesiastical head, somewhat as under the old emperors; [47] i.e. the secular Western emperors combined with the Popes. And he suggests Justinian’s æra as that of the commencement of the last head. [48] The image of the Beast he makes to be the Roman Church, the name Aareinov. [49] The death of the two Witnesses, caused by the Beast, he explains, after Jurieu, as probably occurring at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and the nearly contemporary expulsion of the Waldenses. [50]

Altogether Cressener’s book must be regarded as an important accession to the Protestant cause, and Protestant argument, against the Romanists.

4. Bossuet.

The Apocalyptic Comment of this Roman Catholic Prelate deserves the more attention from us, as being written by one who is, I believe, confessedly the ablest as well as the most eloquent of controversialists on the Papal side; and written by him, deliberately and avowedly, in order to wrest out of the hands of Protestants a weapon used so often and so powerfully by them against his Church. And when in 1685, just after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, M. Jurieu, one of the exiled French Calvinist Ministers, had published that work on the Apocalyptic prophecy, of which I have just given an abstract, the Bishop of Meaux thought it well to take up the matter; and to apply his great talents to the drawing up of an Exposition, such as might be conformable with the dogmas and requirements of the Romish faith, and sufficiently strong and solid (so he expected) to withstand the criticism of Protestants. [51] - I now proceed to give a sketch of it. It is framed very much more on Alcasar’s plan, and that of Grotius and Hammond who had followed Alcasar; not Ribera’s i.e. [52] on that of the præterists, not of the futurists. The grand subject of the prophecy he conceives to be the triumph of Christianity over Judaism and Paganism: - i.e. over Paganism as established by the Roman empire; and, in the Jewish part, with reference only to the later calamities of the Jews, not to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. For as Bossuet judged the Apocalypse to have been written under Domitian, that destruction by Titus had happened, in his opinion, before the giving of the Apocalypse. - The details are as follows.

The six first Seals exhibit the subject in the general. There is 1st Christ’s moving forth as a conqueror; then, in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Seals, his judgments of war, famine, and pestilence, on the enemies of Christianity; then, in the 5th Seal, persecutions of Christians, and the reason of God’s delay of judgments, viz. till the number of his martyrs be completed and his elect taken out from the infidels, wherever they might be hid: further, in the 6th, a picture of political convulsion and revolution; applicable, first, to the overthrow of the Jewish people; secondly, to that of the Roman empire; thirdly, to what the others might be considered in a manner typical of, that is, the general judgment.

Then to particulars. - After an illustration in the 7th chapter of what was said to Seal 5 of the cause of the delay of God’s judgments, by a representation of the sealing of such as were elect unto salvation among the Jews, and also of the salvation of Gentile martyrs innumerable, from out of the empire of Pagan Rome, [53] the first four Trumpets, according to Bossuet, thus depicted the progress of God’s judgments against the Jews. Trumpet 1 showed the primary victory over the Jews by Trajan; Trumpet 2, the victories over them by Adrian; Trumpet 3, and its following star, the impostor Barchochebas, (“son of a star,”) declaring himself the Messiah, and so stirring up his countrymen to the war; Trumpet 4, the obscuration of the Scriptures, especially of the prophetic Scriptures, (which were as luminaries to the Jews,) by the compilation of their Talmud: the subjects particularly obscured being Christ who is the sun, and the Church the moon. In all which Trumpets the third part, spoken of as affected, meant that not all the Jews would be killed, not all the light extinguished, &c. - Then the subject passed from the Jews; the 5th Trumpet being one of transition from the Jews to Jewish heresies and errors. For in Trumpet 5 the scorpion-locusts were Judaizing heresies introduced into the Christian Church about 196 A.D., soon after Adrian’s destruction of the Jews by Theodotus of Byzantium, and continued onwards to Artemon and Paul of Samosata; heresies concerning the Trinity and Christ’s Divinity: the commission not to kill, but only to torment, showing that this plague was not one of invading warrior-foes. [54] About A.D. 260 or 270 this woe passed away; the Council of Antioch A.D. 264 ending it. Then, just at that time, Trumpet 6 exhibited the woe of an invading enemy of horsemen from the Euphrates: viz. the Persians; who after a while overthrew, and took captive, the emperor Valerian.

In Apoc x., Bossuet, like Mede, makes the little book a prophecy; but only as the remainder of that of the seven-sealed Book, after the 6th Trumpet: the contents being developed in the chapters following. - Thus in Apoc. xi., after the measuring of the temple, or Church, by St. John, indicating that whatever the violence of persecution, there was a temple they could not destroy, - we have then first a general view of Christ’s witnesses and martyrs, during the persecutions of Pagan Rome; some (for example that of the emperor Valerian) lasting about 3 1/2 years: [55] though that particular term of time, or its equivalent 42 months, was used rather by borrowing from the history of the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, or the drought under Elias; besides signifying a certain limit of time, ordained by God to one and all of them. Next, and when the Witnesses should have finished their testimony under Pagan Rome, there is the prophecy of Diocletian’s persecution of them, (Diocletian the Beast from the abyss,) and temporary suppression of the Christian worship, in the great city of Rome and the Roman empire; [56] followed, however, quickly by a figuration of the revival under Constantine: - the tenth of the great city falling, and 7000 slain, figurative of the overthrow of the Pagan emperors and forces; and the song in heaven, on the 7th Trumpet’s sounding, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ,” having reference to the establishment of Christianity then effected in the Roman empire. A more particular figuration of which, and of its consequences, followed in the next chapter. For the male-child of the travailing Woman, or Church, was Constantine and other Christian emperors succeeding him: the war of the Dragon against the Woman before her child-birth being that of the Diocletianic persecution; the war in heaven, immediately afterwards, that which ended in the fall of Paganism under Galerius and Maxentius; the floods cast out of the Dragon’s mouth, when the Woman was fleeing to the desert, that of Maximin; and the Dragon’s next war against the remnant of the Woman’s seed that of Licinius against Constantine. Then, in Apoc. xiii., came the figuring of the revival as it were of Diocletian (the Beast that had killed the Witnesses) in the apostate Julian; [57] though the 6th head wounded to death was Macimin; the second Beast, with two lamb-like horns, figuring Julian’s Pagan priests and philosophers, pretending to miracles and moral maxims like those of Christianity; the image of the Beast, images of Pagan gods made to speak oracles, &c., by the Pagan priesthood: while the Beast’s name and number (here, we see, Bossuet refers to the original, not the revived Beast) was Diocles Augustus.

Then in Apoc xiv. the prophecy proceeds to announce the fall of Rome and of the Roman empire, through the Gothic invasion. The harvest-judgment is that by Alaric; the vintage that by Attila.- The Vials trace out the same subject more particularly, and as beginning from an earlier date. The elkov of the 1st Vial was the great plague in the time of Valerian and Gallienus; the 2nd Vial figured the bleeding empire, as if dead; the 3rd, the civil wars and thirty tyrants; the 4th, the drought and famine of that period, commemorated by Cyprian; the 5th, Valerian’s defeat by the Persians; the 6th, the drying up of the Euphratean barrier, and opening of a passage into the empire to the kings from the East, i.e. the Persians; the frogs, the magicians, &c., who urged on Valerian to his fated Armageddon, i.e. the field of battle where he was captured by the Persians; the 7th, on the air, with its earthquake and hail, the capture of Rome by Alaric.

Yet again, Apoc. xvii. reveals other important points in this subject, more in detail. The Beast’s seven heads were Diocletian, Galerius, Maximian, Constantius, Chlorus, the four emperors in those joint names the first Edict of persecution went forth; together with Maxentius, Maximin, and Licinius, three persecuting emperors afterwards added. At the precise time to which the vision related, A.D. 312, five of these had fallen, viz. the first-mentioned four and Maxentius: one was, viz. Maximin: Licinius, the seventh, had not yet come; i.e. as a persecuting emperor. It was further said, “the eighth king is of the seven, and goes into perdition, This was Maximian; who was of the original four, but had abdicated; and then become emperor again. - (Julian is not here brought forward by Bossuet.) Further, in this chapter, (Apoc. xvii, 16, 17, “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17: For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”), there was the very striking prophecy about the   

ten horns on the Beast. They were to give their power to the Beast till the words of God were fulfilled; yet to hate the Harlot, and tear her. So were the Goths, Vandals, &c., long admitted as soldiers into the Roman armies, and as allies into the Roman territory: (does not Bossuet here make the Beast to be Rome?) yet did they afterwards tear and desolate the Woman; i.e. ravage Rome and its empire. [58] - The millennium Bossuet explains as the period of the Church’s supremacy [59] until Antichrist’s short reign, on Satan’s loosing, near the end of the world: [60] the new heavens, new earth, and new Jerusalem, as figures of the saints’ heavenly glory. [61]

3. Vitringa is the next Apocalyptic Expositor that calls for our notice. He was Theological Professor in the Academy of Franeker for many years, till his death in 1722: and from that petty Dutch town, near the mouth of the Zuyder Zee, sent forth those masterly and learned works on Isaiah and the Apocalypse, which have always been regarded as placing him on a high rank among Biblical expositors. His Apocalyptic Commentary, under the title of Anakrisiv Apocalypseos, was first published at Franeker, A.D. 1705. My notices of it in the body of my work are frequent. Hence the less need of any extended sketch.

