Page images
PDF
EPUB

intended. And the sixth vial had seen the fourth empire sending forth all its powers, and encamping its congregated nations on the long-predicted spot – the plains and mountains of the glorious Holy Land.

19. “ And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together, to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.”

That is, as the former “prophets of Israel” have told us, they come to oppose and to spoil that people, to whose rescue and relief the King of saints and þis armies

come:

20. “ And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image: these both were cast alive into a lake of fire and brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth; and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”

Such is the issue of the last final conflict, so often predicted. *

And on this occasion, we learned from ancient.prophecy, that not only would the Avenger of Israel visit the kings of the earth upon the earth, but also “ the host of high ones on high.” So it was shown to St. John on this occasion

:

* Jude, ver. 14; Job, xix. 23, &c.; Deut. xxxii. 40, &c.; Numb. xxiv. 24; 1 Sam. ii. 10; Psalms iii. 7, 10; ix. 15; X.; xlvi.; lviii. 9; lxviii.; lxxvi. 5; lxxxix.; xcvii.; cx.; Isaiah, ii. 10; xiii.; xxv.; xxvii. 1; xxix. 5; xxx. 30; xxxiï.; xxxiv. ; xlix. 24, &c.; lix. 17, &c.; Txii. 8, &c.; Ixvi.; Joel, iii. 1; Ezek. xxxviii. ; xxxix.; Dan. ii.; vž.; Zech, xii.; xiv. 3, &c.; Mal. iv.

Chap. xx." And I saw another angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand

years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and, after that, he must be loosed a little season.",

The language of this prediction is remarkably plain in itself, whatever mysteries it may seem to involve in its consequences. After the destruction of the fourth or Roman empire, - after the judgment of the apostate church and of all the human instruments of Satan's delusions, this evil spirit himself shall be confined and restrained from all influence on mankind during a specified time. After this, for a short time, he is to be released again.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

The Installation of the risen Saints with Christ, in his

Kingdom upon Eurth, This same space of time during which Satan is bound, is that space which is, in a particular manner, assigned to the reign of Christ and his saints upon earth. His kingdom, indeed, and their kingdom, which they inherit with him, is often said to be without end — to be an everlasting kingdom. But this thousand years is the era of its commencement, and marks a period of its dominion in particular circumstances, - evidently over nations of living men in the flesh, nations who survive the destruction of the fourth empire, nations whom Satan, it should,

seem, might deceive, as he had deceived others, but whom he is restrained from deceiving.

What will be the consequences of this, what will then be the physical and moral history of the human species, and what the operations of divine influence, and what the dispensation of the kingdom, is beyond all conjecture. It cannot, however, but excite the wonder and expectation of the inquiring mind; and still more and more, as we proceed with what follows:

4. “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received their mark in their foreheads or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. And the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

In the interpretation of this, as of other parts of Scripture prophecies, we should carefully keep in view a canon of interpretation, so admirably illustrated by a late very learned prelate,' that no prophecy is of any private interpretation, that we must not attempt to make it its own expositor, taken apart and separate from the rest, but must consider it as part of a system, one of a series of predictions, and frame our interpretations accordingly.. Now, the prediction, that the saints should be partakers with Christ in his kingdom, has formed a link in the chain of events foretold respecting the second advent, in

[ocr errors]

! HORSLEY,

almost every prophecy. We should not, therefore, expect to find the circumstance omitted in this last grand revelation of the last time.

We have seen, also, that this reigning of the saints is not referred to merely as to a state of future prosperity, which the church, in the latter days, was to expect; but as the comfort and encouragement of the servants of God in every age,-as something in which they themselves were personally interested, and as connected with their resurrection from the dead.

It was to be a kingdom that “flesh and blood could not inherit,” and, therefore, its possessors could not be mortal men in the flesh, but glorified spirits. Yet it was to be a kingdom that was upon earth. The heavenly beings who appeared in a very early scene of these visions, declared their expectation to be -- that they should reign upon the earth. * It was a kingdom that was to succeed to the divided sovereignties of the fourth empire:-“ In the days of those kings, shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these.” And again, in Daniel's vision, how clearly is it numbered as a fifth universal empire, to succeed the Roman as the Roman had succeeded the Grecian, the Grecian the Persian, the Persian the Babylonian. “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess it for ever, even for ever and ever.” “And the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall

Chap. v. 10.

be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”

We have just seen the symbols of the destruction of the fourth kingdom, which was to arise from the earth, in full agreement with ancient prophecies ; so that we could not mistake it. A new event was, indeed, added, unknown before, or but obscurely intimated, that Satan should, at the same time, be restrained in his influence over mankind for a thousand years.

Next follows the symbolical representation before us, to the true application of which the whole tenour of prophecy is our guide. The symbol is that of thrones erected, and of persons sitting upon them. This needs no deciphering.

We are next informed who these persons are. They are, first, such as had suffered martyrdom in the cause of Christ, -" And I saw the souls 1 of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God ;"—the same persons, evidently, who were shown to us in the vision of the fifth seal:—“ And I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word

I “And I saw the souls of them storation of the vital spirit, to rethat were beheaded,” &c., " and animate the body that had been they lived." That this very plain dead. We koow the force and assertion of a real resurrection of meaning of the expressions,“ man the dead should be made to afford became a ' living soul,'—“ Her an argument for a figurative revival soul was in departing, for she of religion, because souls, and not died, "-" Let this child's soul bodies, are mentioned, has always come into him again :" especially struck me with surprise. To see in the account of our Lord's resura soul of the slain in the departed rection,-“ His soul was not left state, and to see it “ live" again, in hell." what else can mean than a re

« PreviousContinue »