Alike the seven Epistles, seven Seals, and seven Trumpets, (though not the seven Vials,) were deemed by him to be representations of the successive states and fortunes of the Christian Church, from St. John’s time to the consummation: with reference however not to the same, but to very different æras, in the respective septenaries. The Scheme above will best exhibit to the eye the mutual relations, in time and subject. [62] It will be seen that though the main subject of the Seals is made by him the external state of the Church, that of the Trumpets the fortunes of the Roman world, connected with the Church, yet they sometimes essentially infringe, so as might have been anticipated, on each other. The third Seal, the example, has the Arian heresy for one main part of its subject; and so also the third Trumpet. The fourth Seal refers to the desolations of Greek Christendom by the Saracens and Turks; and so the sixth Trumpet. - Having elsewhere referred to his Epistles and Seals, [63] let me here only add an observation or two on his Trumpets. It seems to me than, 1st, that his Gothic reference of the 5th Trumpet was that which very much fixed his general scheme of the Trumpets. Mede’s chronological application of the five months, or 150 years’ period of the emblematical locusts, to designate the Saracens’ latest and feeblest ravages, [64] justly appeared to Vitringa untenable: nor moreover had any satisfactory solution of the locusts’ not touching the grass and trees appeared in Mede’s Saracenic view. But the Gothic ravages, from Alaric to Totilas, did not last nearly 150 years. And, if the grass and trees were figuratively construed to mean Christians, (professing Christians,) then Alaric’s sparing the Christian Churches at Rome, and those who took refuge in them, might be supposed, Vitringa thought, a sufficient and obvious explanation, on the Gothic view, of that clause also. Which being so, he evidently rests with much confidence on this solution of the 5th Trumpet; more so than on almost any other part of his Trumpet Scheme. [65] And, this point settled, what preceded the Gothic invasion must of course be ascribed to the Trumpets previous; what followed to those subsequent. So the Saracens, as well as Turks, were crowded necessarily into the sixth Trumpet. Yet not without obvious difficulties and inconsistency. For example, in this Gothic application of the 5th Trumpet Vitringa explains the locusts’ hair being like women’s hair, with reference to the personal appearance of the Goth’s yellow hair; (though certainly this was no feminine characteristic among Jews, Greeks, or Romans;) but “the faces as of men,” he felt unable to explain of personal appearance; and so fell back on the moral characteristic, (one surely scarce applicable to the Goths,) of humanity. [66] - 2ndly, as regards, “the third part,” six or seven times noted in the first four Trumpets, he suggests that it might perhaps be intended of one of the three continents of the Roman empire, and so explains it of the Eastern or Asiatic third in some of the Trumpets: yet in the 4th Trumpet of the Western region, and sometimes too rather as meaning some notable part: [67] moreover, after throwing out an idea in the first Trumpet, that the “land” might be meant distinctly of the Roman empire, the “sea” of the barbarians, construes land, sea, and rivers all alike of Roman Christendom; mainly in a figurative sense, sometimes like Mede. [68]

In Apoc. x. Vitringa so far follows Mede as to make the little book opened a Prophetic Section: not (so as the earlier Reformers) the opened Bible, or New Testament. The special subject however of the new prophecy (herein differing from Mede) being part, he thinks, of the seven-sealed book, he expounds of the increased corruptions of the Church, and the rise, power, and persecuting acts of the Beast in Western Christendom, contemporarily with the Turkish woe of the 6th Trumpet: [69] - the seven thunders being significant of the seven Crusades; the charge, Thou must prophesy again,” of the prophetic knowledge imparted to, and taught by, Christian ministers under the sixth Trumpet; the Witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, (one grand part of the new prophecy,) of the antipapal testimony from Peter Valdes to the Reformation; their 42 months or 3 1/2 years, being perhaps, so as Scaliger had suggested, on the scale of a year for a century. [70] As to Witnesses’ prefigured death and resurrection, it had been already partially fulfilled in the four cases following: - viz. 1. in the death of Huss and Jerome, and their revival in the Hussites immediately afterwards, about the time of the 3 1/2 years session of the Council of Constance: [71] 2 in the massacre of the Waldensic remnant in the Valleys of Cabrieres and Merindol, A.D. 1545: 3. in the anti-protestant Interim of Charles Vth, and Prince Maurice’s quickly-following victory and consequent treaty of Passau: [72] 4. in the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and the Edict of Toleration obtained from Henry III within four years after. [73] Vitringa notices Jurieu’s views also; [74] calculating the slaughter of the Witnesses from the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, or some other persecuting act following it up: which view, however, had not so far been verified by any such rising of the Witnesses, or Protestant revolution in France, as Jurieu had expected. And, on the whole, Vitringa inclined to look to the prophecy as being one up to his own time still mainly unfulfilled. - I may observe that he considered that the tenth part of the great city, which fell concurrently with the two witnesses’ ascent, ought to be construed to mean one of the ten kingdoms of Papal Christendom. Which being so, how was it that the fall of Papal England did not fix itself more deeply in his mind, as an indication of the intent of the whole prophecy? [75] After this, and the Witnesses’ political ascent, Vitringa expected that the 6th Trumpet’s or Turkish woe (in the which all about the rainbow-crowned angel’s descent, and witnesses’ death and resurrection, had been included) would cease; [76] and the sounding of the 7th Trumpet introduce God’s judgment on the enemies of the Church, and the blessed times predicted by all the prophets.

In Apoc. xii. the vision of the Dragon and Woman is expounded, 1. of Diocletian’s persecution, followed by Constantine’s establishment of Christianity; the Dragon’s seven heads, (like those of the Beast) symbolizing both Rome’s seven hills, and the seven persecuting emperors of that period, Diocletian, &c.: (such is his view of the allusion in the clause, “and they are seven kings:”) 2. of the Arian persecutions of orthodox Christians after the fall of Paganism: - both explanations very much as in my Horæ. But the wilderness, into which the Woman then fled, Vitringa makes otherwise to mean the barbarous nations of the West; [77] and the waters cast by the Dragon after the Woman, the Saracen inundation, swallowed up in France on occasion of the victory of Charles Martel. - In Apoc. xiii., after a somewhat elaborate notice and refutation of Bossuet’s explanation of the first Beast, agreeably with certain Protestants, as meaning Rome Pagan, Vitringa interprets it of Rome Papal: its seven heads however not including heads of the old Roman empire as well as of Rome Papal, so as had been generally thought by Protestants: but only heads of it in its last Papal form. So he makes the five first to be five most eminent Popes before the Reformation: (the Reformation æra being the point of time to which the Angel’s words, “five have fallen,” is to be referred;) viz. Gregory VII, Alexander III, (wounded to death by Fred Barbarossa, but soon revived,) Innocent III, Boniface VIII, (the Beast’s middle head,) and John XXII: [78] the sixth and seventh being two Popes after the Reformation, viz. Paul III and Paul V; while the eighth and last was the one that would be ruling at Rome at the time, yet future, of the last persecution. The second Beast Vitringa explains, after many of the old as well as the then more recent expositors, to signify Papal preachers and doctors, especially the Franciscans and Dominicans: the Beast’s image as the tribunals of the Inquisition. [79] Of the Beast’s name and number Aateinov was deemed by him almost too simple a solution; and he proposes some strange far-fetched Hebrew phrases from Scripture, which it is not worth while to repeat. [80]

I pass to Apoc. xiv. Here the 144,000 are explained of the Waldenses and Albigenses: the harpers, next noted as sympathizing with the 144,000, of the Wicliffites and Hussites: the first flying Angel, that had the everlasting Gospel, of Luther, Zuingle, and the other Fathers of the Reformation: the second, of the Reformers’ voice of triumph over the Popedom at the time of the Treaty of Passau, in the second period of the Reformation, and the disruption of the English Church from Rome: [81] the third, of the Protestant doctors in the third period of the Reformation; at a time of affliction to Christ’s Church, such as even then partially existed, especially with reference to France and the French Reformed Churches. - In entering on the Vials in Apoc. xvi., Vitringa acknowledges the plausibility of Launeus’ opinion, that these Vials were all contained in, and the development of, the 7th Trumpet: Launeus having noted, 1. that these were the last plagues, and the 7th Trumpet the last and finishing woe; 2. the fact of the temple (the heavenly temple, says Launeus, in the same sense of heavenly as when applied to the heavenly Jerusalem) appearing opened introductorily to their effusion, just as it was described in (Apoc. xi. 19, “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”), as appearing at the sounding of the 7th Trumpet; 3. their answering, on the view, to the type of the seven compassings of Jericho on the 7th day; besides that, 4thly, Launeus thought the 5th Vial on the seat of the Beast looked very much like the blow on the Papacy at the Reformation. [82] But Vitringa could not make up his mind to suppose all these Vials, if not six, as already fulfilled in certain judgments on the Popedom. Thus the 1st, that of the grievous sore’s appearing, he traces in the Waldensian exposure of the deep corruption of the Papacy; the 2nd, that of the sea-becoming blood, in the bloody wars between the Emperors and Popes, more especially from the times of Frederic II and Lewis of Bavaria; [83] the 3rd, that of the rivers of blood, in the Hussite and Bohemian wars under Zisea, &c.; the 4th, on the sun, (the regal emblem,) in the great heat with which the two French kings Charles VIII and Louis XII had scorched Italy; the 5th, on the seal of the Beast, in the darkening of the Popedom by the Reformation, and taking and sack of Rome by the constable Bourbon. In the 6th Vial Vitringa curiously explains the Euphrates’ drying up of the exhaustion of the power of France, as the chief bulwark of the Papal Roman empire; [84] an event perhaps even then begun, by the banishment of its multitude of industrious Protestant citizens at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The three frogs, issuing forth contemporaneously, he supposes to mean the Jesuits: and expounds the 7th Vial, on the air, as typifying the dissolution of both the political and the ecclesiastical Papal empire. [85]

On the Apocalyptic millennium Vitringa adopts the view that had just before for the first time been propounded by his contemporary Whitby, to whom indeed he refers; [86] an alternative view to the two between which opinions had been hitherto divided, of the greatest importance; viz. the old chiliastic of the earliest Fathers, and the Augustinian: - a view which regarded it as a spiritual millennium, yet future; one in which the world would be thoroughly evangelized; and the Church, the bride, assume a character over the whole earth answering to the description of the New Jerusalem.

On the whole, Vitringa seems to me by no means to have contributed directly to the solution of the many previously remaining difficulties of the Apocalypse, so much as from his ability and various learning one might have anticipated. Indeed, his explanations are often singularly arbitrary and unsatisfactory. Indirectly however the value of his Commentary has doubtless been considerable: illustrating each subject handled, as he does, by a wide-ranging erudition, alike in secular and ecclesiastical, Hebraic and Greek literature; and often applying a just and acute criticism to show the untenableness of opinion, more or less plausible, adopted by expositors of note before him

4. And it is chiefly in this indirect way also, if I mistake not, that Daubuz’s almost contemporary, and yet more copious, Comment, contributed to the advancement of the Apocalyptic science. For it is a Commentary quite redundant with multifarious research and learning. [87] - It is to be understood that Daubuz was by birth a French Protestant; found refuge in England on the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes; there took orders in the Anglican Church; and, while Vicar of Brotherton near Ferrybridge in Yorkshire, wrote his “Perpetual Commentary on the Apocalypse,” which was first published in a solid folio, A.D. 1720. The following may serve as an abstract in brief of his opinions. The reader of my Horæ must already have formed a measure of acquaintance with him.

The seven Epistles then he explains, not like Vitringa as prophetical; but in the natural way, as depicting the actual state of the seven Asiatic Churches respectively: albeit with application to the Church Universal, in its earthly suffering state, to the end of time.

In the Seals Daubuz, though admitting A.D. 95 or 96 to be the year of the Revelation’s having been given to St. John, yet antedates the subject of the 1st Seal; and makes its white horse and rider depict the victorious progress of Christ gospel, even from his ascension. Thus he is enabled to explain the red horse in the 2nd Seal of the wars by which Jerusalem and the Jews were destroyed, from A.D. 66 to A.D. 135; including as well the Jewish wars of Vespasion and Titus, as those of Trajan and Adrian. The 3rd Seal, beginning A.D. 202, he expounds of scarcities begun in the reign and æra of Severus, [88] much as Brightman before him; the 4th (like Brightman also) of the Decian and Valerian æra of war, famine, and pestilence; the 5th (as Mede, &c.) of the Diocletian persecution; the 6th of the Constantinian Revolution, and fall of Paganism from its supremacy in the Roman empire. - Then comes the first considerable peculiarity in Daubuz’s Commentary. He explains both the Sealing Vision and the Palm-bearing Vision of the happy constitution of the Church under God’s sealing Angel, Constantine: a Church including both many converted Israelites, and multitudes innumerable of Gentiles; now alike admitted, from out of times of great tribulation, to the peaceful enjoyment of Church-privileges: - a peace and liberty this further indicated by the half-hour’s silence, or stillness from hostility, at the opening of the 7th Seal; and its accompanying representation of an act of peaceful public worship.

The Trumpets, which Daubuz supposes to mark a new period, following on, not contained in, the 7th Seal, [89] are explained by him mainly as by Mede and Jurieu, of the desolations and fall, first of the Western empire, then the Eastern; under the assaults successively of the Goths, Saracens, and Turks. More particularly he thus divides the four first: - 1. Alaric’s ravages from A.D. 395 to 409: 2. Alarie’s capture of Rome, A.D. 410, and the ravages of Gaul and Spain by the Goths and Vandals: 3. Attila’s ravages, 442-452, A.D.: 4. the fall of the Western Empire under Genseric and Odoacer, from 454 to 476. - In the 5th Trumpet he made an important step of advance, as I conceive, in true Apocalyptic interpretation, by explaining the locusts’ five months, or 150 days, of the 150 years from Mahomet’s public opening of his mission, A.D. 612, to the Saracen Caliph’s removal to Bagdad, “the City of Peace,” A.D. 762. On the other hand, he seems to me to have retrograded by not adopting Mede’s definite chronological view of the hour, day, month, and year, predicted of the Euphratean horsemen; but explaining it, like some before him, as if only meaning that the four angels were all ready at one and the same hour, or time.

The Vision in Apoc. x. he applies, even more distinctly than the early Reforming Expositors themselves, to the great Lutheran Reformation: with the particular notion added of its figured Angel signifying Luther, as the Angel of the sealing vision had figured Constantine; and the seven answering thunders to his voice being those of the seven States that received and established Protestantism within them: viz. 1. the German Protestant States; 2. the Swiss Cantons; 3. Sweden; 4. Denmark; 5. England; 6 Scotland; 7 the Dutch Netherlands: John’s sealing up the thunders intimating a stop to the progress of the Reformation, soon after the times of Luther, and the first sounding of those thunders. - “Thou must prophecy again,” was a charge given to Protestants as the time of the Reformation, as represented by St. John. And so too the meaning of the temple: [90] the outer court given to the Gentiles indicating that there would still exist paganized Christians, to tread the holy city: and “both the reformed and the corrupted Christians keeping to their own lots (separately), till the term of the 42 months is lapsed since the Gentiles began.” [91] The clause otan teleswsin, &c., “when they shall have finished, or completed their testimony,” Daubuz construes, “whilst they shall perform it:” and so the 3 1/2 days of their apparent death as equivalent to the 1260 days, or whole period of their prophesying in sackcloth. He cites in Illustration Rom. viii. 36; “For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” But the Greek of the original forbids the translation. Construing the passage as he does there is no special historical explanation needed, or offered by him, so as by Foxe, Brightman, or Jurieu, of the Witnesses’ death and resurrection. - “And the same hour there was a great earthquake, &c.,” he interprets to mean the same hour as that of the measuring the temple; in other words, that of the Lutheran Reformation. And the predicted fall of a tenth of the great city in it is explained to be the fall of the Greek State under the Ottoman Turks; this having been a part of the old Roman empire for some centuries, and one of the Beast’s ten horns in Daubuz’ view afterwards: [92] a fall begun indeed A.D. 1453, but advancing to completion by the Turks’ subjugation of Rhodes and Cyprus in the years 1522, 1570; not to note that of Candia much later, A.D. 1669. The 7th Trumpet, yet future, Daubuz explains as the signal trumpet of the resurrection of the just; that same that is spoken of by Paul in (1 Cor. xv. 51, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,”): - that too which would introduce a time when God’s Church would be freed from all idolatry and oppression, and a full accomplishment of all his designs made manifest; the one being symbolized by the opening of the temple in heaven; the other by the ark of the covenant appearing. [93] All evidently with reference to the times of the millennium.

In Apoc. xii. he interprets the vision of the travailing Woman and Dragon, much as others before him; with reference to the crisis of the Diocletian persecution, and Constantine’s immediately following elevation to a Christian throne, and casting down of Paganism from its supremacy in the Roman empire. [94] Only of the Dragon’s seven heads he offers a peculiar solution. These were the subjugated kingdoms, or rather their capital cities, which then constituted the Roman empire: the metropoles of Italy, of the Carthaginian empire, of the kingdom of Greece, of that of Methridates, of that of Gaul and Britain, of Egypt, and finally Thrace; this last Byzantium, or Constantinople. - The flood out of the Dragon’s mouth he explains to be the Goths; the two eagle’s wings helping the Woman, the Roman Christianized Easter and Western empires. Then in Apoc. xiii. the first Beast is the decem-regal Republic of Western Christendom, [95] under Rome as its head; Rome the earliest head of the Dragon, excised by the Gothic invaders, but revived under the Popes. The Beast’s 42 months of supremacy Daubuz reckons from the fall of the Western Emperor, A.D. 476, and consequently as to the end in 1736. [96] The second Beast is the Beast Ecclesiastical, or False Prophet; its two horns being the Roman Popes, and the Constantinopolian Patriarchs. The Pope himself is the Beast’s image, [97] as representing the Beast’s power; the name and number T‘‘mwr, in the feminine; i.e. the Roman Church. [98]

In Apoc. xiv., as in Apoc. vii., Daubuz interprets its primary vision of the 144,000 to mean the Constantinian Church, especially as gathered together at Nice in Council: its bishops there gathered being to the exact number of 318, the number answering to IHT, the abbreviation for Jesus Christ crucified, or mark of the Lamb on the foreheads of the 144,000 in vision. [99] Further he explains the 1st flying Angel of Vigilantius’ and Augustine’s warnings against the increasing superstitions and coming judgments; [100] the 2nd of the cry on the actual destruction of old Rome (here meant by Babylon) by the Goths; the 3rd of warnings against the Beast, whose empire was now about to be established, especially that by Gregory I: [101] also the harvest as meaning the reformation of the Church, which had separated the good corn from the earth; and the vintage, of the wars and victories in Queen Anne’s time over the Papists. [102] - Then in the Vials there was, he thought, a retrogression again to early times. The plague of Vial 1 was the noisome sore of outbreaking superstition in the image-worship that more and more established itself, from the seventh to the tenth century; Vail 2 the earlier crusades; Vial 3 the later; Vial 4 the wars of Popes and Emperors; Vial 5 th


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2015, 07:37:44 PM »



Such was the state pretty much of Apocalyptic interpretation among Protestants and Romanists, in England, Germany, and the Papal European States respectively, when the French Revolution burst like a thunderclap upon the startled world. In every way a mighty epoch, whether as regards the world of politics, of society, of religion, or of mind, it could scarcely but constitute an important epoch also in prophetic interpretation. - Among Protestant expositors of the historic school, in England more especially, such as followed more or less in the track of their Protestant precursors, of Pareus, Foxe, Mede, Vitringa, Daubuz, and the Newtons, the impression was very strong and general that this was probably the commencement of that selfsame last revolution, or earthquake of the 7th Trumpet, which Sir. I. Newton had so confidently anticipated as in his time near at hand: [1] and of which, among other grand results proclaimed by the heavenly voices at the sounding of the Trumpet, one was to be the establishment of Christ’s reign on the earth. - As our review of Apocalyptic interpretation in this momentous æra is to be extended in this my 5th Edition as far down as the present epoch of 1862, and, in England at least, very notable points of change and innovation occurred in the more or less current interpretation after its first half had past away, it will be well, I think, to consider it under the division of two separate Sections; the 1st from the epoch of the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789 to the peace of Paris, and cessation of the military occupation of France by the Allies about 1820; the 2nd from 1820 to 1862.

§ 1. FROM 1789 TO 1820.

I. And, before referring to the English Apocalyptic expositions of this period, I must beg to direct my reader’s attention to two expositors of the Romish connection, on whom, in other countries and under very different circumstances, the millennial question had forced itself near about the same time as pre-eminently the important one: not without new views (at least for Romanists) about the predicted apostacy, Antichrist, and Babylon, which made and still make their Treaties doubly remarkable. I allude to the French Père Lambert, and the Spanish Jesuit Lacunza; the latter better known by his assumed Jewish appellative  of Ben Ezra.

1. The Père Lambert was, I believe, a native of Provence, in the south of France. He belonged to the Dominican Order, and died at Paris in 1813. His prophetic book which I refer to, entitled “Exposition des Predictions et des Promesses faites à l’ Eqlise pour les derniers temps de la Gentilité,” appears to have been commenced before the end of the 18th century. [2] But it was not completed till 1804, or a little later; [3] and was at length published in 1806 at Paris, in two small 12mo volumes. It has not, I beleive, been reprinted.

The title of the Treatise explains in a measure its main subject and object. Considering attentively what then was, and what had been previously, ever since the first formation of the Christian Church, - the then all general corruption and infidelity, even among profest Catholic Christians, so as to reduce it to a mere “phantom Christianity,” [4] and manner in which in the ages previous Christianity had been almost ever exhibited in corrupted form by its professors, been conquered and triumphed over moreover in many countires by Mahommedanism, and in regard of the number of its adherents been ever left by Heathenism in a comparatively small minority, - it was felt by Lambert that a skeptic might well sneer at Christ’s mission as a failure, and at the promises of his Church’s universal establishment on earth in all purity and blessedness as little better than falsehood: [5] i.e. supposing the Roman Catholics’ generally received views of prophecy respecting the millennium, and the only yet remaining future of the Church and to the world, to be correct. [6] For, as to the millennial Apocalyptically figured reign of the saints it was, according to those views, nothing but the Church’s or individual Christians’ very partial successes, such as had been accomplished since the apostles’ first preaching of the gospel. [7] And, as to the future, all that was anticipated was Antichrist’s 3 1/2 years’ manifestation and reign on Satan’s loosing: and that then, for some very brief term after Antichrist’s destruction, just before the world’s ending, (a term answering perhaps to Daniel’s 45 days,) Dan. 12:11-13:  “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12: Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. 13: But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days”), the conversion of the Jews and whole Gentile world have its fulfillment; but only to come and pass away, (together with the world’s destruction and final judgment,) as rapidly almost as a flash of lightning. [8] So the usual process of Scripture investigation was gone through by Lambert, and is in this Treatise set forth before his readers, by which so many both before and after him have been convinced that the Apocalyptic millennium of the saints’ reign on earth, and corresponding Old Testament promises times of blessedness, are yet to come: - how that they are to be introduced by Christ’s second personal advent; the destruction of Antichrist with his apostate Church and Babylon, and resurrection of Christ’s departed saints and martyrs accompanying: and that then, the Jews’ conversion having taken place coincidently, the earthly Church now extended over the whole earth is to flourish under the rule of Christ and his saints gloriously; Jerusalem being the new center of light and unity, accordantly with with the multitudinous prophecies of Jerusalem’s destined future glory and blessedness: and this not for 1000 years only, but a much longer period; the Apocalyptic 1000 years being probably “prophetic years,” perhaps sabbatic, perhaps Jubilian, each of 7 or 50 years. [9] - The development of this argument occupies the greater part of Père Lambert’s book. [10]

But what the apostasy, Antichrist, and Babylon, so to be destroyed at Christ’s second coming, introductorily to the promised establishment of the Christian Church in its purity and glory over the earth? Again, how the transference of its center of unity from Rome, St. Peter’s see, to Jerusalem? On these points Father Lambert propounded views new and strange for a Romanist; except in so far as Lacunza might have anticipated him. The Apocalyptic Babylon, he says, (confessedly the city of the seven hills,) did not symbolize, so as Bossuet would have it, Pagan Rome. In such case, besides other objections, [11] what reason was there for St. John to wonder at it with so great amazement? Nor again did it symbolize Rome as falling into some quite new and infidel apostasy, at the end of the world, and this after expelling the Pope, so as Ribera and Bellarmine would explain the prophecy. [12] The Apocalyptic symbols sufficiently indicated a professedly Christian body; and history also told too plainly that Papal Rome and the Papal priesthood might well, by only further developing the corruptions which already in part had been, answer to the prophetic indications. It was the conviction on Lambert’s mind that the mystery of iniquity spoken of by St. Paul was a principle, or principles, of corruption and evil within the professing Church, sown even in the apostle’s days: that this had gone on ever working more and more influentially within it through the centuries that followed, being nourished by all the abuses, vices, errors, and impieties that were admitted into the Gentile Church, as those centuries went on; and was at length to become the consummated “apostasy,” by infecting the whole body of Gentile Christendom, headed by a personal and Papal Antichrist. [13] But not without a series of previous Popes having preceded and prepared for him, by exhibiting and acting out gradually more and more the spirit of Antichrist. The Prince of Tyre prophesied of in Ezekiel evidently symbolized this Papal Antichrist; in respect both of his original state, and that into which he would fall by corruption. Endowed with authority at first as one seated in God’s seat, and on the holy mountain, (i.e. in the Church,) anointed too with the holy ointment, and adorned with precious stones, like the Jewish High Priest, this Prince was depicted as at length being seduced to say in heart, “I am God;” to usurp God’s honor, worship, and prerogatives; and then, abandoned to avarice, becoming a “marchand,” and giving himself up to the amassing of gold and silver. Such precisely had been the case in the Christian Church. “Le roi de Tyre n’est ici qu’un personnage allegorique, l’embleme d’une suite de ministres du Tres-Haut, qui succedent les uns aux autres, mais que le Prophete reunit et represente comme une seule personne moral; aui d’abord fidele à son ministere en viole ensuite tons les devoirs; et dont l’iniquité, montée par degres à son comble, . . est enfin punie avec eclat aux yeux de toutes les nations.” [14] Lambert sketches thereupon the change in the Roman Pontiff’s, from the piety of the earlier centuries to their manifold corruptions afterwards: - “the spirit of domination, the outrages often on the principle truths of Christianity, the avarice and traffic in holy things:” corruptions that had already taken deep root in the time of St. Bernard; [15] and which would assuredly bring down on the Papacy, as on the Prince of Tyre, God’s terrible vengeance. At length, in fine, it would be a Roman Pope, at the head of the consummated apostasy of Gentile Christendom; who, in heart an atheist, would as God, or God’s delegate, or God’s Christ, sit in God’s temple, i.e. (so as Hilary has said) in professedly Christian Churches: [16] exacting divine honors from men on pain of death; and so fulfilling alike what was predicted of the Man of Son, and of the Apocalyptic Beast: [17] all this being done in Babylon, or the Papal Rome; of which Lambert, in a separate Chapter, traces in similar mode the falling away from Primitive sanctity into antichristian apostasy. [18] One grand help to this Papal Antichrist’s subjection of men’s minds would be his false miracles; more especially, Lambert suggests, his apparent resurrection from the state of death: (accordantly both with the symbol of one of his heads being wounded to death, yet reviving; and with his two-fold designation also as the Beast from the sea and Beast from the abyss, which was, and is not, and yet shall be:) a miracle, observe, apparent, not real; for God cannot do miracles in support of a lie. [19] - Of the near approach of the consummation, and of Antichrist, Lambert says it was to be expected that God would give some signal warning signs; so as he had done before the destruction of Jerusalem, and before the rebellion of Mahomet. [20] And one such striking sign Lambert thought to see in the terrible infidelity of the half century previous, and horrors of the French Revolution. [21] Moreover, besides this, there was to be expected quite another in the coming and preaching of Elijah, to Gentile Christendom as well as Jews: and the result of being rejected and slain (just as Christ had formerly been) by united sentence of ecclesiastical and civil powers; “par tout le corps de la Gentilité, et par la foule des prêtres et des pasteurs, presidés par le premier Pontife de la religion:” [22] this Elias being in fact one of the two Apocalyptic witnesses; and the great city of his death, not Rome, but Paris, where the truth and Christ had been so markedly crucified. [23] Thereupon would follow the consummation of judgment: the Gentile Christendom be destroyed by fire; [24] the scepter revert to Jerusalem; (for the localization of the Church’s center of unity in Rome was but for the Gentile interval;) and in the converted and blessed state of all that is now heathen, connectedly with converted Israel, the magnificent symbolizations of Isaiah’s and St. John’s new heaven and new earth have their realization. [25]

Such is an abstract of Lambert’s main views of prophecy, as unfolded in his Treatise. There are observable further a few individual points of Apocalyptic explanations. In the 6th Seal, Apoc. vi., he would have the elemental convulsions to be taken literally, as signs in heaven and earth before the consummation: [26] in Apoc. viii. the half-hours silence is a brief respite before the last fearful Trumpet judgments: [27] in Apoc. x. the seven thunders mean the mysteries of Christ’s judgments, now secret, but to be revealed during Christ’s reign on earth. [28] Again it is to be observed that, though not of the historic school of interpretation, he yet more than once speaks agreeably with it, of the French Revolution as like a trumpet-voice of alarm, “the last trumpet’s alarm,” to Christendom; [29] also of Christians as at the time when he wrote participating in the song of the harpers by the fiery sea, introductorily to the Vials outpouring in Apoc. xv.; [30] and, as elsewhere noted, of the then reigning infidelity as an ulcer in Christendom; [31] all exactly in agreement with the symbols of the 7th Trumpet’s Vial-preparation song, and 1st Vial, as explained by me. [32] But the main views are those which I have detailed above: - the terrible approaching destruction of the Gentile Church, as utterly, hopelessly apostate, under the headship of its Papal Antichrist; [33] and its blessed renovation, under Christ’s own headship and that of his risen saints, connectedly with converted Israel.

My readers may well wonder with me how, with such views of the Papacy, the Père Lambert could himself have continued in communion with it. It would seem as if he dated its apostasy from the faith somewhat later than prophecy as well as history indicates. Now the prophetic clause, “Only he that letteth shall let until he be taken away,” was a prophetic indication, as all the early Fathers explain to us, that the removal and division into ten of the old Roman empire was to be the chronological sign and epoch of the development of the Man of Son. But Lambert escapes from that chronological indication by a very curious different translation of the clause. Kai nun to katecon oidate, eiv to apokalufQhnai auton. . . monon o katecwn arit ewv ek mesou genhtai. This, says Lambert of the first clause, means, “Vous savez à quoi il tient, ou, ce qui est necessaire pour qu’il paroisse daus son temps:“ and of the second: “Que celui qui sait (o katecwn) maintenant en quoi consiste ce mystere, le retienne bien, jusqu’a  que ce mystere sorte de son secret.” [34] So the to katecon  and o katecwn are taken in quite different senses; and the ek mesou genhtai in a sense the Greek phrase will not bear. It will be felt by my classical readers that Lambert has been but little successful in escaping from the difficulty of this clause. [35]

2. Lacunza.

Lacunza, as I learn from the Preface to Mr. Irving’s Translation of his Book, was born at Santiago in Chili in the year 1731; in 1747 became a member of the Jesuit college in that city; and there continued till the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Spanish South American States: whereupon he came to Europe; settled finally at Imola, a little south of Bologna in Italy; and there died suddenly in 1801, while on a solitary walk, according to his habit, by the riverside. [36] His great work on The coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, (written under the assumed name of Ben Ezra, a Jewish convert to Christianity, [37] in consequence probably of the ten existing prejudice against his Order,) was written as early as the first outbreak of the great French Revolution. For the Fra Pablo de la Conception, of the Carmelite Convent in Cadiz, writing a criticism on it in 1812, speaks of having first read the work in manuscript, about 21 years before, or about the year 1791 [38] . of which Lacunza complains. [39] Judging from the admiration it at once excited in his mind, Fra Pablo’s copy was probably a complete one. And both the fact of the laborious manuscript multiplication of these copies, and the strong statement by the learned critic above referred to as to the impression made by it on is own mind, unite to show that it excited very considerable interest as soon as attention was called to it. When however the Work was first printed and published does not appear. Lucunza’s own observations in the Preface imply an expection that in its then completed form it would soon come into general circulation; [40] of course, I presume, through the medium of printing. Yet, according to the notices that I find in Irving’s translation, it seems to have been first printed and published at Cadiz in 1821; [41] i.e. eleven years after Lacunza’s death. Subsequently in 1816 another Edition of 1500 copies in its original Spanish was printed in London, in four 8vo Volumes, under the direction of the Agent for the Buenos Ayres Government; which Edition seems to have been wholly transhipped from England. [42] - At the time of its presumed first printing, in 1812, Cadiz was under the government of the Cortez, restoration of Ferdinand, and reinstitution of the Inquisition, intolerance returned: and Lacunza’s book was classed among the Libri probibiti in the Roman Index, and the circulation as far as possible supprest. [43] So the book became rare. Surreptitiously, however, individual copies were obtained and read in Spain: [44] and moreover an abridgment was made; [45] and whether in the original, or in a French translation, was carried into and much read in France. [46] At length in the year 1826 a copy brought by an English Clergyman from Spain was communicated to the well-known and eloquent minister of the Scotch Church in London, Mr. Irving; and by him a translation made into English, which soon made the work extensively and very influentially known and read in England. [47]

Turning to the Treatise itself, its author’s main strength and argument is of course directed to the establishment of his professedly main great subject; viz. Christ’s premillennial advent, [48] and subsequent glorious universal reign on earth: the Jews having, he supposed, been previously converted, and brought to recognize the Messiah Jesus. And to the masterly and convincing manner in which he has done this, we have not the testimony of English critics only like Mr. Irving, but that of his learned Spanish critic, Fra Pablo: - “These two points,” says he, notwithstanding all a Romanist’s natural prejudices, “seem to me to be theologically demonstrated.” [49] It was by resorting to Holy Scritpture itself, when utterly disappointed and disgusted at the absuridities and incongruities of the best known Roman Catholic expositors of the millennial prophecy, that the view broke upon him in all its grandeur and simplicity: and, like Lambert, he strongly urges investigators, those of the priesthood more expecially, to resort as he had himself done to the Book of God, which had so long and so generally been well nigh consigned to oblivion. [50] On this his great subject however there is no need of my sketching his arguments, any more than in the case of Lambert. They are the same that are now well known, and widely received.

But what his views as to Antichrist; a subject necessarily connected with the Millennium, as being he whose destruction by Christ’s coming was to precede and introduce it? Here Lacunza makes reference to Daniel, as well as to the Apocalypse. And, in commenting on the former, he offers some original and curious views as to the symbols of the quadripartite image, and of the four wild Beasts from the sea. The image’s golden head, he says, included both the Babylonish and the Persian empires, considered as one, because Babylon was retained as one of the Persian capitals: the breast of silver was the Macedonian empire: the brazen thighs figured that of the Romans, long since come to an end; the iron ten-toed legs that of the Roman-Gothic professedly Christian kingdoms of Western Europe. [51] At the ending time of these the stone without hands, or empire of Christ and his saints, would utterly destroy the image in that its last form; henceforth itself becoming the universal empire on earth. How near to the generally received Protestant interpretation, and I doubt not the true one, is Lacunza’s of the ten toes! - As to the four Beasts his idea is as novel as unsatisfactory. They meant four religions; viz. Idolatry, Mahommedanism, Pseudo-Christianity, (with its four heads of heresy, schism, hypocrisy, worldly-mindedness,) and the Antichristian Deism already then unfolding itself in the world. For Antichrist meant, not an individusl, but that embodied principle, power, or moral body, which “solvit Christum,” (so the Vulgate of (1 John iv. 3, “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”,) dissolves Christ in the Church. [52] - At this point Lacunza stops a while to dissect, and expose the absurdity of, those ideas of Antichrist which were usually received among Romanists; as if he was to be an individual Jew, of the tribe of Dan, born in Babylon, received by the Jews as Messiah, thereupon establishing his kingdom at Jerusalem, and with 10 or 7 kings held subject, in fulfillment of the Beast’s 7 heads and 10 horns: an argument well worth perusal and consideration, by all such Protestant expositors as are inclined to adopt the same strange hypothesis. The Antichrist, or Apocalyptic Beast, he then traces from its first existence in the germ, as the mystery of iniquity even in St. Paul’s days, [53] within the Church, and side by side with Christ’s true servants; and which had come down as a body more and more corrupt and apostate, century after century; till now at length perfected in apostasy. The second Apocalyptic Beast has been with great reason, he says, explained as the false prophet of Antichrist: with the mistake however of supposing him one individual person, perhaps “an apostate bishop;” [54] whereas it is the body of “our priesthood” that is meant by the emblem. [55] His name and number Lacunaz inclines to think arnoume: [56] being evidently not so strong in Greek as in Latin. As to the Apocalyptic Harlot, (“I would wholly omit this,” says he, “did I not fear to commit treason against truth,”) it is not Rome Pagan, but apostate Rome Christian and Papal; drunken at length in vain carnal self-security, when on the very eve (so Lacunza judged) of her utter tremendous destruction. It is objected that she is the spouse of Christ? So too was old Jerusalem. But, on the consummation of its apostasy, though without a heathen idol in her, she fell, and fell remedilessly. [57]

In his general view of the Apocalypse Lacunza is a futurist. He construes the seven-sealed Book opened by the Lamb as the Book of the Father’s Covenant; and the giving it into his hand as the act of investiture, whereby he is constituted King and Lord of all. [58] The visions of the Seals next following are therefore, I presume, understood by him with reference to the times of consummation. But he does not enter on them particularly. He discusses however the vision of the sun-clothed woman in Apoc. xii., in the same general Jewish and futurist point of view; with much that is ingenious and novel in his exposition. The woman is the Zion of Isaiah, God’s ancient spouse, long cast off and sorrowful, but now clothed in beautiful garments; and at the precise crisis described by Old Testament prophets, “like a woman with child drawing near the time of her delivery.” She has already in a figurative sense conceived Jesus Christ in her womb; i.e. by believeing on him. But something more is needed; viz. to bring him to light, or publicly to manifest this conception by declaring for him; for “with the heart men believe unto righteousness, and with the lips confession is made unto salvation.” But difficulties, embarrassments, and persecutions here occur. Besides the world and devil, two-thirds also of the Jews probably oppose the believing third. She “cries out in pain.” Satan, the red Dragon, unable to prevent the conception, (which may probably have arisen from Elias’ preaching,) tries to hinder her delivery: i.e. “to hinder her from publicly professing her faith in Jesus.” [59] But in vain. The child is born; the confession is made. And then, so born in figure, he is caught up to God and his throne: a symbol answering to Daniel’s symbol of the Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days to receive investiture of his kingdom; and corresponding too with that of his receiving the seven-sealed book of his investiture from Him that sate on the throne, in the earlier vision of the fifth chapter of the Apocalypse. [60] - But, if so, we must ask, what the sequel? And here in truth the weakness of Lacunza’s view of the vision appears. Messiah’s investiture by the Ancient of Days in Daniel is coincident with, or immediately consequent upon, the doom and destruction of the little horn Antichrist; not at an epoch preceding Antichrist’s reign and blasphemies. But in the vision of Apoc. xii., after the man-child’s being caught up to God’s throne, there is described a war in heaven as occurring; then the Woman’s fleeing into the wilderness, being furiously pursued thirther by the Dragon; and then next, but not till then, the raising up by the Dragon of the Antichristian Beast against the remnant of the Woman’s children that continue faithful. How can this order of events consist with Lacunza’s Judæo-futurist interpretation of the Vision? I see nothing in the details of his exposition to meet the difficulty. For he professedly makes all this persecution subsequent to Christ’s receiving investiture of the earth’s empire. And his identification of Michael’s warring in Apoc. xii. with Michael’s standing up for Daniel’s people in Dan. xii. only adds to the difficulty. [61] - Proceeding with the vision Lacunza describes the Woman, or Jewish Church, as taken to a quiet and sweet solitude, Moses and Elias furnishing the two wings of her escort; and being there taken care of by God, while the Dragon raises up the Beast against the faithful remnant of her children. [62] These Lacunza seems to identify, like myself, with the witnesses of Apoc. xi. For the two sackcloth-robed witnesses are not Enoch and Elias; but two religious bodies of faithful men protesting against the corruptions of the age, [63] i.e. the latter age, just before the Jews’ conversion. As to the place where the Antichristian Beast, after making war against them, kills them, i.e. the street of the great city, this is not meant of Jerusalem: (in fact Christ was crucified outside of, not within, the literal Jerusalem:) but of the whole world, and specially of professing Christendom. [64]

These, I believe, are the chief Apocalyptic explanations given by the soi-disant Ben Ezra, or Lacunza. I may add that, like myself, he considers Peter’s conflagration to be one introductory to the millennium, and moreover not universal: also that he explains the new heaven and earth of St. Peter and the Apocalypse (like Lambert and myself) to be millennial in their date of commencement.

Thus, in the Roman Catholic countries of France, Spain, Italy, there had already begun to sound forth a voice answering alike to that on the blast of the 7th Trumpet in the Apocalypse, which proclaimed the commencement of the judgments of the consummation of “those that had corrupted the earth,” and imminence of Christ’s coming kingdom: as also to that of the first Angel seen synchronically (as has been shown) flying in mid heaven, with the cry, “Fear God, for the hour of his judgments is come;” and to that recorded in Apoc. xviii., “Come out of her (Babylon), my people, that ye be not partakers of her plagues.” [65]

II. I now turn to England. - And here the names first of Galloway and Bicheno, then of Faber, Woodhouse, Cuninghame, and Frere, are perhaps the most notable; each one marked by certain peculiarities of exposition. The three last mentioned, having continued publishing from time to time on prophecy till the middle of the present century, constituted a link of connection between the first and second divisions of the still uncompleted great French Revolution æra

Mr. Galloway’s book is entitled “Brief Commentaries on such parts of the Revelation and other Prophecies, as immediately refer to the present times;” and was published in London in the year A.D. 1802. [66] He was himself, it seems, one of the Loyalists in our North American Colonies, who was forced to flee that country on the rebel States successfully accomplishing their war of revolution and independence. Nor, probably, was he wholly uninfluenced by this his previous history in regard of the feeling most prominently expressed throughout his Apocalyptical Commentary; viz. that of intense abhorrence of the revolutionary and infidel principles of Republican France. Hence his application to it of the symbol of the most hateful of all enemies of the Church prefigured in the Apocalypse; viz. that of the Beast from the Abyss, the slayer of Christ’s two faithful sackcloth-robed witnesses. To bring out this result, he thus in brief explains the structure of the prophecy and history intended by it; herein at first following most of his Protestant predecessors. The seven-sealed book contains the history of the Church generally, in its various vicissitudes of fortune; from its first partial triumphs in Apostolic times to its final and complete triumph at the consummation; the 6th seal symbolizing the overthrow of heathenism before it, in the Roman Empire, under the Constantinian Emperors. The seven Trumpets, which are the development of the seventh Seal, represent God’s judgments against the ten already corrupt and apostatizing Church; the four first depicting that of the Gothic invasions in the West; the 5th and 6th, or two first Woe-Trumpets, those of the Saracens and Turks in the East; which last-mentioned woes originated, according to the prophecy, with the opening of the pit of the abyss. Then, presently, comes Mr. Galloway’s peculiarity of historic application. The “little book” opened in the hand of the angel (Apoc. x.) being viewed by him, as in Mede’s scheme, as a separate, supplementary prophecy descriptive, for its main subject, of the treading down of the holy city, and history of Christ’s two witnesses during their days of sackcloth-robing, he notices the long-continued treading down for 1260 years of the holy city, or faithful Church of the Gentiles, as alike that by the long-dominant Mahometan power in the East, and the dominant Papal idolatrous power in the West; dating these from the nearly synchronic times of Phocas and Mahomet respectively. But the slaying of the two witnesses, which he supposes to symbolize the Old and New Testaments, is, he observes, at a later time, viz. near the end of the Witnesses’ 1260 years of sackcloth-robed witnessing; and to be accomplished by another new and terrible enemy than any before, viz. the Beast from the Abyss. This, says he, is the infidel power of atheistic, revolutionary France. The street of the great city in which they were slain, he explains to be Paris; the date of their death, about September 1792, when Christianity was abolished, the ignominious expulsion of the Christian clergy from France well-nigh completed, Christ declared an impostor, and atheism publicly professed by the French Government and nation. So for 3 1/2 years, answering to the 3 1/2 days of the Apocalyptic prophecy; at the end of which there was predicted the resuscitation of the two witnesses. And this was also fulfilled by the French Government decrees, passed in 1797, which declared free and full toleration thenceforward to all religions, true Protestant Christianity expressly included.

It does not need that I should say more of Mr. Galloway’s exposition; save only that, in conformity with the above explanation of the earlier Apocalyptic chapters, he explains the seven-headed Dragon, the Beast from the Sea, and Beast from the earth, in Apoc. xii., xiii., as respectively the earlier Pagan power, and the French infidel power; the Beast from the Sea, or Popedom, being that which had assigned to it the duration of 1260 years, which would be nearly covered by the interval from Phocas to the French Revolution. The name and number of the beast he makes Ludovicus, the most common title of Kings of France; the Latin numeral letters which make up 666 - I must just add that Mr. G. interprets the Millennium as in his days still future; and as to be introduced by, and to synchronize with, the personal reign of Christ and his saints on earth.

Very marked was the contrast of the feeling with which Mr. Bicheno marked the progress of the Revolution. His “Signs of the Times” in three parts, first published in 1793, and which came to its 6th edition in 1808, was his “Restoration of the Jews” in 1806. The title-page on Part i. of “The Signs of the Times” itself tells this feeling: - “Signs of the Times; or, The overthrow of the Papal tyranny in France, a prelude of destruction to Popery and Despotism, but of peace to mankind.” He looked in fact with something like religious complacency, from the very first, on the awful judgments that the Revolutionists seemed God’s appointed agents for inflicting on the Papal power which had been for ages the bloody persecutor of Christ’s saints, and enemy of Christ’s truth: judgments inflicted more especially in France on the social orders which had been its chief abettors, assistants; viz. the royalty, nobility, and the clergy. The same was his feeling afterwards when, in the course of the next 14 or 15 years, he saw the vials of God’s wrath poured out, through the same instrumentality, upon the German Empire which had been for many centuries as zealous a cooperator with the Papal Beast in the persecution of Christ’s truth and saints as royal Papal France itself. So strongly did Mr. B. feel the righteousness of God’s judgments, through the agency of the French Revolutionists, on those saint-persecuting nations of the Continent, that he could not suppress his protest against what he called “the ravings of Mr. Burke,” and the energetic anti-revolutionary course of action of our British Government: the rather as the Papal Antichrist’s removal was all that had to intervene before the Jews’ conversion, and the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth.

As it was on these two great subjects of the Papal tyranny of past ages, and the judgments of Popery then passing before the eyes of men, as prefigured in the Apocalypse, that he fournded his earnest and heart-stirring appeal to British Christians, (subjects copiously illustrated by him from time to time, alike the one and the other, from past and contemporaneous history,) it was not to be expected that his books would offer any very thoroughly digested scheme of Apocalyptic interpretation. Nor, consequently, do I deem it needful to refer particularly to what we find in them on this head. Suffice it to say that the 1260 destined years of the Papal Beast, prefigured in Apoc. xi., xiii., xvii., he views as beginning from Justinian’s decree, A.D. 529; and consequently, as ending in 1789 at the French Revolution. (1789 - 529 = 1260yrs.) The killing of Christ’s sackcloth-robed witnesses, or faithful saints protesting against Popery, he refers chiefly to the revocation of the Toleration-Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685; especially accompanied, as it was, by the nearly contemporary ruin of the cause of Hungrian Protestantism through the perseuctions of Papal Austria and banishment also of the faithful Vaudoies from their valleys in Papal Piedmont. But how, then, their resuscitation after 3 1/2 days? On this point, as no answering event presented itself in French history 3 1/2 years after that Revocation-Edict, or, indeed, till 100 years later, he suggests the singular notion that, instead of each day standing here for a year, it may stand for the thirty that make up a month; and consequently altogether figure the interval of 3 1/2 x 30 = 105 years. Then the prophecy would have its fulfillment in the free and full toleration of Protestantism in France, A.D. 1707, of which we have before spoken. - To Mr. B.’s interesting illustration of the Trumpets, and specially of the 3rd Trumpet in the desolating progress of Attila along the Rhine and Danube, I have had occasion to allude in my 1st Volume. [67] The 5th and 6th Trumpets he explains, like most other Protestant interpretors, of the Saracens and Turks. In the opened book of the light-bearing Angel Apoc. x., he sees no new and separate book of prophecy; but only a figuration of the dawning light of the Reformation, as beginning with Wickliff.

Finally, he applied our Lord’s prophecy (Matt. xxiv.) to the terrible commotions of those revolutionary times; inferred from the same prophecy, even in 1795, before Evangelic Missions from England had effectively begun, [68] that there would speedily follow the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world, even as with the sound of a Trumpet, to gather together Christ’s elect from the four winds, and that then the conversion and restoration of the Jews would begin. By the concurrent fulfillment of all which signs of the latter day, and “all those things coming to pass,” he judged that yet clearer and clearer light would accure to show that the consummation, and kingdom of God, were indeed nigh at hand.

Though, as I said, it was scarce to be expected that any well-digested general historical scheme of Apocalyptic interpretation would be furnished by Bicheno or Galloway, comparatively absorbed as were their thoughts and interests in that part of the prophecy which more immediately related to the events of the then present awful drama, as gradually unfolded more and more before their eyes, yet certainly it was not unreasonble to expect this (if the historical view of the prophecy was the right one) from the three well-known expositors who, as before stated, were their most prominent successors on the field of Apocalyptic interpretation, Messrs. Faber, Cuninghame, Frere: - considering, 1st, that they entered on their lucubrations at a later æra in the Revolutionary wars, after the first fury of the tempest had lulled, and the feelings consequently of English observers were less fearfully excited than before: and 2ndly, too, that they actually profest each one, after mature study, to give a comprehensive view of the whole Apocalyptic prophecy, including both its internal structure, and its historic explanation; i.e. down to the 7th Trumpet, and its partial evolution in the earlier Vials, which they all, like Galloway and Bicheno, regarded as fulfilled in the events of the Revolution. But, if such his expectation, the prophetic student of the æra under review was doomed to disappointment. In regard both of the fundamental structure of the prophecy, and many important details of its supposed previously accomplished fulfillment in history, the three expositors were seen to differ most widely one from the other. Said Mr. Faber of the internal structure of the prophecy: [69] - “The seven Trumpets are the evolution of the 7th Seal, as the seven Vials are of the 7th Trumpet; these three series constituting the main contents of the Seven-sealed Book, Apoc. iv., placed in the hand of the Lamb to open: while the Little opened Book, put into St. John’s hand by the heaven-descended Angel of Apoc. x., with the charge to prophesy again, is a distinct supplemental prophecy, inclusive of chapters x. - xiv., and containing within it the predictions of the four several great events to which, all alike, was to attach the duration of the 1260 years’ period; viz. that of the sackcloth-prophesying of Christ’s two witnesses, that of the Gentiles treading the Holy City, that of the Woman (the Church’)s exile in the wilderness, and that of the reign of the ten-horned Beast: [70] - a prophecy this chronologically parallel with the 5th and 6th or two first Woe Trumpets of the Seven-sealed Book, and which needed inscription in the new prophetic Book to show the parallelism. [71] Then further, as regarded the historic fulfillment of the Apocalypse, said Mr. F., “The series of the six first Seals carried down the history of the Roman Empire to the Constantinian Revolution, and overthrow of Heathenism in the 4th century; the six first Trumpets (evolving the 7th Seal) figured its subsequent history under the successive desolations of Goths, Saracens, and Turks; which last mentioned extended to the times of the 7th Trumpet, or French Revolution.” Besides which, Mr. F., in his Sacred Calendar, insisted on another very important point in the prophecy, viz. that concerning the ten-horned Beast’s two last heads, as historically elucidated by the concluding events of the great Revolutionary War: i.e. the termination of the sixth or Imperial Headship (which had been perpetuated, he judged, in the Byzantine, Frank, and Austrian dynasties) by the Austrian Monarch’s resignation of the Emperorship of the Holy Roman Empire in 1804; and Napoleon Bonaparte's institution into the Beast’s 7th headship by his assumption of the Emperorship, until struck down after a little space by the sword at Waterloo. But, as the head thus struck down was prophetically figured as resuscitated, so would the Napoleonic dynasty revive, as a new head of the Beast, or Roman empire: [72] (here Mr. F. indulged in prediction of the future:) no longer however thenceforth as a Papal power, but as a professedly infidel or atheistic power, the same as the “Willful King” of (Dan. xi. 36, “ And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.”), and as St. John’s Antichrist, “denying the Father and the Son;” the destined head of the last antichristian confederacy, and opposer of the Jews’ restoration in Palestine; who, as described in Apoc. xix., would be met and destroyed fearfully by Christ in the final war of Armageddon.

So Mr. Faber. But by no means so, according to Mr. Cuninghame. “The Seals and Trumpets,” said he, “are chronologically parallel, each reaching from St. John’s time to the great earthquake symbolized alike in the 6th Seal and 7th Trumpet, immediately before the consummation; the Seals prefiguring the history of the Church, the Trumpets of the secular Roman Empire, including both East and West. As to the Little Book of Apoc. x., it is no new and separate book of Apocalyptic prophecy, so as Faber affirms; but only the 7th part of the seven-sealed Book, which at the epoch just preceding the French Revolution (the epoch of the rainbow-vested Angel’s descent) [73] might be considered “opened.” [74] Additionally, as regards the Roman Beast’s 7th and 8th heads, though at first advocating a Napoleonic view of them, Mr. C. had come on fuller reflection to discard it as altogether untenable; and mainly to acquiesce in, and adopt, the earler received Protestant view of the subject: regarding the old 6th Imperial Head as wounded to death by the sword of the Heruli, and revived in the decem-regal confederacy of Roman Popedom. [75]

So Mr. Cuninghame. But, “Not so,” again replied Mr. Frere to both Faber and Cuninghame. “The Seals depict the history of the Western Secular Roman Empire, from St. John’s time to the earthquake before the consummation; the Trumpets in parallel chronology, that of the Eastern Empire; while the Little Book of Apoc. x., which is a new and supplemental part of the Apocalyptic prophecy, (containing Chap. x. to xiv.,) depicts that of the Church, still in chronological parallelism with the former. Once more, as to the Roman Beast’s two last heads, Napoleon was the 7th head, cut down by the sword at Waterloo; and destined to revive again in some revival of the Napoleonic dynasty; only as a professedly infidel atheistic power, the last headship of the Roman Beast against the Church of Christ.” [76]

With such fundamental differences of view between these three expositors, (not to speak of those before them,) and others equally important might be added, (as e.g. concerning the two witnesses, and their death and resurrection, [77] ) who could wonder that considerate students of prophecy at the time should be sorely perplext; and many prepared in mind not only for distrust of these historic expositors, but distrust too as to the general truth of the historic system of interpretation: and this, notwithstanding the agreement of these expositors alike with each other, and with most previous Protestant historic expositors of note, on many most important points of accomplishment of the prophecy; especially as to the Gothic, Saracenic, and Turkish invastions of Roman Christendom, the Papacy as the great Antichristian power prefigured in Apoc. xi., xiii., xvii., and the French Revolution. The universal reception hitherto given to the historic system of Apocalyptic interpretation in England just kept back for a while the public development of such doubts. But, as the Continent was now open, and intercourse more and more cultivated with it, and its views in theological and prophetic as well as other literature better known, there could scarce but be soon a strengthening of them. Of all which more in the next Section.

As to the millennium, I must not conclude this Section without observing that here too our expositors fundamentally differed: Mr. Faber holding strongly to the truth of Whitby’s and Vitringa’s view, which till the close of the period now under review was all but universally known as upholders of the newly revived Patristic view of its premillennial Advent. I have already elsewhere noted (and who can wonder at it?) that the wide-spread hopes and expectations of the world’s speedly evangelization, which arose at this time out of the institution and progress of the various Bible and Missionary Societies shortly before formed in our own favored country, contributed powerfully at the time I speak of to make Whitby’s pre-advent millennary view more and more undoubtingly credited and popular. [78]



On which new æra, extending from about 1820 to the present time, I shall now make a few observations; and with them conclude this my History of Apocalyptic Interpretation.

Near about the same time than the two-fold battle began in England, which, I said, a sagacious observer might have already prognosticated: - 1st, as to the truth on the great millennial question; 2ndly, as to the truth of the general Protestant historic principle of Apocalyptic Interpretation.

1. As to the former point, the Treatise of Lacunza had not a little to do in the matter. Mr. Irving, the able and eloquent translator of the Treatise already spoken of, tells us, in his Preface to the Translation, of the circumstances under which he was brought to an acquaintance with it: - how in 1826, after he had been led to the recognition of Christ’s premillennial advent, and consequent personal reign on earth, as a great Scriptural truth, and under that impression had been preaching it in London with all earnestness, he found himself painfully insulated thereby from most of his brethren in the ministry, even as if he had been advocating a doctrine not only novel, but foolish, and almost heretical: and then, and in that painful state of insulation, had this elaborate Treatise by a writer of another Church and country brought before him; showing that he was anything but alone in the view, and so confirming his mind in it, and cheering his heart. And very soon he found that in England too similar convictions had been about the same time wrought upon the minds of one, and another, of the earnest investigators of prophetic Scripture. [79] The then recent reconstruction of the Society for the Conversion of the Jews, upon a more proper Church basis, [80] and with new life and vigor infused into its operations, contributed in no little measure to the promotion of these opinions. For, in searching the Scriptures, with a view to the answering of Jewish arguments against Christianity as a purely spiritual system, and Jewish arguments for the Messiah’s personal reign on earth and at Jerusalem, the evidence of Scripture was felt more and more by many to be in favor of the Jewish idea, rather than their own. And thus many of the earliest and warmest friends of the Jews’ Society became known, as the next ten years ran on, as premillennarians; e.g. Marsh, M ‘Neil, Pym, G. Noel, Lewis Way: more especially the last-mentioned noble-minded man, the munificent patron of the Jews’ Society; and whose often grand, though too discursive, Poem of the “Palingenesia,” still remains as record of the devotion of his whole mind and heart to the anticipation of his Master’s speedy personal advent, to assume the kingdom of a regenerated world. Then, too began Prophetic Journals, mainly on the premillennarian principle: first the Morning Watch; then, from 1833 to 1838, the Investigator. Individual Treatises moreover, on the same views, more or less influential, began also to multiply: I may specify particularly “Abdiel’s Letters,” by the Rev. J. W. Brooks, Editor of the Investigator; and the Prophetic Treatises of the much-loved Edward Bickersteth. - In fine, in the year 1844, the date of the first publication of my own Work on the Apocalypse, so rapid had been the progress of these views in England, that, instead of its appearing a thing strange and half-heretical to hold them, so as when Irving published his translation of Ben Ezra, the leaven had evidently now deeply penetrated the religious mind; and, from the ineffectiveness of the opposition hitherto formally made to them, they seemed gradually advancing onward to triumph.

So I say in England, to which country I have a particular respect in these my closing remarks. But let me not forget to remind my readers that, while such as the progress of the question in England, and while in France and Spain the works of Père Lambert and Lacunza remained (except in so far as the Inquisition might have suppressed the latter) a testimony each one to the same millennial view, there was one remarkable expression to much the same effect even in rationalistic Germany; and from a quarter whence it might little perhaps have been expected. I allude to Frederic Von Schlegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of History, delivered in 1828 at Vienna, and soon after published, and most rapidly and widely circulated; the same of which an abstract has been given in the concluding Chapter of my Apocalyptic Commentary. It may be remembered that I there noticed Schlegel’s eloquently expressed opinion, as to the paliggenesia, and new heavens and earth of Isaiah and the Apocalypse, figuring not any mere Church triumph already accomplished over Roman Paganism, so as the Eichhorn school, and many Romanists too, (the latter with a view to the Papal supremacy in the world,) expounded the prophecy, nor again any heavenly state of blessedness for the saints, so as Bossurt: but a blessed personal reign of Christ on this our renewed earth; a reign future indeed, but probably near at hand: with the completed triumph of good over evil attending it, and to be introduced by his own personal advent. [81]

2. Next, as to any change or progress of opinion on the general subject of Apocalyptic interpretation, more especially in England, in the course of the same 20 or 25 years, from about 1820 to 1844.

It was in 1826, the self-same year as that of Irving’s Translation of Ben Ezra, that the first prophetic Pamphlet of the Rev. S. R. Maitland (now Dr. Maitland) issued from the press; its subject, an “Enquiry” into the truth of the then generally received year-day view of the 1260 days of Daniel and the Apocalypse: followed in 1829 and 1830 by “A Second Enquiry” into the same subject; a short Treatise on Antichrist; and a Defense of his former Pamphlets, in reply to the Morning Watch. In these, as is well known, he energetically assailed the whole Protestant application of the symbols of Daniel’s 4th Beast little horn, and the Apocalyptic Beast and Babylon, to the Roman Papacy, it being his idea that a quite different personal and avowedly infidel Antichrist was meant; asserted that the prophetic days were to be construed simply and only as literal days: and advocated an Apocalyptic exegetic scheme even yet more futurist than Ribera’s; seeing that he supposed the Evangelist St. John to plunge in spirit even in the very first chapter into “the day of the Lord,” or great epoch of judgment at Christ’s second coming and the consummation. - Nearly contemporarily with Dr. S. R. Maitland’s first Pamphlet Mr. Burgh published in Ireland on the Antichrist, and the Apocalyptic Seals, much to the same general effect: Lacunza’s idea being adopted by him of the seven-sealed book being the book of Christ’s inheritance; a book now at length opened, and about to have fulfillment. - To a thoughtful reader of Lacunza and Lambert on the one hand, and of Maitland and Burgh on the other, the contrast of the views expressed about Popery must have appeared very strange: - the two Protestant writers excusing the Papacy from any concern with the predicted antichristian Apostasy, or Beast of Daniel and the Apocalypse; the two Romanist writers, alike the Dominican Father and the Jesuit, deeming its resemblance to that Apostasy and Antichristian Beast, for many centuries previous, to have been so marked, that (although some yet further development might be expected of its evil) yet it was manifestly to Papal Rome, as it long had been, and Papal Rome even as it would be to last, that the application of the prophecies was due. [82] - One strong point with the new English futurist school was the great discrepancy (already noted of many chief Protestant expositors of the historical school on sundry points of Apocalyptic interpretation; e.g. on the Seals, the two Witnesses’ death and resurrection, &c; [83] and manifest unsatisfactoriness of the explanation on some of those points, as given alike by one and all. Here Mr. Maitland dashed in, it has been said, like a falcon into dovecote, that is, a small peaceful pigeon, and made havoc of them. Another influential argument for a while in its favor was the asserted utter novelty of the year-day principle, as if never dreamt of before Wicliff in reference to the prophetic periods; and additionally the asserted utterly anti-patristic character of the views held by the Protestants respecting Antichrist. - The progress of pre-millennarian opinions, and great change of view operated in many minds upon that great prophetic point, predisposed them doubtless to change in others; and made not a few more ready to abandon the Protestant theory on the year-day question also, and that of Antichrist. - Another and quite different occurrence operated soon after, and with very great power, to spread and give fresh weight to these anti-Protestant opinions. In 1833 began the publication of the Oxford Tracts. One chief object of the chief writers, soon developed, was to unprotestantize the Church of England. [84] How then could they overlook, or help availing themselves of, the assistance of these laborers in the futurist school: whose views set aside all application to the Roman Papacy of the fearful prophecies respecting Antichrist; and left Protestantism consequently all open to the charge of unjustifiable schism; and the Papacy all open to the Catholic desires, and aspirations, of the Tractators [85]

So as regards the new English futurist school, and its gradual but rapid advance in England in the period spoken of. Nor must I omit to add that in the course of the same 18 or 20 years the gradual influx of German literature into England, including its theology among other branches, began to familiarize the English mind more and more with the most popular German views of Scripture prophecy: i.e. as Eichhorn’s scheme in its main points still had sway, [86] with that Præterist Apocalyptic Scheme of which a sketch was set before my readers in the preceding Section. [87] Professor Lee at Cambridge adopted a Præterist view (one somewhat like Bossuet’s though with marked peculiarities) quite independently of German theorists, if I mistake not. [88] But many more were directly influenced to the view by German theologians, alike among Germanizing English Churchmen and English Dissenters, until at length in 1845 there came forth the Anglo-American stereotype of the theory in the elaborate Apocalyptic comment of Professor Moses Stuart. [89]

It was after perusal of some of the publications of Messrs. Maitland and Burgh that the question first pressed itself on the mind of the writer of the Horæ, as one too important to be lightly passed over, whether, in very truth, the long received Protestant anti-papal solutions of Daniel and the Apocalypse were mere total error, or whether the main error lay with the assailants. And this was the result. The fitting of the prophecies of Daniel’s little horn and the Apocalyptic Beast to the Roman Papacy seemed to him (as to Lambert and Lacunza) on main points so striking, as to render it incredible that the agreement could be a mere chance agreement, or anything but what was intended by the Divine Spirit, that indited or composed the prophecies. But, if so, then he felt also persuaded that on sundry points on which the unsatisfactoriness of the Protestant solutions had been proved, (more especially on the Apocalyptic Seals, the Sealing Vision, that of the rainbow-crowned Angel of Apoc. x., and its notification about the two Witnesses’ death and resurrection, also on the Beast’s 7th head, the image of the Beast, and the Apocalyptic structure itself,) some new and better solutions, accordant with the main Protestant view of the Beast and Babylon, must be intended, and by diligent thought and research discoverable.

For it is to be understood that on these points the modern Interpreters of the Protestant Scheme had, up to the time of the publication of the Horæ, added nothing, at least nothing of importance, to the lucubrations, that is, the laborious study of their predecessors. It seems to me to have been their chief office, and no unimportant one surely, to awaken attention to the fact of the seventh Trumpet’s having sounded at the French Revolution; and to arouse and keep up an interest, often too ready to flag, in the great subject of Scripture Prophecy. So in the case of Messers. Faber, Cuninghame, and Frere. So to in that of Messrs. Bickersteth and Birks, however fanciful, in my opinion, not a little of their originally joint-propounded Scheme of Apocalyptic Interpretation. [90] More especially, as regards Mr. Birks, not only has he by his masterly work on the First Elements of Prophecy advanced the cause of truth, and shown himself its mortar and hammer, against what I must beg permission anticipatively to call the reveries of the Futurists: but moreover, by his exquisite description of the City that is to be revealed at Christ’s second advent, has done much to enlist each hallowed feeling of the heart on the side he advocates; a description such that one might almost suppose the golden reed to have been given him, with which to delineate it, by the Angel that showed to the beloved disciple the Lamb’s bride, the New Jerusalem.

So in 1844 the “HORÆ APOCALYPTICÆ” was first published; its four subsequent Editions being sent forth in 1846, 1847, 1851; its 5th now in 1862. The views and anticipations with which I began and prosecuted my researches were more particularly as follows.

1st, I was persuaded that, if the Apocalypse were indeed a Divine revelation of the things that were afterwards to come to pass, (i.e. from after the time of St. John’s seeing the vision, or close of Domitian’s reign, [91] to the consummation,) then the intervening æras and events prospectively selected for prefiguration must necessarily (just as in the case of any judicious historian’s retrospective selection) have been those of most importance in the subsequent history of Christendom; and that the prophetic picturings in each case, especially if much in detail, must have been such as to be applicable perfectly to those events and æras distinctively and alone. If applied, as I saw they had been in previous expositions, to the most different events, æras, and subjects, this must have arisen, I felt sure, from the expositors not having explored the peculiarity and force of the prophetic figurations with sufficient research, care, and particularity: whether on principle, so as in the case of some, [92] or indolence, ignorance, and want of discernment, so as in that of many others. This was a lesson to me of the necessity of noting most carefully every peculiarity of indication in each of the sacred figurations, and of sparing no pains in the investigation of whatever might elucidate it. And certainly a success beyond all that I could have anticipated seemed to myself to result from these researches. First there presented itself to me, in the more perfect elucidation of each and every point of detail in the figuration of the four first Seals, - in part from medallic, in part from other previously unnoticed sources of illustration, - an anticipative prophetic sketch, singularly exact, of the fortunes and phases of the secular Roman empire from St. John’s time to near the end of the third century: - then, by the light of similarly new and peculiar evidence, the fixing of the long previously suggested application of the 5th and 6th Trumpet symbolization to the Saracenic and Turkish invasions respectively; and fixing too, as applicable to the times of the Reformation, of the intent of the rainbow-crowned Angel’s descent and doings, and of St. John’s measuring of the Apocalyptic temple, and of Christ’s two sackcloth-robed witnesses’ death, resurrection, and ascent in Apoc. x. and xi., in the æra of the same 6th Trumpet. After which again came up before me the admirable use of medallic monuments of the times in elucidation of the prophecy. In Apoc. xii. the long before supposed application of the symbol of the seven-headed Dragon, with diadems on his heads, seeking to devour the sun-clothed Woman’s child when born, to Roman Heathendom’s last warring against the Christian Church, and Constantine the elders kingly son of the Church, at the opening of the 4th century, received confirmation from the fact of the diadem having just as that very time been adopted as the chief imperial head-badge. Besides which in this my present Edition there will be found similarly illustrated, and confirmed, the truth of the application of the ten diademed horns of the Beast from the sea in Apoc. xiii. to the ten Romano-Gothic kings of Western Europe in the 6th century: they having just then adopted the diadem as their royal head-badge, as seen in the notable Plate of their barbaric coins of about the date given in my Vol. iii. p. 145. - 2ndly, as Scripture prophecy generally, instead of separating what it might have to say on the Church (Jewish or Christian), and the world’s secular powers any way connected with it, was apt to intermingle those sayings, so it seemed to me likely that it would be in Apocalyptic prophecy; however contrary to the expository principles acted on by other prophetic expositors, such as I have lately been speaking of. [93] The fact, which I soon ascertained in my primary Apocalyptic researches, of a Temple or Tabernacle, with its triple division into Altar-Court, Holy Place, and most Holy, ever standing as the perpetual foreground before the Apostle, throughout the revelation of the prophecy, with Mount Zion and the Holy City adjacent, and all in connection with the pictured world around, this, [94] - suggesting as it did the facility of turning at any time from one to the other, strengthened my à priori expectation, and was in fact found by me afterwards to be so taken advantage of perpetually in the prophetic figurations. - 3rdly, the circumstance of the prophecy being written (as is expressly stated) on the seven-sealed scroll’s two sides, “within and without,” offered, I saw, in the most obvious and simple manner, a form of the prophetic Book in which, side by side, there might be inscribed the chronological parallelisms of parts so parallel, but separated in th


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2015, 04:55:30 PM »
You mention the "church" which "church are you referring to?

You say that "The early church disagreed on many things but there were somethings  which most agreed on and we should probably take heed of those as." Why should we take heed to anything they say that is contrary to the Word of God! The church is not the authority over biblical things it is the bible that has authority over the Church. Sola Scritpure

It matters not a jot what any church or church leader has said throughout history it can never take precedence over the Word of God. I like to read commentaries and it is interesting and sometimes helpful to see what other men of God have thought and said but that can never over take the clear Word of God.

It is a thing that romanists do to appeal to the church fathers for authority over the Word of God. I do hope that this is not what you assert!


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2015, 06:38:53 PM »
Because it is not contrary to the word of God. They early Christians were closer to bible times than we are.  and were more likely than we are what the outlines of the book meant.  An similar instance is when Paul in 2 Thess 2 told the Thessalonians who and what the let and hindrance were the knew because he told them, it was the Roman Emperor and the Empire which were to be removed.  The early writers all passed that information on to us.  "You know" said Paul. "We Know" said Tertullian.  Futurism as I have said was a Jesuit doctrine to through believers off the teaching that the Pope is Antichrist.  It was confined to Catholics till the about 1826 when S R Maitland, the Librarian to the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote a book on the subject,  Later came Irving and his followers, who after his death took the title of the Catholic Apostolic Church.  There  were several branches of futurism Mr Elliott, further in his appendix gives  refutations of some.  I have not actually read them in the edition given here, mine is the second edition dated 1844 ans he doesn't mention dispensationalism presumably because it wasn't around  then. 


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2015, 01:32:59 PM »
In 1927:  Philip Mauro wrote in a book, The Gospel of the Kingdom - Dispensationalism is modernism. It is modernism, moreover, of a very pernicious sort, such that it must have a "Bible" of its own for the propagation of its peculiar doctrines, since they are not in the Word of God. Ample proof of this will be given in the pages that follow

Mauro was an early adherent of "The New Doctrine." as he called it.  In 1923 he said that there were some in the room who knew the time before the doctrine was introduced.


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2015, 09:32:35 AM »
poppycock, I have already showed that church leaders believed it in the third century and on wards! Why not try to  disprove it from scripture instead of appealing to some guy who also can't disprove it from scripture, birds of a feather and all. Sola scripture is all that counts.


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Re: A history of apocalyptic interpretation
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2015, 01:19:39 PM »
Not poppycock.  Futurists always try to show that some obscure person in history taught something like their ideas of prophecy .

Elliott quotes the people he mentions.   What I have not mentioned, is that in his appendix he also gives a refutation of various types of preterism and also of various types of futurism. As he wrote originally in 1844, dispensationalism was not one of them as at that time it was just forming in Darby's ideas.

Futurism was invented by the Jesuits because the true teaching that the pope is antichrist was destroying the RCC. 

The pope fulfills all the prophecies of the man of sin.

The Roman Empire had been removed when he assumed all his powers, replacing the caesars as the eighth head.

When the empire fell to the 10 Gothic kings, the papacy arose from among those kings.  He sits in the temple of God, claiming he is God. He is drunk with the blood of saints. He wore down the saints until at the reformation, there was no credible Christian Witness.   The witnesses were dead.  But in the reformation, they were resurrected.


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